“If Parksville had a few more of you it would be an even greater city,” said Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre at a Medal of Good Citizenship ceremony for Joan LeMoine last Thursday.
LeMoine, well known for her tireless volunteer efforts in and around Parksville, was only the second person presented with the new provincial honour.
“Joan LeMoine is a real unsung hero, having selflessly given her time and talents to causes that have made Parksville a better place,” said Premier Christy Clark in a news release. “I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of the Medal of Good Citizenship.”
“Everybody knows Joan,” Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell said, pinning the medal on her on behalf of the premier in a ceremony attended by about 50 people in the sun in front of city hall.
“Joan LeMoine has enriched and touched many lives in Parksville by her devotion and love for the community,” Stilwell said, adding that among other things she’s worked the drive-through with LeMoine during Tim Hortons Camp Day.
“She’s an example of how one person can truly make a difference. We are extremely lucky to have her. It is an absolute pleasure to honour Joan with the Medal of Good Citizenship.”
Among many contributions, LeMoine was instrumental in re-establishing the Parksville Beach Festival Society and was the volunteer coordinator for 15 years of the event that now attracts more than 100,000 people a year.
She and her late husband Jim helped form the society in 1999 to re-launch the now world-famous sand-sculpting competition after a previous version had ended in controversy. They helped convince the city that a family-friendly event was viable.
The society has diverted almost $350,000 from ticket sales to other philanthropic groups in town.
LeMoine has worked for years raising funds for the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, including shaving her head and has said her work with the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 49 is particularly meaningful since her dad fought in the First World War, “so I work on the poppy campaign for him.”
She has also volunteered with The Society of Organized Services (SOS), McDonald’s McHappy Day efforts, she organizes weekly Coffee with Council informal drop-ins and calls seniors living alone to ensure their well-being with the Oceanside Community Safety Volunteers, among others.
“People say I’m addicted to volunteering, but it’s just something I like to do,” she previously said, explaining she loves giving back to her new adopted home.
The LeMoines moved to Parksville from Ontario in 1995 and found it to be the friendly place she was looking for.
“Our first day in town I went for a short walk and eight people said hello. I went home and told Jim we’re here to stay.”
“Jim was the best guy in the world,” she said of her husband of almost 57 years who died in 2009. “We danced together every Sunday afternoon.”
More than 220 nominations were reviewed for the Medal of Good Citizenship, which was launched by Premier Clark in July 2015 to recognize individuals who, through exceptional long-term service, have made outstanding contributions to their communities without expectation of remuneration or reward.
The medal reflects their generosity, service, acts of selflessness and contributions to community life. Nominations for the Medal of Good Citizenship are accepted year-round.
“The time spent reviewing nominations was inspiring and it reinforced to me that we live in a province where each and every-day citizens can make a difference through their generosity and selflessness,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, and chair of the Medal of Good Citizenship selection committee.
The first recipient was John Phare, a tree faller from Roberts Creek, who was posthumously honoured with the medal last fall after he was killed while fighting the Old Sechelt Mine fire in July.
“I’m excited, I’m overwhelmed, stunned,” LeMoine, age 85, said after the ceremony, clearly embarrassed and touched by the honour. “I do what I do because I want to, I don’t do anything to get something. My mom and dad would say ‘That’s very nice dear, but a thank you is enough.’”
“I was raised in the Depression and if my mother baked a loaf of bread, we shared it. And if someone thanked you and gave a smile that was appreciation enough. That’s just the way you live. And it’s how I continue to live.”
For more information or to nominate a good citizen, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/medalofgoodcitizenship.