The Kiwanis Club of Trail presented Montrose resident Brian Pipes with one of its most prestigious awards.
Kiwanis celebrated its 75th Anniversary on Sept. 22 with a barbecue in the club’s picnic area at Beaver Creek Provincial Park.
The event culminated in club president, Chris Vlanich, awarding Pipes the Kiwanis Foundation of Canada’s Mel Osborne Diamond Award for ‘Outstanding Service and Dedication to the Community.’
“It’s a nice honour to have,” said Pipes. “Happy, honoured, but really mixed feelings. Emotional, because at the end, I thought I was going to hold it together, at the end I didn’t, because back in 2004-2005, Kiwanis probably saved my life.”
The members and their volunteer work afforded Pipes the support he needed when his wife, Joyce, fell ill and passed away in 2006.
“I hate talking about this, but it gave me focus, somewhere to devote my energies to at that time, along with Babe Ruth baseball,” Pipes shared.
“Because without those two, I don’t know what I would have done.”
For almost 30 years Pipes has been a member. Through it all, the club has kept him involved and invested in the community, helped him grow and come to know the true meaning of being a ‘Kiwanian’.
“It’s not really an individual award it’s a team award, and I wouldn’t have been there if it hadn’t been for certain people.”
Pipes was also integral to a number of Kiwanis initiatives, in particular the Canada Day celebrations at Beaver Creek Provincial Park every July 1 and the annual Kiwanis Christmas tree fundraiser.
Both have been a staple of the Greater Trail community for decades.
Since taking over Beaver Creek park in 1994, Kiwanis has invested well over $400,000 in the facility including picnic tables, bathrooms, 19 campsites and a new soccer pitch.
They have made it a beautiful and tranquil escape and a favourite place for families to gather for picnics, camping, hiking, fishing and boating.
Pipes dedication to the Christmas tree fundraiser, which currently goes at Butler Park every December, is inspiring.
“This is our major fundraiser,” said Pipes in a previous Times interview. “We wouldn’t be able to support the community without Christmas tree sales.
“I would go as far as to say, that there is not a person or family in this town that has not benefited some way through the donations from Christmas tree sales, whether it is family, friends, or someone they know.”
Money raised helps support over 30 charities and non-profit organizations in Greater Trail, and is dispersed in bursaries to many of the area’s graduating students.
But philanthropy is not the only reason Pipes has volunteered hundreds of hours over the years.
“What I really get out of this, is events like Silver City Days, Canada Day, the Christmas Trees, I get to see old friends, people that I haven’t seen since last year, and putting smiles on people’s faces makes it all worthwhile.”
In addition, Pipes has received many honours through his involvement in sport and the community both in coaching, volunteering and administrative work.
The longtime coach was selected to the Home of Champions Monument twice for his contributions to Babe Ruth Baseball and girls softball.
He is also a recipient of the Pacific North West Roll of Honor Award, an elected member of the B.C. Babe Ruth Hall of Fame and Baseball BC’s Hall of Fame, where he received the prestigious Silver Diamond Award.
In 2011, Pipes was inducted into Softball BC’s Hall of Fame for outstanding meritous service.
Pipes soon turns 79 and while he’s still active, age, he says, has taken it’s toll.
These days, he takes more time to reflect and tries hard to appreciate the meaningful moments – like this one.
“Kiwanis has been very, very good to me. I hope I have been good for them.”