From the right: Kerry Adams was honoured for his dedication and work as a volunteer with the ACAA by being presented by ACAA president Sophie Branchaud. Thompson Goddard Photo

AVONMORE – The weather was very cold outside North Stormont Place, but inside there was a lot of warmth as the Avonmore Community and Athletic Association held their Volunteer Appreciation Night 2023 on Feb. 3.

ACAA president Sophie Branchaud described this year’s event as “A night to thank our community volunteers for all of their hard work. We also took this opportunity to recognize some of the original members of the ACAA and their contributions to the village over the years.”

Following a social hour with music from members of Hadrian’s Wall and the opportunity to enjoy a bite to eat from a large and beautiful charcuterie board from Floral Expressions in Cornwall, Branchaud welcomed guests to the event and introduced local historian Murray Barkley.

Barkley provided an interesting and informative history of the ACAA that began in the summer of 1969 at a meeting hosted by Mavis Wert. Audrey Bush, Iva Bush, Yvette Delaney, Eunice Henderson, Grace McElheran, and Mavis Wert founded an organization to provide the girls in Avonmore opportunities for participation in sports’ activities. This organization became known as the Avonmore Sports Committee in March 1970 and ultimately the ACAA.

“Our first presentation this evening is to the six founding mothers of the ACAA, and I would call upon Nancy Wert to please come forward to receive it. The presentation is a plaque and framed article from The Chesterville Record for display in the board room in this building, recognizing all the founding mothers of the ACAA,” said Barkley shortly before Branchaud made the presentation to Wert.

Following this, Barkley provided information on the community work done by Jean Canham, wife of Earl Canham. She was described by Barkley as “always energetic, indefatigable, and cheerful Jean Canham,” and announced the hall at North Stormont Place “will henceforth be known as The Jean Canham Hall,” with Earl Canham receiving the honour on behalf of his late wife.

The third presentation of the evening was in honour of Mavis Wert, “in recognition of her unending commitment to work” in the community, the kitchen of North Stormont Place “will henceforth be known as “The Mavis Wert Galley.” Continuing, Barkley noted “Mavis was always kind and pleasant and businesslike, and things always ran smoothly and efficiently when she was in charge!”

Following these presentations, Branchaud announced the Volunteer of the Year Award for the ACAA was being initiated in 2023. She noted the importance of each volunteer’s contributions, and commented there were several nominations this year. “This award will serve to recognize one individual who, over the past year, has demonstrated an abundance of dedication to the community through their work with Rec. This individual is nominated by their peers, and ultimately selected by the president.”

It was announced that the recipient of the 2023 Volunteer of the Year Award was Kerry Adams. He has volunteered with the ACAA for nearly 25 years and assisted with several projects and initiatives. These include “organizing our financials, to helping to manage the final phases of the park project, to installing festive lighting around town, driving fire trucks around for parades, maintaining our new outdoor skating rink, and many other things,” explained Branchaud, noting he has great ideas as well as being able to get things done.

“It’s truly humbling to be given this award by your fellow volunteers. Avonmore is a great little town and Avonmore Rec. is a fantastic group of people helping to make it better for everyone!” commented Adams.

ACAA vice president Josee Poirier then took a few minutes to thank Branchaud for her many years of service to the organization. “Sophie is a humble Rec. leader. She continuously expresses “it’s a team effort,” always conveying to each of us how thankful she is for the role we played here in Rec. She overlooks to congratulate herself for all the hard work she accomplishes and a positive impact her being our president has played within the Rec. family and in our community,” said Poirier. She continued how Branchaud, co-owner of Sage Floral & Design, has sponsored community events and demonstrated an “unwavering commitment” to the Avonmore Park project and achieved many accomplishments on this project by her work with stakeholders.

Poirier concluded her comments by noting “Sophie and I have discussed on how much we love that Avonmore has evolved but remains authentic. A town where you are proud to live in, where children can be children, the neighbours are friendly, access to great local schools, historical corner store, a pizzeria with delicious ice cream, and notably when someone loses their chicken, we can identify who they belong to!”