St. Ja­cobs com­pany among re­cip­i­ents of Vol­un­teer Im­pact Awards

Menno S. Martin Con­trac­tor to re­ceive Group En­gage­ment Award dur­ing Na­tional Vol­un­teer Week

The Woolwich Observer - - LIVING HERE - FAISAL ALI

AROUND THE RE­GION, THE Vol­un­teer Ac­tion Cen­tre is rec­og­niz­ing those that have gone above and be­yond in con­tribut­ing to their com­mu­ni­ties. A to­tal of four­teen in­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions were se­lected for the an­nual Vol­un­teer Im­pact Awards, which will be pre­sented on April 19 dur­ing Na­tional Vol­un­teer Week.

Amongst those to be hon­oured is Menno S. Martin Con­trac­tor Ltd., a St. Ja­cobs-based busi­ness co-owned by Art Janzen and Trent Bau­man. Menno S. Martin, which has a his­tory go­ing all the way back in the com­mu­nity to 1942, was se­lected for the Group En­gage­ment Award. It’s been a big year for the unas­sum­ing busi­ness, which was ear­lier also nom­i­nated for the Em­ployee En­gage­ment Award by the KW Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Both the Vol­un­teer Ac­tion Cen­tre and the KW Cham­ber rec­og­nized the con­tract­ing busi­ness for its novel ap­proach to the Ran­dom Acts of Kind­ness move­ment. Typ­i­cally, the move­ment is cel­e­brated over a pe­riod of a week, but not so for Menno S. Martin. The or­ga­ni­za­tion came up with the idea of giv­ing each of its em­ploy­ees $75 to use in a ran­dom act of kind­ness.

“We en­abled all our staff here to give back,” ex­plained co-owner Jan- zen in an ear­lier in­ter­view about the ini­tia­tive. “Us­ing the num­ber 75 to com­mem­o­rate our years in busi­ness, we gave each of our em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing my­self and Trent, $75 to use for ran­dom acts of kind­ness. So it could be bro­ken up into in­cre­ments if you wanted.”

The two ex­plained that they wanted to cel­e­brate the legacy of the busi­ness’ founder, Menno S. Martin, as well as its sub­se­quent owner Lav­erne Brubacher, and the im­pact they had on the com­mu­nity.

“It seemed to be a no­brainer when it came time to cel­e­brate our 75th that [our] ‘putting peo­ple first phi­los­o­phy’ just needed to shine through,” said Janzen. “And it needed to be about giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity that got us to where we are.”

Be­yond that, Menno S. Martin gave each of their em­ploy­ees $500 to do­nate to a char­ity of their choice, and do­nated a day to the Kitch­ener House of Friend­ship, help­ing the not for profit with their ex­per­tise in con­tract­ing.

A sec­ond award re­cip­i­ent be­ing rec­og­nized by the Vol­un­teer Ac­tion Cen­tre this year is Ja­nine Arm­strong. While not ac­tu­ally a vol­un­teer her­self, the Kitch­ener-na­tive has been in­dis­pens­able to the Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Water­loo Re­gion, help­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion make homes like the one built in Welles­ley vil­lage a re­al­ity.

Arm­strong works at Habi­tat as a vol­un­teer man­ager, so was fit­tingly nom­i­nated for the Vol­un­teer Man­ager Award. It’s an award that rec­og­nizes her for her abil­ity to en­gage not only in­di­vid­ual vol­un­teers on a one-to-one ba­sis and in­spire them, but also help Habi­tat part­ner and col­lab­o­rate with other or­ga­ni­za­tions such as schools and busi­nesses.

“There’s a cou­ple favourite days for me,” says Arm­strong. “One is when I get to be around when peo­ple get their keys, be­cause they typ­i­cally take their kids out of school and it’s like a big deal. They’re get­ting their keys

to the first home they’ve ever owned.”

Arm­strong takes an in­ter­est­ing ap­proach to man­ag­ing vol­un­teers which has un­doubt­edly helped her in her roles. She ex­plains that while vol­un­teers of­ten come look­ing to help an or­ga­ni­za­tion or a cause, they too should be able to ben­e­fit from the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I be­lieve that it needs to be win-win,” she ex­plains. “So the or­ga­ni­za­tion that peo­ple vol­un­teer for al­ways get some­thing out of it, we get a task done. But I be­lieve that the vol­un­teers also should be able to walk away with some­thing. Whether that’s feel­ing good, or whether that’s a new skill set, or whether that’s a bol­stered re­sume, or some­thing like that.”

A ma­jor achieve­ment, notes Vol­un­teer in Ac­tion, was Arm­strong’s role in con­nect­ing Habi­tat with the Grand Val­ley women’s prison. The pro­gram helped women com­ing to the end of the term at the prison rein­te­grate into so­ci­ety through Habi­tat.

“We host women who are near­ing the end of their in­car­cer­a­tion as they’re get­ting ready to re­join so­ci­ety, that they have job place­ments with us,” ex­plained Arm­strong.

The awards will be handed out next Thurs­day dur­ing Na­tional Vol­un­teer Week, which runs from April 15 to 28.

“We think that the con­tri­bu­tions by vol­un­teers to this com­mu­nity are in- valu­able no mat­ter who or what role they play,” said Jane Hen­nig, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor with the Vol­un­teer Ac­tion Cen­tre.

“But in these cases where the nom­i­na­tions have taken place, it is be­cause they’ve done some­thing that has just made them step out dur­ing the course of this year. They’ve done some­thing in­cred­i­bly in­spi­ra­tional or have re­ally, re­ally made a unique dif­fer­ence to the or­ga­ni­za­tion that they’re serv­ing.”

Menno S. Martin Con­trac­tor co-own­ers Art Janzen and Trent Bau­man have seen their ac­tions re­warded with the Group En­gage­ment Award from the Vol­un­teer Ac­tion Cen­tre.

[FAISAL ALI / THE OB­SERVER]

Ja­nine Arm­strong, vol­un­teer man­ager for Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity.

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