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Port Coquitlam Volunteer Recognition Awards 2013 (Part 1 of 2)

Posted May 01, 2013 by Stacy Ashton

(L to R: Jean Peachman, Eurilda Larsen, Thelka Wright, Mayor Greg Moore, Patrick McCarthy, Katrina Besler, Walter Van Drimmelen, Robyn Doig)

One of my favourite events of the year is the Port Coquitlam Volunteer Recognition Awards, and not just because I get to see how tall Mayor Greg Moore looks this year.  

 Especially in a top hat.  Wow!

I love the Port Coquitlam Volunteer Recognition Awards because they always draw a full house of fascinating people from all over the community.  Whether you are a nominee, an award recipient, or a supporter of any of the above, you are at the Recognition Awards because you know the value of volunteerism to create strong communities and happy lives.

This year 27 community volunteers were nominated in 7 categories:

  •  Arts, Heritage & Cultural Awareness
  • Caring & Safety
  • Environmental Protection & Enhancement
  • Sports & Recreation
  • Youth Programs
  • U21 (youth under 21)
  • Lifetime Volunteer
My mission for the night was to get each award recipient to answer the question “What has been your favourite volunteer experience?”  It turns out this question is torture for avid volunteers – there are so many great experiences, how do you pick just one!?!
Here’s what I found out:

Walter Van Drimmelen, the Caring & Safety recipient, says that “being a volunteer is the best thing I ever did. Volunteering has been the highlight of the last 37 years.” Getting Walter to pick a single favourite volunteer experience was impossible. Walter has been a Kinsman pretty much his whole life, and he’s seen the Port Coquitlam Kinsmen be a constant presence in community.  He finally picked May Day[http://www.portcoquitlam.ca/Discover_Port_Coquitlam/Events___Attractions/May_Day.htm] as his favourite experience.  That whole week the Kinsmen are in action: getting up super early to be ready to serve May Day breakfast at Lion’s Park by 8:00am; running the Beer Garden after the May Day Parade, and gearing up for the Mother’s Day Lunch.  Walter is proud of the relationships the Kinsmen build with other groups:  the Boy Scouts are now providing food outside the Beer Garden, which gets a new generation involved in community events and helps the Scouts with some needed fundraising.

Thelka Wright (pictured), the Arts, Heritage & Cultural Awareness recipient, loves the arts.  She has been volunteering in Port Coquitlam’s arts scene since she arrived here in 1967.  She picked her most recent volunteer experience as her favourite, because of the challenge involved:  the Fashion Through the Decades show [http://www.tricitynews.com/entertainment/200945991.html] on March 28, which was part of Port Coquitlam’s Centennial Celebrations.  Thelka and her team kept 350 vintage outfits loaned for the event safe and organized, while finding models that could fit into clothes made when human beings were substantially smaller than we are right now.  Many of those dresses were made with corsets in mind!  The event itself sold out, and was filled with so much community spirit, it made the cut as Thelka’s favourite volunteer experience.


Patrick McCarthy,  recipient of the Youth Programs award, is Area Registrar for the Coho Scout Group http://www.cohoscouts.ca/index.html and a leader of Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Ventures for the First PoCo Scouts http://pocoscouts.weebly.com/.  I talked to Patrick about his favourite volunteer experience, and the first thing that came to his mind wasn’t a volunteer experience at all:  it was going to his sons high school graduation and having all the other grads gather around and ask for pictures of themselves with their Scouts Leader (Patrick).  Knowing that you have that kind of impact on teens is very satisfying – especially since they don’t always tell you at the time.

Tune in tomorrow for part two of our coverage of the 2013 Port Coquitlam Volunteer Recognition Awards!  



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