This year it is a couple who are sharing the title of Citizen/Volunteer of the Year, for Summerland.
Although they have no idea who nominated them, Paul Barber and Charlotte Burley are appreciative of having received this award, which recognizes their activities and involvement in the community.
Before arriving in Summerland the couple had lived in Prince George for thirty three years, where Burley worked as a teacher and Barber was a high school and college counsellor. They retired and moved here in 2007.
“We wanted to open up a new chapter in our lives,” explained Barber. “The climate and being close to the lake was a big appeal. When we were building our house we would go down to Powell Beach and we’d be pinching ourselves. It was like a dream.”
One of the challenges of moving to a new community is finding a way to meet new people.
Burley’s mother came to live with the couple and she was a church going lady, so they all three started attending the United Church where they became acquainted with others.
It was there that they responded to the minister’s appeal for drivers to help deliver meals through the Meals on Wheels program.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than showing up at someone’s house… they are 85 years old and haven’t talked to anybody… and you walk in and you are the light of their day,” said Barber. “They are so grateful. You are solving a problem in their life and providing food, but more than anything it is the human contact they need.”
Burley is now serving as the Volunteer Manager for the Meals on Wheels program and Barber still serves as a back- up driver.
It was because of being a volunteer driver with this initiative, that Barber was first introduced to the Rotary Club.
He was invited to attend one of their meetings and liking what they had to say and their philosophy, he decided to join.
“Once you join a couple of organizations like our church and the Rotary Club, you just follow where the need is. If there is a need you do something about it,” Barber said.
“You see some opportunities to make a difference in the community and you put your two cents worth in and away you go. One thing leads to another and you’re busy. You are working with people who have similar goals and you inspire each other.”
Barber enjoys the camaraderie he has with his fellow Rotarians and the satisfaction that comes from working with a team to accomplish something.
Volunteering was not something new to Barber and Burley. It was something that they had both done before moving to Summerland.
“Even when we were in Prince George and raising our children I tried to always have myself say ‘yes’ before I said no,” explained Burley. “I call myself a go-for. I’ll go for this or that and if somebody asks me for something I’ll say yes before I’ll say no.”
She is also good at solving problems and believes that for every problem there is a solution.
Burley explained that there is reciprocity when it comes to volunteering and that when you give to others you definitely get something back in return.
“You’re not consciously thinking that you are doing a good deed, but because it is a positive interaction, it has an effect on you. It makes you feel happy!”
Everyone in this couple’s circle of friends, are involved in some way with the community, so while they appreciated receiving the award, they also felt a little uncomfortable about being singled out.
“There are so many other wonderful people that are doing things,” said Barber.
Upon hearing that Barber and Burley had won the award, the response that came from their children was what the couple seemed to appreciate most.
“They sent us flowers,” said Burley, while Barber explained, “The sense of pride you hear in their voices, I think that has meant more to us than anything. I think we are leaving a legacy that hopefully one day they will follow.”
If you know a positive story about someone in our community, contact Carla McLeod at email@example.com or contact the Summerland Review newsroom at 250-494-5406.