Distinguished Volunteer Award
The Alumni/Foundation Board of Directors is a group of volunteers, guiding a vast corps of volunteers in our community who promote and encourage community involvement and secure philanthropic support dedicated to the advancement of Grande Prairie Regional College and its mission. This award is presented in recognition of exceptional contributions of time and energy dedicated to the advancement of Grande Prairie Regional College. This award recognizes individuals who exemplify the many volunteers upon whose efforts the continued growth of our College depends. The inaugural presentation of this award was in 2004.
2017 Distinguished Volunteer Award Recipient: Gail Sherman
Gail is known as an absolutely tireless volunteer whose efforts have made a huge difference at GPRC and throughout the community.
She has dedicated 30 years of working to recruit and teach GPRC students about the significance of volunteering at events in our community ranging from College fundraising events such as the beloved President’s Ball and community events such as the Arctic Winter Games, Canada Games, World Women Curling Championships, and many, many more.
Nominees are put forth based on one's exemplary contributions to, and involvement with, both the GPRC community and our Grande Prairie community as a whole. Honourees are chosen by members of the Community Relations Department at GPRC, as these members work so closely with our volunteers.
Distinguished Volunteer Honourees
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2016: Laura Rotaru
For the first time in the 12-year history of the Distinguished Volunteer of the Year Award, GPRC recognized a current student. Nursing student Laura Rotaru, has been a key member in the current group of Education Ambassadors who have shown initiative to support existing college activities, create new events, and be a support and resource for their fellow students while building their own leadership abilities.
GPRC Education Ambassadors attract students who want to make a difference and be involved with building a student-centred community that supports every student in achieving their goals. This student mentorship group, follows a mission of Student Led – College Facilitated and connects directly to GPRC’s goal to promote and enhance effective and comprehensive student support programs.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2015: Sharron Barr
Sharron Barr has been a longtime beloved instructor and colleague in the Office Administration department at GPRC. She has also been an absolutely tireless volunteer whose efforts have made a huge difference at GPRC and throughout the community. The students of Office Administration have also become avid volunteers under the guidance of Sharron. She initiated the department’s requirement that students perform volunteer activities. As part of the Professional Communications class, students have to fulfill a specific number of hours volunteering for their community. Every year Sharron heads a project and guides her students in the volunteer projects. Over the years, Sharron has guided students through volunteer opportunities in support of Canadian Cancer Society, Rotary Youth International (RYLA), the City of Grande Prairie, Arctic Winter Games, Women’s World of Curling, CCAA Men’s Volleyball, and many other varied and exciting opportunities.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2014: Tom Pura
Former radio sports director "Big Paul" Thomas - also known as Tom Pura - attended and reported on Wolves games and activities for years. Tom provided extensive coverage of the Wolves programs and players, and according to Athletic Director François Fournier it was during his time at Big County Radio that GPRC Wolves Athletics received more media coverage than any other program in Alberta, and very possibly in Canada. Through his many years as a radio sports reporter and as one of the game announcers Tom became the Voice of the Wolves. More recently, Tom volunteers his expertise as the Emcee for the annual Wolves Festival of Gold event, where we honor the athletic and academic achievements of our Wolves teams and players. Tom performs this role in such an outstanding manner that he has been given the Festival of Gold Emcee role for as long as he wants it.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2013: Carolyn Vasilieou
Carolyn Vasileiou is the GPRC instructor known for having modelled and taught a “habit” of volunteerism to each cohort of her students. Carolyn and her students have provided enthusiastic support to many College and community fundraising events, ensuring their success and profitability. Students are able to benefit from these experiences because Carolyn is generous with her personal time, spending evenings and weekends when necessary to ensure the participation meets the needs of the event, and that students are adding to their own body of knowledge through those efforts. She has embarked on numerous overnight trips with groups of students to enhance their understanding of hospitality and tourism practices – travelling on her own time to destinations such as New York, Edmonton, Vancouver or Jasper. Carolyn has been a volunteer member of the GPRC Alumni/Foundation Board of Directors and the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Board, taking a pause from those commitments in recent years to complete a Masters of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University in Victoria BC.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2012: Christina (Tina) Nelson
Tina is a young woman who has already built an impressive resume of community involvement and volunteerism. For several years, she has been a dedicated volunteer on the organizing committee for the GPRC President’s Ball. She has also volunteered for several years with the Crohns & Colitis Association, helping to spearhead the “Round the World on a Beer Budget” fundraiser, and she has given her time in support of the South Peace MS Society, helping to present the MS Ride at Simonette Valley Ranch. Tina is currently serving as a member of the Board of Directors, Prairie Art Gallery, and over the years has helped organize the Art Auction fundraiser for the Gallery. She is also a 4-H Leader and a committed volunteer at Clairmont Elementary School, as a Partici-Parent and as a member of the Parent Council.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2011: Ken Truhn
