It’s not often a community organization has volunteers for a long period of time but that’s not the case for the Ponoka Youth Centre (PYC).
The centre held a special volunteer appreciation night April 17 with five key members who have dedicated 10 years to the mentoring programs being acknowledged. Along with those special five individuals, one received a special memorial award.
For the latter, Heather Patterson was the recipient of the Mike Meindertsma Memorial Award, which was presented by his parents Anneke and Harry.
Explaining the award was Grant Jorgenson, board chair of the PYC. He said that Meindertsma could be found in and around the youth centre helping folks and volunteering his time.
“From the moment he became a volunteer he actively involved himself in every aspect of the agencies that were made available to him,” explained Jorgenson.
Unfortunately, Meindertsma died in April 2008, which left a big hole in the organization. In an effort to recognize his efforts, the Mike Meindertsma Memorial Award was created.
“Heather became a volunteer in 2003 and has been a faithful volunteer for the last 15 years,” said Mrs. Meindertsma. “Heather has served the agencies in a wide variety of ways and volunteered literally thousands of hours of her time.”
For her part, Patterson says the work started off after reading an ad in the Ponoka News. “It started just as a small family.”
“It was literally a family thing and I think anyone who volunteers knows that’s how this goes.”
She suggests this work is always about the people who ensure that the PYC and its programs are successful, which was how Meindertsma operated.
Also recognized for 10 years each of volunteering for the organization with the mentoring programs were Kynna Hvizdos, Sharlene Campbell and Doug Thorson, plus Craig Pateman and Paul Spate with their work with the Youth Justice Committee.
It was a night of celebration for these volunteers who really make the PYC’s programs successful, explained Beth Reitz, executive director. “None of this could happen without you guys.”
“It’s really all of us as a community that’s done this,” Reitz added.
Another special award of the night was for Reitz, who has been with the organization for 15 years. Jorgenson said her long service is also being recognized on a national level.
“She is passionate about the youth in our community and everything she does leads back to that commitment and that passion,” he added.
For Reitz, it’s always been something she enjoys. “Life’s too short not to do something you love, and I love what I do.”
She pointed out that there were 180 volunteers working over 6,000 volunteer hours last year, which helped 800 youths. “We as a staff of 10 could never help 800 kids on our own,” said Reitz.
She added that the theme Thanks for Helping Us Grow really is about all the work the volunteers do to see the PYC continue with strength.