A dedicated Kimberley volunteer was recognized this week for her outstanding efforts in the community at the annual Seniors Helping Seniors Christmas Luncheon at Centre 64.
Gail McColl received the Paul Harris Award, which is given to an outstanding volunteer on behalf of the Rotary Club.
McColl was recognized not only for being a volunteer for 25 years with the Kimberley Seniors Helping Seniors group, but also for all of her other involvement in the community as well.
Cathy Corven of Seniors Helping Seniors explained that McColl is still an active volunteer with the local group, and has been instrumental in helping seniors with day-to-day tasks.
“Gail is an outstanding volunteer. She’s been helping seniors for the past 25 years and is still active today. She drives them to appointments in Cranbrook (with no reimbursement for gas or mileage), takes them shopping, or just visits with them on a regular basis,” said Corven.
Mike Cave, Director of the Foundation for the Rotary Club, presented the award to McColl at the luncheon on Wednesday.
He explained that the award is made in memory of one of the three founders of Rotary, Paul Harris.
“It was established to recognize a person who has made a significant contribution to their community by their volunteer work,” said Cave. “It is given as a tribute to someone whose life demonstrates the Rotarian motto, ‘Service Given Above Self’.”
In past years, the award has been given to other outstanding volunteers including Heather Smith, Jack Ratcliffe and Carol Fergus, among others.
“When Gail’s name was brought forward for consideration by the club, I was only aware, through my wife Judy, about the years that Gail worked as a part-time first aid attendant,” said Cave. “Gail did this volunteering for about 15 years…As well as being a first aid attendant, Gail ran many courses and helped to train the first aiders.”
He adds that McColl has also been a large part of the Seniors Wellness in Motion (SWIM) Program, assisting those with mobility problems or chronic illnesses. They meet at the Kimberley Aquatic Centre to swim every Monday and Wednesday morning.
Cave spoke to McColl’s 25 year commitment to the Seniors Helping Seniors program as well.
“For around 25 years Gail has volunteered as a friendly visitor doing whatever is needed to be done to help those who can’t get around as well as they used to,” Cave explained.
He also spoke to her years spent volunteering for the East Kootenay Branch of the Schizophrenic Society, as well as the time she has spent working at the United Church.
“This list is definitely not inclusive of all the volunteering that Gail does, nor do the items fully explain what work is entailed,” Cave went on to say. “We have many volunteers in our City that work for various organizations, but it is rare to find someone like Gail who works for so many years for so many groups.
“Volunteering is a way of life for her. Not only is she a leader in many groups but she is what I like to refer to as a worker bee, someone who just gets things done. She goes above and beyond. She’s an exceptional person.”
After Cave presented McColl with the award, she thanked everyone for their support.
“I didn’t know this was happening. I’m flabbergasted,” McColl said to the room. “Kimberley has been great for me. It’s the best, most supportive community I could live in. [This community] helped me raise my kids, and it turned me into the person I am. Thank you for the opportunity.”