About 200 people gathered at the Kinsmen Community Centre on May 1 to recognize the contributions volunteers have made to the community.
One of the ways that recognized volunteers was the Morna Chorney award. The award was introduced by listing off the accomplishments and contributions of the recipient before mentioning who was to receive it. The list of the individual’s contributions did not seem to end and the longer the accomplishments were read the more the crowd was amazed.
At the end of the list of volunteer work done by the individual, Laura Wierzba’s name was announced as the recipient and with a look of surprise and joy she made her way to the front to receive the prestigious award from Bill Chorney and his grandson.
Wierzba did not hide her disbelief but was thrilled with being given the award.
“I am very surprised,” said Wierzba. “When the list was being read I thought, ‘I’d like to meet someone like that’ and then my name was called, I can’t believe it. There were so many volunteers that it never even occurred to me that I was going to be the one to get it.”
Wierzba received the award just days before her 90th birthday and executive director of FCSS Joanne Comeau believes that the award is a nice present.
“Wierzba was very worthy of the award,” said Comeau. “She has been a community member her whole life and has given endlessly. What a great way to celebrate her birthday.”
Lynn Gray manager of volunteer resources for the David Thompson Health Region was very pleased that Wierzba was the recipient of the award and has seen the difference Wierzba has made in the community.
“I think in our community we have so many volunteers to be proud of and Wierzba is one that has shone in my eyes for a many, many years. She has definitely had an impact on the community.”
Guest speaker Spencer Beach took the stage and expressed the importance of volunteering and emphasize that volunteers are the true definition of courage.
Beach told his story and touched many with his account of the house fire that burned 90 per cent of his body and how he was able to persevere and survive the fire and all that came with it.
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His message was on safety and how to turn demons into diamonds touching on how it was volunteers that played a significant role in his recovery.
Beach, a volunteer himself, felt honored to be speaking at the event and was pleased to have the opportunity to share his experience and caution others to always be safe.
“It’s awesome to be recognizing these volunteers,” said Beach. “These people have given up a lot of their time for others, it’s nice to give something for them.”
Gray was encouraged by Beach’s message and was completely affected by his words.
“He was truly outstanding, so inspirational,” she said. “What we can take from his message and putting it into our own lives is nothing compared to all that he has been through. His message is so powerful.”
The evening offered refreshments and fellowship with other volunteers, dignitaries and members of the community.
“We’re really pleased to have been able to have done this for our volunteers,” said Gray. “We’re going to see our volunteers leave even bigger and better after experiencing all of this.”
Ponoka is alive with dedicated and hardworking volunteers and recognition is important to show how much they are needed in order to keep the community flourishing.
“It’s great to live in a community with thriving volunteers,” said Comeau. “It’s an honour to show our appreciation for our volunteers in the community and recognize that they are valuable treasures.”