Rhona Jacobsen and Doreen Phelps were awarded Mission’s highest award and each named a Freeman of the City this past weekend during the district’s annual Community Service Awards ceremony at the Leisure Centre.
A total of 18 awards were given out, recognizing outstanding citizens and volunteers.
Freeman of the City
Jacobsen, who turns 91 next month, has been a volunteer in Mission since the 1950s. She has worked with organizations such the Legion, the Hospital Auxiliary, Pathfinders, the Heritage Park Association, and the Mission Museum. She is also a lifetime member of the Old Age Pensioners’ Association and Lifetime Learning. She dedicates time selling poppies for Remembrance Day and supporting the Canadian Cancer Society.
When her husband Ernie, who served overseas in the Second World War, passed away in 2001, she donated 300 of his beloved roses to Fraser River Heritage Park, where they can be enjoyed by park visitors.
In one of her most recent projects, she worked with BC Transit to improve Mission’s bus service for seniors and all residents.
This tireless volunteer continues to serve the community with energy and enthusiasm.
Phelps has been volunteering in Mission since the 1960s and is known as a person to get things done.
She is also the type of person who looks after others. She has chauffeured seniors, catered functions, and organized events.
She has worked with numerous organizations including the Ladies Auxiliary of the Legion, Adopt-A-Block, Mission Arts Council and Mission Memorial Hospital. She has helped with the Remembrance Day campaign and the Canada Day festivities, and for the past 12 years, she has also organized, enhanced, and ensured the success of the Mission Christmas Craft Market, raising funds for the Mission Arts Centre.
Phelps’ dedication to volunteerism has benefitted many organizations and the district.
Coates was recognized for his dedication to youth soccer.
He has been involved in youth soccer for over 40 years and has been a significant part of Mission Minor Soccer for the past 26 years. He has regularly volunteered as a coach, referee and equipment manager, and has helped out with field and gym bookings, organizing soccer tournaments and field lining. Coates coached the BC team to gold in the nationals and took them to the World Games in Shanghai, China in 2007.
Over the past 22 years, he has also been involved with Mission Special Olympics, and acts as one of their local coordinators whenever time permits.
Keresman moved to Mission in 1980 and was recognized for his long-term commitment to the Royal Canadian Legion and the Air Cadet Corps.
He served in the Royal Canadian Navy, both within Canada and overseas, for 15 years in the 1950s and ‘60s. During that time, he became a baseball coach and an art instructor. Retirement did not stop John from reaching out to others.
He has also been a volunteer dispatcher for the Citizen’s Patrol, a volunteer Ambulance attendant, has served on the Board of Directors at Pleasant View, and is a past president of the Mission Seniors Association.
Rash was recognized for his long-term commitment to the Mission Sunrise Rotary Club and Fraser River Heritage Park. He came to Mission in 1963 and spent many years working for the District of Mission.
He uses his experience and skills to serve his community quietly and without concern for recognition. He was there as FRHP was being founded, serving on its board of directors, and has built or overseen the construction of many park buildings. Rash also gives countless volunteer hours to the Rotary Club, and invented and built portable dental chairs that can be carried to third world countries when dentistry aid is given and has learned to make artificial teeth for those served by the Rotary dental team.
Toth was recognized has worked for his many years of dedicated service to the youth of Mission, as an educator, a coach and a mentor. Whether in his role as a teacher, vice-principal or principal, Toth has always made sure both the academic and extracurricular needs of his students are met. He coaches four or more teams each year and he often referees games, officiates at meets, helps line the fields, and draws up game schedules.
Citizen of the Year
Strachan has lived in Mission for 20 years and has been an active volunteer for the past 10 years. She was recognized for her dedication to various organizations, including Mission Community Services Crisis Line, Stave Valley Salmonid Enhancement Society, Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition, Climate Action Advisory Committee and Mission Rotary Clubs.
She has been a member of Mission’s Social Development Commission since its inception, participating in the 40 Developmental Assets and Town Squares working groups. One of her favourite projects was the creation of The Rain Garden, a storm water management park located at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Grand Street.
