BROCKVILLE – Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark joined in honouring more than 400 volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life who collectively have given an incredible 6,500 years of service during three Ontario Volunteer Service Awards ceremonies held over the weekend.

The first recognition event was held Friday, April 28 at the Brockville Country Club and two more took place Saturday, April 29 at the Elgin Lions Club Hall.

Volunteering is often a family tradition, as demonstrated by Anthony Bencic and his grandfather, Gerald Covell, who were recognized for their service to the Lombardy Agricultural Society at the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards ceremony in Brockville on Friday, April 28.

Clark said the recognition ceremonies were a great way to close out National Volunteer Week and to highlight the importance of active citizenship during the 150th anniversary year of Canada and Ontario.

Helen Kilborn was recognized for her 65-plus years of service to the Addison United Church at the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards ceremony in Brockville on Friday, April 28.

“Volunteers are truly the heart of our community and with three Volunteer Service Awards ceremonies in Leeds-Grenville this year, it’s obvious that the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well here,” said Clark.

“By giving so freely of their time and talents, whether it is in support of an organization or helping out a neighbour in need, these remarkable volunteers make our communities better places for us all to call home.”

Clark thanked the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration’s Honours and Awards Secretariat for working with him and local officials to bring ceremonies to the Township of Rideau Lakes for the first time this year.

“Rideau Lakes has been a tremendous supporter of this program for years and it was time that we brought this celebration to them,” said Clark, noting the ceremony was an opportunity to highlight the special role volunteers play in rural Ontario.

Clark said he’s encouraged to see the number of local organizations nominating their volunteers for recognition through the provincial program continuing to increase.

“Volunteers don’t give their time to receive awards, their motivation comes from the heart – out of a desire to give something back and to help others,” stressed Clark. “But it’s important to take every opportunity to show our appreciation and to use their stories to inspire more people to follow in their footsteps.”

The Volunteer Service Awards program recognizes contributions by volunteers who have been with an organization for at least five consecutive years. Recipients receive pins marking five through to 65 years of continuous service.

Youth volunteers under 24 years of age can be recognized after at least two consecutive years with a group.

The deadline for nominations for next year’s Volunteer Service Awards is January 25, 2018 and more information on the program and nominations process is available on the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration’s website here: http://www.citizenship.gov.on.ca/english/citizenship/honours/vsa.shtml

Featured photo: Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark with youth Volunteer Service Awards recipients in Elgin on Saturday, April 29, from left, Cassie Kerfoot (Country Roads Community Health Centre), Melissa Crump, Gracie Ardron-Taylor and Ameliya Gordon (all Bethel Tabernacle Church).

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