Recognizing those who give to the community

The Rotary Club of Nakusp honours its Citizen of the Year

The Royal Canadian Legion was packed as people came out to honour local volunteers Sheila Anderson and Barb Chwachka.

Anderson was awarded the Rotary Club’s Citizen of the Year, and Chwachka received the club’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

The head table was set up on the stage, with the award recipients, Dan Nicholson, the night’s master of ceremonies, mayor Karen Hamling, Laurie Page who was representing MLA Katrine Conroy, and local MP Richard Cannings.

At the start of the ceremony, Nicholson asked former Citizen of the Year recipients to stand up. About a dozen did so.

Before the giving of the awards took place, dinner was served roast beef with mashed potatoes, veggies, and salad. Dessert was a delicious peach turnover with French vanilla ice cream.

Prominent citizens of the community spoke on behalf of Anderson and Chwachka.

“They’re very strong ladies in our community, both pragmatic and both no-nonsense, but both have a tremendous sense of humour,” said mayor Karen Hamling.

“I’ve gone into Sheila’s shop on many occasions to get gas for my car, and on her shelf there’s always cookies to sell for oneorganization or another, there are jams, any raffle ticket that have to be sold is in her place.”

Laurie Page said when she thinks about Anderson, she’s amazed such a big heart can fit inside her small frame.

She thinks Anderson is all about heart, and is kind to everyone, from the animals she supports through donations to BEAKS and PALS, to neighbours and strangers.

“If our community is a fabric, Sheila embodies the thread of caring and compassion that holds it all together, and makes this place a richer place to live.”

Speaking about Chwachka, Page said she’s seen her work first-hand at the Paddling Club, Trail Society, and on the Halcyon redevelopment.

“Barb’s dedication, commitment and resolve have been an inspiration and necessary ingredient for all of those successes, and she does it so naturally that she probably doesn’t realize how unusual she is,” she said.

“Without her expertise and her drive, I don’t know if we could have convinced Interior Health to renovate Halcyon into anassisted living facility.”

MP Richard Cannings said it’s always heartening to come to events like this, where the hard work volunteers do is recognized.

“It’s volunteers like this that really make communities work, whether it’s tiny communities, or big communities, or cities.” hesaid.

Both women were given a chance to speak on receiving their awards, and both were modest in their remarks.

“I was kind of embarrassed,” said Chwachka. “Your first feeling is ‘I don’t want to be centred out for things’ and then I thought ‘That’s very nice’. It’s a nice feeling.”

Anderson agrees.

“I love Nakusp,” she said. “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t try to do for my community.”

Rotary member Kees van der Pol said he’s found volunteers don’t usually like to be recognized because they do it out of the goodness of their hearts, and it’s up to the community to recognize them.

“It’s great that Nakusp citizens can recognize their own for the volunteer service that they do,” he said. “A community without volunteers is not a community.”


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