Community Service (under age 25)
Reeve has demonstrated consistent and reliable commitment to the youth of our community. She was recognized for her participation and leadership in the Social Development 40 Developmental Assets Working Group.
Sam is a mentor for other youth in Mission, and has been a key player in coordinating and promoting poster contests and youth events in Mission. She is currently studying languages at UFV.
Kristina Marie Norman
Norman began volunteering while still a student at Hatzic Secondary School and, as a young adult, has continued to give of her time to a variety of different community organizations. She was recognized for her commitment to volunteerism and her support of other young people within the District of Mission.
Norman is a Beaver leader for the 4th Mission Scouting group and has been part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters In-School Mentoring Program since 2009.
Sports Volunteer of the Year
Gatin was recognized for his contribution to amateur sport in Mission.
Gatin began boxing at the age of 11 and in 2005, started the Mission City Boxing Club, a non-profit society. Gatin is dedicated to helping young people develop a strong work ethic, self-control, discipline, physical conditioning and the tools necessary to deal with day-to-day life challenges.
Jakobs has lived in Mission for 20 years and started volunteering shortly after arriving in here as a way of giving back to the community. He was recognized for his tireless efforts on behalf of Mission’s young athletes.
Jakobs coaches football, basketball, track and field, and golf and dedicates literally hundreds of hours each year to his various teams. He is a mentor who has impacted the lives of many Mission athletes over the past two decades.
Chaplin is committed to promoting athletics in the community. He was recognized tfor his dedication to reviving the Wildcats Volleyball Club.
Chaplin is the hardworking head coach of the Wildcats Volleyball Club. His unmatched enthusiasm, dedication, and love of the game have been instrumental to the revival of this sport in our community.
Koop was recognized for his commitment to curling. Koop moved to Mission in 2004 and became involved with the curling club. He has also learned how to prepare the ice for tournaments. For the past two years, he has been assisting with the ice maintenance at the curling rink, volunteering with the ice maker on weekdays and for bonspiels on the weekends.
Wenting has lived in Mission since 1988 and was recognized for her worka coach with the Mission Racers Speed Skating Club for nearly a decade.
She has also been a Girl Guides leader for the past six years, a volunteer position that makes her hours coaching pale in comparison.
Against the Odds Achievement Award
Peebles has faced many challenges in her life and was recognized for her ongoing volunteerism and her efforts on behalf of others with developmental barriers.
Born with a developmental disability, she has conquered many of her challenges.
She currently volunteers with Meals on Wheels, the Illuminaria Festival, the food bank, and Pleasant View nursing home. She is also a member of the Share Your Light Choir and a Big Sister. She participates in Special Olympics floor hockey, soccer, softball, bowling, and track and field, and has won numerous medals.
Arts and Culture Service Award
Pechler moved to Mission a few years ago from Holland and quickly established herself as an enthusiastic volunteer in our community. She was recognized for her dedication to promoting the arts in our community.
She served two terms on the board of directors and became President of the Mission Arts Council last September. She organizes events to raise funds for arts programs and encourages others to pursue and participate in various art forms.
She and her family are also involved in organizing, promoting and encouraging youth to participate in the Mission Soapbox Derby.
Crime Prevention and Community Service Award
Mission Mobile Patrol
The Mission Mobile Patrol is comprised of 16 dedicated volunteers ranging in age from 19 to 70. The group was recognized for the extraordinary volunteer service. The team works with District of Mission bylaw officers to deal with graffiti, vandalism and relocation of the homeless from makeshift camps to the community homeless shelter. They also support a variety of anti-auto theft programs and have been instrumental in assisting the Mission RCMP to identify and deal with uninsured vehicles on the road.
Community Service Award
A longtime resident of Mission, Buchanan has been involved with various organizations in the community for over 25 years.
She was recognized for her work with the Mission Old Age Pensioners Organization and the Mission Hospital Auxiliary.
She was a valued member of the Downtown Coalition for several years, and continues to donate generously of her time to many different causes.