Community

A strong case for Citizen of the Year

Bob Shantz helps organize the annual Rotary duck race, which raises money for local non-profit groups and youth projects.  - The News/Files
Bob Shantz helps organize the annual Rotary duck race, which raises money for local non-profit groups and youth projects.
— image credit: The News/Files

Bob Shantz has been chosen as the Citizen of the Year in Maple Ridge.

“All of them were, without exception, in their areas, outstanding volunteers,” said Jan Hickman, who headed the committee that chose the winner.

She said Shantz stands out for the length and many different avenues of his community service.

“It’s the variety of activities he has been involved with over the years – for 30-plus years – the diversity,” she said.

“Bob’s volunteerism reads like a who’s who in the society page,” she said.

She noted that Shantz was one of the founders of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation, and a longtime member. He is still serving as its past president.

He was a member of the same Maple Ridge Community Foundation that honoured him last night, for almost a decade.

His most high-profile venture in recent years is the Rotary Duck Race, which aids youth sports.

Last year, the Alouette River was yellow with 9,000 rubber ducks, as the race netted almost $90,000, distributed to 27 non-profit organizations and local youth projects.

The duck race is a Rotary project, and Shantz has been a longtime member of that organization, and has twice been honoured with its highest distinction – the Paul Harris Fellowship.

Other fun public service events Shantz has thrown himself into include the Rotary sports banquet, wine festival and hometown heroes program.

“It just goes on and on,” said Hickman.

“He’s just a great guy – very humble, and never says no.”

Shantz is recognized for his excellence as a criminal lawyer. He gained professional notoriety for his defence of child killer Clifford Olson, in the first serial killer case in the province’s history. He was a seasoned attorney who had already defended 100 murder trial when he took the case.

 

Volunteer spirit

There were three other citizens of the year nominees:

• Bob Foster is known for his involvement and commitment to numerous local groups over a period of 30 years.. He works with the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society, Community Living Foundations, Seniors Connect, the Seniors Network and Community Services.

• Scout leader Jose Vivieros began his volunteer work in the Scouting movement 13 years ago, doing countless projects with the First Laity Scout Group. He is also an active Rotarian, who has won a Distinguished Service Award and a Paul Harris Fellow in 2012.

• Paul and Eileen Dwillies were also nominated. They first volunteered for the Haney Farmers Market in 2003, starting the downtown revitalization initiative as members of a task force that founded it. For the past seven years, they have managed the market, volunteering hundreds of hours. What began with 10 vendors has ballooned to a popular market with more than 60, creating a vibrant event in the town core.

We always get excellent nominations,” said foundation president Robert Prince. “It’s an incredibly tough decision.”

“The people who nominate the volunteers are truly impressed by those who they are nominating, and truly believe they deserve it, but at the end of the day there can only be one winner.”

He said what stands out is the quality of service they render, for a long portion of their lifetime.

Each one of the nominees received a printed photograph of the Golden Ears Mountains.

The winner will also received a cash award, to be donated to the charity of their choice.

“I think it’s a significant honour,” said Prince, “and a recognition of the volunteer spirit.”

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