An Alberta-based humanitarian charity has named a Ponoka teacher as its 2019 Citizen of the Year.
Julie Lapointe (Anderson) teaches high school at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) and was presented the award April 10 in Lacombe by A Better World (ABW) co-founder Eric Rajah.
“I have never done humanitarian work for recognition. Humanitarianism is a passion of mine as I know that I can make a change for the better in this world regardless of how large or small it may be,” said the recently married Lapointe.
The 27 year-old, who grew up in Sylvan Lake, began her volunteer efforts while attending high school by raising funds for a new school that ABW was looking to build in Kenya. The project came on the heels of a trip to the African country with her mother in 2006.
Following up on the fundraiser, Lapointe led a trip of Sylvan Lake students, teachers, principal and some family to the grand opening of the school they helped build.
Her work for ABW hasn’t stop since, raising money for schools in Afghanistan while attending the University of Lethbridge and now in Ponoka where she teaches biology and chemistry.
The PSC Humanitarian club, which she advises for, just held it’s annual 30 hour fundraiser — this year called Famine for a Better World. Lapointe is so proud of the students and with the $3,700 that was raised, which will go to completing a shallow water well for sustaining a rural community school’s garden in Kenya.
“The recognition is appreciated and I know that it is important for students to see that their efforts at Ponoka Secondary Campus have made a difference. My recognition through A Better World is very much linked to those students and I am excited to see what the future holds for these kids,” she said.
“These students deserve the recognition much more than I do.”
A previous project Lapointe helped her students with saw 500 sweaters provided to needy students at ABW sponsored schools in Kenya.
“My involvement has never been a solo adventure,” Lapointe said. “My family has been consistently involved with A Better World in one way or another and has been a support throughout.”
She also called Rajah “a hero” to her because of his selflessness and determination at creating self-sustainable projects for deserving people.
Lapointe added she was also “super humbled” by the honour.
“We do it because it’s the right thing to do and we can make a difference on this planet.”