National Volunteer Week started with a celebration by recognizing the volunteer efforts of youth in Ponoka.
Thirty-nine Ponoka youths had their chance to shine during the Leaders of Tomorrow Awards on Sunday, April 10. The dedication of these youths was mirrored with the ceremony, which celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Leanne Brusegard, Leaders of Tomorrow chairperson, was excited with the large number of youths nominated for the awards with six in the elementary category (Grades 4 to 6), 15 in the junior (Grades 7 to 9) and 18 in the senior (Grades 10 to 12).
In the elementary category, all the nominees received a certificate while the junior and senior categories had two winners with everyone nominated getting a certificate. For Brusegard, the biggest enjoyment from the day is being able to recognize the volunteer efforts of Ponoka’s youths.
The day also brought in appearances by several dignitaries, including Lynn Gray, manager of Alberta Health Services central volunteer resources. Gray helped start the program in Ponoka with help from Brusegard. She said seeing the initiative was a great source of excitement for her and for Morna Chorney, who helped bring the plan to fruition.
Chorney, who has since passed away, showed strong volunteerism and she has been immortalized with the Morna Chorney Heart and Soul volunteer award. “She exemplified volunteerism at its best,” said Gray.
Getting the program running took sponsorship from Encana and now more recently with Sirrs Law Group and Rowland, Parker and Associates. Gray praised the Leaders of Tomorrow Committee that has youth representatives as well as those from different Ponoka schools. Gray praised the committee. “My heart and soul truly goes out to the dedicated members of this committee.”
Speaking for Sirrs Law Group was lawyer Rod Clark who suggested the actions of the youths is an invaluable service.
“This community … has something very important that you cannot put a value on,” said Clark.
“Leadership and integrity. They are part and parcel.”
He added that being nominated is in itself something to be proud of.
Among the dignitaries was MLA Ron Orr who said that volunteering is a positive life-experience that everyone should take part in. “The community would not quite thrive without volunteerism.”
Mayor Rick Bonnett added that the community is a better place with these young volunteers. “You are truly winners. You are a rich fabric of this community.”
Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin added that being a leader also means being part of a team and suggests humility is an important part of being in a leadership role.
Celebrating his last year as the CEO of the 4-H Foundation of Alberta was Bruce Banks, who wanted to have his last event as the CEO in Ponoka for the ceremony. The 4-H is also a supporter of the Leaders of Tomorrow by inviting the nominees and one friend to the foundation’s leadership conference.
Banks suggested that the Leaders of Tomorrow are almost an extension of the 4-H leadership program. “It was a no-brainer for us to get involved.”
The leadership camp is set for sometime in May.
Junior: Emily David and Morgan Blanchard;
Senior: Jessica Feldberg and Kristin Prediger.