Citizen of the year: Joe Becigneul
45th annual ceremony held on Saturday
Monday, May 05, 2014 01:45 pm
Joe Becigneul might have to trade in his nickname from “Lightning Joe” to “Diamond Joe”, or maybe just “Champ” would suffice. He was named the 2013 Volunteer Citizen of the Year during a Saturday ceremony to mark the 45th annual awards offered by the Community Information and Volunteer Centre.
“I did a good job of following in your footsteps!” he said during his acceptance speech, talking directly to his sons, Matt and Alex, who joined him for his moment in the spotlight. “You taught me well, I must say!”
The two younger Becigneuls were previous winners of Leaders of Tomorrow awards, Matt in 1999 and Alex in 2004 and 2007, both times for his involvement with the Columbian Squires.
Their dad now has his own trophy, all thanks to his incredible involvement in this city, through his church, the Knights of Columbus, school parent advisory committees, the chamber of commerce, and Northern Alberta Business Incubator, among other organizations over his more than 40 years of service.
Notably, he was integral to the inception of local Referee Advanced Technical Training, a program that has created a conducive environment for a greater rate of returning officials to St. Albert Minor Hockey, meaning better continuity of officiating and a more stable and sustainable hockey experience for hundreds and hundreds of local youths.
Becigneul said that he always just does what needs to be done. He’s still in awe of how so many others give so much of themselves too.
“I can’t tell you how humbling it is just to be in a room with people of this calibre: the volunteers that drive this community,” he remarked, pointing out the high esteem that he has for his co-nominees. “I know they will continue to keep giving, as I will.”
The award clearly touched him but he insisted that he wouldn’t let the praise go to his head. He thanked his wife, Beth, for being his strength and support at home. Afterward, he also vowed to get right back to work even that afternoon, as there was a local hockey game on Saturday that beckoned his attention.
The hockey fan even joked that the awards brunch itself had taken him away from watching an important Stanley Cup game involving his beloved Montreal Canadiens.
“I’m more concerned about whether the Habs are beating the Bruins right now!” he laughed, right after the ceremony had concluded.
He also went home with the Service to Community Award. The other nominees also received their own trophies. Sandra Fildes was given the Community Outreach Award for her work at the St. Albert Public Library, STAR Literacy and the Musée Héritage Museum, among others.
Jennifer and Davey Giordano received the Family and Community Service Award for their tireless and efficient efforts to make Halle’s Playground a reality at J.J. Nearing School last year.
Finally, the Social Advocacy Award went to Dick Tansey who puts in many hours helping seniors with transportation issues and is a powerful figure with Seniors United Now.
Youth winners too
In addition to the selection of the winner of Volunteer Citizen of the Year, youths aged 6 to 21 were also given their chance at the limelight. By all accounts, it was the greatest number of youths that had ever been celebrated by the CIVC during a single ceremony.
The Leaders of Tomorrow Awards were handed out to the following individuals and groups:
Jamie Guest (6 to 12 years): A 12-year-old anti-bullying advocate and environmental crusader from École Secondaire Ste. Marguerite d’Youville school. He is also very active in the community through his Scouts group.
Liam Kachkar (13 to 15 years): A grade 10 student at Paul Kane High who already has a long career in volunteerism, helping out at the Mustard Seed Church, the Freewill Shakespeare Festival and through the First Mennonite Church. He is looking forward to working at the International Children’s Festival and an outreach effort to Ecuador, assisting on community building projects through the Me to We Foundation.
Eleze Munro (16 to 18 years): A senior – also at Paul Kane – who first got the giving bug at Fountain Park Pool who then took it to the St. Albert Food Bank, the St. Albert 50+ Club, the International Children’s Festival and the St. Albert Public Library. She is on the Youth Advisory Committee and she co-founded and is heavily involved with the CIVC’s SOARing program. She is hard at work behind the scenes preparing for this year’s inaugural Amplify Youth Festival, coming in the fall.
W.D. Cuts Leadership 9 class (junior youth group): The 35 busy bees have their helping fingerprints on many corners of the city, including the food bank, 50+ Club, SIGIS, and various schools and seniors’ homes. The stalwart and steadfast teens raised $10,000 last year to help children in Africa through the Global Enrichment Foundation. This year, they have set their sights on benefitting the Cross Cancer Institute.
BAM for Youth (senior youth group): There are more than 80 members of this still relatively new youth group, an already impressive number made even more so when taking into account that they collectively contributed more than 5,000 hours worth of time into various community efforts last year alone, including the Sturgeon River Cleanup, Road Rage ball hockey tournament, and the Canada Day Longboard Race, among many others. The group’s acronym stands for “Building Assets and Memories” but it should also acknowledge how well it is building fine, upstanding young citizens, and a better St. Albert to boot.