That’s Barry Elderkin’s outlook on life, and the amount of time the local resident has dedicated to giving back to his community shows they’re words he lives by. The appreciation of his neighbours, friends and fellow residents was shown at the Citizen of the Year Gala held on Feb. 27 to celebrate Elderkin’s contributions to life in Maple Creek. About 100 people filled the Elks Hall for the special event, which was sponsored by the Maple Creek News and Advance Times, Town of Maple Creek and Bank of Montreal. Elderkin was named the 2013 Citizen of the Year for his volunteer work through multiple community groups and organizations, including town council, the Southwest Healthcare Trust Board, Superannuated Teachers of Saskatchewan, Cypress Credit Union’s board of directors and Communities in Bloom. He attended the gala with his wife Gayle, their three children, Kevin, Karin and Mark, one of his grandchildren and his mother Nellie. The Maple Creek News’ manager Angela Litke was the mistress of ceremonies and opened by stating the important role volunteers play in communities. She noted Elderkin received two nominations and stood out because of his extensive involvement in so many different areas over many years. Bank of Montreal branch manager Sasha Regier spoke on the value of individuals giving back through their time, energy and monetary contributions.
“It’s important to be involved in our community, because each of us plays a role in making our community strong. Thank you for being the voice of Maple Creek and demonstrating the calibre of people that constitute our community,” she said to Elderkin. “It is people like you that help propel our community forward and prepare us for future growth and development.”
Mayor Barry Rudd spoke on behalf of the town and said how proud they are to have him serve as a councillor.
“He sacrifices a lot of things – a lot of his home life… because he has other commitments and boards that he sits on,” he said. “He’s very dedicated and very well respected. No matter where you go in the province, whatever conference you may walk into, generally the first thing they ask is, ‘How’s Barry Elderkin doing?'”
Clay Thompson, executive director of the Dr. Noble Irwin Foundation, has worked with Elderkin through his volunteer work in raising funds for the new integrated healthcare facility. He acknowledged Elderkin’s strong commitment to the future of healthcare in Maple Creek.
“The pool of money that we’ve been gathering for the new healthcare facility has gotten a bit deeper, and I think a lot of us can thank Barry for his own personal efforts in that,” Thompson stated.
Cypress Credit Union’s general manager Glen Goddard discussed Elderkin’s long-standing involvement, serving with the board for 29 years.
“Barry and I have worked very closely together for almost 20 years, and I’ve grown to respect him and mentor from him tremendously,” he said, adding Elderkin’s teaching background comes out often. “Through Barry’s dedication and leadership to the credit union, we’ve grown and prospered.”
Graham Markert, chair of the Southwest Healthcare Trust Board, emphasized Elderkin does his job and so much more. He noted the Christmas 50-50 draw for the equipment fund was in large part successful because of his efforts. Markert added Elderkin is also a very caring individual.
“I think you’ve set the bar high for anyone who follows you,” he said.
Fellow superannuated teacher Dale Chant said Elderkin was always there to encourage and help his colleagues.
“Barry was always the one who would do the extra jobs,” he explained. “Most of us have been touched personally though his teaching, administrating and his volunteering and civic leadership. I’m thrilled that he’s being recognized for his work and talent.”
When Elderkin took the podium, he garnered many chuckles from the audience with his stories of pranks on neighbours and fellow teachers.
Projects that have provided physical results such as the community garden have been very enjoyable for the avid volunteer.
“I’ve learned some things, I’ve grown and we’ve had fun,” he said.
He thanked the sponsors, nominators and those that have offered congratulations and kind words, as well as the volunteers he has worked alongside over the years.
“I didn’t work in isolation,” he said. “But working with many people, I found it very rewarding, especially when you feel you’ve accomplished something.”