It was an evening of celebration for Mike Adams as friends, family and community leaders gathered to recognize the 2017 Citizen of the Year on Friday night at the Heritage Inn.
Adams was announced as the winner of the award in December, succeeding Karin Penner as last year’s recipient and joining a distinguished class of people who have received the honour dating back to 1973.
The night included in-person and video tributes from friends, coworkers, family and community leaders who praised Adams for his volunteerism, while capping the night off with an emotional speech from the Citizen of the Year himself.
“I think that’s an important part of volunteering; no matter how much you think you know or how much you’ve done, you’re always going to learn something from it,” said Adams. “Whatever organization I’ve been a part of, I always felt that I got to learn something.”
Adams, a partner with Taylor Adams — Professional Accounting Services, focused his speech on his gratitude for the support he has received from family, friends, employees and business leaders.
“Of course, I have to thank my friends, family, clients, acquaintances and everybody else that donates to me when I sign up to do some of those things,” Adams said. “Whether it’s wear a pink bra, go outside in boxer shorts, grow a ridiculous moustache, or walk around in a turkey suit, I’ve learned that if you’re willing to make yourself look foolish for a good cause, people will amaze you for their generosity.”
Speakers during the night included Mayor Lee Pratt, JCI members, coworkers at the accounting firm, and even Adams’ four young daughters, who teamed up to deliver a speech about their dad.
Adams’ list of community involvement is long and spans many organizations and causes.
Adams is a former president of JCI Kootenays and a national effective speaking champion, and helped the organization build the Sam Steele Ball Tournament into the event it is today.
“It is a great organization and it was a great learning experience,” said Adams. “The time I spent at the ball fields during Sam Steele Days learning and working and public speaking, building the JCI playground at Moir Part, organizing a national convention in Kimberley, or just on the road at conferences, it was all done with the goal of making the chapter better and stronger while also continuing to learn ourselves.”
Through JCI Kootenays, the organization also fundraised and built a playground up at Moir Park as a legacy project for the new ball diamonds and soccer fields.
“With his huge drive and his connections in the community and the inspiration of his fellow JCI members, it didn’t take long to have more than enough money in the bank and more than enough community sponsorship to make this happen,” said Mike Matejka, a JCI member who worked with Adams on the project.
Other volunteer roles include sitting on the board with the Cranbrook Society for Community Living, serving as the president of the Chamber of Commerce in the past and fundraising for numerous causes, including cancer research through Dress for a Cause and a homeless shelter through Miracle on Baker Street.
Adams was hired out of the College of the Rockies as a student by Trent Taylor, who had joked earlier in the evening that he hired Adams because he was the only candidate shorter than he was.
“Trent taught me so much, both professionally and personally,” said Adams. “One of the first things he told me he thought was important for a young business person was to get out and volunteer.
“…One of the things he also taught me was you have to volunteer for the right reason. You have to volunteer because you want to and because you enjoy it.”
Penny Coyle and Brenda Van Der Meer, two employees who work with Adams at the firm, spoke about reasons why they sent letters in support of Adams’ nomination.
“All of us who work for Mike sees his dedication in everything he does and we know, speaking for all of us from the office, we all feel lucky to work and be supported by Mike,” said Coyle. “We can’t imagine a more hard-working, dedicated and selfless individual more deserving of this nomination and we are all proud to call him our boss.”
Said Van Der Meer: “Mike is very selfless and is not one that desires or seeks the appraise or gratification for the work that he does. He willingly gives up his time and gives back because he enjoys it, believes in the cause and wants to better the community.”
Adams, who grew up on a farm in Creston, saw his father win the community’s Citizen of the Year award when he was 16 years old, noting that he learned from his example what hard work and volunteerism looks like.
It’s a theme he’s passed on to his four young daughters who are involved with the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle fundraising campaign and also volunteer with the local 4H club.
Saving the most important acknowledgement for last, Adams recognized his wife, Tracy, for all of her support over the years, including her own volunteerism, which includes the Maverick riding club, TM Roberts PAC, the District PAC, the local and district 4H leader and treasurer and Abreast in the Rockies treasurer.
“You’re an amazing person, who always puts others first,” said Adams. “You’re such a great role model for our daughters and a woman whom I love more than anything.”