Ireen Slater named Volunteer Citizen of the Year

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St. Albert's volunteers, leaders of tomorrow honoured at annual recognition awards brunch

The shock quickly wore off but Ireen Slater was clearly surprised when she realized she won the Roy Financial Services Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award on Saturday morning.

Decades of selfless service have given Slater all the right credentials but humility stands out as the most important attribute. If it was up to her, she said, someone else’s name would have been engraved on the trophy.

“I was rooting for Hu [Puffer],” she admitted, referring to another one of the outstanding nominees recognized during the Community Information and Volunteer Centre’s (CIVC) annual ceremony at the St Albert Alliance Church. “This is overwhelming, that’s for sure.”

Slater is no stranger to the annual volunteer celebration. A recipient of the Social Advocacy Award only three years ago, she has long been considered one of the city’s major contributors to campaigns of social justice through tireless lobbying on behalf of others.

She supports many groups she cares about. Currently involved with more than a dozen committees and organizations, Slater could have been acknowledged for her time management skills or at least given some formal appreciation for sitting still long enough to even attend the ceremony.

“I can’t think of a more exciting award than this one,” she enthused. “This one is the tops. It means so much because it’s within my community that I love. That’s really very meaningful especially when it comes from people like the CIVC who do an incredible job.

“We’re very fortunate to have the number of volunteers that we do, and I think the CIVC is one of the reasons why. I just love them. They’re just amazing people.”

Slater added that good volunteers always feel like the work itself is its own reward but it’s the ceremony itself, the fact that St. Albert acknowledges and recognizes volunteers, that has a greater impact outside the banquet hall.

“It’s so important that people know how important it is to volunteer. [The award] just means that you’re not doing it without some acknowledgement. Volunteers don’t do what they do to get recognized.

“I always liked to [recognize my volunteers]when I was running the SAIF Society (St. Albert Stop Abuse in Families). Without them, we’re not able to run programs in St. Albert or anywhere else. We can’t do it without volunteers.”

Slater said she has no plans to slow down any time soon; however, she was hoping to get some gardening in after the ceremony was over.

“This is the best award. Can I retire now?” she laughed.

Other awards handed out

In addition to the presentations for the Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award and the recently announced Volunteer Citizen of the Decade Award given to Margaret Plain, the CIVC also handed hardware to nominees in the following categories:

Service to Community Award: Don Belke

Community Outreach Award: Hu Puffer

Community Volunteer Education Award: Paula Ryan

Family and Community Service Award: Ireen Slater

Arts, Culture and Heritage Award: Pat Wagensveld

The Servus Credit Union Leaders of Tomorrow Awards were also presented to the previously announced winners as follows:

Six to 12 years: Ericka Rurka

13 to 15 years: Brandon Handfield

16 to 18 years: Emily Sigvaldason

19 to 21 years: Michelle Chornell

Youth Group: Change for Africa group (at Paul Kane High School)

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.