A small model of a statue to honour Millie Seitz and the spirit of volunteerism was unveiled Friday at St. Albert Place.
“When it’s completed in 2012, the statue honouring Millie Seitz will also be a symbol that honours all volunteers and it will be a wonderful 150th anniversary legacy,” said former councillor Carol Watamaniuk.
Millie Seitz, who died in 2009 at the age of 78, was one of St. Albert’s most giving volunteers and in 1999 was named St. Albert’s Volunteer Citizen of the Year. That award was presented in part for Seitz’s biggest volunteer project, the creation of the St. Albert ACT/UBT Celebration Garden near Chateau Mission Court. The finished statue will be placed in the garden.
The idea to commemorate Seitz’s many volunteer efforts arose shortly after she died of breast cancer.
When St. Albert’s 150th anniversary members were searching for an idea for a project that would remain as a legacy art project for the city, they commissioned the statue in her memory and as a tribute to all volunteers in the community.
“Millie got everyone on board (to build the garden) from sports groups, to the Associated Canadian Travellers Association and raised almost $1.99 million, a tremendous feat. That’s why we are celebrating today,” said Mayor Nolan Crouse, as he explained why Seitz was chosen to represent volunteerism in the community.
“Fast forward to today to see that we are celebrating volunteers. Millie touched all volunteers,” Crouse said, addressing his comments to Seitz’s two daughters, Joanne and Carolyn, and granddaughter Zoe Seitz.
“Your mother left a legacy and her real legacy is what you see around here tonight; a love for volunteering and for volunteers. This is the second-last event before the New Year’s Eve fireworks, to celebrate St. Albert’s 150th anniversary and it is a tribute to your mother,” Crouse said.
Seitz, who served on the 1999 International Year of Older Persons Steering Committee, suggested the idea of a memory garden where people could go to remember their loved ones. The garden is not a cemetery but instead is a peaceful spot shaded with trees and shrubs and Seitz’s own favourites, roses and lilacs. The garden’s trees, benches and art were donated to celebrate the memory of local citizens’ family members.
The garden was just one of Seitz’s many volunteer efforts. Following her retirement from teaching, she served as historian for St. Albert Volkssport Trekking Club and helped create the Seniors’ Downhill Ski Club. She volunteered at both the Musée Heritage and the Royal Alberta museums and helped out at the St. Albert Children’s Festival and the Rotary Music Festival. She volunteered at her church and taught Sunday school and every Monday morning she volunteered as the receptionist at the St. Albert Community Information and Volunteer Centre.
The cost for the bronze statue created by sculptor Marjorie Ann Davies was approximately $85,000. Funding for it came from a $25,000 Canadian Heritage Grant, a $25,000 donation from the Realtors Association of Edmonton, $25,000 from the St. Albert 150th Anniversary Legacy Grant and $10,000 from private donations.
As they viewed the small model of Millie Seitz, friends and family members noted that her likeness is dressed in slacks and that she appears to be striding forward, perhaps with yet another project in mind.
“I think if Millie knew about this statue and her representation as the spirit of volunteerism she would say to everyone, ‘Well then get off your butts, get going and get out and be part of volunteering. She was always moving,” said Glynis Thomas, executive director of the St. Albert Community Information Centre.