Young volunteers applauded by community through Champions of Good

Young volunteers applauded by community through Champions of Good

By Marcia Love, Spruce Grove Examiner/Stony Plain Reporter

Above: Forty youth were recognized at the Champions of Good event at Horizon Stage on April 18 for their volunteer efforts in Spruce Grove. Photo supplied by Darwin Park

Above: Forty youth were recognized at the Champions of Good event at Horizon Stage on April 18 for their volunteer efforts in Spruce Grove. Photo supplied by Darwin Park

Forty young volunteers honoured earlier this week are living proof selflessness and compassion are alive and well in the next generation.

The youth, ranging in age from 12 to 18, were recognized for their volunteer work in the community during the Champions of Good event at Horizon Stage on April 18.

The youth recognition event was hosted by the Rotary Club of Spruce Grove and Goodwill Industries of Alberta.

Those recognized were applauded for their volunteer work in Spruce Grove — ranging from work with Girl Guides and Boy Scouts to seniors’ centres, sports teams and churches.

John Oldham of the Spruce Grove Rotary Club congratulated and encouraged the youth.

“When you’re following your interests, you develop a set of skills and knowledge, and you become more aware of the world around you,” he said. “You make new friendships… and you make a contribution to your community.”

He added the high number of youth recognized demonstrates how there are many enlightened young members of the community.

Brenda Hawryluk, director of donor and business relations at Goodwill, said the youth being recognized are incredibly humble, giving individuals.

“Listening to the amazing things that they’re doing within their organizations and for the community, I’m very proud to be a part of their evening,” she said of the Champions of Good, noting they make their families, friends and community proud.

Among the youth recognized was Sara Bokenfohr, who volunteers with her peers at Aerials Gymnastics. The 12-year-old encourages the other gymnasts around her and leads by example.

She was honoured to have her peers at Aerials see her work as worthy of the recognition.

“I just like making people smile and making sure that they’re okay and not hurt,” Sara said of why she serves with the club.

Mayor Stuart Houston said he is proud of the many young people who were recognized for their hard work.

“We have a great group of people here who were recognized as leaders in their organizations, and it speaks to how important volunteering is for the fabric of the community,” he said.

Rising above defeat

Olympic silver medalist Cheryl Bernard was the guest speaker for the evening, encouraging the youth with her message of resiliency.

Bernard, who led Team Canada to the gold medal game in women’s curling in 2010, recalled the incredible pressure of representing her country and having the game come down to one final rock and a shot that missed by mere millimeters.

Although the team didn’t win the gold, they acknowledged the incredible success of making it that far. The relationships they built as a team were much more valuable than a gold medal.

The measure of a person, she said, is more in how they handle defeat than how they handle success.

Everyone will face stress and disappointment in life, but one’s response to that is what really counts, Bernard said.

“Failure in life is inevitable — how you choose to view it is not,” she explained. “You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your character until both have been tested by adversity. You either take what has been dealt to you and you allow it to make you a better person or you allow it to tear you down. That choice does not belong to fate — that choice belongs to you.”

Bernard noted the youth volunteers are serving their community without expecting their name in the newspaper or to stand on a podium, yet they continue to give of their time and talents.

“I’m so proud,” she said. “Our country is looking very bright having people like you in it.”

mlove@postmedia.com