Local volunteer plays large role for seniors


Andy Melnyk couldn’t imagine spending his retirement in front of a television or computer screen.

The 77-year-old Black Diamond resident prefers to spend his days planning events and maintaining equipment at the Griffiths Seniors Centre and being active in the community.

“It’s just something to do,” he said. “I don’t mind being involved. You get to know a lot more people when you are involved than if you’re just a member.”

Melnyk retired and moved to Black Diamond 12 years ago, immersing himself in the Town’s parks committee, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), Foothills Lions Club and Royal Canadian Legion Turner Valley Branch.

Melnyk will be presented with the Town’s Volunteer of the Year Award during the Volunteer Appreciation Celebration April 27 at 5 p.m. at the Turner Valley Golf Club.

“It’s an honour,” said Melnyk. “It’s nice to be recognized.”

Years ago Melnyk joined the parks committee, where he helped get things in place for the community garden in the town’s northeast. It was relocated from a lot near the water tower.

“We got a chunk of land from the MD and raised some money and got some grants,” he said.

Melnyk helped with some of the grunt work needed to get the community garden in place, as well as placing fencing around the former beaver ponds near C. Ian McLaren School. The avid volunteer served as both secretary and chairman for the parks board and also got involved with the community’s annual clean up every spring.

As a member of FCSS, Melnyk said he assisted with allocating money to non-profit groups that were approved for funding.

Most of his time is now spent with the Griffiths Seniors Centre. He helps out with the rental of the facility, maintaining the building, membership, fundraising, making purchasing, communicating with members and planning events like floor curling and the monthly themed dinners.

“I first got started there maybe 10 years ago,” he said. “It keeps me occupied, otherwise what do you do as a retired person? Sit at home and play games on the computer?”

Suzan Nagel, FCSS coordinator, describes Melnyk as a volunteer who is both dedicated and committed.

“A part of his success in his role as a volunteer would be attributed to his overall involvement in the community, not just where he’s volunteering, but how active he is in the community,” she said.

Nagel said Melnyk’s name was the only one entered for the Volunteer of the Year Award this year. The Town extended the deadline by six weeks after receiving no submissions earlier this year, she said.

“That’s not to say he was the only deserving person,” she said. “There are plenty of people who do a lot of work out there. That’s why we do the appreciation celebration is to not just recognize one but many.”

The Town honours all volunteers who contribute time and energy to the community at the annual celebration, which recognizes about 60 people each year.

“These are volunteers for everything from church to helping out a neighbour or sitting on a committee of council,” she said.

“It’s certainly heartwarming to see that people are still volunteering. It’s quite a diversified group.”

Volunteers make a huge impact on the community, whether it’s helping residents with their taxes or raising money to support youth initiatives, said Nagel.

“When you can do something so simple to make a difference in the life of somebody else it’s definitely worth it,” she said. “We sometimes forget that something really simple can make a big difference.”

The majority of volunteers in the community consist of seniors and Nagel said she would like to see more of the younger generation take action.

“My biggest hope is that we are able to pass the torch and bring the younger people in so that they can learn from the older generation,” she said. “If we can bring somebody in even a little bit to slowly get involved hopefully they can grow into their role.

“There’s a lot of places where you can fit in here and there. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot.”

Those who take the time to volunteer often find it to be a rewarding experience, said Nagel.

“Most of the volunteers get a lot of personal satisfaction out of it,” she said. “They also get the opportunity to share their skills and gain new skills. There is always great learning opportunities with volunteering.”

Those planning to attend the Volunteer Appreciation Ceremony are asked to RSVP by calling Suzan Nagel at 403-933-4348.


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