Vive la Volunteers!

The Soul of Airdrie and our 2015 City of Airdrie Volunteers

They say volunteering is good for the soul – and the recipients of the 2015 Volunteer of the Year Awards most likely agree.

Presented by the City of Airdrie, the awards honour residents who go above and beyond the call of duty to help local organizations and causes.

Marie Lauer received the Soul of Airdrie Award for her more than 20 years volunteering for everything from the Festival of Lights and Airdrie Food Bank to the 2014 Alberta Summer Games and the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce (where her day job is events co-ordinator).

“You just make time for things that are important to you,” says Lauer, who became an avid volunteer after high school. “Volunteering is not only good for the soul; it helps you become entrenched as a member of the community … that’s where you form lifelong friendships and bonds.”

The Leader of Tomorrow Award went to Breanne McPhee who teaches Sunday school, volunteers for peer support and leadership programs at her school, and also works with Stephen’s Backpack Society and organizes Speak Out forums.

“Any time we can get young people to step up and be part of the volunteer world … we know we’re growing volunteers from a young age,” says Kim Harris, community developer with the City of Airdrie.

Hosting such a major event as the 2014 Alberta Summer Games required an enormous organizational effort; the
Games’ board of directors collectively received the Volunteer Advocate Award for helping bring together some 2,500 volunteers to make the event work.

Finally, the Ambassador Award was given to Elaine McKee Doel, president of McKee Homes, whose company is an avid supporter of local causes.

Harris describes McKee Doel as a “community builder” in both senses of the word.

“The non-literal part is advocating for the city of Airdrie and really inviting people to move here and live here … people have the desire to stay and live here because they meet people like Elaine right off the bat,” says Harris.

Clay Aragon, team leader for Airdrie community development and social planning, says that volunteerism in the city has evolved. “[Today] more younger families want to involve their entire families in the volunteer activity,” Aragon says.

Adds Harris: “This city has such a vast amount of volunteers [who] have such diverse interests and are able to get a lot of things done. That creates vibrancy. As we continue to grow, demand for volunteers will continue to grow – right down to the moms helping at playschool.”

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