Volunteer Jozina Meijer, left, holds up her Mike Meindertsma Memorial Award which was presented to her by Mike Meinderstma’s parents, Harry and Anneke. Robin Grant/Ponoka News

Big Brothers Big Sisters awards shine light on local volunteers

Volunteers honoured for their commitment to Ponoka Youth Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters

Volunteers who dedicate their time to their communities aren’t always recognized for the important and hard work they do.

But on April 9, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ponoka and the Ponoka Youth Centre held their third annual Volunteer Appreciation Night to honour the volunteers who have dedicated many years of service.

The event was held for National Volunteer Week that runs from April 7 to 13. The week-long event celebrates the millions of volunteers across Canada who donate their time to support people and organizations.

Beth Reitz, director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ponoka and the Ponoka Youth Centre, said the agencies have about 100 volunteers who put in roughly 5,000 hours a year.

Once a year, the agencies show appreciation through this event because, Reitz said, “We absolutely could not run our programs without these volunteers.

“It’s the relationships they build with the youth, that’s what we’re looking for in volunteers. People who want to build into the lives of the youth and their community and we can’t do that as a staff. There are not enough of us and we depend on the volunteers to build those relationships.”

In addition to the Mike Meindertsma Memorial Award and the Heart and Soul Award, the Helen Hagemann Commitment to Volunteerism award given to four volunteers. It was introduced Tuesday as a new award to honour longtime volunteer, Helen Hagemann.

As part of the appreciation night, Team Canada Paralympian Stephanie Dixon was invited to speak. She talked about the incredible role the volunteers play in the community.

Helen Hagemann Awards:

Helen Hagemann

Heather Patterson

Jozina Meijer

Tony Ruijsch

Heart and Soul Award:

Karen Douglass

Mike Meindertsma Memorial Award:

Jozina Meijer

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Heather Patterson, right, earned the Helen Hagemann Commitment to Volunteerism award. Over the years, she has done everything from grant writing to measuring outcomes and planning for the Race for Kids to proofreading marketing materials. Robin Grant/Ponoka News

Karen Douglass and her little brother Ty. She earned a Certificate of Recognition for over 10 years of volunteering at the Ponoka Youth Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ponoka. Robin Grant/Ponoka News

Helen Hageman is presented with the Helen Hagemann Award for her 15 years of volunteering and dedication to enhancing the mission and vision of Ponoka Youth Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ponoka. On Tuesday, the new Helen Hagemann Commitment to Volunteerism Award was dedicated to her honour. Robin Grant/Ponoka News

Helen Hagemann presents Volunteer Jozina Meijer with a Helen Hagemann Award for her 16 years of volunteering with the Ponoka Youth Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ponoka. Robin Grant/Ponoka News

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