Keynote speaker Ed Hill thanked the 19 volunteers, finalists in this year’s Celebration of Excellence Awards, for their vitality and spirit. All of them “captured the spirit of community and made it special,” he told the full house at the Chatelech Theatre last Saturday.
The biannual event, organized in part by the Sunshine Coast Community Services and the Volunteer Centre, accepted nominations from the public to honour volunteers who have built the community with their selfless work and those who have mentored, trained or inspired others. All have earned great respect.
Arts and Culture finalist Bob Hunt was honoured for his directing and mentoring work in amateur theatre; he is known as the man who brought Story Theatre to the Coast.
Sue Milne, who could not be present because of a grandchild’s imminent birth, was also a finalist for her recognized leadership roles in all things musical including the SC Music Society and the Festival of the Performing Arts.
In the category of Community Building, five individuals were honoured. Don Basham is a founding member of the SC Community Foundation that serves local charities, and he took leadership on the Vital Signs report. Katie Caple is a dedicated educator and is also inspirational in the Girl Guides as an advisor, mentor and trainer. Gwen Hawkins’ work with Habitat for Humanity on the Coast is legendary—as a chair, organizer and fundraiser. She’s always proactive with her visions, say her nominators.
Gary Mill is the man behind the popular Sea Cavalcade fireworks — an event that requires countless hours of fundraising and co-ordinating.
Dawn Miller is chair of Community Futures and matches business mentors with young entrepreneurs. She also works with a group that helps women in financial need.
In the field of education, Roy Boutilier has run an evening program called Cool School to share a passion for metalworking with students. The school and the community are better because of Roy, say his nominators.
Environmental Enhancement finalists Clint and Irene Davy drew tremendous applause for their three decades of work in rescuing and advocating for distressed creatures — more than 7,000 of them, from birds to beasts.
Health and Wellness finalist Kate Webb is in her 20th year of service to the SC Hospice Society, co-ordinating, keeping vigil and mentoring new volunteers.
Barry Janyk, former councillor and mayor of Gibsons, was nominated in the Non- Profit/Public Sector category for his volunteer work with maintaining parkland, building trails and steering the creation of Tetrahedron Park.
Lesleigh Farr is more than a coach, say her nominators. She has coached and mentored at the SC Skating Club for years, and she has shown leadership in other areas of the skating community to earn her an award in the Sports and Recreation category.
Penny Ulmer, also a finalist in that category, has led the organization of the annual SC Golf and Country Club Ladies Challenge Tournament that draws golfers from all over. She also donates time and talent to the St. Mary’s Thrift Shop and the Festival of the Written Arts.
Four volunteers were given well-earned Citations of Outstanding Achievement. Terry Connor, a founding member of the Curling Club, is the “go to” person for his church and its outreach programs. Celia Fisher has served on many boards from gallery to library to museum. She has also been active in the schools, pioneering a school breakfast program and working with teens.
Sandy McBride brings her financial skills to her passion for building community. She was a founding member and chair of the Women’s Resource Society and now sits on the board of the SC Community Foundation.
Linda Williams is active in so many areas of the arts it’s difficult to list them all —primarily as the driving force behind the Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival and as a founder of the Coast Cultural Alliance. She is also an active organizer of the annual Art Crawl.
The selection committee of Sue Jackal, Wendy Hunt, Bronia Kingsbury, Jim Petzold, Tony Greenfield and Randy Udahl also chose to add one more distinguished category to the awards.
The Committee Special Award for Youth went to Charlene Smith, an Elphinstone Secondary student. When Charlene noticed increased sexuality and drug use among youth, she chose to do something about it. She wanted to give youth reasons and tools to say “No”, and she has spoken about these issues before local government. Her nominators agree that she will go a long way in public service.
Organizers say that the 19 finalists represent a total of 378 years of outstanding volunteer service to the Sunshine Coast. See more photos from the event in our on-line galleries at www.coastreporter.net.