Nominate a volunteer from the Saanich Peninsula today

Deadline is January 28 for the 18th annual Hearts of the Community event.

People take time to volunteer in their community for a wide variety of reasons — to socialize, contribute their time and skills or even to keep busy once they have retired.

There are so many volunteers on the Saanich Peninsula that most municipal leaders and event organizers have suggested on occasion that without them, so many things just would not happen.

As a result, who can say that they have not yet been affected by the actions of a volunteer here on the Peninsula?

Beacon Community Services, in partnership with the Peninsula News Review, is once again asking residents of Sidney, Central Saanich and North Saanich to think about the volunteers — individuals and groups, young and old — in their lives and nominate them for a Hearts of the Community award.

This is the 18th annual Hearts of the Community awards season. Between now and Jan. 28, Beacon Community Services (BCS) will be accepting nominations for the honour — which will be handed out to volunteers at a ceremony in February at the Mary Winspear Centre.

BCS spokesperson Kerry Readshaw says nominations can include youth, adults, seniors and groups — anyone who has made a difference in their community through volunteerism.

“It’s a way of recognizing the value that volunteers bring to the community,” Readshaw said. “It’s a way of saying thank you.”

She said there are few segments of the community that do not use or have volunteers playing a large role. People who give of their time, she continued, help create a sense of community and help make the Saanich Peninsula a better place overall.

For BCS specifically, Readshaw said volunteers are at the core of almost everything they do.

“Volunteers are at the core,” she said, “after all, we were started 40 years ago by volunteers.”

Today, BCS is home to approximately 550 volunteers — including around 100 youth volunteers. BCS helps co-ordinate where they go and what they do — in line with their desires to volunteer in specific areas as well.

There are so many volunteers in the area, she said, that it’s only natural that the community wants to recognize some of them each year for all that they do.

The Hearts of the Community are awarded at a gala event at the Mary Winspear Centre each year. In 2016, it takes place Feb. 23 at 11 a.m.

It’s followed by a complimentary luncheon in the Bodine Hall, free for attendees and honoured volunteers at the Hearts ceremony.

Entertainment will be provided by Stelly’s Secondary School student performers and awards will be handed out by event sponsors — including a $1,000 scholarship for the top youth volunteer.

Readshaw encourages everyone who knows a person or a group that volunteers to nominate them soon.

“It’s a chance to let the volunteers know that we appreciate them,” she said, “and it lets youth know the value of volunteering.”

The deadline for Hearts of the Community nominations is 4 p.m. on Jan. 28. Get nomination forms at Beacon Community Services offices in Sidney or visit beaconcs.ca.

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