Ken Truhn is known for his extensive involvement in the community, and his personal and corporate support of GPRC. He is the President and GM of Bear Creek Broadcasting which operates as Q99 in Grande Prairie- a proud supporter of GPRC. Ken has given his personal support to College fundraising events such as the College Classic; for many years he chaired the planning committee and in more recent years, he has volunteered the emcee and broadcast services of Q99 staff to help achieve the goals of the Classic. In 2010, he volunteered his own time to emcee the President’s Ball, a role to which he has been enthusiastically recruited again! Ken is and has been extensively involved in the community. He chaired the 2006 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship, currently sits on the Crystal Centre Advisory Board, is a past president of the GP Golf and Country Club and a former Director of the QEII Hospital Foundation.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2010: Kevin Chrenek
As a testament to the integrity and quality of his business practice, he has been a member of RBC Dominion Securities' Executive Council since 2006 and was appointed Vice President of RBC Dominion Securities in 2008. He has acquired the designation of Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute – the Institute’s highest mark of distinction. Kevin is well-known for his energy and enthusiasm when it comes to GPRC. He has been inducted as a member of the President’s Council in recognition of his two years as Chair of the College Classic organizing committee. Not only has he been seen supporting the College – Kevin Chrenek has been actively involved throughout the community – United Way, Hospital Foundation, World Curling, GP Golf and Country Club – just to name a few.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2009: Jim Smith
Jim Smith is the Past Chair of the GPRC Alumni-Foundation Board of Directors, and served in that position from 2004 to 2008. In that role, he quietly volunteered his time, his significant expertise, and his strong leadership on behalf of GPRC. He is known for his enthusiasm in working with innovative and creative people. He has contributed to our community throughout the over 35 years that he has worked as a Professional Engineer and consultant. In addition to his commitment to his profession and to GPRC, Jim is a volunteer with the Greater Grande Prairie Community Foundation and has devoted time to various groups including the United Way, Chamber of Commerce and Swan City Rotary Club. Recently, he has begun to work with the newly-formed Wapiti Corridor planning group.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2007-2008: Suzanne Dunn
Suzanne has always contributed her time and energy to helping make the College and this Community the “greatest place to be.” Throughout her busy schedule of work, family and ongoing study, Suzanne has maintained a phenomenal roster of volunteer activities. Her involvement has included everything from the On-Campus Daycare Society to coaching minor soccer, developing a website for GP Piranhas, and volunteering for various provincial and national tournaments such as the 1995 Canada Winter Games and all five years of CCAA Volleyball Nationals. The College has appreciated Suzanne’s volunteer work for a variety of committees, organizing the GPRC Wolves Volleyball Alumni Tournaments in 2007 and 2008. Over the years, the GPRC Foundation has relied on Suzanne as a committed volunteer for both of our major fundraising events - the College Classic and the President’s Ball.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2006: Rhonda & Linda Side
Rhonda Side served three years as co-chair of the President’s Ball committee, and infused the preparations with her keen eye for detail and her personal wit and humour. Linda Side is not only willing to help wherever needed, but she steps forward and offers her help where she sees she could make a contribution. GPRC has regularly been the grateful recipient of Linda Side’s volunteer contributions, throughout her tenure on the Alumni/Foundation Board of Directors, and through her leadership of the President’s Ball. Together with sister Rhonda, Linda volunteered her services to the President’s Ball in 2003, 2004 and again in 2006. She is known for infecting each task, and her whole team of volunteers, with a true sense of commitment, fun and meaningful contribution.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2005: Rick Hryciuk
Rick joined the GPRC Foundation Board of Directors in 1999 and during his years on the Board, Rick chaired the two major fundraising events – the College Classic Golf Tournament and the President’s Ball. Two years after his term on the Board ended, Rick was approached to be a member of the special committee established for the GPRC Theatre Heritage Project. Rick is the producer of Annie Get Your Gun, a stage musical mounted especially to support the GPRC Theatre Heritage Project. Hryciuk has been a regular volunteer in our community. He was the inaugural president of the South Peace Ball Association, and was the VP Sports for the Canada Winter Games 1995 – a commitment of five years in total.
Distinguished Volunteer Award 2004: Elmer Borstad
Elmer Borstad is the first recipient of this award. Elmer has given more than fifty years of service to our community, and it has been his personal commitment to keep our great citizens here in the north. He has been a business owner, President of the Chamber of Commerce, a City Alderman, Mayor for two terms, served a term in office as Member of the Legislative Assembly, and has been an active member of Rotary for over 40 years. He has also served as Chair of the QEII Hospital Foundation, and chaired the MRI Committee raising over $4 Million to provide the best possible diagnostic facilities in our region. GPRC has a great deal to show for the volunteer efforts of Elmer Borstad. In 2000, he worked to secure funding for the 72 new beds which have been opened on our campus since that time. Now he has focused his efforts to raising funds necessary for the restoration of the landmark Theatre.