The George S Majic Spiritus Award

It is hard to walk around our community for even a brief amount of time and not be aware that there are community builders all around us, leaning in and supporting whatever they are passionate about. They are community coaches when their children are young, they support festivals and events, they work on boards, and sometimes as my friend Sadie laughingly said to me at a Museum opening - they volunteer because they couldn’t get a ticket.

I was sitting at the Regional District a few days ago listening to my colleagues discuss how hard it is to get volunteers to support community events, and I couldn’t help but think of my last two months. I’ve been to dozens of events all supported by an army of volunteers. In fact, our volunteerism in Fernie never ceases to surprise me.

My time on Council introduced me to the George S. Magic Spiritus Awards, an award that according to Anne Magic came as a surprise to her. This award was created by George’s family and friends in Sault Ste. Marie as a way of honouring his community contributions and life in service. The hope was to recognise people for their commitment to our community through service, the unsung heroes that largely go unnoticed.

I would say those characteristics sum up Jim and Alice Booth perfectly, their indefatigable commitment and service to Fernie while remaining largely in the shadows. If you don’t have the good fortune of knowing them, you wouldn’t even be aware of their contribution.

The Seniors Centre is celebrating a 60th birthday this year, and while there has been many people working hard to support the Centre over 60 years, it certainly would be appropriate to acknowledge that when Jim and Alice joined the executive in 2012 as President and Secretary, they really started transitioning the Seniors Centre towards a high capacity organisation with a multitude of programming, a much needed community asset.

As Canada’s senior population is growing, supporting the health and well-being of older Canadians is a priority. The Centre is positively bustling with use, from rentals, to programming, community groups making use of the space and a bustling lunch scene - it is a hub of activity.

Jim and Alice with support of their team, have spent the past ten years chasing grants to replace floors, bathrooms and build a new kitchen. They essentially remodelled the building. Eventually they saw the need for an administrator and applied to the City of Fernie for an operational grant so they could hire someone to help them run the building.

People who know Jim and Alice have seen them volunteer through every sport their kids were involved with; minor hockey, figure skating, and the Ghostriders. They then went on to volunteer at the Golf Course until they found their latest passion, the Seniors Centre. When I interviewed people for this piece, everyone said the same thing, if you need a hand just call Jim and Alice. We’ve never seen them say no, they are tremendous volunteers.

It is with tremendous pleasure that we get to acknowledge the George S. Magic award, and Jim and Alice Booth are certainly standing in good company. Please join the community in celebrating 60 years at the Seniors Centre, my advice is to drop in for the best lunch in town and buy yourself a commemorative cook book - proceeds of the cook book are going to a scholarship awarded to a student graduating from FSS and entering into a field of study that benefits seniors. You won’t regret it.