By Sue Tiffin
Each year those who give back to their community have theopportunity to be recognized with one of six awards offered tovolunteers in Minden Hills who are nominated by those who have noticedtheir willingness to go above and beyond. Award recipients wereannounced at the annual Minden Hills township Christmas dinner held this past December.
Sophie Sharpless was the recipient of the Ross Rigney Award for Civic Contribution and her long list of contributions to the community showcased her roleas an “outstanding youth” deserving of the honour. From being a steward of the environment diligent in roadside garbage and recycling pickupto volunteering with the food bank’s Christmas basket drive to helpingwith the milk program at Archie Stouffer Elementary School and being anactive Monday night youth group volunteer at ASES Sophie’s kindness and compassion were acknowledged.
“Her dedication with the [Monday night youth group’s] activities isobvious as is her commitment to mentoring children and youth in apositive recreational setting with a focus on building self-esteem andsocial skills” said presenter Lois Rigney.
“Their board of directors have stated that this inaugural year would not have been possible without her efforts” said Rigney.
She has also offered her diverse skills for the Hyland Crest familycouncil the Relay for Life Canada Day celebrations the horticulturalsociety and as an active member of St. Paul’s Church organizing theirchildren’s Christmas sale singing country gospel music once a monthserving as a Bible Camp leader working in the thrift shop andparticipating with the Sister Act group.
Sophie was also recognized as being the volunteer of the year by theHaliburton County Youth Sailing Association for her wide-reachinginvolvement from power washing boats to coaching participants.
The Minden Hills Good Neighbour Award recognized Maria Ellisas an unsung hero who has made Minden Hills a more enjoyable communityin which to live. Ellis’s drive to connect and support the people onSandy Bay Road and Loyalist Drive were honoured by those who shared hergood deeds through the award nomination process.
“[She is] always checking in on people in the neighbourhood and willgo out of [her] way to assist anyone in need whether it be watching over someone’s house or cottage while they are away dog sitting cutting alawn shovelling a driveway watering a vegetable garden taking peopleto appointments or assisting with someone’s family member who is ill”said presenter Pam Sayne. “Night or day [she is] always available.”
Ellis was also said to “create a sense of community on [her] road byhosting annual parties to bring everyone together for socializingwhether they are seasonal permanent or new residents and even goingdoor-to-door to drop off veggies from their garden or a freshly bakedzucchini bread.”
Wendy Connelly was the recipient of the Gordon A. Monk Award for volunteerism and citizenship an award acknowledging those who havedemonstrated extensive volunteerism over an extended period of time inmultiple areas of service to the community.
As executive director of the Haliburton County fair board fornumerous years Connelly has worn many hats: organizing the food bootharranging prizes for the horse pulls and auction and soliciting donorsto help sponsor awards for the stage show. She organizes the annual beef barbecue fundraiser to help fund the fair a tradition that her mombegan many years ago.
“Countless hours have been spent helping to keep the fair alive asher family have always been active participants” said presenter DonnaMonk.
Besides performing with the County Hot Flashes at local nursinghomes Music on the Gull the Minden country jamborees and Legionevents Connelly sings for the Twelve Mile Historical Church funeralsand anniversary parties.
“Wendy is a tireless worker and we do truly feel that she deservesthis award for her many years of volunteering and community service”said Monk.
The township’s Sports and Recreation Award was awarded toColeman Heaven for his athletic accomplishments which included winning a silver medal at the 2019 Canoe Kayak Whitewater National Championshipsin Minden last August. For the past seven years Heaven has been honinghis skills at the Minden White Water Preserve dedicating time towhitewater kayaking since discovering it at the age of 12.
“The preserve became a place that he frequently went to practice thetricks that freestyle kayakers enjoy while watching and learning fromother participants and eventually became a certified instructor started a kayak club in high school and understanding the risk involved withthe sport also became a certified river rescuer and lifeguard” saidJennifer Hughey presenting the award. “This was all in the effort totake him to the next level which was the National Kayak FreestyleChampionship.”
Hughey said it was the dedication and love to freestyle kayakingsport “that brought this national silver medal home to not only himself but to the community of Minden.”
George Farrell was posthumously awarded the township’s Arts and Culture Award . Farrell passed away in 2019 after a short illness. He had worked at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre for a decade and was praised by presenterLaurie Carmount for his “knowledge about all areas of culture” and forbeing a strong supporter and advocate of the arts.
“A dynamic well-spoken person of many talents [George Farrell] wasknown by almost everyone in Minden because of [his] passion for thearts” said Carmount. “Blues nights at the Dominion arts columns in the local paper exhibitions of photography and attending as many culturalevents as possible [he] embodied all parts of the arts.”
Carmount expressed her appreciation for Farrell and his work on behalf of staff and the township.
The Trillium Award for an individual group or business whosehorticultural community beautification civic pride protectionconservation or enhancement of the environment efforts support theCommunities in Bloom program was not awarded last year.
The annual volunteer awards program accepts nominations for sixcategories of any Minden Hills resident by any resident or recognizedgroup of Haliburton County. For further information visit https://mindenhills.ca/