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“A big thank you for everything you do”

Pelham volunteers honoured at MCC It was a packed house in the Accursi Room at the Meridian Community Centre last Thursday evening, as the Town of Pelham hosted an appreciation night for its community volunteers.

Pelham volunteers honoured at MCC

It was a packed house in the Accursi Room at the Meridian Community Centre last Thursday evening, as the Town of Pelham hosted an appreciation night for its community volunteers.

Councillor John Wink served as the master of ceremonies, while greetings were delivered by Mayor Marvin Junkin, Councillor Wayne Olson, and Pelham CAO David Cribbs. Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff and MP Dean Allison also offered remarks.

The keynote speaker at the event, Fenwick-born adventurer and author Adam Shoalts, provided an informative and entertaining talk and slide show of his trek to Labrador to solve a century-old mystery, along with former E.L. Crossley schoolmate Zach Junkin. Shoalts, described as “Canada’s Indiana Jones” by the Toronto Star, holds the title of Westaway Explorer-in-Residence at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

“With your volunteerism, you are indeed making your community a better place to live,” said Mayor Junkin. “A big thank you for everything you do.”

Councillor Wayne Olson told the audience that volunteers give hope to people in need through generous giving, advocacy for policy change, and much more.

“The need for people to unite and help those in need has never been greater,” he said. “The present public health crisis has occurred on top of a global pandemic, which was on top of a climate crisis, which was on top of several equality crises, which are built on top of a global food crisis. And now we have a war in the Ukraine that threatens us all.”

Cribbs spoke of being awed, upon his arrival in Pelham, by the legion of lawn chairs assembled in Peace Park for Thursday evening bandshell concerts during the summer, and noted that of the five municipalities he has worked with during his career, Pelham’s community spirit tops them all.

“This is the best job I’ve ever taken,” he said. “I’m so grateful every day to be here in Pelham. And the special sauce is the volunteers. Because otherwise, we’re just a nice place. But there are other nice places. Volunteerism is what makes us special.”

I’m so grateful every day to be here in Pelham. And the special sauce is the volunteers.

Allison told the audience that “it’s amazing what you have in your community due to the involvement of volunteers. Larger towns don’t always deliver like smaller towns for their friends and neighbours.” In a similar vein, Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoof said that “the people in this room really are the lifeblood of our community. Volunteers like yourselves are the ones who ensure that so many good things happen each and every day.”

Wink announced the peer award nominees, selected by local service group committees. Volunteers honoured at the event were: Bill King, Canada Day Planning Group; Dr. Tim Nohara, Cannabis Control Committee; Cathy Robins, Community Beautification Committee; Bert Marissen, Fenwick Lions; Yvon Audette, Fonthill Firefighters Association; Bonnie Puhl, Fonthill Lionettes; Al Crowe, Fonthill Lions; Dave Ripley, Kinsmen Club of Fonthill and District; Bea Clark, Pelham Active Transportation Committee; Tammy van den Brink, Pelham Arts Advisory Committee; Natalia Shields, Pelham Art Festival; Ric Gretsinger, Pelham Farmers Market; Heather Carter, Pelham Garden Club; Sharon Cook, Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee; Remo Battista, Pelham Summerfest Committee; Greg Haegens, Short Hills Firefighters Association; Colleen Kenyon, Town of Pelham Culture; Sherry Wilkinson, Town of Pelham Public Art; and Bry-Anne Farms, Corporate Recognition Award.

Speaker Adam Shoalts, Mayor Marvin Junkin, and Junkin's son Zach, who accompanied Shoalts on an expedition to Labrador, recounted in Shoalts' book, The Whisper on the Night Wind. DON RICKERS

Shoalts, who has written four books based on his wilderness journeys and holds a Ph.D. in History from McMaster University, told the audience that he had just arrived in Pelham a few hours earlier, having been in Ottawa for a similar event.

“Sitting at my table were a Supreme Court justice, an astronaut, the Prime Minister, and a very famous Hollywood actor, and I can tell you in all sincerity, I am much more excited to be here at this dinner tonight,” he said. “And the reason for that is because there is no place like home. I am so happy to be back here in Pelham, back to my roots, where I first fell in love with the outdoors. Pelham was the perfect place to grow up, not only because of the forest and the rural places we’re still privileged to have, but because of all the clubs, the activities, the volunteers, everything that makes the town what a town is.’

Shoalts said that he had spent the last ten years living outside of Pelham and Niagara, travelling to remote locations.

“I’ve done expeditions on four continents, in all ten provinces and territories, including 4000 kilometres across the Arctic. But being here tonight is a real thrill for me.”

During his presentation, Shoalts detailed his journey to the isolated settlement of Traverspine, in Labrador, long since deserted, which during the early 1900s was reportedly the scene of a haunting by large creatures none could identify. An expert on wilderness folklore, Shoalts and his trek-mate Junkin, who is one of Mayor Junkin’s sons, set off into the wilds of Labrador to investigate the tale. His latest book, The Whisper on the Night Wind, tells the complete story, but Shoalts was not inclined to share the mystery’s conclusion.

“You’ll just have to buy the book to find out,” he said with a grin.


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Don Rickers

About the Author: Don Rickers

A life-long Niagara resident, Don Rickers worked for 35 years in university and private school education. He segued into journalism in his retirement with the Voice of Pelham, and now PelhamToday
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