Tara Boudreau was volunteering on the bar – raising money for this year’s grads at Diamond Jenness Secondary School – at the annual gala of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce on March 31.
However, she had to take a break to accept the award as Citizen of the Year from the Town of Hay River.
Afterward, she was right back to being a volunteer and taking beer cans off tables.
“That’s kind of how I am,” she said after taking another brief break to talk to The Hub.
Boudreau is the vice-principal and instructional coach at Princess Alexandra School, where she has worked for 15 years.
She said she had no idea she was to be named Citizen of the Year.
“I was quite shocked,” she said, noting she was at the gala and volunteering because her daughter is graduating this year.
“I was honoured for sure,” said the native of Cape Breton Island. “Hay River is a community that makes it very easy to lend yourself and to be able to be a person to volunteer. Being at the school you just see so much, and there’s so many to help. It’s part of who I am. I consider this home. I came for a year 15 years ago.”
Boudreau was nominated for the award by Chris Aitken and Jill Taylor.
“You have chosen someone who always tries to see the best in our youth,” said Taylor. “You have chosen someone who is a role model and mentor to many. You have chosen a woman who fights for the vulnerable, and she looks for solutions and not punishments.”
She also noted that Boudreau, even after working a very demanding job during the week, volunteers for the Lights On program for youth every Friday and Saturday night.
Taylor also described Boudreau as a fundraising warrior.
Aurora Group was also named Hay River’s Business of the Year at the gala.
The award was particularly notable because the Aurora Group has only been in the community for about a year-and-a-half after its parent company Go Auto of Edmonton purchased Kingland Ford and its associated companies.
“This is unbelievable,” Lee Cawson, the vice-president of Aurora Group, told the gala audience. “I gotta tell you it is the easiest thing in the world to be part of a community like this.”
Speaking to The Hub just after accepting the award, Cawson again stated it was unbelievable to receive such an honour after such a short period in town.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said. “When we came up here, that was the intention to really try to do a lot of things to be a part of the community. But now to get some feedback saying that what we did was the right thing is validation for everything that we’ve done over the last year and a half. It’s just been incredible here.”
Cawson noted the Aurora Group asked it staff about ways to get involved in the community.
“It was really them that kind of drove everything,” he said.
The Business of the Year Award is presented by the Hay River Chamber of Commerce.
In announcing the winner, Jane Groenewegen, the past president of the chamber, noted it was a unanimous decision by the executive.
“It was agreed this company demonstrated outstanding leadership in service and also contributed greatly to the economic and social wellbeing of our communities,” she said.
Groenewegen noted the recipient stood out for its collective, hands-on contribution of not just its employees but of the families of the employees.
She noted that back in October 2015 there was some apprehension in Hay River when word spread that Kingland Ford and its associated companies had been sold after being prominent in the business community for decades.
“That sense of apprehension soon faded as we saw familiar faces stay in key positions and we met the representatives of the new owners and quickly saw their commitment to retain the culture of excellent service and community mindedness that had been the hallmark of this amazing group of companies,” she said.
The Customer Service Excellence Award was also presented at the gala.
It went to two employees of Super A grocery store – Alvin Arcand and Stewart Gullion.
Arcand was not at the gala, but Gullion was on hand to accept the award.
“It gives me an awesome pleasure to serve,” he said.
Arcand was praised by his nominators as someone who makes Hay River a better place with his upbeat presence.
Gullion was recognized for his work ethic and professionalism when dealing with the public.