In a somewhat unexpected move the Beaver Valley Citizen of the Year committee threw out the rule book and instead of selecting a single dedicated citizen to honour they chose a whole group of them.
The many people involved in the Beaver Valley Blooming Society were a perfect selection for the 2013 award.
“If you look at the Fruitvale area, you can see the beautification that has happened over the years,” said Grace Terness, Beaver Valley Citizen of the Year committee member.
“And we really wanted to recognize the people responsible for the change.”
The award will be presented to the group on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Beaver Valley Curling Club.
The dedicated core group of volunteers, some six to 10 Fruitvale residents, meet every Tuesday from mid-May to the end of July, each contributing around two hours per week throughout the spring and summer.
Of course, this doesn’t include the occasional Sunday or time spent fundraising to help pay for the improvements they bring to the community.
The group has been working together since 2005 to enhance the area and raise community participation.
“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” said committee member Lindsay Partridge. “I think it’s raised the level of awareness of the whole community, there are a lot of people who care more now.”
Initially the group was primarily focussed on cleaning up the downtown core of Fruitvale and improving the tidiness and attractiveness of the area.
But this quickly moved on to more project-oriented work and in 2006 and 2007, the group began developing the downtown gardens and started the Hanging Basket Donation program.
In 2008 and 2009 the group spearheaded a mural project for the side of the Liberty Foods building, began developing more permanent gardens in the downtown core, tree planting, and had a community bulletin board installed.
Since then the group has continued developing the downtown gardens, installing irrigation systems, concrete planters, enhancing and improving signage around the community, and developing a Heritage Walk.
The group attributes its continued growth and success to having fun and making friends but they are reluctant to take too much of the credit for themselves.
“The regional district kicks in, the Lions, Rotary, and Nipkow’s Greenhouse supplies the plants and does up the planters,” explained committee member Sharon Ewings. “And the Village of Fruitvale is really cooperative as well, we share a summer student with them.”
Committee member, Holly Gordon summed it up the benefits to the town and the citizens.
“With projects like this, it’s not just the gardens that bloom,” she said. “It’s the whole community that blooms. The people too.”
Follwoing the award presentation at the curling club on Friday, there will be a reception capped off with the May Days fireworks at dusk.
“We would love to see all past recipients come out and lend their support to the new nominee for 2013,” said Terness.