Vounteer of the Year! Say what?

So I have received emails and messenger notes, seen Facebook posts and tweets and now even text messages congratulating me on being nominated for “Volunteer of the Year” for the city of St. Albert.  First off, thank you all for the kind words.  Let’s get something out in the open right away and that is that I am still unsure of how I feel about this honor.

When you look at the other three nominees you can’t help but wonder how I even got in there.  I know that I wondered myself so don’t feel bad if you did.  That answer to that question of how, is Sandra, the Group Commissioner of our 12th St. Albert Scout Group.  Apparently they let you nominate just about anyone for the award.

Before we get to more about my feelings, let’s have a quick chat about the other three nominees… but keep in mind that this is just a tidbit of what these people have done for the community.  You can read the whole article that Scott Hayes wrote for the St. Albert Gazette as well.  It is written better than anything you are going to find on this blog.


Dr. Alan Murdock (photo: Chris Colbourne)

Dr. Alan Murdock

  • Current chair of the St. Albert Rotary Music Festival
  • Longstanding member of the St. Albert Rotary Club
  • Past-chair and current member of the Arts and Heritage Foundation
  • Previous volunteer with the St. Albert Children’s Theater group

Mary-Patricia O’Neill (photo: Chris Colbourne)

Mary-Patricia O’Neill

  • Youth volunteer since the 1960’s
  • Former Area Commissioner with Girl Guides
  • Member of the STARS retired guiders group
  • Past volunteer with Alberta Highland Dancers, Retired Teacher’s Association, Association of Canadian Travellers, the Children’s Festival, Senior’s Games, the Botanic Gardens, the Catholic Women’s League Council and the executive council at the Holy Family Parish

Mavis McKay (photo: Chris Colbourne)

Mavis McKay

  • Canadian Girls in Training with the United Church
  • Elder with the Braeside Presbyterian Church for over 35 years
  • Rainbow Society
  • Crysalis Society
  • Chateau Mission Court

Shayne Kawalilak

When we get to me, I can’t think of a single thing I ever volunteered for before 2000.  In the past 16 years I have steadily increased my volunteer work to my current point. Ironically, being nominated for this award has lent credibility to my wife’s claims that I need to cut back a bit.

  • Group Administrator and Scout Section Lead for 12th St. Albert Scouts
  • Deputy Council Commissioner of Recognition – Northern Lights Council, Scouts Canada
  • Children’s Ministry / Men’s Group – North Pointe Community Church
  • User Group Admin – SpiceCorps (Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and Saskatchewan)
  • Northern Alberta International Children’s Festival

How Did I Ever Get Nominated?

Sandra nominated me for this honor because I put in so many hours volunteering for scouts. She doesn’t only see the scouting end of those volunteer hours, but she sees a lot of them in the evenings each week, sometimes seven days a week. I need to point out that I look good because I surround myself with people like Sandra and her husband Garrett, who made this awesome video of our St. Albert Scouting youth this past weekend… and thousands of other spectacular volunteers that I work with.

Granted, I do a lot for a guy with nine kids but that is WHY I do so much.  Notice there there are no volunteer spots for a softball league? I used to enjoy my free time at pool tournaments and playing baseball but today if you aren’t a geek you better have an interest in bettering the lives of children or we will probably never meet.

For the past few years I have really poured my heart and soul into finding some balance in my life.  In my search for “balance” I have definitely leaned a little farther into the volunteering than maybe practical but I found myself in a position where I thought I could pay back my community a little for what I have received, and make no mistake, I live a blessed life.

What If I Win?

So this was a huge dilemma for me and when my son first asked if I was going to win I laughed.

How could I win with fellow nominees who have been volunteering longer than I have been breathing?

I actually first worded it “…when I am competing against people…” and that was oh so wrong.  I am not competing against these people.  I am not competing with these people. We are all celebrating a great honor together.


