by Stephen Dafoe
The Morinville Lions Club, Rendez-Vous Centre and Morinville News partnered for a volunteer appreciation event Apr. 6 at the Rendez-Vous. The highlight of the event is the Morinville Lions Club’s Citizen of the Year Award.
The Citizen of the Year is a Morinville tradition started by the Lions Club in 1968. The award is dedicated to those who provide services to the community.
This year’s award went to two individuals, Michelle Rheubottom and Paula Collins, both members of the Morinville Community Gardens.
Above: Morinville Lions Club President Deborah Robillard, Citizen of the Year Michelle Rheubottom, and Mayor Barry Turner.
Rheubottom’s recognition was for many volunteer efforts in addition to her work with the Community Gardens: volunteering at her daughters’ school, as a scorekeeper and as a team manager for her daughter’s basketball team, calling bingo every Friday at the Heritage Place Lodge, and for fostering pets through Infinite Woofs.
But it was her recognition with the Community Gardens that dominated the recognition. Rheubottom’s volunteerism there was cited as the reason the program is as active as it is.
Through the Community Gardens, Rheubottom plans the Earth Day activity at the library every year, became the bug specialist and helped the library with their summer science program, and designed the orchard at Champlain Gardens. Additionally, Rheubottom organized the Pitch-In event in May for the group and took on many other roles.
In accepting the award, Rheubottom said she did not know what to say.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of everyone else at the Community Gardens and my family,” she said. “Wow. I’m overwhelmed.”
Above: Morinville Lions Club President Deborah Robillard, Citizen of the Year Paula Collins, and Mayor Barry Turner.
Paula Collins was the second recipient of the Lions Club of Morinville’s Citizen of the Year.
Collins has been with the Morinville Centennial Community Gardens Society groups since 2013.
In her first two years with the group, she served as education coordinator, organized eight cooking classes with local producers and instructors, and also organized a series of mini-workshops for the group throughout the season.
In 2015 she took on the role of vice president to support Michelle as president. In that year she helped form the Phase 3 Committee to plan all the additions to Champlain Park across from the arena, the Community Gardens primary focus since 2013.
In 2017, Collins took on the role of president and, if nominated at the group’s AGM on April 9, will serve her second term in that capacity.
Collins has helped the Community Gardens obtain grants to benefit the community gardens and the Morinville Food Bank.
In addition to her Community Gardens volunteerism, Collins has also been involved in volunteering at the Morinville Festival doing crafts and planting seeds with children.
In accepting the honour, Collins said the nomination means a lot to her.
“I volunteer not to get recognized – just to make a difference because it is the right thing to do,” Collins said. ”