A longtime staff member of Red Deer Public Schools has received a high honour from the Governor General in recognition of her community service.
Sharon Schultz, the district’s coordinator for high school completion, is in line to be awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. She will accept the medal at a ceremony to take place within one year.
Schultz has worked for the school district for 33 years, with her office currently located at Lindsay Thurber.
For more than a decade, Schultz has volunteered for Canadian Blood Services.
She has been a guest speaker at the agency’s events (she has been a blood recipient herself; as a child, she was diagnosed with acute purpura, a blood clotting disease) and organized blood drives at the school, which later became trips to the donor clinic.
Schultz said she realized the importance of this cause when both her husband and sister needed blood transfusions while fighting cancer.
“It would be really interesting to see how many (people) are long-time blood donors because she’s been doing this a number of years, because they got their start here and Sharon organized (CBS) coming into our school,” said Lindsay Thurber Principal Dan Lower, who nominated Schultz for the award along with ESL teacher Gaylene MacKay.
“I think she’s an example of what we want our citizens to be. She’s selfless in her dedication to others.”
Schultz also founded the annual Mad Hatter Tea Party, a fundraiser so cancer patients can pay for head coverings. Both her husband and sister passed away from cancer.
Her other volunteer work takes place during the Festival of Trees, at church and at the school, where she organizes the Remembrance Day ceremony.
In her view, this work is simply her duty, learned from her parents and passed along to set an example for her three sons and seven grandchildren. Her belief is that meaningful volunteerism can be as ordinary as shovelling a neighbour’s sidewalk.
“I think it’s really important that we show young people the value of thinking outside themselves and what can you do,” Schultz said.
She’s grateful for the recognition, even though she’s reluctant to accept it.
“I can honestly say I’m having difficulty with it because I just don’t think I do a whole lot more than what other people do. I think I was very blessed to be acknowledged,” she said.
As the school district’s high school completion coordinator, Schultz helps students fulfill their diploma requirements in order to graduate.