A town says thanks
Volunteer awards night staged

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 10/99) - Last week, people who don't receive a paycheque for their efforts were recognized for a job well done.

The occasion was Inuvik's second annual volunteer appreciation night. Held at the Cafe Gallery and organized by recreation co-ordinators Theresa Ross and Yvonne Carpenter, this year's celebration included a twist.

"Overall, we've been recognizing the efforts made by everybody over the years and they've received things like mugs or pins," explained Carpenter. "But this year we're also doing Volunteers of the Year and asking every organization to nominate one individual who was key to their group's success."

The volunteers who attended Wednesday's awards night found themselves in a warm, comfortable atmosphere, where they sipped coffee and took the opportunity to catch up with one another.

Mike Muller, chair of the Recreation and Parks Committee and a big presence in local badminton and ultimate frisbee, co-hosted the ceremony. He said the point of the evening was to give something back to those who give their time and thank them for sometimes-thankless work.

"It's to let you know that you're not working alone," he said.

Most volunteers, from organizations ranging from the Inuvik Minor Hockey Association to the Boy Scouts and Lions Club, received small gifts donated by the Volunteer Centre in Calgary or a local business.

Recognized volunteers included Don Ross, Dan Doncaster and Mike Conroy from the Top of the World Sportsman's Club; Brian Johnston from Mixed Recreation Hockey; Mark Minute and Charlie Villeneuve from minor hockey; Arlene Hansen, Wendy Hayes and Joanne Kinsella from figure skating; Lilian Wright from slo-pitch; Janine Blake and Dennis Inglangasuk from Ingamo Hall; and Sir Alexander Mackenzie teacher Cathi Ross. A number of individuals were recognized for their contributions to more than one organization or activity.

Carpenter said only five organizations nominated members as their volunteers of the year, perhaps reluctant to have individuals stand out as their key volunteer.

On hand to accept the honour, however, for her work with the Great Northern Arts Festival was Jo Whiteside. Her name will also be engraved on a commemorative plaque.

Also active in the Ride for Sight Challenge and the Terry Fox Run, Whiteside was lauded for coming aboard not long before the start of last summer's festival and taking control of the artists' workshop component and making it the success it was.

"I thought I would probably be doing bits and pieces but ended up taking on the major role of workshop co-ordinator," she said.

"I had some time this summer and it ran pretty smoothly if I can say so."

Whiteside said she'd also volunteered with a number of Calgary organizations before moving to Inuvik three years ago. She said her husband, Mike, has long been active with Ride for Sight and that she has her own personal motivation. Her mother became blind as the result of a degenerative disease.

"I find Inuvik to be above and beyond the south," she said. "For a city of this size there are an incredible number of volunteers and societies, and there are a lot of people in town who deserve accolades."

After the awards presentations, guests mingled and participated in a silent auction for gifts, again donated by local businesses.

And while this year's awards night is over, Carpenter stressed it's not too late for the groups to submit the names of key volunteers and have their names added to the plaque.