Mayor’s Recognition Awards handed down tonight

In a ceremony this evening, 23 Central Albertans will receive this year’s annual Mayor’s Recognition Award.

Categories in which recipients will be honoured are athletics, citizenship, fine and performing arts and the Mayor’s Special Award.

These awards were established in 1990 specifically to recognize the individuals, teams, and groups in our community for their achievements and volunteer service.

“Nominations are submitted by January 31 and then the selection committee decides whether or not the people meet the criteria,” said Donna Hamel, program coordinator for the awards.

Citizens can place nominations all year long for the categories but Hamel said very few people do so until the last week.

“In a lot of cases people are recognized for things that happened in the last year, so people wait until the end to choose.”

Nominations for the athletics, citizenship and fine and performing arts categories are chosen by a selection committee of five other citizens. All nominations for the Mayor’s Special Award are narrowed down, recommended to the mayor, and the mayor chooses the final person.

Hamel says that after 21 years, the program needs a bit of refreshing in order to get more nominations and awareness.

“We get a lot of nominations from the hospital but there are other organizations that have never nominated anybody.”

Winners of the awards receive a certificate, a gold pin with a deer on it, and Michael Dawe’s book about Red Deer.

Hamel explained that the nomination forms for these awards are quite simple. Only the award for the volunteer history requires a bit of prior knowledge of the candidate.

“Some other awards out there are quite complicated in that you have to get letters of recommendation and know a lot about the person you are nominating.”

The selection for the special award can be for humanitarianism, exceptional achievement in a profession, sport or the arts, or an act of heroism or bravery.

This year’s special award winner is Sandra Epp, a Youth Settlement Support worker with Central Alberta Refugee Effort.

Epp works to establish communication to provide parents the opportunity take part in their children’s education and has helped develop programs including Positive Parenting, Newcomer Orientation Week and Settlement Support in Libraries.

Epp is recognized for her dedication, knowledge and motivation for students who are new to Canada and to Red Deer.

In the fine and performing arts category, Donna Durand, Taylor Crane and Robin Lambert are being recognized for their musical, and visual, accomplishments.

“We have a lot of good athletes so it’s amazing we don’t have more nominees,” said Hamel.

This year’s athletic recipients include numerous Special Olympics Gold medallists in aquatics.

Ten people will receive awards in Citizenship for continuous voluntary service as well as five for distinguished voluntary service.

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