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Maple Ridge senior wins award from SFU for leadership and community volunteerism

Audrey Hatch received the award during a presentation Wednesday, Nov. 29

A Maple Ridge senior was recognized for her volunteerism and activism in the community with a prestigious award from Simon Fraser University.

Audrey Hatch, who has been volunteering in Maple Ridge since the late 1980’s, was presented with the 2023 Seniors Leadership Award for Outstanding Service and Community Education, by Andrew Wister, professor and director of the Gerontology Research Centre at SFU, during a presentation on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at the Maple Ridge Public Library.

“It’s a great honour and privilege to give this award to Audrey,” said Wister, before reading out a long list of Hatch’s contributions to the community, all included in a nomination letter sent to his department by Lindsay Zylstra, board member of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Seniors Network, on behalf of the board and the network’s seniors planning table, including executive director Heather Treleaven.

Hatch began her volunteerism with the opening of the newly renovated hall for what was once known as the Elderly Citizens Recreation Association, or ECRA, a facility she absolutely loved, and which later became the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society, or RMSS.

Zylstra explained in the nomination that Hatch assisted with marketing of the new Seniors Activity Centre before it was built and then produced their GrapeVine newsletter for close to 19 years, where it evolved into a bi-monthly magazine.

“That is still distributed to this day,” said Zylstra.

Hatch also participated in an Age Friendly Solutions Workshop and a Conversations on Health Workshop, Part One and Part Two with RMSS.

In 2003 Audrey joined the RMSS Variety Plus show as a dancer and enjoyed taking part in the twice a year shows for several years. Over the years she also volunteered for many other functions like ticket sales, teas, and bartending.

Hatch was also on a committee that produced a book on the history of the ECRA and RMSS, which was called Celebrating Seniors - A History of the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society 1999-2019, printed in 2020.

An accomplishment, Wister said, was “really striking”.

In addition, Hatch was on the fundraising committee for the Haney Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program for Seniors, work she is very proud of.

She was also a member and volunteer for many years of Senior Citizens Association Branch 149 and Old Age Pension Organization Branch 30 in Maple Ridge – organizations, Hatch said, are near and dear to her heart.

“They worked so tirelessly on issues relating to seniors,” Hatch explained to The News.

She was also a board member of Maple Ridge Elderly Citizens’ Housing Society for about six years and volunteered for the Summer Games in 1998 and for two Disability Games that were held in Maple Ridge.

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Now at the age of 91, Hatch is still going strong.

She continues to be an active member of the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and Katzie, Seniors Network – a non-profit, community planning table led by seniors for seniors – and still holds a seat at the board of directors table.

Hatch continues to be a member of the Dementia-Friendly Communities Task Group, a sub-committee of the Seniors Network, with a goal of creating a community that focuses on the inclusion of people living with dementia as well as on stigma reduction – and a group Hatch is honoured to be a member of because of the important work they do.

“I didn’t do it all on my own,” said Hatch humbly about receiving the award recognizing her long time volunteerism and community involvement. “People contributed.”

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“Quite remarkable,” said Wister about Hatch’s accomplishments.

“This epitomizes the tremendous contributions – a lifetime of contributions – that’s you’ve provided us and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.

Maple Ridge City Councillor Judy Dueck, who spoke on behalf of Mayor Dan Ruimy and her colleagues on council, called Hatch’s achievements “amazing”.

“We can all be inspired by your tireless energy,” said Dueck to Hatch, in front of the more than 30 people who were in the Fraser Room of the library for the presentation.

Dueck noted that where ever Hatch goes, she has a huge smile and a can-do attitude.

“You are driving our community forward with the investment of your most precious commodity, your time,” said the councillor, just before thanking her for all that she does for the community.

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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