The Grande Prairie Regional Association of Volunteer Organizations launched the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2009. The award honours an extraordinary individual living in the Grande Prairie region for their volunteer contributions in the most recent twelve-month period for their considerable impact within the community.
In 2013 we added the Corporate Volunteer of the Year Award to recognize a company or business that, through its staff and policies supporting volunteerism, created an impact on a not-for-profit organization(s) in the last twelve months.
Along with the Volunteer of the Year Awards, the Association presents the Outstanding Members of the Community Awards. These awards pay tribute to individuals, groups and businesses who have improved the quality of life in the community through volunteer work. Nominations for the Awards open late August early September.
The Individual Volunteer of the Year Award is sponsored by Servus Credit Union and the Corporate Volunteer of the Year Award is sponsored by the Prairie Mall.
Watch the 2021 Volunteer of the Year Awards presentation at https://youtu.be/ZH2B_W0btoE?t=2122.
2021 Volunteer of the Year Recipients
Volunteer of the Year - Sandy Richardson
This year’s Volunteer of the Year is Sandy Richardson from Eureka River.
Sandy was the recipient of the Clear Hills County Volunteer Award 2 years ago. They said, “Sandy is a prime example of what one Volunteer can accomplish.”
They are right. Sandy is on approximately 15 boards in her community. She is on one 4-H club and the District and Regional School Council, Eureka River Ag Society, Eureka River Cemetery board, Valley Riders Saddle Club, Clear Hills Saddle Club. These, she tells me, are the major ones. What is so inspiring is that these clubs are all over the county and require travelling to Volunteer.
One of her fellow board members said, “this woman is vital to the boards in our community; she keeps us going and involved. We are very neighbor and family oriented, and it is people like Sandy who keep these small rural communities connected.
When Sandy was asked why she volunteers, she said, “because each club has things that interest me, so I just do.”
The Volunteer of the Year Award is sponsored by Servus Credit Union.
Corporate Volunteer of the Year - Grande Prairie Royale LePage The Realty Group
About Royal LePage:
Your Royal LePage – The Realty Group REALTORS® live, work, and play in this community. So, not only do they have the neighbourhood knowledge, they love this city, and they’re always looking for ways to give back. We all want to keep making the beautiful city of Grande Prairie a great place to live and grow.
About Angie Peters:
As Royal LePage Broker, Angie Peters strives to lead a professional group of Realtors to success by providing a positive work environment, leadership training and leading-edge social marketing.
Her Property Management team manages over 750 residential rental properties, giving people a positive place to live by taking care of over 375 people’s investment properties.
About John Krol:
Whether you are looking at buying or selling a home, John is an experienced professional. He knows Grande Prairie and the surrounding area market very well, as he has been helping clients buy and sell homes for over ten years in this region. He enjoys connecting with people and genuinely wants to help them with their real estate needs.
This year their office raised $28,290 for the local shelter Odyssey House and National Domestic Violence Prevention Programs!
Angie Peters raised $18,392 for Odyssey House and $4,598 for National Domestic Violence Prevention Programs from her Trek for Shelter!Royal LePage raised $5300 from their Golf Fore Shelter Tournament!
Their office was the title sponsor for the Grande Prairie Rib Fest and the Pumpkin Festival in 2021. The Pumpkin Festival was an event they co-hosted with Jeffrey’s Cafe to raise the local food bank funds.
- Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce Business of the year 2014
- City of Grande Prairie Passionate Heart Award 2016
- Royal LePage Shelter Foundation Philanthropist of the Year 2019
Thank you, Royal LePage – The Realty Group, for your commitment to this community.
Outstanding Citizens in the Community
Clifford Mitchell is an inspiring volunteer as he has decades of volunteering experience.
He is very involved with the GP Seniors Reading Theatre as a reading coach, organizing readers, presentation places and audiences. He has a knack for finding the best role for each reader. The group has performed to many audiences including Heritage Lodge, Wild Rose Manor, Pioneer Lodge and many more. The most recent being for the Heritage Village Folktales Tour.
If that is not enough Cliff also volunteers for The Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, Knights of Columbus, and several ministries with his church. He also on the board of North West Alberta Retired Teachers Association.
Cliff has volunteered for Spring Fling, Festival of Trees and even built a playhouse of a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser. He is also more than willing to share his carpentry talents with any who ask.
In 2020 Cliff and the Studio 50+ group got “schooled” in new technology. The project being a tribute through film to the late Mary Nuttings book “A Grande Education: One Hundred Schools in the County of Grande Prairie” Cliff has a major role in making this happen.
Age does not slow this gentleman down, so we can’t wait to see what he will do in the future to make our community a better place.
Never having met a challenge she didn’t like, Brenda is a wonderful go-to person when a group needs a little extra help. She appreciates how effective teamwork makes a difference; notices when people need extra support and can be relied upon at all times. Her warmth and gentle approach, initiative and collaborative leadership style are always evident in all her activities.
Brenda volunteers with various organizations throughout the community and is also an active Rotarian. Ready and willing to pitch in where ever she is needed her commitment to giving back and fundamental belief in the power of community volunteerism is an inspiration to us all.
We are very pleased to recognize Brenda as an Outstanding Volunteer for 2021.
This is a group of dedicated individuals who have come together over the COVID pandemic to make the Sexsmith and Area Food bank bigger and better.
It began with the pandemic and a need to move the existing food bank into a bigger, more accessible location, and to be able to deliver food to families in need, safely and efficiently as well as accept donations and keep the volunteers safe.
