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(Updated 3 p.m., April 29)
Orléans couple receives Governor-General’s volunteer award

By Mike Beasley
The Orléans Star

A couple that volunteers together sticks together, and, as it turns out, receives an award from Canada’s Governor-General together.

Marcel and Thérèse Lavigne were among 48 individuals who received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers on Monday during a ceremony presided over by his Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston at Rideau Hall.

Thérèse Lavigne shakes hands with Governor General David Johnston after receiving the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers on May 24. Photos by MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall

The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers recognizes exceptional volunteerism by Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields.

“You have served others, you have done good and in doing so, you have improved the lives of those around you,” the Governor General said in his opening speech.

“For some of you, the spotlight may be uncomfortable. You don’t volunteer in order to be the centre of attention. You work behind the scenes, flying under the radar.”

Marcel Lavigne shakes hands with Governor General David Johnston after receiving the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers on May 24. Photos by MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall

Marcel and Thérèse Lavigne are two local recipients who definitely fly under the radar and find the spotlight uncomfortable.

The Orléans couple were very humbled by the award and extremely honoured to be in such elite company with other volunteers from across Canada.

By way of the Governor General’s communication people, the Lavignes said they did not feel at ease speaking to the media about their award. They felt that any personal comment about winning the award would detract from its prestigious distinction.

Marcel Lavigne was selected for his first-hand knowledge of war which allows him to serve as an indispensable interpreter at the Canadian War Museum, where he helps to keep Canada’s military history alive.

Lavigne also contributes to his com-munity by volunteering at the Orléans Cumberland Community Resource Centre
food bank on a weekly basis.

His wife Thérèse is also a dedicated volunteer at the Orléans Cumberland Community Resource Centre, where she split her time between the food bank and teaching computer skills to seniors.

Her commitment to helping others was underscored when she sewed protective arm bands for patients undergoing chemotherapy, all while dealing with her own health issues.

Orléans Cumberland Community Resource Centre volunteer coordinator Roseanne Canzanella says the Lavignes have been volunteering at the centre since 2008.

They are among the more than 200 volunteers at the Resource Centre who help with everything from stocking shelves in the food bank to sorting out Christmas gifts as part of the OCCRC’s annual Christmas gift program.

The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers incorporates and replaces the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, crea-ted in 1995 by then Governor General, the Right Honourable Romeo Leblanc.

The Medal builds on the legacy and spirit of the Caring Canadian Award by honouring the dedication and commitment of volunteers.

Any person who is a Canadian citizen and has made significant and unpaid contributions to their community in Canada or abroad is eligible.

Since being appointed Governor-General by Her Majesty the Queen in October 2010, Johnston has recognized more than 1,500 volunteers, first with the Canadian Caring Award and more recently with Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.

In closing Johnston expressed his sincere gratitude by saying, “thank you for your extraordinary contributions to your communities and to our nation. Congratulations on this well-deserved honour.”

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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