Citizen of the year nominees Ron Antalek

Citizen of the year nominees Ron Antalek

Maple Ridge Community Foundation celebrates two anniversaries

Citizen of the year to be announced on Saturday.

Saturday is a big anniversary for the Maple Ridge Community Foundation. It will mark the organization’s 40th anniversary, and also the 25th anniversary of the Citizen of the Year awards, and that honour will be bestowed on one of three nominees on the night.

“We have an absolutely phenomenal community of volunteers,” said Jan Hickman, who chairs the nomination committee for citizen of the year. “They all come with glowing resumes.

Ron Antalek was nominated for his work with Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services, the Cythera Transition House Society and the Ridge Meadows Hospice Society. He is also well known as the chair of the Maple Ridge Hospital Foundation board, and is a dedicated leader and fundraiser for community organizations.

In 2006 the local realtor donated $1 million to the hospital foundation, which has been directed to mental health, and the hospital’s 20-bed psychiatric unit has been named for the Antalek Family.

Nominee Pat Smith has been the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Maple Ridge Community Foundation, and was the vice-president of the Ridge Meadows BC Summer Games in 1998. He has also worked for the hospital foundation.

Smith has lived in Maple Ridge for more than 50 years, with a career as an accountant, and has served on the board of various non-profit organizations in the city. He also works on the ethics board for the CGA Association and works for the betterment of the profession.

Marie Spetch was nominated for her volunteer work with the Ridge Meadows Hospital, hospice society and as the Sunshine Lady at Greystone Manor. She is a well known volunteer with hospital patients, and with her church.

She was one of the first volunteers with the hospice society, and also volunteered for Social Services. Her work is varied from performing as the eucharistic minister for those who are too ill to attend church, or helping seniors vote in the federal election.

At the age of 92, she decided she should have a day off, so on Mondays she rests and relaxes.

Hickman said the volunteers are always generous with their time commitment, often working in behind-the-scenes roles, and their impact is often widespread.

“All of them are generous and thoughtful and caring and humble – all of them are humble.”

The work of the Community Foundation itself is often behind the scenes.

“It’s one of Maple Ridge’s best-kept secrets said new director Ernie Daykin.

The former mayor explained that the group has $800,000 in endowments from local donors, and it uses the interest to fund local causes – organizations in the community.

The money supports hot breakfasts in high schools, bought new chairs for the CEED Centre, and supports Alisa’s Wish Child and Youth Advocacy Centre.

They also have a Community Chest program that is used for individuals or families in dire need of financial aid.

Daykin has been impressed with the foundation.

“It’s a good bunch of people with one thing in mind – what can we do to make the community better.”

He said the Citizen of the Year award has been a great activity for the foundation. From the first winner Charlie Perry in 1991, to boxing coach John Skanks and Lorraine Bates for her work on Countryfest, he said the awards reflect “a broad spectrum of what makes this a great community.”

“We want Saturday night to be a celebration of the foundation being in existence for 40 years, and giving citizen of the year for 25 years,” said Daykin.

• The dinner is Saturday at the Pitt Meadows Golf Club.