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VIDEO: Memories, stories shared at recycling society’s 50th anniversary gala in Maple Ridge

Gala was held at the Whonnock Lake Centre

Stories about moving sheds in the middle of the night and other funny memories were shared at the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society’s 50th anniversary gala.

Ninety people attended the event at the Whonnock Lake Centre to celebrate the anniversary of recycling in Maple Ridge and honour the founding members whose dedication and passion have made the society what it is today.

“It went so well,” said Leanne Koehn, whose parents were the two of the founding members. One former staff member, Steve Phelps, even travelled from the Yukon to be part of the celebration.

Decorations for the event were taken from her father’s forest, added Koehn, who does community engagement with the society.

The stories were part of a commemoration video put together by videographer Christina Waschko, who interviewed the founders, former staff and board members.

“What I wanted to get was the stories,” said Koehn. “I grew up with my parents telling me all these stories about the early days and you know, they’re in their 80’s now and I wanted to get it on video.”

In one interview, founder Candace Gordon tells a story about how she was interviewed for a truck driver position, in another, Koehn’s father relayed how they had to move a shed down the centre of Dewdey Trunk Road, in the middle of the night, with Dave Koehn and another man riding on top to lift the power lines.

Former executive director Kelli Speirs described how the society didn’t have any money and how she had to go on unemployment insurance, but kept working at the depot just so it could stay open.

“These people were so dedicated and passionate to seeing it grow and to seeing it happen,” said Koehn.

The audience then thanked the founding members – Bob Cordoni, Bill Archibald, Beryl Cunningham, Candace Gordon, and Julie and Dave Koehn – for their many years of vision, dedication, and service, with a standing ovation, said Koehn.

READ MORE: Recycling society wants Maple Ridge residents to ditch single-use plastics

“That was what moved my heart the most, I think, was seeing the standing ovation the people gave to them,” said Koehn.

Former City of Maple Ridge mayor and current board member Ernie Daykin emceed the event, also recounting local and global highlights from the past five decades throughout the evening.

The gala was also attended by: former and incoming members of Maple Ridge city council and school board; Minister of Citizen Services and Minister of Tourism, Art, Culture, and Sport Lisa Beare; Maple Ridge Mission MLA Bob D’Eith; and many current and former board members and staff.

To end the evening the James Thorhaug band – also a former employee of the recycling society – had everyone up dancing.

ALSO: Keurig to pay $3 million fine for false, misleading claims on recycling of its K-CUPs

“Doug Ostrosser, another band member, also worked for RMRS and found himself in the photo collages set up in the entryway showing RMRS’s many years of history,” said Koehn.

Door prizes were drawn throughout the evening and lucky guests walked away with gift cards to local restaurants and shops.

The hall was decorated with rustic wood and cedar branches donated by Leanne’s father Dave, in addition to tea lights in glass jars rescued from the recycling depot.

Flowers were donated by Hollandia Nursery and the evening was catered by Sunflower Cafe and chef Chris Janowski who created appetizers and a specialty “Green Drink” cocktail that greeted guests on arrival.

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Ninety people celebrated the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society’s 50th anniversary. (Ridge Meadows Recycling Society/Special to The News)

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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