Volunteer of the Year - Leanne Van Wagner
Leanne Van Wagner is an energetic and passionate supporter of her community and her gift is helping people. She comes from the tiny community of Hinton Trail and is inspired by seeing what committed individuals can accomplish no matter their home location. Best known for her vibrant personality and warmth, she has been appropriately nicknamed “The Rainbow Lady”. She has supported her community in many ways, first as a business owner for over 18 years operating the Poodle Parlour as well as her work as a holistic practitioner, which gave her the avenue to do what she loved most, helping people.
This passion for helping people lead Leanne to find her way to the Beaverlodge and Area Rural Crime Association, where she now serves as President. Her pivotal role in helping the association grow from a defunct group in 2018 to the vibrant association it is today lead her to be recognized this morning. Leanne is quick to share credit, though. She speaks highly of her amazing team of volunteers and was adamant that award is a TEAM award and she shares it equally with all those that have put in the hard work along with her. Leanne is excited to continue to learn and promote Rural Crime Associations as important partners in ensuring that rural citizens feel safe and secure in their communities and on their properties. Our communities are better because of people like Leanne.
Corporate Volunteer of the Year - Executive Driving Services Inc.
Executive Driving Services and its owner Gezim Veliu have spent many years quietly doing the hard work behind the scenes for many charities, non-profit and community groups in our area. Gezim and his family landed in Grande Prairie as refugees in the late 90’s and now as a local business owner, he has worked tirelessly to give back to the community who gave him so much. His company is quick to offer support wherever he sees need. On any given day you might find an Executive Driving Services vehicle delivering milk to a mom who needs it for free, or quietly meeting with city councillors to offer help during hard times. Over the last year, dozens of organizations have benefitted from their dedication to help others. So many in fact, it is difficult to truly capture it all in the time we have. Their work with the United Way ensured that hundreds of local kids had the supplies they needed for school by not only donating supplies; but also rallying the community behind the project, delivering the supplies, and ensuring that the volunteers stuffing backpacks were fed. When Camp Heal-A-Heart needed donations, he once again rallied the community behind the project and ensured that those who needed transport to attend the camp were taken care of. This is only a small snapshot of the many things Executive Driving Services does for our community. We are so grateful to have leaders like them doing this important work and setting an example for us all to give a little and help a little wherever we can.
Outstanding Citizens in the Community