An inspiration for volunteerism

One of Kelowna’s true heroes and outstanding citizens was given a rousing salute Thursday night at the Laurel Packinghouse.

One of Kelowna’s true heroes and outstanding citizens was given a rousing salute Thursday night at the Laurel Packinghouse.

Beryl Itani was honoured by more than 200 friends with a ‘retirement celebration’ acknowledging her more than 30 years of volunteer work as director of the Central Okanagan’s Emergency Social Services. The large number of people Beryl assisted in one way or another over the past three decades was well represented by the large crowd on hand.

Quite simply, no one has given so much of their time and heart to this community as Beryl.

She truly is a wonderful example and inspiration of volunteerism, and I know from a personal perspective that she’s had a tremendous, positive impact on so many folks.

Beryl’s love for Kelowna and people in general runs much deeper than just her amazing work with ESS. Her entire life has been one giant act of caring and sharing and she has been involved in so many other aspects of volunteer work aside from the emergency programs.

She has spent countless hours volunteering throughout the community in many ways.

While Beryl means different positive things to different people she will likely be best remembered in future years for her stellar work during the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire in 2003, when she oversaw the largest non-wartime evacuation in B.C.’s history.

After a plethora of people applauded her years of work at Thursday’s event, Beryl told her friends, “Thank you so much. I can’t believe this room is filled with so many that I know, that I’ve worked with, and I have such great respect for. It’s just incredible.”

Beryl admitted that although she is officially ‘retired’ as the ESS leader, she will still assist in various volunteer ways, including her work with the Kelowna Civic Awards committee.

And while full praise goes to Beryl, it was also acknowledged at the event the amazing years and years of support by her husband, Tom, and her family, who’ve shared so much of their valued time with the entire community.

***

Speaking of volunteers, here’s a reminder to Kelowna residents of a way to honour someone you know who cares about others.

The deadline to nominate someone for the City of Kelowna’s 36th annual Civic and Community Awards is set for Friday Feb. 18—and your input is needed.

In an effort to get more people involved the nomination process has been made easier than in the past. Nomination forms and details on the 14 award categories can be found online at the City of Kelowna homepage, kelowna.ca.

The various nomination categories include: the Bob Giordano Memorial Award (awarded to a volunteer coach or administrator for amateur sport in Kelowna), Male & Female Athletes of the Year, Young Male & Female Citizens of the Year, Honour in the Arts / Teen Honour in the Arts, Corporate Community Award, and the Man & Woman of the Year Award (Fred Macklin Memorial & Sarah Donalda Treadgold Memorial).

Nominees must be residents of Kelowna and the criteria are based on those folks who made significant contributions to the community in 2010. Finalists and award recipients will be honoured on April 27 at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

Nomination forms are also available at the Parkinson Recreation Centre, Sport Kelowna, City Hall, local libraries and Volunteer Kelowna. Completed forms can be dropped off at City Hall or the Parkinson Recreation Centre.

If you need further info, contact Amber Gilbert at 250-469-8967.

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