Elmira’s Mau­reen Phillips named Ok­to­ber­fest Vol­un­teer of the Year

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - VERON­ICA REINER

YOU MAY NOT THINK of it while you’re do­ing the chicken dance, but the Kitch­ener-Water­loo Ok­to­ber­fest would not be pos­si­ble with­out the hard work of hun­dreds of vol­un­teers. Among that group, Elmira’s Mau­reen Phillips is a stand­out, pre­sented at this 50th an­niver­sary out­ing with the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Vol­un­teer of the Year Award, an honour she shared with fel­low re­cip­i­ent Mar­jorie Wood.

“It’s quite the sur­prise, I didn’t know I was get­ting it,” said Phillips of her re­ac­tion to the news. “It’s just an honour; it’s pres­ti­gious. I mean, I was shocked.”

Phillips was nom­i­nated by the chair of the A Bloom­ing Af­fair fash­ion show, Tara Heb­bleth­waite. Heb­bleth­waite took mea­sures to en­sure that the award came as a com­plete sur­prise to her friend.

“I was aware of the award, about how ev­ery year they put the win­ner in a mag­a­zine,” said Phillips. “[Heb­bleth­waite] had kept ev­ery­thing un­der wraps. She said ‘come to the pres­i­dent’s lun­cheon’ at the Water­loo Inn about a week ago. She hid a brochure on the ta­ble be­cause it had my pic­ture in it, and she wanted to make it a sur­prise.”

Heb­bleth­waite was also the re­cip­i­ent of an award her­self this year, claim­ing one of the Woman of the Year achieve­ments. The award cer­e­mony is pre­sented at the pres­i­den­tial lun­cheon ev­ery time, which took place on Oc­to­ber 11 for 2018. KW Ok­to­ber­fest has

con­tin­ued this tra­di­tion for decades.

“Vol­un­teer of the Year for K-W Ok­to­ber­fest ini­tially be­gan in 1989 as just a way of sup­port­ing our vol­un­teer team,” ex­plained Al­fred Lowrick, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of KW Ok­to­ber­fest. “Usu­ally we se­lect two ev­ery year. We can have as lit­tle as one or as many as four.”

Se­lect­ing the award­win­ner(s) out of some 500 vol­un­teers is a bit of a process.

“We fea­ture peo­ple that have re­ally stood out in terms of vol­un­teer­ing,” ex­plained Lowrick. “They’re nom­i­nated ini­tially by their fel­low vol­un­teers and the var­i­ous chairs. Past pres­i­dents who are also vol­un­teers make the de­ci­sion. They look at the nom­i­na­tions that come be­fore them and se­lect a cou­ple of peo­ple, and it’s rec­og­nized at our pres­i­den­tial lun­cheon.”

Phillips has been vol­un­teer­ing with the KW Ok­to­ber­fest for the past 20 years. She is also known to in­tro­duce new vol­un­teers to the or­ga­ni­za­tion on a fairly fre­quent ba­sis.

Work­ing with Heb­bleth­waite on the fash­ion show com­mit­tee was just one of her many ef­forts. She is also a tire­less vol­un­teer with the Ki­wa­nis group for the past 25 years, tak­ing on roles such as bar­tend­ing, cos­tum­ing, and col­lect­ing door prizes. For ex­am­ple, she vol­un­teered at their Ki­wa­nis fall dance on Oc­to­ber 13.

“It’s a very ful­fill­ing thing, to vol­un­teer,” said Phillips. “And there is, and al­ways will be, a need for vol­un­teers.”

Fu­ture vol­un­teer ef­forts from Phillips will be the cos­tum­ing in the up­com­ing Elmira Santa Claus Pa­rade in early De­cem­ber.

[VERON­ICA REINER / THE OB­SERVER]

Elmira res­i­dent Mau­reen Phillips was named a Vol­un­teer of the Year by Kitch­ener-Water­loo Ok­to­ber­fest, tak­ing home a plaque, a bier­fest mug with her name en­graved on it, and a recog­ni­tion in the pres­i­dent’s in­vi­ta­tional lun­cheon brochure. She has been vol­un­teer­ing at with the or­ga­ni­za­tion for the past 20 years.

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