“How can I help to improve and better the lives of our families and children?”
This is the personal motto of Dianne Womacks, 2016 Citizen of the Year in Sylvan Lake.
With a mantra such as this to live by, it is of no wonder why Womacks received glowing admiration from the crowd during the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.
Womacks explained how everything she has been involved with over the last five years in Sylvan Lake has been an extension of what’s inside her heart.
“I become involved in something because my heart leads me there,” she explained. “It’s about bringing our people together, because life is hard – our world gets a bit a crazy. Every body needs those happy times.”
Having previously lived in Lloydminster, where she raised her family, Womacks was actively involved in the creation of two organizations in her previous community.
“When my son was six, he had a brain tumour,” she explained. “In the same kindergarten class another little girl had Leukemia. The year before a thirteen year old boy had a brain tumour.”
“A handful of years later I became a widow. That was hard, but the fears and anxieties children go through is way worse.”
She noticed there were no local groups available to help them. From this notion, Womacks brought both Candlelighters, an organization aimed at supporting those living with childhood cancer and their families, and Rainbows, an international organization who aim to assist and support grieving youth and adults, to Lloydminster.
As an empty nester, she moved to Red Deer where she met her husband and continued her education through Red Deer College’s graphic design program. She would later take on a career working with the college as an instructor in the same program.
Womacks later found herself and her husband living in Sylvan Lake where they have resided for 15 years.
“When I first came to Sylvan it was this quaint little town with one traffic light – we’ve come a long ways,” said Womacks. “I looked for quite a while in how to get involved in the Sylvan Lake community, but at that point in my life I didn’t want to do those heavy emotional things anymore – I was kind of done with that.”
As fate would have it, five years ago Dianne’s phone rang one day. On the other end of the line was Karen Van Meer.
“She asked me if I wanted to create a logo for the Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival,” recalled Womacks. “That phone call changed my life forever.”
From this conversation, not only did the Yuletide Festival now have a new logo to dawn, the festival had gained an identity and Sparkle the Yuletide Festival snowman mascot was born. While assisting with Yuletide festivities, Womacks caught wind of what had been happening with the collapse of the Sylvan Lake Arena and the launch of Hockeyville. She jumped on board and began with the management of their social media pages and anywhere else she was needed.
“Hockeyville came along at absolutely the right time and had the power to bring us together,” she stated. “Community involvement bonds us together. It bonds our people. At that time Sylvan Lake was really in a transition, we needed something to pull us together. Through Hockeyville, we evolved as a community.”
Since her involvement with Hockeyville and the Yuletide Festival, she has lent a helping hand to causes such as the Spray Park Committee, Urgent Care Committee and the Fort McMurray Wildfire Evacuation Centre as well as taken on instrumental roles in both the XO Wedding Gala and the 2016 Women’s Wellness Retreat.
For Womacks, the bottom line comes down to community involvement.
“The diversity and richness of our community lies in our hands,” she explained on what it means to be a good citizen. “Your participation and your actions when bettering your community – no matter how big or small – are still a part of that process.”
“Whatever the reason, get involved – don’t sit back and watch. When you get involved, you feel like you are part of something and a part of the community.”
Womacks added she is extremely honoured and very humbled to be thought of, acknowledged and recognized as a nominee.
“Just to be nominated, let alone to be a finalist then to actually hold this award – it’s very surreal for me as I do prefer to be behind the scenes,” she added. “I stay behind the scenes but I always strive to be a positive advocate for Sylvan.”