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Volunteers of the year awarded in Olds

Town of Olds caps off National Volunteer Week with event at Olds College
Mukulu Shamvu, Mary Devolin and Betty Baril pose after receiving their volunteer of the year awards on April 19.

A crowd of volunteers gathered at Olds College’s Alumni Centre Friday, April 19 was feted with dinner, awards and entertainment to cap off National Volunteer Week 2024.

The free, Town of Olds-sponsored event honoured current volunteers with organizations in and around the town.

Three of them were honoured with awards.

Citizen Volunteer of the Year

Betty Baril said she was thrilled to have won the Citizen Volunteer of the Year award.

Baril, who is now serving as the Olds Kiwanis Club’s past president after previously completing terms as a director, vice president as well as president said “There’s so many people – especially within the Kiwanis Club itself – that are so worthy of that (recognition),” she said.

Throughout her many years with the Kiwanis, Baril has helped out in numerous ways, from regularly participating in fundraising as well as organizing efforts to getting directly involved with the delivery of initiatives such as the weekly Breakfast For Learners program.“We do lots for children, and I really enjoy that,” she said, adding that supporting both literacy and athletics inside and outside of the schools are also among the club’s focal points.

“That’s my main thing, is I like what we do with children.”

Recognizing the breadth of diversity in volunteer organizations and community service groups in Olds, Baril said when asked what might have initially inspired her to get involved with the Kiwanis that her husband Andre was a member when the couple first moved to town many years ago.

Life was quite a bit busier back then and Baril said she at the time would occasionally lend a hand as a volunteer when an opportunity presented itself. But a friend of hers who was a member of the board of directors eventually invited her to consider joining in a more official capacity.

That was some 12 years ago now, and she hasn’t looked back since.

She is passionate about the Breakfast for Learners program. She gathers the volunteers for the program, takes inventory and purchases supplies. She is the first to arrive and starts the setup for the program, takes inventory and purchases supplies. She is the first to arrive and starts the set up. Her interactions with the students are caring.

Baril also serves on the board of the Olds Kiwanis Music Festival. She creates the volunteer sheet and covers several shifts herself. She will help in whatever way she can and is a cooperative volunteer.

Senior Citizen Volunteer of the Year

Mary Devolin has been a volunteer with Alberta Health Services in long-term care since she retired as a nurse at the Olds Hospital and Care Centre and has been an active member of several support groups in town.

She has volunteered for the Parkinson’s support group in Olds for 19 years, the Care Givers Support Group for 10 and Olds long-term care for 10 years.

It is said her quiet, friendly manner and quick smile make her a welcome visitor with all the long-term care residents and she recognizes the individuals that need someone to talk with.

You can regularly see her playing crib with several happy residents, portering residents to church services, serving coffee and dessert for various celebrations.

“There are two ways to live as we age. One is to sit down and do nothing. The other is to make a life for oneself. I have acquired a world of friends through volunteering. What could be better?” Devolin said after receiving the award.

Youth Citizen Volunteer of the Year

Mukulu Shamvu has consistently demonstrated outstanding communication and public speaking skills, which have been highlighted in various capacities. He has served as an MC for several events, including the Horizons Conference in 2023 and 2024, the Ecole Olds High School Winter Band Concert, and as an auctioneer at Home Church and the local middle school. His ability to engage and captivate audiences is truly remarkable.

As a Flight Sergeant at the local Air Cadet Squadron, he has shown exemplary commitment and responsibility. Additionally, his involvement in various extracurricular activities such as the Canadian Student Leadership Conference, Horizons conference, church youth group, Broncos club basketball, and EOHS Leadership demonstrates his dedication to personal and community development.

He has received numerous academic awards, including the Grade 9 and 10 French Language Arts Highest Standing, the Grade 10 Award of Overall Excellence, and the Grade 11 Lifetouch Award for the second-highest average in blue quad grade 11. His commitment to academic excellence is truly commendable.

About the Author: Lea Smaldon

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