Leanne Van Wagner and Gezim Veliu have been honoured as Volunteer and Corporate Volunteer of the Year award winners by the Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau.
As President of the Beaverlodge Rural Crime Watch, Van Wagner says she certainly didn’t join up to get plaudits, but she realized it was an amazing opportunity to lend a hand.
“I didn’t intend to stay on, I was really only staying for a short time, and that was a year and a half ago. I’ve learned a lot, as a member it’s different, you sit and nod your head, but as president, you get involved.”
After receiving the award, Van Wagner says while she gets the credit for the work, it is down to the others on the board which makes the organization tick.
“That’s crazy, you know what? This is so much about the team, I’ve got an amazing secretary, an amazing vice president and directors, it’s turned into something I didn’t expect, these people are my friends.”
Veliu, the owner and operator of Executive Driving Services INC, has been intertwined with volunteerism since coming to Grande Prairie in 1999. Most recently, Executive Driving Services INC was a major chauffer helping Big Brothers and Big Sisters Grande Prairie take part in Take Your Kid To Work Day.
He says it is an honour and privilege to be in a place to be able to give back to the community he has loved his entire adult life.
“At 16 years old I got to see what volunteers do for this country when we landed as refugees. In 2003, my parents got to won their own house in this beautiful country from the Grande Prairie Spirit Foundation,” he says.
“I have been on the receiving end and know the feeling, and I will continue to do all that I can for this community that so graciously welcomed us and accepted us in 1999.”
2019 marks the 50th anniversary Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau has been in operation.