Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Local volunteers celebrated at Mississippi Mills’ 2024 community awards ceremony

Two dedicated volunteers were recognized with Exceptional Volunteer Awards during the 2024 Mississippi Mills Community Awards ceremony, held May 30 at the Almonte Old Town Hall. Pictured, back row, from left: Pakenham Ward Councillor Denzil Ferguson, Ramsay Ward Councillor Vicki Lowe, Mayor Christa Lowry, Almonte Ward Councillor Mary Lou Souter and Ramsay Ward Councillor Bev Holmes. Front row, from left: Award recipients Brenda Deugo-Mills and George Yaremchuk.- Submitted photo

Two tireless volunteers were saluted for their contributions to the quality of life in Mississippi Mills during the Municipality’s third annual community awards ceremony.

Family, friends and members of Council gathered at Almonte Old Town Hall on Thursday, May 30 to celebrate the outstanding achievements of Exceptional Volunteer Award honourees, Brenda Deugo-Mills and George Yaremchuk. Guests were treated to refreshments and an array of desserts purchased from Mississippi Mills businesses.

The Mississippi Mills Community Awards were developed by Council as a way to recognize individuals for their significant contributions to the Municipality and who positively impact the social, cultural or civic life of Mississippi Mills and its residents.

“These Community Awards are a wonderful opportunity for Council to pay tribute to the pillars of our community,” said Mississippi Mills Mayor Christa Lowry. “Both of our recipients this year embody the spirit of contribution, generosity and positive change for which our community has become known. They are tremendous examples of how giving of your time, your skills and your passion can have incredible benefits for our community.”

Brenda Deugo-Mills is truly someone “young at heart,” who possesses a deep passion for her community that was instilled in her at an early age. A founding member of the Pakenham & District Civitan Club, Brenda’s impact has been felt in virtually every corner of the village, including the Pakenham Recreation Committee, Pakenham Remembrance Day and the Canadian Ski Patrol.

Even with a busy career and family, when Brenda’s sons were small and becoming actively involved in local recreation, she independently established a recreational soccer program in Pakenham. Through her career in public safety, she also helped create a transformative restorative justice program locally, which expanded into initiatives like Lanark County Community Justice.

Created in 2022, the 5 Span Strong Kids program is Brenda’s latest effort, which addresses the importance of physical and mental health in youth as they grow. Through Brenda’s passion for this new approach to health education, she has inspired like-minded community members and partners to collaborate on this successful initiative in Mississippi Mills.

For more than 20 years, George Yaremchuk has led by example, through his kindness, character and concern for his fellow citizens. A founding member of Mississippi Mills Bicycle Month in 2008, George was instrumental in helping achieve Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community status. For nearly two decades, he’s also been a compassionate and caring instructor with the Canadian Adaptive Ski Program, volunteering with children and youth with physical disabilities.

From sharing meals and holiday events, to helping with housing and employment or acting as a translator, he has dedicated much time, talent and heart to help several Ukrainian families seeking refuge in Canada.

Community events like Almonte in Concert and Puppets Up! have also benefited from George’s technical wizadry. He is behind the success of many events at Almonte Old Town Hall, helping to set up the projector and sound system, even going so far as to create a user manual.

This year, two new award categories were added to the Community Awards: Welcoming Community Champion (recognizing those who excel at leading initiatives that help shape a welcoming community for newcomers and foster an understanding of sharing other cultures); and Business Champion (celebrating inspirational leaders in local business who have set an example and have found ways to adapt and lead past survival to prosperity).

Start thinking now about nominations for the 2025 Mississippi Mills Community Awards! Nominations for the two new categories, as well as the five others – Outstanding Senior, Exceptional Volunteer, Inspiring Youth, Community Builder and Key to the Municipality – will open in early 2025. For more information, visit www.mississippimills.ca/communityawards/.

Submitted by the Municipality of Mississippi Mills

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