Volunteers in Kimberley and Cranbrook work tirelessly behind the scenes in countless ways, and last Friday night at the St. Eugene Resort it was their time to shine.
The Canadian Mental Health Association Kootenays hosted their annual Volunteer Gala and four special awards were presented — Volunteer Family of the Year, Youth Volunteer of the Year, Volunteer Group of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.
Lori Stolson organized the evening for CMHA and says the evening is always a highlight for her.
“It’s always sold out. It’s a great evening.
“The Canadian Mental Health Association hosts the gala. We put out a call for nominations to all non-profits who host volunteers.”
It’s pretty simple, says Stolson.
“Our community absolutely needs volunteers to provide services where there are gaps; especially with seniors. Volunteers fill those gaps.
“But it’s enormously beneficial to the volunteers themselves. You feel good having a purpose, and it gives you a sense of belonging to your community.”
The evening itself could not take place without the sponsor, Investors Group.
“Without them there is no way we could pull this off,” Stolson said. “And I have to mention St. Eugene as well. They really help us with the cost of the pavilion.”
Winning Volunteer Group of the Year was Bud Abbott and Friends.
Abbott is a familiar name to everyone but this recognition was specifically for the way he and his musical group entertain seniors in both Kimberley and Cranbrook on a weekly basis.
“They play every Wednesday morning and afternoon and every Thursday afternoon,” Stolson said. “They are wonderful.”
“What a kid,” says Stolson of Youth Volunteer Maddie Guimont of Kimberley. “She is active in Free the Children — she started with the club in Grade 5. She is with the East Kootenay Volleyball Club, one of the leaders in the Halloween food drive, We Scare Hunger, one of the organizers of the 24-hour famine held earlier in May. She went to Haiti last year with Hungry for Life and volunteered in a clinic. She’s a very busy girl and so sweet.”
Winning Volunteer Family of the Year were the Korans, who focus most of their volunteer hours around minor sports and the Kimberley Dynamiters. Chad is president and trainer for the Nitros, coaches minor baseball and is a call-rank firefighter for the City of Kimberley. Nicole has served as manager for many minor hockey teams, organized the very successful Bantam provincial championships in Cranbrook this year, and runs the concession as the Civic Centre all weekend.
“A very well deserved recognition for this family,” Stolson said.
Finally, Volunteer of the Year went to Carol Fergus, whose name is synonymous with the arts in Kimberley. Whether its the Home Grown Coffee House or First Saturdays, Carol will always be found behind the scenes doing the heavy lifting that keeps events such as these going.