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Wellings honours outstanding community volunteers

Recipients of the PEC Volunteer Recognition Awards were Brooke Roche, Christopher Zachariah, Evelyn and Doug Sloane and Linda Downey.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Prince Edward County volunteers were in the spotlight Wednesday as the Wellings of Picton hosted its third annual Volunteer Recognition Awards luncheon.

The celebration coincides with National Volunteer Week, this year devoted to the theme “Celebrate the value of volunteering – building confidence, competence, connections and community”.

County councillor Gord Fox spoke on behalf of the mayor about recognizing volunteerism throughout the year, and not just in this particular week.

“It’s important to recognize the important role played by volunteers in our community and this event is a great way to do that,” he said. “I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the four winners to be announced today who serve to strengthen and enrich our community. And while we are here today to celebrate these deserving individuals, we certainly want to take a moment to thank all of the volunteers in Prince Edward County.”

Wellings general manager Rachel Henry said the event’s popularity began before the adult lifestyle community located behind HJ McFarland Home was even open.

“Two years ago, we launched the first volunteer awards,” said Henry. “We held a lunch at The Waring House because this was a construction site and we received such enthusiasm and had such a great response that we decided to make it an annual event.”

Six weeks ago, the community was asked to nominate people who have made a significant impact to the community in a volunteering role. Nominees were required to have been engaged in volunteer activities that benefited the Prince Edward County community for a minimum of one year and who had not received compensation in the role.

“We received seven outstanding nominations,” said Henry. “I think it goes without saying that each and every one of you deserves to be recognized today for your efforts and outstanding contributions in Prince Edward County in making this a remarkable community to live and work in.”

The awards ceremony followed a light three-course luncheon provided by the Wellings in-house chefs. Winners from each of the three categories received $1,000, donated by Wellings of Picton, toward the not-for profit organization of their choice.

Awarded to a volunteer who continually shows outstanding compassion in a volunteer role and inspires others to do the same, the County Caring Award brings to light the example set by the kind-heartedness and engagement that makes up the fabric of the County character. This year’s nominees were John Ferguson, Rough Around the Edges (Lesley Forrester, Fred Hall and Rob Johnson) and Linda Downey.

The Lifelong Achievement Award is for an outstanding individual who has tirelessly dedicated their life to volunteering, inspired other volunteers and made a significant impact on the community through their exceptional achievements through volunteering. Evelyn and Doug Sloane were the sole nominees.

And the Exceptional Youth Award recognizes the exemplary contribution made by an individual under the age of 21 within the community through volunteer efforts. Shortlisted were Katherine Reddick, Brooke Roche and Christopher Zachariah.

The Community Builder Award recognizes the individual who, drawing upon their unique leadership skills, has shown exemplary guidance in a volunteer role, led volunteer groups, and/or have taken a lead role in finding solutions to local challenges. However, there were no nominees for this category this year.

Three of last year’s four winners were this year’s judges, namely Jean Algar, Lisa Zachariah and Don Roberts. The award selection process included reviewing all nominations to select three finalists from each of the three categories, namely the County Caring Award, Lifelong Achievement Award and Exceptional Youth Award. One winner from each category, chosen by the panel of judges, was announced at the luncheon.

Recepients of the 2018 Prince Edward County Volunteer Recognition Awards were Linda Downey (County Caring Award), Evelyn and Doug Sloane (Lifelong Achievement Award) with the award for Exceptional Youth coming in with a tie. Both Brooke Roche and Christopher Zachariah received the award.

“Downey has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of those in need in Wellington and surrounding areas,” said Henry. “She is always available not just at the foodbank, but has temporarily housed people in her home, hauling furniture, driving all over and she is also the founder the Storehouse Foodbank.”

“Christopher Zachariah is a successful young man with a big heart. Among his many entrepreneurial endeavours, he has personally volunteered over 450 hours of his time last year all the while maintaining an excellent academic record and beginning his first year at Queen’s University. He has organized his time with pizza fundraisers, benefit dances and selling chocolate eggs to raise money for those in need,” said Henry.

She noted Brooke Roche has been actively involved with the Recreation Outreach Centre (ROC) for over 10 years. “She is a dedicated volunteer that exemplifies leadership and teamwork skills with younger youth among her peers. Roche consistently demonstrates possibility, reliability and maturity in her day-to-day life and volunteering,” said Henry.

“Evelyn and Doug Sloane. This wonderful couple has been volunteering for many years. The organizations they have made contributions to are numerous so we may be here a while, but include Quinte Conservation, Friends of Sandbanks, The Regent Theatre, Friends of Picton Library, Macaulay Museum, Blood Donor Clinic and the Prince Edward Yacht Club,” said Henry.

Downey noted she was thrilled to receive the County Caring Award and said recognition of volunteer efforts helps to get the next generation involved.

“The County is run a lot by volunteers. I was very honoured to receive the award, but you can’t do what I do without a group of volunteers behind me,” Downey said. “For younger generations in particular, volunteerism is important to get anything done. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and this year is the first year I’ve had students get involved. We had lots of students this year, so it’s great.”

And Downey will, of course, donate her prize money back to the Storehouse Foodbank.

Winner of the Exceptional Youth Award, 18-year-old Roche said, “It means a lot that I can be recognized for it. I don’t always want recognition, but I’m super happy that I am able to give back to the community in that way.”

Roche is still thinking about which organization(s) will benefit from her $1,000 prize money.

A short presentation was made by Sydney Kerr of the Recreation Outreach Centre (ROC). As program co-ordinator with the youth centre, Kerr highlighted the its role of providing opportunities, programs and mentoring to local youth. Kerr also touched on the importance of volunteerism in the County, especially the relevance of youth volunteer involvement.

“Volunteerism plays a pivotal role in fostering active citizenship,” she said.

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