Brigid Kemp was honoured this week with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, recognizing the years of volunteer work she has given to the community.
She formally received the medal at the Penticton city council afternoon meeting Tuesday, but on Monday, she was also thanked for her work and congratulated by Prime Minister Trudeau at Penticton’s B.C. Day celebrations.
“Aside from the honour of the Governor General’s medal for volunteers, having him acknowledge that too was quite an honour,” said Kemp, who admitted she had never had a chance to meet a prime minister before.
“It’s a recognition of the volunteerism that I contribute to my community. I strongly believe in giving to my community and being part of it,” said Kemp. “To me, it is more important to give than to take. Being part of the community means giving back to the community.”
In one way or another, Kemp said, she has been volunteering for many years.
Kemp has been a community volunteer income tax program co-ordinator for over a decade. She also contributes her time to the Salvation Army, the City of Penticton’s transportation advisory committee, the United Way and the B.C. Federation of Retired Union Members. Through the Penticton and District Community Response Network, she addresses the issues of abuse and neglect among vulnerable adults.
“It’s about giving back to the people you work with, the people you live with, the people you meet on the street,” said Kemp.
Kemp’s volunteering was also recognized at council by South-Okanagan West Kootenay MP Dick Cannings, who also presented her with a testimonial
Kemp said she is not alone in volunteering, that there are many people “in every nook and cranny of this province, this town, this community, this country” that are volunteering.
“People give in many ways to their community, in whatever capacity they have,” said Kemp. “Penticton is almost run by volunteers. I think there are many people in this community who would be equally deserving of such an award.“
Kemp said people have asked why she didn’t get Trudeau to pin the medal on her personally, but she points out that since this is an award from the Queen, through the Governor-General of Canada, it was to be awarded by a neutral representative.
That could have been done by the Governor General herself, but Kemp wanted to have the medal awarded in Penticton, rather than in Ottawa.
“I chose to ask the mayor, because the award is based on my volunteer work in my community,” said Kemp, adding that she wasn’t interested in a big formal ceremony in Ottawa.
“I’m basically a grassroots practical person. I like to keep things simple,” said Kemp.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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