Inspirational volunteers found throughout Ponoka

Janice Mackie, volunteer co-ordinator at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury, was the guest speaker at the legion’s annual awards banquet.

Members of the Ponoka branch of the Royal Canadian Legion got a pat on the back after many had earlier received pins and certificates for their volunteerism.

Janice Mackie, volunteer co-ordinator at the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury, was the guest speaker at the legion’s annual awards banquet.

She felt intimidated speaking to a roomful full of senior citizens who over the decades have set the volunteering bar quite high.

“How do I stand up here and talk about volunteering? There’s a good lot of you in this room who have taught me what I know, and I know you have taught others way more.”

Mackie said she was influenced at a young age by the ordinary people who led Sunday School, choir, Canadian Girls in Training or square dancing.

“I never thought about it but they were volunteers. They taught us more than just dancing. They taught us about respect, responsibility and how to help others.”

For years she helped her family volunteer to cater weddings, funerals and special events at the legion hall. “You learned very quickly to peel or be peeled,” she joked.

But today, volunteering is rarely a family affair, Mackie said. “The availability of people’s time is dwindling.” Parents’ days are full with work and ferrying their kids to sports and leisure activities.

Clubs and organizations make it difficult for people to perform casual acts of volunteerism, she added. There could be legal forms to fill out and background checks.

“We have to work out ways to make it easier for people to get involved,” Mackie said. “We need volunteers. We need to keep these wonderful organizations afloat.”

Mackie suggested service clubs take what they can get from volunteers, appreciate their work and then take the time to nurture and grow their volunteers into accepting positions of greater responsibility.

Mackie said she is proud of the work volunteers perform and believes communities will always rely on volunteers for support.

“With open minds and open hearts we will carry on — hopefully with a little more help.”

Legion service awards were presented to:

• 65 years, Jack Kleckner

• 60 years, John Kocyba

• 50 years, Jerry Reynolds

• 40 years, Denzil Gerow

• 35 years, Robert Delano and Ellis Lawes

• 30 years, Katherine Albers, Charles Bowie, Charles Disberry, Jim Ferrie and Richard Lightning

• 25 years, Rose Stoddart

• 20 years, Glen Goodridge and Henry Pregitzer

• 10 years, Norman Clair and Doreen Fraser

• Five years, Paul Sowers

Ladies Auxiliary service pins

• 55 years, Vi Masssing Ogilvie

• 40 years, Pat Myttenar

• 35 years, Minnie Buss, Verna Raycraft and Ethel Schimpf

• 30 years, Val Wagner

• 20 years, Dianne Henke, Evena Long and Wendy Peavoy

• 10 years, Gail Albers and Jessie Vieaux

• Five years, Brenda Bailey and Olga Hendrickson