Volunteers tend to be a low-key bunch, working selflessly behind the scenes without fanfare, expecting little in return.
That may explain why the City’s distinguished service awards — which recognize people who dedicate time and service to the community — have garnered too little attention in a City with no shortage of volunteers.
There’s still time to make up for lost ground, though: nominations for the 2013 awards aren’t due until March 8.
Perhaps volunteers prefer not to call attention to themselves because they feel the causes they serve are a more fitting focus. Or it may be they don’t feel any more worthy of recognition than others who give of their time and energy.
“To a person, they almost all have that same quality,” said Mayor Peter Milobar, who had the awards upgraded to an annual event when he took office.
Lynda MacKenzie expressed some of those sentiments as she recalled various charitable activities she’s been involved with over the years. Along with canoeist Harvey Fraser, First Nations business leader Ruth Williams and former Miss Kamloops Acacia Schmietenknop, MacKenzie was honoured with a City distinguished service award last year.
She has juggled as many as a nine or 10 volunteer pursuits from year to year.
“I work full-time; lots of people volunteer full-time,” she said modestly at her workplace, Kamloops Insurance.
About four years ago, when postal workers were unable to continue their annual food drive for Kamloops Food Bank, MacKenzie stepped up. A member of the Daybreak Rotary Club, she initiated the first Rotary Food Drive. As well as serving on the food bank board, she continues to volunteer for spring and fall drives.
Rotary has been a route to a number of her community works. Four times a year, her club volunteers a stint at Kamloops United Church PIT Stop (PIT stands for People In Transition).
With help from her husband, MacKenzie tends five plots of the Crestline community garden, growing and donating produce for the food bank. Purity Feed donates the seed and Rotary pays for the plots. She grew up on a farm, where her mother set an example of community dedication.
“My mom was a great volunteer. As a kid, I was always dragged out to the place she was volunteering,” she recalled.
That’s one reason why she’s always been impressed by the food bank.
“They help whoever comes to the door. They don’t judge. I think that’s a good life philosophy, whether it’s someone who’s sick or who needs assistance.”
Another volunteer activity she finds rewarding is quilting. Through her involvement in the Sagebrush Quilters, she creates and donates quilts for foster children, cancer patients and the women’s shelter.
The value is not in the object — many recipients could simply buy a quilt if they chose to — but in a gesture of compassion in a time of great need.
She also does fundraising for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Society’s Walk for Memories and the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
“I think it’s really important in life to remember, no matter how grim your day may be, there’s always someone worse off than you,” she said. “It’s important to remember that and help whenever you can.”
The annual awards are presented in April in tandem with a volunteer recognition barbecue — a general thank-you on the plaza at Interior Savings Centre to all city volunteers — held as part of National Volunteer Week.
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WHAT: City of Kamloops recognition of civic spirit
WHO: Three categories: youth (18 and under); young adult (19-30) and adult (30 and older)
NOMINATION FORMS: available at City Hall reception or from www.kamloops.ca
DEADLINE: Friday, March 8, 4:30 p.m.
Nominations are not accepted from family members of nominees.