Henry McDermott originally came to Mount Currie for the job, but it’s become so much more than that during his brief time in the community.
McDermott, a youth outreach counselor at the Mount Currie Health Centre, was one of two individuals and one institution honoured with a Recognition Award during last Wednesday’s (Nov. 7) third annual Winds of Change Wellness Gathering.
“I kind of question if I deserve it more than other people, but at the same time, people decided that what I do deserves recognition, and that’s amazing,” said McDermott. “You always wonder, ‘Am I doing the right thing here? Am I doing a good job?’ And to hear a whole room full of people applaud you is amazing.”
Following a day of workshops and presentations touching on various themes of health and wellbeing, the awards were handed out during an evening reception at the Ullus Community Complex. Pemberton’s Lindsay May and the Pemberton Public Library — which won for a third-straight year — were also honoured at the event.
McDermott came to Mount Currie from Northern Ontario, straight out of school, to begin working in his current position. He said the prospect was daunting at first, as he was anxious about interacting with teenagers on a regular basis.
But now, almost three years later, McDermott said that’s perhaps the best part of his job, noting that the youth night he hosts for teens and young adults is a big highlight of his work. He said he feels grateful for the “unspoken appreciation” he feels from young people benefitting from programming he administers.
McDermott has also worked with children in the community teaching lessons on personal care and self-esteem through unique approaches such as puppet shows.
“At first, it was just, ‘I need experience. I need a job.’ Now … I really wish I can stay long-term and watch these kids grow,” he said.
When presenting a Recognition Award to May, Winds of Change chair Sheldon Tetreault described the fitness trainer as a “community developer.” That’s because May has worked hard to keep local seniors active and whip adults into shape, while also volunteering her time to help make Pemberton a healthier community as a whole.
“Maintaining a balance in all aspects of our health and wellness not only makes yourself healthier, but it makes the whole community healthier because you have more of yourself to contribute when you’re healthy,” said May, who added that she was “really honoured” to earn the award.
May added that she feels it’s important to give back to the community in any way she can — evidenced by her co-chair position on Pemberton-Area C’s Recreation Advisory Committee, and her volunteering time to host a chair fitness demonstration as part of the Wellness Gathering’s day of events.
“I grew up here and I just recognized that the community is the people that live here, and unless you’re contributing, you can’t really complain about anything,” she laughed.
The library was again a deserving winner, as it continues to house community groups of all kinds while delivering its own free programming for local residents.
“It’s a nice thing, because we work really hard to include everybody and to offer things that will help the community, so it’s nice to be recognized,” said library director Shannon Ellis, who accepted the award with board chair Marnie Simon last week. “The Winds of Change is a really good initiative that I think picks up a little more awareness and effectualness every year.”
The Winds of Change is an initiative spearheaded by local government agencies and supported by service providers throughout the Pemberton Valley, aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle choices and building a resilient community.
Other award nominees this year included Lucinda Jones-Gabriel, Lisa Richardson, Debbie Harris, Coun. James Linklater, Michele Beauregard, the Pemberton Lions Club and the Interact Club of Pemberton.