The Barrie Examiner

This is National Volunteer Week.

Volunteers in Canada devote approximately two billion hours annually to volunteer activities. This volume of work is equivalent to about one million full-time jobs.

Canadians are world leaders in generosity, volunteerism and the spirit of giving back to the community is alive and well in Barrie-Innisfil.

Yesterday, I hosted an awards ceremony at the Painswick branch of the Barrie Public Library to recognize select volunteers in the riding.

Ten individuals and one service club were celebrated for their extraordinary and outstanding contributions to our community. The event was broadcast live on Facebook through my Facebook MP page.

At the ceremony, recipients were recognized by Innisfil Mayor Gord Wauchope and Barrie Coun. Doug Shipley on behalf of Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman and city council. Each recipient received certificates of appreciation from me, the municipality where they reside and Rona Ambrose, leader of the Official Opposition.

They were also presented with a commemorative medal and following the ceremony there was a special cake cutting.

In the youth category, 14-year-old Barrie resident Will Finlayson was recognized for his leadership and mentoring through the Scouts program and Jake Vaz, who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at a young age, was honoured for his volunteerism and for teaching chess classes. Anti-bullying advocate and I Love Me Club founder Mackenzie Oliver shared her volunteer experiences both locally and through her missions to Africa.

In the adult category, Barrie natives Monica Manzato and Nino Di Cristo were acknowledged for their contributions. Monica through the Visiting Library Service and Nino for his work in the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen, as well as for his Facebook group called Hands and Feet, which helps secure donations of clothing, furniture and other necessities to those in need.

Innisfil’s Kathy Simpson spends countless hours volunteering each week in the community with numerous groups, including South Simcoe Theatre. She was also saluted for recently spearheaded a fundraising effort for students to travel to Vimy Ridge for the 100th-anniversary celebrations.

Four seniors were honoured for their excellence in volunteerism. Innisfil’s Myrlene Boken founded the charity Christmas 4 Kids and longtime Innisfil historical society member Donna Wice shared her passion for our past.

Barrie’s Karl Daley has volunteered more than 1,600 hours in 12 years at the Barrie Public Library, helping to raise more than $60,000 from cafe sales, and Lt.-Col. (ret.) Bill Sergeant was honoured for his impressive body of volunteer work including his recent mission to Togo where he lead a Sleeping Children Around the World team that delivered 5,000 bed kits to children.

Lastly, the Rotary Club of Innisfil received the Service Club Award for the amazing efforts of its motivated members in the community.

These dedicated people go above and beyond to make positive impacts in Barrie-Innisfil. I am very pleased so many people took the time to nominate someone.

Volunteers are our unsung heroes and the ceremony was a small gesture to let them know just how much they are appreciated.