County gathers to celebrate its volunteers

Organizers had to scramble to set up additional tables as more people than anticipated made the drive

Laurel Pole

Laurel Pole

Organizers had to scramble to set up additional tables as more people than anticipated made the drive to Westwoods Community Centre north of Gadsby on Friday, Feb. 27 to celebrate this year’s cream of the volunteer crop.

The annual County of Stettler Community Service awards saw the communities making up the county select the best representation of community volunteerism, putting them forward to be honoured by all.

Through the night, one theme became abundantly clear: The communities that make up the county all believe in one thing – that community is more important than anything, and that community is a family.

The winners of this year’s awards were feted as people who dedicated excess amounts of their time, were the first to respond when help was needed, provided examples to their peers, and were part of the “same 10” people who showed up when help was needed.

County Reeve Wayne Nixon opened the evening with grace, and guests enjoyed a lush buffet dinner provided by Marie’s Catering. While the guests ate, 11-year-old Chloe Shingoose, a Grade 5 student at Stettler Elementary School, entertained with her singing, serenading the hall with her unaccompanied vocals, flawlessly covering several different songs of many different genres.

Though the winners, for the most part, were aware they were going to be called onto the small stage before dinner began, at least one recipient was kept in the dark due to the elaborate planning of the award giver and his family.

Lyle Smith, who was selected by the Stettler and District Agricultural Society for its community service award had no idea going into the evening that it would be his name that would be called. When his family was notified that an award was being granted to the family, Smith was told his daughter was being given the award. The evening’s planner re-arranged the order in which the awards were being given out so that Smith would remain in the dark about the ploy.

Smith’s daughter, in on the plan, helped keep the illusion alive until her father’s name was called, and the flabbergasted Smith took to the stage. In lieu of a big speech, all he could manage was to repeatedly say “I had no idea this was coming.”

Award Winners

Stettler Dodge Community Service Award

John and Carolin Schofer of Byemoor

ATCO Electric Arts, Culture and Heritage Award

Judy Dinsmore of Donalda

Sullivan Lake West Agricultural Society Community Service Award

Gordon and Roxy Gallagher (absent)

Donalda and District Agricultural Society Community Service Award

Becky Clement

Big Valley Agricultural Society Community Service Award

Walter and Alana Stefanik

Stettler and District Agricultural Society Community Service Award

Lyle Smith

Botha Community Centre Lifetime Achievement Award

Botha United Church Women Association (accepted by Gladys Nattestad, Eileen Bullard, Pauline Scheerschmidt and Ismay Seyer)

Linda Hall Youth Community Service Award

Kyla Johnston

Botha Community Centre Youth Award

Emma Nixon