Star volunteers share their stories

The RDEK volunteers of the year have been announced for 2012.

If there’s one thing the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) volunteers of the year for areas G and F share, it’s a sense of humility.

“It’s almost a little embarrassing to win,” said Sharon Wass, Area G Volunteer of the Year. “You don’t do these things because you want recognition, you do it because it’s just what you do.”

“I didn’t volunteer to win a prize,” Area F Volunteer of the Year Norm Hendricks echoed. “I volunteered to help out the community, and I think all volunteers should be recognized.”

On May 4, the RDEK formally announced the recipients of the annual award for each of the six electoral areas. The nomination period ended in March, and nominees had to be residents of the electoral area who made voluntary contributions to the spirit, culture or people of the community.

For Wass’s part, she is well-known around Invermere for her work with both the local schools as well as a number of organizations, including youth soccer, boy scouts and girl guides. She said she was surprised to be nominated for the award at all because she considers what she does as “nothing extraordinary.”

“My parents were probably the initial influence, they were role models,” said Wass. “You just kind of assume that when there is a community park clean up or something, you help, you don’t think it’s something extra you’re doing.”

As for Hendricks, he volunteered for a number of years at the Lake Windermere District Rod and Gun Club teaching classes for kids, and has also been a major proponent for the Boulder Creek Diversion project. Hendricks didn’t even know he had been nominated at all, and would like to thank whoever took the time to do so.

“There’s lots of people out there in the valley that volunteer as much, or more than I do,” Hendricks said. “I want to thank all the other volunteers that help out in our communities.”

Both Wass and Hendricks consider volunteer work an essential part of the communities they live in. Both feel there simply isn’t enough funding on the government level to address all the issues in their communities, and so it falls to volunteers to help out where they can.

“Volunteer work is important in our community because there is so much of it [to be done], and so many people benefit from it,” Hendricks said. “Volunteers have to step up.”

“I just think that volunteer work is vital, you can’t depend on someone else to do something for you all the time,” Wass said. “We need to pitch in and do things for ourselves… you pitch in where you can.”

Wass, Hendricks and the other winners will be presented with their awards at an appreciation dinner in June.

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