Car­bon­ear woman a young hu­man­i­tar­ian

Red Cross rec­og­nizes Gina Col­bourne for vol­un­teer ef­forts

The Compass - - NEWS - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

For those who know Gina Col­bourne of Car­bon­ear, it would be no sur­prise to learn she’s been rec­og­nized many times for her hard work, ded­i­ca­tion and aca­demic achieve­ments.

Late last month, the third-year med­i­cal school stu­dent was named the Red Cross New­found­land and Labrador Young Hu­man­i­tar­ian of the Year award at a cer­e­mony in St. John’s.

“It is es­sen­tially a recog­ni­tion of peo­ple in New­found­land and Labrador who ded­i­cate their time and ef­fort to­wards vol­un­teerism, com­mu­nity in­volve­ment, and hu­man­i­tar­ian in­ter­ests,” she said.

Col­bourne told The Com­pass the award is one of her big­gest achieve­ments to date, but not just be­cause she was the re­cip­i­ent.

“It is in­cred­i­ble to be rec­og­nized by your peers,” she said. “I was nom­i­nated by my class­mates, and that means the world to me.”

Prior to this hon­our, Col­bourne had re­ceived nu­mer­ous other big achieve­ments, in­clud­ing be­ing named vale­dic­to­rian of her Bach­e­lor of Nurs­ing 2012 class, where she won the medal for aca­demic ex­cel­lence.

Col­bourne was also run­ner-up for the ti­tle of Miss New­found­land and Labrador in 2013, is a pre­vi­ous Miss Teen Trin­ity Con­cep­tion and has ded­i­cated her time to many dif­fer­ent lo­cal events over the past decade.

Although she is soon go­ing to be a doc­tor, and very proud of her growth in med­i­cal school, she has a role in her life she can’t com­pare to any­thing else.

“The role I’m most proud of is be­ing ‘Aunt Gigi’ to my two-year-old nephew, Max,” she beamed. “He is just the best lit­tle kid and he in­spires me in ev­ery­thing I do.”

A lot of vol­un­teer­ing

It wasn’t an easy road for Col­bourne to re­ceive the award, although she makes it ap­pear ef­fort­less.

Since mov­ing to St. John’s and at­tend­ing Memo­rial Univer­sity, she has taken on more re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and vol­un­teered with more or­ga­ni­za­tions than ever be­fore.

“I have worked with many great or­ga­ni­za­tions in the past,” she ex­plained. “A lot of my vol­un­teer­ing stems from MUN Medicine. Ev­ery year they host the MUN Med Monte Carlo Char­ity Gala, which ben­e­fits lo­cal char­i­ties. I have been pretty in­volved with this or­ga­ni­za­tion both in a fundrais­ing ca­pac­ity as well as help­ing with char­ity se­lec­tion.

“I have also ded­i­cated a lot of my time to the Heart and Stroke foun­da­tion. I helped with vol­un­teer co­or­di­na­tion for the an­nual Red Dress Fash­ion Show, manned many in­for­ma­tion ta­bles, as­sisted with blood pres­sure screen­ing, and help­ing with fundrais­ing.”

Some of her other char­i­ties in­clude Easter Seals, Sin­gle Par­ents As­so­ci­a­tion, War Child Canada, the Janeway Read­ing Pro­gram and the Gate­way Med­i­cal Clinic at the As­so­ci­a­tion for New Cana­di­ans.

When asked what she be­lieved was im­por­tant about vol­un­teer­ing, she said it was im­por­tant to give back to your com­mu­nity and “have some fun.”

“I al­ways stress the im­por­tance of ‘ lit­tle things,’” She said. “I don’t think I’ve com­pleted any grand ges­tures in my vol­un­teer his­tory. I just like to do lit­tle things here and there to help out. It all adds up.”

The gala

The award ban­quet was held at the St. John’s Delta and Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

“It was one of the most in­cred­i­ble evenings of my life,” Col­bourne said. “When I first found out I was re­ceiv­ing the award, I was sur­prised but ex­tremely grate­ful. Then, to be able to stand in front of my friends and fam­ily, and ac­cept an award that I never sought to re­ceive was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I cer­tainly have never sought to be rec­og­nized, but when it hap­pens, it’s an over­whelm­ing feel­ing.”

Be­ing a mod­est young woman, Col­bourne ad­mit­ted she knew many peo­ple she thought would have been de­serv­ing of the award as well.

The ban­quet was spe­cial for Gina be­cause she got to re­ceive the award in front of the most im­por­tant peo­ple in her life.

“My fam­ily are my big­gest sup­port­ers, most def­i­nitely. My mom ( Judy) and dad ( John) are the rea­son I am able to vol­un­teer and con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity. They have al­ways en­cour­aged me,” she ex­plained.

Her brother Robert, sis­ter-in­law Jen­nifer and nephew Max are also big en­cour­agers to her. And her boyfriend An­drew Rose, has been there for her to help when needed.

“He does it ev­ery time, with­out hes­i­ta­tion,” she said. “I am very lucky.”

Also at the awards gala was her Aunt Mal­lie, Aunt Doris and Un­cle Dave, who she con­sid­ers part of her im­me­di­ate fam­ily.

Col­bourne’s next step is to con­tinue with med­i­cal school, but not give up on her vol­un­teer­ing. You will likely see her at many dif­fer­ent events over the next few years, pro­mot­ing char­i­ties, fundrais­ing and just help­ing out in her com­mu­nity.

Gina Col­bourne was ex­cited to have her fam­ily on hand to see her re­ceive the Young Hu­man­i­tar­ian of the Year Award from the Cana­dian Red Cross. One of those fam­ily mem­bers was her nephew Max, who is one of her in­spi­ra­tions.

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