The group of caring individuals came together forming a committee quickly and began making needed hampers for families with easy connections and contactless pickup. They arranged drop off food drives to keep the bank operating. They organized and delivered needed COVID hampers to families organized thru the schools, to help those not able to access breakfast programs at the school.
After the initial COVID restrictions, this group began to form and be recognized as a Society, this group of community members went farther and with the help of the GPRAVO is obtaining their Charity status.
Each Wednesday evening you will find them hard at work filling requests for Hampers and going thru donations…. Then Christmas season comes, and they again stand out –
This enormous project of putting together approximately 160 Christmas hampers, 5 Finning boxes high complete with food for the family and toys for the children all coordinated perfectly. The amount of volunteer time and coordination that goes into this project alone is worth mention. Hours and hours of pickups, deliveries and sorting to make these hampers. A lot of LOVE goes into each one, each family is thought of as individuals as they pick toys for each member of the family.
This volunteer group has definitely made their mark in our communities.
Congratulations Sexsmith and Area Foodbank!
We would like to express our gratitude to Starbucks # 4838 (Cobblestone) during this difficult time. In the spirit of kindness, and unity, the employees of Starbucks # 4838 reached out to local businesses that remained open during the pandemic. They delivered refreshments to these businesses as a gesture of gratitude.
One of the employees had the idea of doing a “Taking and giving table” Inspirational cards were placed on the table and you could take one to brighten your day, or leave one to brighten someone else’s day
Employees from Starbucks #4838 took the initiative to pick up trash from a couple of parks and fields in their area over the summer.
Thank you to the staff of Starbucks #4838 for everything they do to spread kindness in our city.
Swan City Snowmobile club has nothing but praise for Randy. He maintains the trail systems to keep them safe for all rides, works on the equipment and ensures we are ready for the winter season. He is the parts guy, equipment operator and overall Jack of all trades.
Without his efforts they would not have warm up shelters, out houses, and an organized shop.
His selflessness has been demonstrated over and over with everything he does.
Randy puts in at least 30 hours a week for the club (rumor has it he may be hiding from his wife).
The club appreciate and value him and his efforts which have helped them to get to where they are today.
Kory created the Grande Prairie Norsemen Football club in 2015 and has been instrumental in its successes and continued ability to bring new players into the game.
His reason for starting Grande Prairie Norseman Football Club was that pre-existing clubs in GP were at total capacity.
With Kory’s enthusiasm for the game and his coaching he helps students develop fundamentally though his primary goal is to instill confidence, respect, friendship, self-worth and pride in his players.
That is admirable and inspiring.
Kory coached pewee in 2010 – 2019 but says the reason he retired from pewee was that his wife demanded that he slow down. (his words)
The community of Grande Prairie is fortunate to have individuals such as Kory Gravengard.
Past Award Recipients
Volunteer of the Year - Wendy Doucet
Wendy’s contribution across several organizations has made a significant impact in the community but none more so than her efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to local seniors and the elderly.
Wendy has been a volunteer with Friends of Grande Spirit for 14 years. When COVID hit Wendy immediately stepped up, translating policy into best practice; implementing public health recommendations into the fabric of everyday life for seniors, staff and visitors. Temperature checks, social distancing, masks, hygiene practice were her mantra and it saved lives. As a direct result of her work Grande Spirit Foundation did not experience the rampant spread of the disease that they so easily could have.
Wendy goes wherever she is needed to help. During Easter and Thanksgiving, she organized and delivered 300 meals to independent seniors’ homes in the area. She is working on the Christmas meal and delivery plan as we speak. Of course, to have the funds to supply these meals there are many events that must take place. Wendy tirelessly helps organize and run these events.
On Grandparents Day Wendy delivered 100’s of cupcakes to seniors, she feels our seniors deserve some pampering and she is always willing to help, driving many miles in her own personal vehicle.
As well as volunteering at Festival of Trees and Salvation Army Kettle program 3 times a week, Wendy has also volunteered for the Grande Prairie Storm, Safe Communities and any organization that may need help at Casinos of Fundraisers.
“Wendy has a huge heart and she shares it with everyone without concern, to lighten the day of so many”.
Congratulations Wendy, you make a difference and we are so proud to have you as our 2020 Volunteer of the Year.
Corporate Volunteer of the Year - Grassroots Realty Group
Community engagement for the Grassroots Realty Group is built on a company-wide policy that fosters volunteering and encourages their staff to be actively engaged in promoting volunteerism, philanthropy and giving back.
A young business in Grande Prairie, this branch started in 2017, Grassroots Realty staff are actively involved in community events entrenching their belief that the donation of employee’s skills and talents can be more valuable than a cash donation. They have organized and or participated in Art Shows, BBQ’ and fashion shows with all proceeds going to our local community organizations.
This year Grassroots has stepped up to help local organizations who are struggling as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis. Countless hours of volunteering including fundraising has made a significant difference to help organizations stay afloat.
Also, part of their corporate business plan is the establishment of the Roots Foundation. A portion of each of their business transactions are donated to the Foundation and these funds are then used to assist the organizations in the community where each branch is located.
An annual event for this group is their 12 Days of Christmas. During this time 12 different agencies will benefit from the work and vision of this outstanding Corporate Citizen.
What makes this so inspirational is that Grass Roots has a younger demographic and that even as a new business, giving back was in the business plan.
Thank you Grassroots Realty Group and congratulations.
Outstanding Citizens in the Community
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
Past Awards Recipients:
Volunteer of the Year – Cayla Kushnirak
Corporate Volunteer of the Year – Revolution Auto Group
Outstanding Citizens in the Community:
James Aasen | Tracy Allard | Carlos Grisales, Sharon Lejeune | David Olinger | Lionel Robbins