Ken Waldon says he volunteers in Vernon as a way of saying thank you for giving him his bride of 58 years, Jan Waldon.
Volunteering has been a way of life for the Waldons, and the octogenarians were each honoured individually with Sovereign’s Medals from Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette earlier in September in Victoria.
The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers recognizes the exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields.
B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin awarded the medals to 44 volunteers from across the province, including the Waldons, all receiving honourary praise for their tireless efforts in the community.
“Jan and I have been incredibly blessed, and we were both awed and humbled by the award,” said Ken Waldon, 85, who met Jan, 81, when both were students at the University of Manitoba. Ken, a native Manitoban, was in his fourth year studying agriculture with a major in dairy science, which led to a lifelong career in the field, when he met freshman Jan, who was studying home economics. Jan has called Vernon home since the age of seven.
After the pair lived and worked in every Canadian province save for Quebec, they settled in the North Okanagan and became volunteer staples.
Jan was nominated for the Sovereign Medal for her dedication to preserving local heritage and promoting community safety. She shares her love of music through the North Okanagan Community Concert Association and is also secretary of her church’s refugee committee.
Ken was recognized for helping maintain community safety. Together, the Waldons have been involved for decades with Crime Stoppers, Citizens on Patrol and the North Okanagan Emergency Support Services. The pair co-established the Friends of Fintry Provincial Park Society.
“That was the big one for us,” said Ken of the organization they started in 2001.
The Waldons, named Vernon’s Good Citizen(s) of the Year in 2011, have also been volunteers for the Allan Brooks Nature Centre, North Okanagan Naturalist Club, Okanagan Historical Society, All Saints’ Anglican Church and Mackie Lake House.
“The duties varied and we were not involved to the same extent as each other, but, we supported each other in our respective activities,” said Ken.
As an official Canadian honour, the Medal for Volunteers incorporates and replaces the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, created in 1995, by then-governor general Roméo LeBlanc. The medal builds on the legacy and spirit of the Caring Canadian Award by honouring the dedication and commitment of volunteers.