Long-time Ponoka volunteer surprised at receiving award

Each year, Ponoka’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) recognizes and shows appreciation for local community volunteers.

Carlen Chorney

Carlen Chorney

Each year, Ponoka’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) recognizes and shows appreciation for the numerous local community volunteers.

This year was no different at the event hosted at the Kinsmen Community Centre on April 25 during National Volunteer Week. However, there was one person that showed up who wound up being completely shocked.

Sheila Debney listened intently while Carlen Chorney described the attributes that exemplify what the Morna Chorney Heart and Soul volunteer award is all about. The award, handed out since 2006, is given out to a senior with exemplary contributions to the community.

In his presentation, Carlen noted the award winner began volunteering during her time as an army wife, continued with serving veterans through her work with the Royal Canadian Legion along with decades of volunteering time at the Centennial Centre through the gift shop and teaching swimming.

“Her dedication truly epitomizes the purpose behind the Morna Chorney Heart and Soul Award,” he said before calling on Debney to come get her award.

Yet, when her name was called as the recipient of the award, the look said it all.

“I was more than a little shocked for sure,” Debney said following the presentation.

“I’ve been volunteering since I was 16 and keep going because I like working with people.”

Debney was also instrumental in starting the exercise program at what is now called the Ponoka Drop-In Centre when she was 25 years old. While not involved in the program now, she admitted she still takes in the program as a participant a couple times a week.

The other award presented was the Rita Scott volunteer award, established back in 2003 in memory of a dedicated community volunteer.

This year, it was yet another Ponoka group being presented with the award by Rita’s oldest son Ray the Kinette Club of Ponoka.

Kinette Club of Ponoka awarded the Rita Scott Volunteer Award

“There motto is serving the community’s greatest needs and they definitely do just that,” he said.

Among the club’s accomplishments, Ray specifically mentioned the new playground in Centennial Park, the purchase of a new industrial oven for the Rising Sun Clubhouse and the club’s many monetary contributions.

“These are just a few examples of the great work the group has done to enhance the community,” he added.

Club president Eliza Groeneveld said the group is certainly honoured to received this award.

“Volunteering is a really important part of what we do and I am lucky to be part of a group of women that are committed to making things better for the lives of our families, our friends and our community,” she stated.