BAIE VERTE, NL — This year’s Volunteer of the Year in Baie Verte is Nikki Hutchings.
It doesn’t take long into a conversation to recognize the character behind the Baie Verte woman who volunteers with the Kids Eat Smart committee, led the charge on the town’s playground committee, gives her time to such organizations as the Can Skate Program, the Girl Guides of Canada, and organizes the law enforcement torch relay.
“I don’t think I am any more deserving than dozens of other volunteers who volunteer in our community and give their time,” she told The Nor’wester. “I was quite surprised and humbled by it.”
Hutchings says volunteering makes a community a better place to live. She says her efforts are geared toward youth because of everything she was able to do growing up, through examples set by those who volunteered to give her those opportunities.
“It also encourages youth when they see people volunteering in the community, and hopefully they would be encouraged to do the same thing,” she said. “That way, we are creating the next generation of volunteers.”
Without volunteers in rural communities to run organizations, programs and help build things such as the Centennial Park; she recognizes they often would just go without them.
The main playground in town was old, dilapidated and eventually torn down. Rather than go without one, volunteers such as Hutchings stepped up to make sure a new facility was built. While most of the project has been completed, there are still beautification efforts underway.
It is now a source of pride for the volunteers like Hutchings.
Mayor Brandon Philpott had high praise for Hutchings, especially because he said there were a number of worthy candidates for the award.
“For someone who also has a job her in town, that is an amazing amount of time to dedicate to all of these organizations,” he said. “I really couldn’t see it going to anybody other than her this year. She is the ideal person we have as a volunteer. What more could you ask?”
For Hutchings, she is happy to contribute to the quality of life in Baie Verte.
“I am really proud of the committee that I live in,” she said. “The fact the town recognizes the volunteers who put their time in to make this such a great place is wonderful.”