2022 Volunteers of the Year Celebrated

The RDEK is celebrating its 2022 Electoral Area Volunteer of the Year award recipients.

“At a time when volunteerism is declining in many places, we are so grateful to have such strong support from our community members, year after year,” says RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay. “This year’s award recipients have shown up time and again to show their support for their communities and those who live and work around them.”

This year’s award recipients are:
• Area A – Todd Weselake
• Area B – Heather Serafini
• Area C – Don Flowers
• Area E – Stan Yawney
• Area F – Tex Deagnon (Darwin)
• Area G – Sue and Tom Hoyne

“From providing Angel Flights, to providing leadership to our youth, donating equipment, services and supplies to those in need, championing emergency preparedness, and taking care of neighbours both
near and far, this year’s volunteers of the year have shown what it means to be community minded in every way,” adds Gay.

The volunteers will be recognized individually throughout the summer and will be presented with a gift of appreciation on behalf of the RDEK.

Volunteer of the Year Award Recipients Backgrounders

Area A – Todd Weselake
Todd is a co-founder and pilot at Angel Flight East Kootenay. Having lived in the Elk Valley for the last two decades Todd understands the importance of the flights he offers to East Kootenay residents. As an avid, experienced mountain flyer and pursuing a career in aviation he takes aviation safety extremely seriously and is a part of the growth and success of Angel Flight East Kootenay. Each Angel Flight is planned based on the individual requirements, appointment times and time urgency to get to and from the treatment facility. They do drop offs; same day returns and pick ups. They fly in light aircraft from airports in Cranbrook, Creston, Golden, Invermere, Nelson and Sparwood. Moving forward they hope to have flights operated from other airports in the Kootenays.

Area B – Heather Serafini
Triangle Women’s Institute of Grasmere is proud to nominate Heather Serafini as Area B’s Volunteer of the Year. Heather gives more than 100% to the youth of our area as an outstanding 4-H leader and administrator of the 4-H program. She dedicates many hours at the provincial and federal levels but most importantly it is time spent on behalf of our local South Country Craft & Critters 4-H Club as well as the East Kootenay District. Not only is she an integral part of ensuring there is a viable 4-H program in our area, but she also gives hours of hands-on time to the young 4-H members every week. She has set up a home economics classroom, complete with several sewing machines and everything needed to teach members ranging from 6 to 19 years of age, crafts and sewing. She arranges public speaking competitions, bottle drives, cooks meals for the whole community on behalf of 4-H and has for years organized a great district summer camp at Rock Lake.

For those with medical issues, she is there for them lending a caring hand or a sympathetic ear. The youth and their families in our area are very fortunate to have this loving, caring and capable woman at the helm and Heather is well respected and loved by all.

Area C – Don Flowers
Don is actively engaged in the community. While Don is not part of the executive, he is still available for every meeting. He can be counted on to BBQ at all community events and will be ready with tool in hand for any construction projects at the schoolhouse, or for his neighbours. ‘Neighbours”, to Don, means anyone living in the valley. Are you snowed in, and your equipment cannot handle it? Don will bring his tractor and blade to plow you out. In the fall he will do his rounds from house to house with a vehicle full of vegetables that Bonnie grew and continue to make onions and garlic available to the neighborhood. He will loan you his tools and equipment and show you how to use them while freely sharing his skills and knowledge to anyone who asks for them. A huge thanks to Don, he is an absolute gem!

Area E – Stan Yawney
Stan is a remarkable person and always ready to help anyone who needs it. He helps with a smile and usually a joke or story is worked into the mix. He is quite the handyman and very knowledgeable about a lot of things. Stan has been the president of the St. Mary Valley Rural Residents Association for many years. Stan is also one of the first people to call for the Fire Suppression Committee in the valley. He is a major asset, making sure all the equipment is accounted for in the Spring and ready to go at a moments notice. In the fall, he checks things out to make sure everything is accounted for again. Many things are not asked for, but he just does it. He is very giving of himself and never expects anything in return. Stan is a wonderful neighbour to everyone and deserves to be recognized as the Volunteer of the Year for 2022.

Area F – Tex Deagnon (Darwin)
Tex Deagnon has served as President of the Fairmont Community Association for the years 2013 to 2019. He recently stepped down from his position as president but remains active in the association as a past president. Through his service to the community on the board of directors, he has been a been a tireless and enthusiastic volunteer, visionary and advocate for the community and residents of Fairmont Hot Springs. Tex has demonstrated tremendous leadership qualities in his role as president by being on top of local issues and he is always a positive force for improvements in the community. In addition to Tex’s service to the community through the Fairmont Community Association, he has been a key volunteer with the local Fairmont and District Lions Club. Tex continues his volunteer services to the broader Columbia Valley by serving as a director and key operating person at the Columbia Valley Airport Society (CVAS), a non-profit society providing critical air services to users, including medical transportation and wildfire containment services. The community is very fortunate to have Tex among its members.

Area G – Sue and Tom Hoyne
Sue and Tom Hoyne have been the pillars of the Wilmer Community Club (WCC) for over 15+ years. Tom is President and Sue is the Secretary Treasure. Their dedication and hard work have led the way in the development of the Club, its membership, and the WCC building. As in many towns, its sense of community came through its school - which in Wilmer's case was a small 2 room elementary school. When that was decommissioned, the Hoynes lead the charge in saving the building to establish it as a Community Hall. Both Tom and Sue oversaw the development of a 'state of the art' community playground that is well used by our local children. The community's latest endeavour, and highly supported by the WCC, is the Wilmer FireSmart Program. Sue sits on the Coordinating Committee and oversees the financials. The community has had a successful initial FireSmart Assessment completed in 2020, and then a further regional assessment completed in late 2021 - that will enable the community to receive additional wildfire support from FireSmart Canada, the Province, RDEK, and CBT. They are always the first to volunteer - and the last to leave any special event. Both Sue and Tom do most of their work behind the scenes and do not seek recognition, but everything that has happened in the community over the last 15- 20 years has had their hands fully involved with them.