Four people were selected from a huge pool of volunteers in 2015, to represent this wonderful community that I have called home since 1997. Next week a committee, coin flip, or possibly a monkey with a dart; will be selecting one of us to represent this great city until this celebration comes again in 2017 (I honestly have no idea what the selection process is).

There will be plenty of parades, a book deal and a ton of interviews with Ellen, Jimmy, and I heard that Craig Ferguson might come out of retirement.  I actually think there is a printed certificate that the winner has to run to Michael’s to get a frame for but it sure sounded cool talking about meeting Craig Ferguson eh?

The fact is that I didn’t know how I felt about the notion of winning this thing.  How could I accept it?  How could I NOT accept it?  It was driving me nuts… until I spent a great 5 minutes in the car with Raimond.

My son Raimond is 16, and just to show me how smart he is, he pointed out a simple fact…

This isn’t the ‘best volunteer of all time’, it is the volunteer of the year.

So here I am lost in my own brain.  He was so right. This award is actually called the “Roy Financial Services Inc. Volunteer Citizen of the Year”.  It is not for the best volunteer in the city for last year, just the volunteer they are recognizing for this past year.  It is a simple ‘thank you’ from a wonderful community agency to one volunteer who made a difference.  It certainly isn’t a lifetime achievement award.

I have to throw a plug in here for Roy Financial Services because they help out this great organization and sponsor this awesome award.


CIVC – Community and Information and Volunteer Centre

CIVC is the wonderful community organization I am speaking of.  They do a ton of great things in the city and bringing volunteers to volunteering opportunities is just part of who they are.  Recognizing volunteers is yet another part. If anyone wants tickets to the award banquet this weekend, Saturday, May 7th, you can get them here.  I will be racing in from a scout camp Saturday morning to join you.

Seeing what this group does, I feel that I need to find some time to sit down with them to help figure out what it will take to start a new award next year…

Volunteer Citizen Lifetime Achievement Award

It won’t be given to someone who doesn’t deserve it, but it also won’t be given to the best or oldest or hardest working volunteer.  It will be given to someone who represents the legacy that is handed down by the wonderful volunteers of St. Albert… the legacy that inspires people like me to inspire my children to be tomorrow’s great citizens.


Just in case you think I am special…

I know this probably isn’t the case, but humor me… I need you to know that I can take no credit for who I am.  I didn’t make me. I didn’t raise me. I certainly wouldn’t put up with me.

You can give credit to God if you want, or as some atheist friend’s would say, you can give credit to an amazing feat of biological wizardry where everything came from nothing and a single living cell split a billion gajillion times and one line turned into an oak tree and one turned into me. You might choose to thank my mother for molding me during possibly the most difficult years of her life. You might even want to give credit to my nine children as they have had a huge impact on me.

But let me tell you that despite all the things I was given in this life (and I have said before it is a blessed life), none have touched me more than the woman who chose to marry me… twice. Stacey gave birth nine times for me. She puts up with my search for balance even when I try it on one leg jumping on a pogo stick while skipping rope. She has put up with my booms and busts, and there have been more in my life than in the Alberta oil patch.

I am not an easy man to live with and a harder man to love but Stacey does it (more so with a glass or two of wine). If you appreciate the hours I put in night after night and weekend after weekend, you better appreciate her for letting me, because I certainly do.

The End Result?

The end result is that I went from trying to convince my wife that I didn’t volunteer too much, to getting this nomination and having to admit that I might have an addiction to volunteering, to finding another group to volunteer with.

It was humorous to me that this award was going to be a catalyst to me volunteering less. Now that irony has turned to just another sticky note with a task that needs to be accomplished.

Why do I think this will not end well when my wife reads this?


2 responses to “Vounteer of the Year! Say what?

    • Thank you. Still not sure how I feel about it but I am taking it one day at a time. We will see what the weekend holds. Hopefully they can take on that cue and figure out that new award without me… I need to get back to my quest for balance in my life.

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