As cities across B.C. put the finishing touches to their budgets, a couple of things come to mind. All cities and towns do a good job of providing roads, water, parks, police and fire services, etc. So what starts to set a city apart from the rest as a place that people want to move to and not leave?
Community volunteers, that's who.
Four years ago our Community Recognition Awards Committee, whose members are councillors Pat Wallace, Tina Lange and myself, decided that we need to try to do a better job of recognizing people in our community.
The most logical time to acknowledge people was during National Volunteer Week, which is every spring.
Council was in full agreement and fully supported a couple of different events becoming regularly scheduled each year. This was a change from the previous format of periodic events that sometimes were several years apart.
It was also agreed that we would work within existing budgets that we have to run the office of mayor and council.
The first event that was created was our annual volunteer barbecue that takes place on the Interior Savings Centre Plaza every year during National Volunteer Week. This barbecue is open to any and all people in the community who contribute time to any group, event or function in our great city.
Each year that we have done this we have tweaked things to keep improving the event and ensure people can get down and back to work on time. The Lions Club does a wonderful job as they always do, making sure the burgers (meat and veggie of course), are ready to go. Many local companies have now started to donate small door prizes so we can have a few draws for people who are there.
The turnout has grown each year and we now see close to 400 people pop in for the event. The plaza area and the Parkside Lounge are set up with tables and chairs so people can easily sit, visit and enjoy their lunch. The inside option also gives people a chance to be out of the weather as you never know what to expect in spring.
This year's barbecue is Friday, April 26, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. We hope you can make it down.
The second event that became yearly is our Distinguished Citizen Award night. This is an evening event during which friends and family of the people being recognized gather together to say thank you. Two things that have struck me at this event is that the people being honoured are all humble people who feel it should have been someone else who should be recognized. Pretty much all of the family and friends in the crowd do an impressive amount of volunteer work themselves.
There are three age categories for nomination as we wanted to make sure that youth in our community are also acknowledged for the great things they have already done despite their young age.
There are under 18 youth, 19-30 young adult and 30-plus adult categories. It only takes a bit of thought and time for you to fill in the nomination form to suggest someone you think fits the criteria.
Nominations are open until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 8. Criteria and forms are available at City Hall or also online at www.kamloops.ca.
Peter Milobar is mayor of Kamloops.
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