The spirit of volunteerism present in Sylvan Lake was celebrated in style, with the 2017 Volunteer Gala and Awards Evening, at the Sylvan Lake and Family Community Centre. The classy April 29 event was a chance for everyone participating to thank the many volunteers who tirelessly work within the community.
All of the local and regional dignitaries who spoke at the Gala gave their most ardent accolades and thanks to the many volunteers who reside in the community. MP for Red Deer-Lacombe Blaine Calkins spoke about how necessary that the people of Sylvan Lake continue its strong tradition of volunteerism, calling on people, young and old, to follow in the good example that volunteers have already set, within the community.
Calkins said that now, more than ever, volunteers are needed, since numbers are slightly down, imploring guest to step up and follow in the good examples set by community volunteers.
“I can tell you, nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer, because you know they’re there to help others improve their quality of life,” said Calkins in a speech to guests, at the beginning of the night. “Know what you are doing is appreciated, and valued – it is making the province and the country a better place.”
There were five awards handed out to local volunteers whose service earned them distinction among their peers, on Saturday night.
Kathy Inglis was announced as the winner of the Community Mentorship Award. Inglis was described as someone who is continuously busy – so busy, in fact, that she was unavailable to accept her award the night of the gala, due to volunteering responsibilities. Inglis was credited for her work with local students, Catholic medical missions, establishing the Care and Share Community Program and for her leadership in many arts and education programs.
Kelly Edgecombe was dubbed Community Champion, and was lauded for her spirit of community, fundraising activities, and historical stewardship work within the community.
The Beacon Hill Playground Fundraising Committee was given the Healthy Communities Initiative Cup. They were awarded for the extensive effort they put into the fundraising they have done – and continue to do – to subsidize the construction of a new playground for the school. The group has worked over the last several years to raise thousands of dollars, donating time and money to make their goal a reality.
Jim Hicks was presented with the Mayor’s Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service. Hicks was honoured for his 50 years of volunteer work in Sylvan Lake. Involvement with Scouts Canada, in an assortment of positions of leadership, as well as the local parades, Camp Woods and an assortment of other local causes earned Hicks his distinction.
The Town Council’s Award for Volunteer of the Year, was presented to Betty Finner. Finner was given accolades for her work with the local Lions Club, the Royal Canadian Legion and her extensive volunteer work with seniors at Bethany and the Sylvan Lake Seniors Lodge. Finner was also honoured for her volunteer work for the Alliance Church, the Red Hat Lady Society and local schools.
Mayor Sean McIntyre was brimming with excitement for the event, when he spoke of volunteerism within the Town. He stated that volunteerism in Sylvan Lake is something that defines the community.
McIntyre bid everyone present at the gala to raise their hand, if they had volunteered at any point, following that by saying to them, “You are our honoured guests, here tonight. Thank you so much for coming.” In his speech, he proudly referenced statistics, noting that in 2016 alone, 57,000 volunteer hours were invested in Sylvan Lake.
“We’ve heard the phrase ‘put your money where your mouth is.’ They put their talent where the need is,” said McIntyre. “They put their lives where the community is. They are friends and neighbours, and they go the extra mile and are game changers.”
The jubilant mood of the night was enhanced by the event’s entertainment. The Gala featured the high-energy musical performance of the Calgary duelling pianos – a pair of wisecracking, quick-fingered piano players that had people up on their feet, dancing throughout the night – at one point, numerous guests formed a dancing conga line, snaking through the tables, to the sound of the pianists’ music. The pair ran an interactive show, accepting audience requests and playing familiar crowd-pleasing tunes throughout the night.