Everyone was dressed up like cowboys and girls, the chow was pretty decent and the wine flowed freely at the Ray MacDonald Sports Center last Friday for Morinville’s 24th annual volunteer appreciation night. While the atmosphere and the friendly assemblage made it a major highlight on the town’s social calendar, the real reason people were there was to celebrate all volunteers and bring three of them up on stage for special recognition.
Lions Club Citizen of the Year – Gary Pool
The Rendez-Vous Centre owes a debt of gratitude to Gary Pool for his behind the scenes oversight on the board of directors for several years. He improved administrative practices as its secretary and became a de facto general manager to make sure that everything operated smoothly. He also represents the facility on the seniors’ advisory committee.
This is a fellow who doesn’t just talk the talk though: he walks the walk. He was a member of the Morinville walking trail committee for several years, helping to establish the pathways that get strangers out of their houses and turn them into a community of neighbours. He is currently the president of the Alberta Council on Aging. He says volunteering is an easy way to stay fit and feel young.
“I think if you retire, you need something to do. It doesn’t have to be volunteering but you have to keep active and it’s a good way to keep active.”
Heritage Award – Imogene (Gene) Boulet
There couldn’t be a more apt recipient of this award as Gene Boulet was once the manager of Heritage Place Lodge. She put in place one of the first activity co-ordinators around this area in the 1980s, a revolutionary concept at the time. She became such an important fixture at the lodge that she started volunteering there after her retirement. Some of the critical duties she has performed there include driving residents to appointments, delivering meals to people’s homes, and doing library outreach delivery. Boulet has also been involved with the Rendez-Vous Centre, Grandmothers to Grandmothers, the library board and she was the driving force behind the Morinville Minstrels, even helping to organize a choir festival several years ago.
Silent Hero Award – Murray Knight
Every community has an army of volunteers quietly working on places and programs that benefit all but in Morinville, Murray Knight leads the charge for the sake of culture. When the Notre Dame Convent was condemned in 2005, he got involved with the Save the Convent Initiative to re-establish a museum in the town. To that end, he became a director with the Historical and Cultural Society and the fruits of his labours were realized in 2008 with the opening of the Musée Morinville Museum. He has been the chair for the St. Jean Baptiste Festival for a few years, making sure everyone marks the date for the celebration every year. Knight is a key member of the town’s tourism committee and makes sure that its proud francophone heritage is not just preserved but celebrated.
This good-humoured man encourages everyone to get out there and help.
“There are two things about a good volunteer,” he began, “Get involved with an organization you like and nobody will ever complain you’re overpaid.”
Knight is also the chair of the North Central Heritage Trail committee and fostered the Community Cultural Centre that will be built this year.