McLennan honours valued volunteers

Adam Blank on stage during the Town of McLennan Volunteer Appreciation Night Feb. 1.

Tom Henihan
South Peace News

The Town of McLennan held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Night Feb. 1, celebrating the selfless contributions of those who offer their time and talents for the benefit of the community.

In acknowledgment of the contribution of volunteers, the event offered a fun night with excellent food and entertainment.

This is the fourth year Smoky River Regional Golf Course Society organized the event, setting up the venue, preparing food, booking the entertainment, which this year comprised of three, extremely talented Edmonton based comedians. The funds raised from the event go to the society.

Since 1989, the Town of McLennan has held the annual Volunteer Appreciation Night supper to acknowledge the contribution of volunteers and as a show of gratitude for the time and effort volunteers devote to the community.

At the annual event, the Town recognizes volunteers for their outstanding contribution to the community, presenting these selected individuals with a Volunteer-of-the-Year Award.

Leo Giroux, representing the golf society, hosted the event and McLennan Mayor, Michele Fournier, read the citations and presented the awards to the three Volunteer-of-the-Year nominees: Philippa O’Mahony, Ann Totter and Yvonne Sawchyn.

Nominated by the McLennan Library Board, Philippa O’Mahony has served as chair of the board for 30 years, and has also served as the Town of McLennan’s representative on the Peace Library System Board since 1983. She is also president of the Kimiwan Lake Naturalist Society, and volunteers at the Sacred Heart Health Centre and with St. Paul’s Heritage House.

Lakeview Pioneer Society nominated Ann Trotter for the award. Trotter has been an active member of the Royal Purple for 65 years and a regular volunteer at the Second Look Boutique since its inception over 10 years ago. She is a member of Northern Alberta Railway Museum Society, Kimiwan Lake Bird- walk, and McLennan Leisure and Recreational Society. She also delivers Meals on Wheels.

McLennan Royal Purple Elks nominated Yvonne Sawchyn for this year’s award. A Royal Purple member for over 30 years, where, along with assisting in fundraising projects, organizing Santa Day and Family Day, she has also held the positions of president and treasurer. Sawchyn is also involved with several organizations and sits on a number of boards. She has also found time to volunteer with Canadian Association of Medical Teams Abroad in Ecuador, where she works cleaning surgical equipment for the medical team.

The Town of McLennan also gave honorable mention to former Volunteer-of- the-Year Award recipient, Maggie Gervais, who received a Stars of Alberta Award in December.

For many years, Gervais has provided community leadership through numerous initiatives including organizing the Winter Festival and the Royal Purple’s Walk for Children. Gervais is a longstanding member of Royal Purple, is involved with the railway museum, and is treasurer of the McLennan Leisure and Recreation Society. She also volunteers at the Manoir Du Lac seniors care facility.

Following a roast beef supper and awards presentations, the evening’s entertainment began with comedian Shawn Gramiak, a 2008 and 2009 Funnyfest Calgary Comedy Festival Talent Search winner. Gramiak is also a regular performer at Rick Bronson’s The Comic Strip in West Edmonton Mall, considered one of the top comedy clubs in the country.

Performing before a decidedly older audience did not phase 19-year-old comedian Brad Semotiuk, whose ironic and self-deprecating routine was well received. Semotiuk is the youngest comedian and only Canadian to receive the $10,000 USD Martin Grant, created by U.S. comedian Steve Hofstetter. The goal of the grant is to allow a comedian to quit his or her day job for a time and focus on comedy.

The evening head- liner, Adam Blank, opened his act with some self-deprecating humour also: “I have asthma, allergies, a lazy eye, and my last name is ‘Blank’,” he says, and seeing how people have been laughing at him since he was a kid he decided he “might as well get in on the joke.”

Blank, considered one of the best up-and-coming comics in Western Canada, has performed in clubs across the country and has appeared at both the Okanagan and Edmonton Comedy Festivals. He also hosts a weekly show at Rick Bronson’s The Comic Strip in Edmonton.

Though the three comedians had different styles, they all managed to establish a rapport with the audience and deliver excellent entertainment.

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