Volunteers recognized for efforts
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BY ALLISON SMITH
Keeping history alive. Fund raising. Being Thorold’s Terry Fox Man. Selfless philanthropy.
These are just some of the causes Thorold’s volunteers were recognized for trumpeting Wednesday evening at the fourth annual Thorold Recognition Awards Gala. The event, held at Amici’s Banquet Centre, honoured 11 nominees, including five award winners for their contributions to the community.
Volunteers are committed to their involvement in schools, churches and various community programs and organizations. In return, they are heralded by the city and the Thorold Good Citizen Awards committee on one evening a year, said Mayor Ted Luciani. “It is with sincere appreciation that I say thank you,” he said, adding that volunteers help Thorold to live, grow and prosper.
Fred Neale was recognized for his decades of service. The lifetime member of St. John the Evangelist Church has been volunteering since 1967, starting as treasurer for the church’s parish council.
His lengthy volunteer resume includes president, past president and international senator for the Thorold Jaycees and was president of the Thorold Community Activities Group. During his time on city council, he served as a liaison for Thorold seniors. He currently serves on the Battle of 1812 Committee, Mel Swart Lake Gibson Conservation Park Committee, the Non-Profit Housing committee and the board of Thorold Community Credit Union.
Master of Ceremonies Nancy McIntosh called Neale a “dedicated, tireless and humble volunteer.”
As for Neale, “I’ve enjoyed helping people and I’ve enjoyed looking after the environment we live in. And I especially enjoy history and keeping history alive,” he said in an interview as he stressed the importance of striking an appropriate balance between the needs of the environment and the economy.
Bev Carew, another longtime volunteer recognized Wednesday, is chair of Friends of the Thorold Public Library, a group of supporters who raise funds to support needs of the library not attainable through library funds, promotes the library in the community and arranges programs for library patrons. She is also an active member of her parish at Holy Rosary Church, where she was one of the co-founders of the youth group.
In a speech thanking the awards committee and those who nominated her, Carew said, “It has been said that in serving others we find ourselves. I have found that I do what I do because I enjoy it, because I like being with people and of course because I am proud to be a citizen of Thorold.”
She thanked her family for their support, applauded her fellow nominees and said she was “deeply honoured” to be one of the volunteers who was recognized.
Throughout the ceremony, many volunteers thanked family and people who supported them in their efforts.
Mike Charron, a 25-year volunteer and former city councillor, has led the Terry Fox Run in the city for the last two decades and is known as ‘The Terry Fox Man in Thorold’. He was also involved in Meals on Wheels and led the Thorold Community Activities Group in its establishment of a new community centre, among many other accomplishments. In his speech, he humbly recognized the role of families who support volunteers.
“Without the support of family, no one can volunteer for anything. You need that support there,” he said, adding the many things each volunteer has done make Thorold “a better place to live.”
Tiffany Clark, one of five nominees to win an award for their contributions, is among those proud citizens who were recognized for finding ways to give back to the community. The active volunteer serves as a mentor to 11-year-old Krystalysa with Big Brothers Big Sisters and has dedicated time to Habitat for Humanity. She said she loves seeing her Little Sister grow.
“I love being a Big Sister because I see the difference I’m making in her life,” said Clark, adding she’s enjoyed seeing Krystalysa’s progress throughout the years.
Making a difference is Clark’s mission. After she read in a book that people should donate one per cent of their income to charities, she began to do so and hopes her actions inspire others to get involved. The young philanthropist moved to Thorold in late 2010 and said she hopes to grow her volunteering efforts.
In a surprise announcement, tourism co-ordinator Terry Dow was rewarded for her contribution to Thorold through organizing many events and going above and beyond her job description. She was key to the success of Italia in Festa (Niagara Italian Festival), the Mayor's Canada Day Picnic, the Thorold Santa Claus Parade, the crowning of Thorold as Canada's Most Patriotic City and the Good Citizen Awards, among other efforts.
Other award winners included Tony Vandermaas, crier and Thorold Public Library board chair; the Canal Bank Blues Shuffle Committee; David Handley, Canadian Cancer Society volunteer and member of the Canadian Corps, Thorold Legion and Club Capri; and Patrick Nunes of the PK Hummingbird Band. Other nominees included Patricia Bissette, a volunteer at the Hotel Dieu Shaver Hospital’s auxiliary and foundation; Patsy Ingoldsby, a 30-year member of the Thorold Horticultural Society; Patrick Nunes, instructor of the PK Hummingbird Steel Band and Muriel Raymond, lead instructor for seniors’ exercise classes at the Thorold Senior’s Centre.
See two more photos from the awards ceremony here.
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