At the Baseball Manitoba awards banquet held on Saturday, November 19, 2016, Optimist Park volunteers were honored for their ongoing efforts in St. James minor baseball.
St. James-Assiniboia Minor Baseball Association president Kristal Benton received an award for volunteer of the year on Nov. 19, while Optimist Park director Moe Gervais was inducted into the honour society.
Benton has been volunteering with St. James baseball for the past eight years, acting as baseball convenor at Kirkfield Westwood Community Centre as well as her position as president. She began volunteering when her children got involved with baseball.
“It’s an honour to be nominated for it and an honour to have been chosen, to be recognized with the sport and promoting baseball in our community for kids, so I was very happy,” Benton said of receiving her first award from Baseball Manitoba.
“I do it because I enjoy it… I think it’s a great sport and it’s important to give back to your community when opportunities are made available for you, when you’re able to do so,” she said.
She and her fellow volunteers at Optimist Park have been working on developing and promoting AA leagues, in the hopes of encouraging kids who want to play competitively but don’t want to commit to AAA.
“It’s a higher level of ball than community level but it also isn’t that time commitment or financial commitment of AAA, which more committed players and families want to do,” Benton said. “That’s one of the things we’ve done quite well and something I’m quite proud of.”
Gervais has been volunteering for 14 years and, while he works full-time, he is still able to commit between 500 and 600 volunteers hours between April and October each year.
“Just the outdoors, the fresh air, I like seeing the kids playing on the nice diamonds,” Gervais said of his motivation to take part. “I think it’s worth it… I was pretty surprised and shocked, I’m a low-key guy, I don’t do it for anything like that… so it was an honour getting (recognized).”
Copied from Metro One article by Alana Trachenko