Strathmore local recognized as Direct Energy Volunteer Citizen of the Year finalist

Direct Energy awarded Strathmore Meals on Wheels $500 on behalf of local, Sheila Clark, in prize for being selected as a finalist for their Volunteer Citizen of the Year award.

Beginning in 2004, Direct Energy partnered with the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) to establish the award, and recognizes volunteers annually.

“We partner with the AWNA every year to try to showcase individuals living in all the local communities— more so the rural or smaller towns serviced by the AWNA network, and find the great people who are doing awesome things in these communities,” said Dan Smith, director of marketing and creative with Direct Energy. “We do our own advertising to let people know across Alberta that they can nominate their friends, their colleagues … and folks out in the community and we also get the word out through all the local newspapers and solicit those nominations.”

The winner of Volunteer Citizen of the Year is awarded $5,000 to donate to the charity of their choosing on an annual basis following nominations and the selection process.

Smith explained due to the record high number of nominations this year, as well as a feeling that several were deserving of recognition, seven finalist awards were created, each being awarded $500.

“I never saw the advertisement, I think it was my daughter … who saw it and thought this would be perfect for Meals on Wheels if we could get some extra money,” said Clark. “She applied for it and fortunately, we are in the runners-up. I went online and saw who the big winner was, which was interesting, and I’m quite pleased that we at least got on the runners-up list.”

Clark explained she moved to Strathmore in 1983 and has been volunteering with Meals on Wheels since 1986.

“I went from delivering meals, to being on the executive. I have been everywhere from treasurer to secretary to president and that’s where I have been sitting for the last 20 years or so,” she said. “The organization itself, we are very fortunate we have never had to do a big fundraiser because we pay what the hospital charges us … and with this extra money that we have been getting, we have been able to give a benefit to the people who are getting meals; we have been charging them less.”

Smith added Direct Energy will be continuing to recognize finalists through its award program, as well as the Volunteer Citizen of the Year. For 2024, nominations will open again in June. Smith hopes to once again see a record number of nominations.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times