The Town of McLennan volunteer appreciation night and the Smoky River Regional Golf Society’s comedy show fundraiser took place at the Elks Hall, Saturday, January 28.
For the past 27 years, the Town of McLennan has held an annual supper to express its gratitude for the contribution volunteers make to the community.
The supper is usually a pre-Christmas event but the 2016 celebration was postponed until January due to availability of the Elks Hall.
The Golf Society took responsibility for organizing the entire evening, adding the comedy night as a Golf Society fundraiser.
While the entire evening is to celebrate all volunteers, each year, an individual volunteer is recognized for his or her outstanding contribution to the community.
Nominated by their peers in acknowledgment of their dedication, the Town of McLennan presents this individual with the Volunteer of the Year award during the evening.
The recipient of the 2016 volunteer of the Year Award is Francis Lessard who among fulfilling many other responsibilities is also vice president of the McLennan Leisure and Recreational Society.
In presenting the award, McLennan councillor and Golf Society member, Leo Giroux talked about the initiatives and extensive contributions Lessard has made to the community, not only in 2016 but over many years.
“This individual is truly a hands on community member spearheading many projects, from designing and installing the plaques on the memorial benches to leading the sundial project start to finish, from its design to its final installation,” says Giroux.
Giroux also mentioned that Lessard was a driving force in the beautification of McLennan, organizing and planting 160 trees last summer and after planting, watering and tending to the trees to ensure they mature successfully.
Other areas of Lessard’s contribution to the community were his participation in the McLennan 100 Celebration, his continuing involvement in the annual Remembrance Day ceremony and organizing the annual Terry Fox Run for many years.
In accepting the award, Lessard talked about growing up in McLennan, the value of knowing everyone and establishing lifelong friendships. He described McLennan as one of the greatest towns imaginable and having travelled the world how he always felt compelled to return to what is “a very special place.”
“When you grow up in a place like this you get to know the young people and the senior citizens,” he said. “I was reading an article the other day saying how this new generation can’t speak to anybody; one because of their phones but also because they are never around older people or younger people. They are only with the people their own age, so they are really missing something.
“But you are really missing something too if you are not helping your community and doing things for it. Because in the long run it all comes back and it helps you.”
The Town of McLennan also awarded a special presentation to the McLennan Volunteer Fire Fighters.
“There are not many volunteer groups that are expected to be on call 24/7 and ready to go at a moment’s notice,” says Giroux.”These volunteers put their lives on the line and are truly dedicated.
“I would like to express the gratitude of the Town of McLennan and the Town Council for the contribution of the McLennan Volunteer Fire Department.”
Giroux then called on Smoky River Regional Fire chief Marcel Maure and longtime firefighter Lance Rondeau to accept the plaque and certificate on behalf of the McLennan Volunteer Fire Fighters.
The comedy night segment of the evening, provided by comedians Matt Foster and Sean Lecomber, received an enthusiastic response with lots of audience participation.
Giroux also thanked Darlene Payou and Norma Chalifoux for preparing the excellent roast beef and chicken supper and others from the Golf Course Society who pitched in that afternoon.