A 94-year-old lifelong volunteer was among the those honoured last Thursday evening during the Town of Fort Frances' annual appreciation dinner at the arena auditorium.
2017 “Citizen of the Year" Evelyn Metke, first announced back in November, said she's "overwhelmed” with being honoured as such by the community.
“I can't believe that I've been such a fortunate person to be well and able to carry on,” she told the 130 people on hand for the dinner.
“I've been complaining about my knees and somebody said, 'Well, you've used them for 94 years,'” she quipped.
“Thank you very much, all of you," Metke added. ”I really feel honoured. I never, ever thought of having anything like this before.
“Thank you so much, everybody,” she concluded just before receiving a standing ovation.
Coun. June Caul, who was emcee for the appreciation dinner, noted Metke has a long track record of community service, with a few of her current affiliations being the Rainycrest Auxiliary, the La Verendrye Hospital Auxiliary, and the “Friends of the Library.”
Metke also has been an extremely active member of Knox United Church and the United Church Women here, and a supporter of St. John's Anglican Church.
She is a longstanding member of both the Rainycrest and La Verendrye Hospital auxiliaries, a founding member of the “Friends of the Fort Frances Library,” and has been a Fort Frances Lions Club member for many years.
In fact, she was honoured in 2013 as a Melvin Jones Fellow by the Lions Club International Foundation.
As well, Metke has been a “Meals on Wheels” supporter since its inception, and still delivers meals with the Lions Club and Knox United Church.
She remains an active member of the Fort Frances Horticultural Society and volunteers at the Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts.
Metke also has volunteered at the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship in the past, and has belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star for 75 years.
Coun. Caul mentioned former library CEO Margaret Sedgwick, in her “Citizen of the Year” nomination of Metke, said the following poem perfectly described Metke's volunteer contributions to Fort Frances and its citizens:
Being a Volunteer
It's not for the money
It's not for the fame
It's not for any personal gain
It's just for the love of fellow man
It's just lending a helping hand
It's just to give a tithe of self
That's something you can't buy with wealth
It's not for medals won with pride
It's not for that feeling deep inside
It's that reward down in your heart
It's that feeling you've been a part
Of helping others far and near
That makes you be a volunteer.
“Evelyn, you deserve this honour so very much,” said Coun. Caul.
“We are so fortunate to have you with us in this community, and we can't ever thank you enough for all that you have done for the Town of Fort Frances with your volunteer work,” she added.
The annual dinner also was an occasion for the town to recognize local media, its management group, and the volunteers sitting on various boards and committees.
“Thank you for your passion to make Fort Frances a better place to live and stay,” said Coun. Caul.
“Volunteers are worth more than their weight in gold, as far as I am concerned, and are the cornerstone to any community,” she remarked.
“They don't do it for money or recognition but because they have drive, passion, and love of a community to make it a better place for everyone living in a world of diversity and challenges.”
Coun. Caul noted Winston Churchill once said: “We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.”
“So once again, thank you for all you do to make the lives of others better and for making Fort Frances such a great place to live,” she concluded.
Fort Frances CAO Doug Brown also lauded the mayor and council, and with no nominees having yet submitted their names for the Oct. 22 municipal election, urged the public to consider running for council.
“If they want to give back and have a rewarding job as a councillor, I think this is a good time,” he noted.
“I think the town is financially very sound and we're taking care of our assets," Brown added. ”We provide a lot of services that I know a lot of other communities don't.
“If you put your name on that ballot, I think you'll enjoy what you're doing.”
He admitted councillors have to “juggle a lot” and he gives credit to anyone who puts their name on the ballot.
The dinner, catered by Wasaw Enterprises, also was an occasion to recognize town employees who retired in the past year.
They included firefighter Kirk Armstrong, Public Works crew members Dan Mattson and Darell Crowe, POA co-ordinator Donna Kniesz, bylaw enforcement officer David Egan, and librarian Penny Shumaker.
Employees who have achieved 25 years of service, as well past retirees, also were recognized.