BY JENNIFER CHORNLEY
Imagine, Believe, Achieve!
This was the 2018 theme for the Volunteer Recognition Social hosted by the Town of Pelham at the community centre last Wednesday, November 21.
Some 180 volunteers from 16 service groups and Town subcommittees were honoured for their community improvement initiatives and efforts over the past years.
Each individual was awarded with certificates from the Town, Niagara West Member of Provincial Parliament Sam Oosterhoff, and Niagara West Member of Parliament Dean Allison. Then, from each Town committee and service club, one individual was awarded a Peer Award.
This year’s theme, “Imagine, Believe, Achieve,” drew inspiration from featured guest speaker Michael Jacques, a local author who wrote and self-published his book Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book, earlier this year.
The Pelham resident spoke about his background and the process of self-publishing his book, which took six years to write through a speech-to-text application on his iPad. The book highlights triumphs and how he has overcome challenges so far even though he has autism and an intellectual disability.
Jacques also serves on the Community Living Board for Welland and Pelham and the Provincial Board and is a Special Olympian on the basketball and baseball teams.
“Each of you, our volunteers, our corporate citizens— give of yourself, without any personal benefit, to help other people and to make Pelham a better place for all,” said Mayor Dave Augustyn.
“And, that’s why our theme, ‘Imagine, Believe, Achieve’ is important. First you had to imagine something better, then believed that you could do something about it, and then worked to achieve it.”
Regional Councillor Brian Baty brought messages on behalf of the Niagara Region.
“During my career as an educator and lifetime I learned that community is not defined by roads maps or coordinates but instead by the cohesion of connectivity amongst our citizens.”
Baty added that it’s the “dreamers” that help implement many community projects on all scales and extended thanks to everyone who volunteered, including coaches, music, drama and art teachers, churches, and service clubs.
Among these groups were individuals who went the extra mile for their group and their community. In recognition of this, the Town established Peer Awards.
The Peer Awards recipients were nominated by their community group or organization, honoured as the most exemplary volunteers from their respective groups.
These awards were distributed to the following individuals: Fabulous Fenwick Lions Club Dave Arbour for his 25 years of service and hours volunteering his time for numerous community events and fundraisers. Fonthill & District Kinsmen Doug Freeland received his honour for striving towards improving the physical and social landscapes in Pelham and surrounding communities. He has also acted as a liaison amongst all the town’s service clubs on many major community projects.
Fonthill Lioness Cheryl Werner was noted for her “creative mind.” In the nomination letter, fellow club members said, “It has been a pleasure to have such a devoted member in our club. May that creativity never end and congratulations on an award well deserved.”
Fonthill Lions Mary Lou Hilliard is a new member and “has not been the least bit afraid to jump in and get her feet wet.” The past two summers she chaired the club’s Sliderfest event.
Girl Guides of Canada in Pelham’s Elisha Niece is a “Magic Owl” and is “truly magic” with the Brownies, who are girls ages seven and eight. “Elisha leads the Brownie meetings with ease and grace.” Her club nominators described her as “a delight to work with and is the heart of the appeal for the girls. Elisha is reliable and consistent and provides a fantastic role model for the girls.”
Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee of Lincoln, West Lincoln, Pelham, Thorold, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Grimsby nominated Sharon Cook for her role in “championing” the cause of accessibility in the Town of Pelham for the last 15 years. “She has been an advocate for accessibility, continually educating Councils through presentations. [Cook] has bridged the gap for both groups in understanding universal accessibility.”
Pelham Active Transportation Committee Chair Bea Clark received her award for providing leadership skills that have made the successes of PATC possible. “Bea has strong facilitation skills and seems to effortlessly keep committee discussions and planning on track. She also provides inspiration for active transportation citizen groups across Niagara who work towards making it easier for people to walk or cycle as a form of travel.”
Pelham Art Festival’s Edie Pett has been with the organization for the past four years, bringing with her art expertise that helps select new artists to display their work at the annual Mother’s Day Pelham Art Festival. “She is always ready to collaborate plans with other committee members and to share her ideas.”
Pelham Cares’ Tracy Holmwood has been president for almost five years. In addition to leading the board of directors, representing Pelham Cares in the community, attending meetings, and responding to day-to-day issues, Holmwood has been a key contributor to the annual food drive, numerous fundraising events and management of the facility.
Pelham Farmers’ Market Treasurer Bev Yungblut was recognized for “going above and beyond” her role, including event coordination and various marketing initiatives.
Pelham Garden Club’s Wendy Audette has “gone the extra mile to make sure that the Pelham Garden Club’s finances are in place.” Her attention to detail has been the “mainstay” of the club’s fiscal responsibility. Beyond finances, for the past 16 years, Audette took time to contribute to club events and activities.
Pelham Minor Baseball Association’s Peter Behring has been on the executive for only three years, however, has dedicated over a thousand hours to the organization. “Peter is always willing to help, is always the first person to offer and usually beats everyone to the field.”
Pelham Panthers Basketball Association’s Brian Bleich is the president of the organization, and works to ensure over 400 kids have a place to play basketball. “Brian went above and beyond when he worked as part of a team of dedicated individuals that helped make the dream of the community centre a reality.”
Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee (PSAC) Chair Gail Hilyer was nominated for her numerous initiatives including Pelham’s involvement in the World Health Organization’s Global Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, and managing a document outlining the PSAC’s mandate. Hilyer also worked to promote Pelham Transit, seek funding for seniors programming, and followed through on the defined goals and initiatives of the PSAC.
As a volunteer with the Pelham Soccer Club for the past six years, Derek Wall was acknowledged for his contributions of good governance and administration of the Pelham Soccer Club as a “valued” board member. Most recently, Wall was “instrumental” in the success of Pelham Soccer Club’s Champions League, by organizing and officiating regular pick-up matches for Pelham players aged 14 to 16.
Rotary Club of Fonthill’s Frank Adamson has been a “driving force” in the club, creating and spearheading a variety of major fundraising events. “He is always challenging us to do more every day in the name of Rotary with his amazing involvement and leadership. [Adamson] really lives up to Rotary’s motto of ‘Service Above Self.’”
Shawn McKelvie of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 613 was nominated for working around the branch and being instrumental with kitchen renovations and the new bar. “The Legion’s hosting a range of community events and being a place for veterans and seniors would not be possible without dedicated volunteers like Shawn.”
Bill King is a volunteer with Town of Pelham’s Canada Day Committee. Dianne Gibson “has been instrumental in the advancement” of the Town of Pelham’s Public Art Advisory Committee, which was established in January. Gibson is chair of the committee, bringing over 40 years of public art expertise and was described as “being a great leader.” The Town of Pelham’s Summerfest Committee chair John Wink received honours for his dedication to the event since its inception in 2011. His “experience, enthusiasm and leadership to all aspects of Summerfest, [lead him to] becoming chair of the committee in 2015.”
Members of the business community were also honoured for their contributions, including Bryan Durst, Linda Calamus, Leo Devries, Mike Konderka, Rob Baxter, Joe Palmerino, Colin Gillespie, Tina Sidler, Jim Casson, Mike Law, Vince Forbes, Dr. Andrew Marando, Shirley Cordiner, Kelly Sauriol, Andrea Stubbings, Jeremy Julie, and Ron Kore.
“On behalf of Pelham Town Council, I offer special appreciation to each of you — for your tireless work to build and improve our community,” Augustyn said. “Thank you for your hard work and dedication that inspires others toward positive change.”
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