Vancouverite Emma Smith is traveling to Ottawa next week to receive a silver medal recognizing her years of dedicated volunteer work.
"I'm very honoured and I'm feeling a bit humbled. I believe so strongly in the importance of contributing to your community, whether it is locally, nationally, or globally, in whatever way you can. For younger people, while we might not have the means to contribute financially, we have time and talent, which are incredibly valuable," Smith says.
She began volunteering with Forum for Young Canadians in 2006 and now serves on the board of the Mainland British Columbia Military Family Resource Centre and the Vancouver Resource Society for the Physically Disabled.
Other roles include being an adaptive ski instructor for the autism and sit-ski programs run by Vancouver Adapted Snow Sports and volunteer work with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists B.C. chapter.
She is an occupational therapist and is currently working towards her PhD in Rehabilitation Science.
Smith has also traveled to Haiti and Nepal with Team Canada Healing Hands to provide wheelchairs for people with disabilities and spinal cord injuries.
This year, Smith is the only Vancouverite to receive the award along with South Surrey resident Alison MacLean and Richard Tait from Sorrento, B.C. "It's very exciting and for me it's particularly exciting because it's going to be awarded by the governor general and she was a childhood hero of mine."
"Each of the organizations I volunteer for makes the community I live in a better place, and I am lucky to have the chance to be a part of that. I would encourage anyone considering volunteering to find an organization they feel passionate about, and take the leap, whether for a single event or as a longer term commitment," she says.
Canada's Governor General Julie Payette will present the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers to 42 Canadians on Tuesday, April 17 during a ceremony at Rideau Hall.