Local recognized for service during the pandemic
Thirty-one people from throughout B.C. and one group are being honoured with the Medal of Good Citizenship, recognizing outstanding contributions to the well-being of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among those being honoured is Irene Bischler, described as one of the most compassionate, selfless and empathetic people who has ever worked at Cranbrook’s Amy Woodland Elementary School.
“Irene is the first person in the building every morning. She sets up the breakfast club for the school feeding 30 to 40 kids every morning and greets kids who may not have otherwise been fed or had a positive interaction that day. She has made connections with restaurants, service groups, grocery stores and other community members and gathers donations on her own time to ensure the breakfast club runs smoothly,” an Honours and Awards Secretariat media release described.
“After breakfast Irene starts social emotional support groups where kids cook, do carpentry, sew, decorate cakes and cookies, quilt blankets and dozens of other activities. She supports teachers in classrooms and often takes kids into the community for activities. Her goal each day is to ensure kids are happy, emotionally regulated and connected to the school community. Irene has supported every level of athlete through her power skating and figure skating coaching.
“She has given respite care to kids to help out families in crisis. Irene has also worked with individuals with special needs for many years. She mentors young teachers and education assistants and has worked in Alternate Programs with School District No. 5’s kids.
“Irene is the local president of the CUPE Union and is constantly working to ensure her members are supported despite the high stress situations they find themselves working in. Irene’s mission is to ensure the people around her have a better day, greater opportunity, feel empowered and valued and have a deeper purposeful connection with their community. The lives of students, staff, families and coworkers are richer and more fulfilling due to her endless energy and efforts.”
“We are proud to honour these British Columbians who have demonstrated themselves to be extraordinary individuals,” said Premier John Horgan. “Each one of them has been singled out by their peers for their tremendous generosity, kindness and selfless acts of service during one of the most challenging times in our province and around the world.”
In recognition of this extraordinary time due to the pandemic, the 2021 Medal of Good Citizenship is focused on honouring people who have gone above and beyond expectations in their response to COVID-19. The recipients represent a diverse group of people from 21 communities, demonstrating that B.C. is full of people who generously give for the benefit of their communities.
“Congratulations to the unsung heroes in our communities being honoured today,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, and chair of the medal’s selection committee. “You demonstrated the power of kindness and the real meaning of paying it forward during one of our generation’s most turbulent times. Thank you for being beacons of light in our communities.”
A virtual medal presentation will take place on Thursday, March 24.
The Medal of Good Citizenship is one way for British Columbians to recognize people for their contributions and dedication to community service. Nominations for the Medal of Good Citizenship are accepted year round, and British Columbians are encouraged to submit people they know who have been particularly kind, generous or self-sacrificing without expectation of reward.
In addition to the Medal of Good Citizenship, people may be nominated for the province’s other honour, the Order of British Columbia, which recognizes those who have served with the greatest distinction and excelled in any field of endeavour, benefiting British Columbians and others throughout Canada and beyond. The deadline for nominations for the Order of B.C. this year is April 4.