Recognition of efforts by Legion members going above and beyond the service was the key theme during the annual awards night at the Ponoka Royal Canadian Legion.
The dinner event, held Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Legion Hall, saw a number of people receive recognition for their lengths of service to the Legion, though the two biggest awards were handed out for the long-term volunteerism and dedication of those individuals.
Current president Sybil Evans was surprised with the Legion’s life membership award, while four members of the Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary – Helen Churchill, Dorothy Houghton, Wendy Peavoy and Verna Raycraft – received the highest honour that can be handed out, the Meritorious Service Award.
Evans, who is in her second term as president, has only been a Legion member for the past decade, but has been extremely active in serving the membership and the community as was pointed out during the awards presentation by Stan Orlesky, chair of the honour and awards committee.
Evans spent four years as the membership chairman plus four years as the Legion secretary-treasurer in addition to all of the commitments she has made to helping prepare for the weekly Friday suppers and various catering functions, assisting with the Bingo committee, filling in when needed and her community service with the United Church and the Sunshine Choir.
The honour came as a bit of a shock to Evans, who was kept in the dark about it until the last second.
“It’s certainly humbling,” she said.
As for the four Ladies Auxiliary members, each were pleased to have their families there to be part of what turned into a celebration of their commitment and legacy they continue to leave behind at the Legion and in the community.
In addition, the crowd provided two standing ovations during the ceremony – both for individuals that have been serving with the Legion for more than six decades. John Kocyba was honoured with a pin, medal and bar for his 65 years as a contributing member, while Viola Ogilvie was recognized with a pin and bar for serving 60 years with the ladies auxiliary.
It is that work and dedication that Evans believes is the reason Ponoka Legion hasn’t suffered the same fate as many others have across the country.
“We are very fortunate to have a great and dedicated nucleus of hard working members that keeps us going,” she explained.
“And those longer serving members, through that dedication, encourage the younger members and those that might want to join to participate when and where possible. I also believe the continued success of our legion comes from the fact all of our schools in town remain intent on ensuring the youth never forget about the sacrifices made nor the people who survived.”
The Legion also thanked several individuals and companies for the work they provided to fix up the cenotaph. Certificates of appreciation were provided to Phase III Electric, Elite Integrity, Chuck’s Concrete, Inland Cement, Tranquility Greenhouses, Sommer Home Hardware, Pederson Construction, Brodie Buksa, Eldred Stamp, Beth Sykes, Mel McNeil, Wendy Rinsky, Ron Labrie, Kathleen Mennell and Neil LaLonde.
Among the others presented with awards and recognition were:
Service awards – 5 years (ordinary) Rick Burden, John Spink, Harold Neufeldt; (associate) Edie Bennink, Jeffery Demchuk, Matthew Southwell-Monks, Dylan Hoar, William McGuire, Dave Hunka, Steven Tardiff, Jerry Witvoet, Beverely Woyen, John Crawford, Donna Monks, Tim Falkiner, Steve Kenney, Nila Jean McGuire, Melissa Sherrens, Deborah Witvoet, Barry Woyen; (affiliate) Robert Leavitt, Russell Buksa; 10 years – (associate) Bev Fry, Fran Kelly, Nancy MacKenzie, Chris Hicks, Alastair MacKenzie, Sybil Evans; (affiliate) Cheryl Kelly; (ladies aux) Brenday Bailey; 15 years (ordinary) Norm Clair, Doreen Fraser; (associate) Jordana Tigchelaar, Chad Peavoy; (ladies aux) M. Vieaux; 20 years (associate) Dianne Laflamme-Betteridge, Emma Cook, Brian Leidenius, Margaret Mabbot, Ken McGarva; 25 years (associate) Harry Peterson, Jerry Kawamura; (ladies aux) Diane Henke, Wendy Peavoy; 30 years (ordinary) Emma Stoddart; 35 years (ordinary) Charles Disberry, J. Ferrie, Richard Lightning, Charles Bowie; (associate) Tom Hoar, Mike Hussey, Garth Olson; 40 years (ordinary) R.L. Delano, E.V. Lawes; (associate) Cathy Akins, Jim Best, Joyce Crandall, L.P. Hewitt, C.W. Lawes, Doug Stoddart, Elizabeth Sykes, Richard Sykes, Shirley Hycha; (ladies aux) Verna Raycraft, Ethel Schimpf, Valerie Wagner; 45 years (ladies aux) Pat Myttenar; 55 years (ordinary) Jerry Reynolds.
Certificate of Merit – Deb Makus, Deborah Witvoet, Darcy Boyce, Marlene Perry, Barb Olsen, Red Cheyney, Diane Cheyney; Branch service medals and bars – Dorothy Houghton, Stan Orlesky, Dave MacPherson, Jim Pinksen, Len Eichler, Sybil Evans, Diane Cheyney.