Unsung heroes 

Five ordinary people making extraordinary contributions by giving their time and talents

As we hit the peak of the gift-giving season, it seems appropriate to examine the following question: Is it better to give than to receive? The actions of the men and women profiled in this story constitute a resounding "yes".

While towns may be founded on geographical factors such as proximity to waterways and availability of natural resources, communities are built on a foundation of passion and commitment. Mount Currie, Pemberton and Whistler are all better places because Charlie Frank, Alphonse Wallace, Arlene McClean, Doti Neidermayer and Sandra McCarthy are willing to go that extra mile to improve their communities. Whether in the course of their volunteer or paid work, these people are improving the health and safety of where they live as well as generating cultural and recreational opportunities.

If these unsung heroes were assembled for a group photo, their differences would be striking. But in reading their stories their central unifying characteristics become apparent, they all possess enthusiasm for the work they choose to take on and a love for the towns they have decided to call home. Each of these people is also an esteemed member of his or her community, having been recommended by their peers who used words like "awesome", "amazing" and "terrific" to describe them. And lastly, the other quality they share is modesty – all of them verbally expressed surprise that anyone thought what they did was all that special.

Alphonse Wallace

"The Guy Who Runs Soccer"

Lil’wat Youth Soccer Association

Within five minutes of our phone interview, Alphonse Wallace calls me back to emphasize how it would be impossible to do the work he does without the support of the Mount Currie community. This brief exchange confirms that the man who has been responsible for co-ordinating youth soccer in Mount Currie for the past decade is as committed a team player off the field as he is on it.

A lifelong athlete, Wallace began coaching high school basketball shortly after graduating. At 24, he took on the ambitious project of developing a soccer program in Mount Currie.

"I saw a lot of kids with potential – I had been one of them myself – and there was hardly anything to do around here," explains Wallace, who describes himself as "the guy who runs soccer."

The hard work has paid off.

The Lil’wat Youth Soccer Association now operates teams for more than 200 kids aged five to 16. Wallace estimates there are at least another 100 kids who, being too old to play, have "graduated" from the association.


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