The Winkler Citizen of the Year award is given to someone who embodies the concept of volunteerism in the community, sometimes for one specific event or task, sometimes for a lifetime of volunteerism.
Gary Gilmour, who was named Citizen of the Year in 2013, is the latter. The list of volunteer credits he has amassed in Winkler since he arrived in 1976 is impressive, and shows his wide range of interests.
He has spent over a decade with the Winkler Community Foundation, and was instrumental in setting up the Youth in Philanthropy programs, both at the high school and the junior high levels. He spent several years as president of the Foundation, and several more as president of Community Foundations of Canada.
He was a member of the Winkler Lions Club from 1976 until the club folded in 2013, and was instrumental in setting up the Amy Janzen Fund, to assist parents with seriously ill children. He headed up the local blood donor clinics, which were then run by the Lions, and still looks after them, even though the Lions Club is no more.
He was a founder of the Winkler Flyers hockey club. He taught tennis and served on the board of Tennis Canada. He brought badminton to J. R. Walkof School, and coached ball for numerous years.
He is active with the local Progressive Conservative party, and has been president of the constituency association for five different PC candidates – Arnold Brown, Jack Penner, Don Orchard, Peter George Dyck, and now Cameron Friesen.
He is active in his church, and has served on several boards of the Lutheran Church of Canada.
And in between, he has served with the provincial bar association and the Law Society, and has volunteered in local schools.
Obviously, volunteerism is high on his list of priorities, so he was an admirable candidate for the award. There was just one tiny little fly in the ointment. The Citizen of the Year award is given by the Winkler Community Foundation, and he still sits on the board.
“Conflict of interest!” was his first reaction. “Bad choice!” were his first words.
However, the committee prevailed, and he accepted, and was both proud and humbled by the award.
What is the value of such an award?
“When the Lions took over the event,” he says, “we made some changes. By that time, the Chamber (of Commerce) was already handing out business awards, so we changed it to an emphasis on volunteering in the community. That way, (each group) can focus on different aspects of community service, and we cover different ground in giving our awards. It’s great to recognize volunteers, and (this kind of award) allows the committee to recognize people who may not be that prominent in the community, but they are the ones volunteering when there’s work to be done.”