The Morden Area Foundation celebrated volunteerism in the community at the ceremony for the Citizen of Distinction Award on May 26.
Sue Nelson received the award, and said the recognition is a huge honour.
“I’ve done things for years, but you don’t do things to be recognized,” she said. “It’s kind of surprising to be recognized.”
Nelson moved to Morden 30 years ago after she and her husband bought Morden Pharmacy. They sold the business in 2000 to Shoppers, and Nelson has remained heavily involved in volunteering.
Nelson was a Girl Guide leader for over 18 years, even after her daughters aged out of the program. She served on the South Central Cancer Resource board, has volunteered at the Morden Community Thrift Shop, is a member of the Barnswallow Quilt Guild and is a current board member with the Winkler-Morden chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
“I would rather recognize all the people that come along and do things and support the things that I’ve been interested in,” Nelson said. “You don’t do anything alone. You bring people along with you that have your vision and I find that incredibly heartwarming, to feel like there are other people that have the same sort of vision for the community.”
For Nelson, Habitat for Humanity is a major opportunity for Morden to support all of its citizens. “When people come along and see that vision too and help out, it’s very nice to see,” she said.
Nelson still meets up yearly with a group of pharmacy students that she graduated with to play ukulele and “solve the world’s problems.”
Nelson remembers a gathering five years ago in Mexico, when the group was performing on a hotel room balcony and a group gathered below them and clapped for them afterward.
Nelson said volunteering is a marvelous opportunity. “The people that I’ve met in my volunteering, some of them have become lifelong friends,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to meet new people and to step out of your comfort zone too, because I think that’s important for people. People have a tendency to stick in their little bubble with their own little group, but to step outside and meet other people and hear new ideas and new ways of approaching things is really important.”
“I think that’s what builds a stronger community,” she added. “You do things you probably wouldn’t normally do when you volunteer, and you’re challenged to do things you don’t think you can.”
Edith Lovatt and Freda Lumgair nominated Nelson for the award. “It was the exceptional amount of volunteering she does,” Lovatt said. “I knew she was a great candidate for this.”
Nelson and Lovatt were Girl Guide leaders together for almost 18 years, worked on the Many Hands Community Resource Centre board together and served together on different outreach committees at St. Paul’s United Church. “I’m not on the board of Habitat for Humanity, but she only needs to ask me to volunteer and I will help,” Lovatt said. “We’ve been cohorts in a lot of things.”
“Sue is not a selfish person, she’s a giving person,” she added.