This is the time of year when the spotlight shines on volunteers.
Volunteers from across Nova Scotia were honoured at the province's 45th annual Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony today, April 1, for their contributions.
The ceremony is part of National Volunteer Week. More than 70 volunteers were celebrated in three award categories, the Representative Volunteer Award, Youth Volunteer Award and Family Volunteer Award. First Nations and municipalities in Nova Scotia selected one individual per community for the representative award.
National Volunteer Week this year is April 7 to 13. That’s when most municipal units will hold their volunteer appreciation events. Some units have their own events while others team up with neighbouring units.
Again, each municipal unit in the tri-counties in southwestern N.S. has chosen one of its residents to receive a representative volunteer award from the province.
The Little family from Yarmouth received the Family Award. The Little family has collectively contributed over 40 years of volunteer service to the community over the past 11 years.
“The biggest reason we volunteer together as a family is because it is the right thing to do, to give back to our community,” said Jeff Little, father and Family Award recipient. “Also, it allows us to be together as a family and to bond while doing something we all love.”
The following is the list of this year’s representative volunteers for the 11 municipal units in the tri-counties, along with some examples of their volunteer work.
Ron Van Tassel: Town of Digby
Ron Van Tassel Ron has been a member of the Admiral Digby Library and Historical Society's board of trustees for five years and he assists at the Admiral Digby Museum as a tour guide when needed.
He currently volunteers with the Digby Pines Golf Club, where he is treasurer and helps with the junior golf program. He can be seen at almost any community event giving a helping hand.
In the past, he has volunteered with the Digby Scallop Days festival, men's and mixed bowling leagues, Digby Curling Club and East Coast Golf Classic.
A former town councillor, he also served on the former Digby District School Board.
Roger Outhouse: Municipality of the District of Digby
Roger Outhouse has a long history of volunteering and contributing to his community.
He has volunteered with the Bay of Fundy Discovery Centre Association, Freeport Development Association, Islands Historical Society, Passages and the Freeport Baptist Church and he is a founding member of the Digby and Area Tourism Association.
Working with the Friends of the Islands trails committee and the Brier Island Trails Society, he promotes all Long and Brier Island trails.
With a great passion for preserving and promoting the natural wonders of the Bay of Fundy and the environment around it, he has inspired many people to stop and consider the area’s natural beauty.
Lonnie McNeill: Municipality of Clare
Lonnie McNeill volunteers with Clare Special Olympics, having contributed to the organization in various ways, including coaching bocci and curling.
As a member of the Clare Special Olympics board of directors, he plays an important role planning events and fundraising activities.
For him, the highlight of working with Special Olympics is the interaction with the athletes, whom he finds inspiring.
Aside from Special Olympics, he has volunteered with the Clare Golf and Country Club, Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie and St. Joseph’s Parish.
Whatever the event or the organization, he says it’s gratifying to see the support of the community.
Jeff Little: Municipality of Yarmouth
Jeff Little has been a member of the Yarmouth Rotary Club for 10 years, where he has assumed many volunteer roles.
He's been on the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation for several years and has been the organizer of the radiothon that has raised more than $300,000 for the Yarmouth Regional Hospital.
He is a founding member of 100 Guys Who Care in Yarmouth and a member of their executive committee.
Among other things, he has been involved with Scouts Canada and with the Interact Club at the Yarmouth high school. He volunteers because it is “the right thing to do,” saying he feels it’s important to give back to the community.
Cowen Kenney: Town of Yarmouth
Cowen Kenney is a teenager whose volunteer involvement at Maple Grove Education Centre has included the dance committee, performance group, lead council, band, Intact club, Maple Grove Community Pride and the former Memorial Club.
He also volunteers with MC Media at the Mariners Centre.
Cowen, who also plays hockey, has apraxia of speech, a condition in which people have difficulty connecting speech messages from the brain to the mouth. He loves to help others and is an inspiring youth striving to make a difference in his community.
You can read more about Cowen at this link: FINDING HIS VOICE THROUGH VOLUNTEERING
Audrey Doucette: Municipality of Argyle
Audrey Doucette is a longtime volunteer at Ste Anne’s Parish, participating in church cleaning and helping with fundraisers.
She is active in organizing benefits for locals in need and funeral receptions at the Club Acadien. She volunteers for kitchen duty and other activities whenever the Jeux de l’Acadie are held locally and, before she was eligible to compete, she was a yearly volunteer at the Argyle Senior Games.
She is director of the Indian Sluice Seniors Club and vice-president of the New Horizons in Ste-Anne-du-Ruisseau.
Among other things, she is an active member of the Club Acadien and Village Friends, helping with pie baking, organizing Halloween parties for children and luncheons for elderly community members. She also is active in the Hospital Hullabaloo.
John Joyce: Municipality of Barrington
John Joyce was nominated for recognition for his volunteer efforts by the Barrington Area Lions Club.
Through the Lions Club he has been involved in various capacities, including serving on the board of directors, being active on several committees and working on fundraising projects.
As a volunteer, he also has been involved in the Royal Canadian Legion, the Victorian Order of Nurses and the United Way.
Helen Atwood: Town of Clark’s Harbour
Helen Atwood has been a volunteer in her community for the past 53 years.
She has been a member of Seabreeze Rebekah Lodge #24 since 1969 and also volunteered for the Clark’s Harbour Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, where she held the office of president for a year.
She was a member of the Eastern Star for over 25 years and just recently retired from the Meals on Wheels program, where she delivered meals and friendship to seniors in the area for the past 22 years.
Debi King: Town of Shelburne
Debi King is an active volunteer with many organizations in the Town of Shelburne.
She volunteers as a driver for Meals on Wheels, volunteers at the Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club, helps with the canteen at the arena, is a board member of Little People’s Place, helps with events at the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre and volunteers with the Shelburne Curling Club.
She is a member of 100 Women Who Care, a member of the Osprey Arts Centre Board and a member of the refugee committee with the St. Thomas Catholic Church.
She also was instrumental in the opening of the King Street Centre and Hillcrest Academy in Shelburne.
Jennie Huskilson: Municipality of Shelburne
Jennie Huskilson has been at the forefront of her family’s commitment to help those in need and give back to the community.
In honouring her daughter Carmen’s life by paying it forward, Huskilson – along with her husband Andrew and son Ryan – has had a great impact. Through the Pay it Forward in Memory of Carmen Faith Huskilson initiative, Jennie has inspired people from across Shelburne County to do random acts of kindness, donations and fundraisers.
She and her family have led by example, donating substantial amounts to health-care groups and facilities through the Carmen Faith Memorial Fund.
In addition, Jennie sits on the board of the Roseway Hospital Foundation and is a board member of the Shelburne County Arena Association.
She also teaches kindness classes at Hillcrest Academy, where her son attends school.
Cindy Embree: Town of Lockeport
Cindy Embree’s volunteer efforts have been felt throughout the community.
As a member of Shelburne County Women’s Fishnet, where she has played a key role in a wide range of projects, she was a founding member of Harmony Bazaar Festival of Women & Song, which is in its 14th year.
Her volunteer activities are extensive, ranging from teaching a refugee family English to working with Sou’west Nova Transit, which is looking to improve transportation services for residents in our rural community (and for which she has been a volunteer driver).
She is actively involved in her church, is a member of 100 Women Who Care and has served on a number of boards.