The annual Haut-Saint-Laurent Volunteer Awards returned to an in-person model with aplomb, taking over Prince-Arthur Park in Huntingdon for an outdoor ceremony on May 18 that honoured many of the region’s exceptional volunteers. Over 100 people took part in the ceremony that coincided with the launch of the Huntingdon County Farmers’ Market’s summer season.
Just under 40 volunteers were nominated for awards in five categories. In all, a dozen prizes were awarded, as well as several honourable mentions. In a prepared statement, the jury noted the number and quality of the nominations, while mentioning that the inspirational stories behind each nominee “allowed us to appreciate the human richness that characterizes the Haut-Saint-Laurent.”
The Volunteer of the Year award was presented to the members of the Coopérative de solidarité du Parc de Sainte-Barbe, which also won the prize for corporate volunteerism, for the dedication of the volunteer members of the board of directors who have been working towards the creation of affordable housing for seniors in Sainte-Barbe for years.
Other winners included Shirley Cavanagh in the “Committed to their Municipality” category for her work with the Genie in a Bottle Project, which has grouped together a team of volunteers who collect recyclables to raise funds for local organizations including the Betty Riel Foundation and VOBOC. In 2021, Cavanagh and her enterprising team raised just under $25,225.
Marie Brunet was honoured in the “Involved in a Community-based Organization” category for her work with the Association pour la défense des droits sociaux (ADDS) as treasurer for the organization and the person responsible for coordinating, recruiting, and supervising the volunteers during the annual income tax clinic.
Marie-Ève Marcotte was recognized in the “Involved in an Educational or Health Institution” category for her commitment to the student government at the École Centrale de Saint-Antoine-Abbé.
The award in the “Volunteering as a Family” category was presented to the Painchaud-Deslauriers family for their work in starting the Popote mobile meal service in Huntingdon, as well as the Bergevin family, who were recognized for having passed along the importance of volunteering over three generations.
The jury was so impressed with the calibre of the nominees, several honourable mentions were also named during the ceremony. Benoit Laberge was honoured for “Going Above and Beyond” in his outstanding dedication for over 30 years to the Centre Communautaire Multiservices Un Coin De Chez Nous. Andrea and Louis Mercier were recognized for their “Spontaneous Commitment in their Community” for their combined 50 years of volunteer service to numerous organizations. Samantha Morin was rewarded for her “Exemplary Involvement in the Community” for her commitment to the Habitations des Tisserandes. Sandra Credali was awarded the “Outstanding Dedication” mention for her unwavering contribution over the past 13 years to the Saint-Chrysostome Soccer Club. Finally, Meghan Condie was celebrated for being “A Presence that Makes a Difference” as a volunteer over the past 15 years at the Huntingdon Residential and Long-term Care Centre where she is involved in a multitude of activities.
The Awards were attended by representatives from local businesses, organizations, and government including several area mayors, MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent prefect Louise Lebrun, and Huntingdon MNA Claire IsaBelle.
While addressing the crowd, IsaBelle invited former Saint-Anicet mayor and dedicated volunteer Alain Castagnier to step forward to receive the medal of the National Assembly for his work in municipal politics and his involvement with S.A.B.E.C. and Projet Communic-Action.