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Congratulating the 2024 Nessie Volunteer Award Winners

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Interviews by Sophie Stocking

Each year, the BCA awards three different awards to volunteers who make a difference in our community. Volunteers are nominated by their friends, neighbours, fellow volunteers, and colleagues. The three winners exemplify what it means to volunteer your time, skills and expertise to better the community.

The Nessie Award

Given to an individual that has volunteered specifically for the Bowness Community Association and has shown passion throughout the year.

The Neighbourhood Nessie

Given to an individual that has made contributions throughout the community of Bowness at various organizations, events or on their own for their neighbours and neighbourhood.

The Team Nessie

Given to a group, organization, or business that has volunteered their time and efforts in creating a better Bowness as a group.

The Nessie Award – Awarded to Linda MacRae for her Contribution to Neighbourhood Food Week

(Pictured: Centre)

Linda is an active volunteer with the Bowness Community Association and helped tremendously with Neighbourhood Food Week throughout 2023. Linda gave thoughtful insight and worked to develop the many events during Food Week, as well as spread the word throughout the community about this new initiative. During Food Week, she connected with many residents and shared information about food resources in the community. She spent many hours inputting feedback from residents who took part in Food Week, and analyzed that feedback with the BCA staff and the community social worker involved in Neighbourhood Food Week. Linda is also involved in a number of other BCA activities, including the HR committee and Events Committee. – From Linda’s Nessie Nomination 

Linda: “I love the BCA, I love the community aspect, and the people who work here because of that community mindedness thing. So, last year was the first year we did Food Week. It was a real adventure and learning project. I met a ton of people from Greenwood Village, Montgomery, and Bowness so that was great. I also sit on the Events Committee and also the Food Week Committee, and I help with the seniors’ dinners.

Sophie: What would you say to people to encourage them to volunteer?

Linda: I would say that I’ve had so much learning through volunteering, through meeting different people in different ways of life, and learning different skills too. I did some administration with Food Week, and I had to learn how to do spreadsheets! I’m getting used to being retired, and that can be kind of isolating. It’s great interacting with people in the community and seeing where I can build bridges and help bring people together who are also isolated. It’s as simple as starting a conversation sometimes. So that’s been the real value for me. 

The Neighbourhood Nessie – Awarded to Crystal Johnson Representing Simon House

(Pictured: Left)

I believe the gentlemen at Simon House deserve a neighborhood Nessie, as they have done so much to help with every event in the community. They support our projects with kindness and humour, and are always willing to lend a hand. Our community garden would not be in the shape it is without the incredible work that they have contributed. The garden comittee thanks Simon House for its efforts and enthusiasm. – From Simon House’s Nessie Nomination

Sophie: Can you tell me why your guys are such incredible volunteers?

Crystal: I’m not going to lie; I push them to do it! I’m a recovering addict myself, and volunteering helped me so much. It gets you out of your own head, and it stops the chaos. Giving back is an incredible feeling, and the more the guys do it, the more community, and sense of contribution, and belonging that they feel. Last year they took part in building the BCA Community Garden. It was hard work, it was hot! So, there was some grumbling, but afterwards the guys were so pumped! They said it was really fun, and they want to come back in the spring, and help with the planting. It was an awesome experience for them. I love everything the BCA does.

The Neighbourhood Nessie – Awarded to Marilynne Walkey Hall

(Pictured: Right)

Marilyn has visibly volunteered in the community going above and beyond to help individuals and community agencies such as Community Kitchen, the Lions, Bowness Seniors Centre, the BCA, Carya, as well as local churches. There are likely more that I am not aware of. Also, Marilyn does helpful compassionate works behind the scenes anonymously. – From Marilynne’s Nessie Nomination 

Marilynne: I came from a family of twelve children. All of us went to school in Bowness, and it was our mum Maree who taught us how to be good volunteers. Even with twelve children she volunteered anywhere she could, the church, the schools. She brought us up really well. We were members of St. Edmonds Church, and before she passed, she was the oldest female member. Because of how she raised me, I’ve always volunteered, whether it was at my kid’s schools, or involving my grandkids. Recently I’ve been cooking for the Bowness Seniors Centre. I’m on the Holiday Committee, and I try to get people to come to the Senior’s Centre for exercise, and to volunteer themselves. I also participated in a wonderful crochet project with the crafting class recently.

Sophie: How do you encourage other people to volunteer?

Marilynne: You just have to show them how much fun you’re having, and what you can accomplish with that little bit of smiles, you know? People are always telling me it’s my smile. It’s an enjoyment thing, not a task.

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