“Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.”
St. Albert volunteers are legendary for their generosity in giving of their time, love and resources. But last Saturday, the tables were turned.
Friends, families and the city’s movers and shakers flocked to the Alliance Church in droves to pay tribute to these wonderful folks — the veteran Volunteer Citizens of the Year alongside the more youthful Leaders of Tomorrow.
The two-hour event, sponsored by St. Albert Community and Volunteer Centre, was a gentle, heartfelt reminder of how volunteers bring immeasurable richness to our lives. As is often the case, the St. Albert Children’s Theatre best captured the emotion singing the Lion King mega hit Can You Feel the Love Tonight.
The most poignant moment occurred when Anna Rodger was named Volunteer Citizen of the Year. Earlier during the ceremonies, she was awarded the Family and Community Service Award for her 35-year volunteerism in numerous organizations including St. Albert Bereavement, Habitat for Humanity, Friends of the FCSS and as a church deacon and Sunday school teacher.
With tears in her eyes and a lump in her throat, she walked up to the podium. In a very short speech, Rodger humbly acknowledged everyone but herself saying, “A part of my award is for you” referring to the other volunteers.
After the official ceremony, Rodger confided to the Gazette saying, I was surprised [to be named Volunteer Citizen of the Year]because there were so many good finalists. It could have been anyone. Not until they started to say some of the things related to me, thats when the tears started coming.
Another angel was Dale Hanson, who received the Service to Community Award, for her work with Stop Abuse in Families, St. Albert Victim Services and the St. Albert Senior Citizens Club.
Urban Strang, on the other hand, was honoured with the Community Outreach Award. A welcome driving angel, he steps behind the wheel for St. Vincent de Paul Society and the seniors’ club. And when there’s time left over in the day, he volunteers for Knights of Columbus, St. Albert Victim Services, St. Albert Parish and the Alberta 55 Plus Winter Games.
Kathy Batty has been dubbed a “superhero” to the 1,000 Girl Guides she supports as the Tamarac Area Commissioner and she carried home the Community Volunteer Youth Award.
And Susan McBain, recipient of the Community Leadership Award, has had her hand in the success of Commonwealth Games, Universiade Games, LoSeCa Thrift Store, the St. Albert Children’s Festival and the Festival of Trees.
What the more youthful Leaders of Tomorrow recipients lacked in longevity, they made up with enthusiasm. Jaden Babiuk, in the six to 12 years category, was singled out for his work raising $20,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society through Strikes for Cancer.
Naatiya Prakash, in the 13 to 15 years category, was honoured for her diverse interests on student council, the environment and Free the Children.
There was a tie in the 16 to 18 year category with Bellerose High student Caitlin LaRose and University of Alberta student Abi Iskander. While LaRose has focused on volunteerism in dance, sporting events and school councils, Iskander has been involved in numerous fundraising projects and now chairs the 150th anniversary youth committee. “It meant a lot to me. I’m glad I was noticed and the hard work paid off,” said Iskander.
Keegan Farrell, in the 19 to 21 years category, was a recipient for his work in sports, most notably baseball, soccer and gymnastics.
And the youth asset advisory committee, a group of 19, scooped up an award for the 1,600 hours they spent organizing and fundraising for a retreat of 71 students.
For complete information on the award ceremony, visit www.stalbertcivc.com.