West Kelowna citizen of the year named

Claire Sokoloski's volunteer spirit is celebrated with award.

Claire Sokoloski

It wasn’t your usual award presentation.

The recipient was at home in her pyjamas when a friend sent her a Facebook message.

“Congratulations on being named Citizen of the Year,” read the message.

At first, Glenrosa resident Claire Sokoloski, thought her friend was puling her leg.

But a little later, when another friend arrived at her front door toting a box containing her award,  Sokoloski knew it was no joke.

“I was stunned,” she said. “There it was, 10 p.m., I’m standing in my living room in my pyjamas and I’m staring at this award. It’s a beautiful plaque.”

As for receiving her award in pyjamas, she said, “Well, that’s just so me.”

Sokoloski, the local district commissioner for Girl Guides, had an event earlier in the evening and could not attend the Westbank and District Key Business Awards dinner where her name was announced.

But Sokoloski said she was thrilled with the honour, one of the chamber’s top annual awards.

For Sokoloski, who moved to the Westside 12 years ago from Vancouver, children are her focus.

In addition to being a mother of three, she also runs a day care out of her home and has a long history of volunteering in the community, especially for projects that help kids.

She said when she moved here with her husband and young daughter in 1999, she did not know anyone so she started to volunteer as a way of meeting people.

One of the groups she volunteered with was Guides.

Now district commissioner, she is in charge of a myriad of Girl Guide events, including cookie drives, trip planning and many local events.

The district she oversees has 175 girls in Girl Guides and 45 adult Guiders.

But it is not just Girl Guides who have benefited from Sokoloski’s volunteer spirit.

She has also helped raise money for her sons’ elementary school, participating in the effort to raise $4,000 for a new playground at Helen Gorman Elementary in Glenrosa. “I’m pretty much all about kids,” she says with a laugh.

And then the former sales rep, who used to travel across North America regularly for work before she had children adds, “Sometimes it feels selfish because I get to play and be 10 all over again doing this.”

As for her husband and her own kids, she said they were ecstatic when they heard she had won the award for Citizen of the Year. “They are very proud of me,” she said.

And she also shared the news with her parents, who live in northern B.C.

“I called them right way and got them out of bed. They were thrilled too.”