Joyce Henderson describes volunteering as ‘natural.’
“When you’re living in a community you really love, and you see an opportunity to help out, it’s just natural,” she said.
This natural tendency she and her spouse John share is seen as deserving of recognition by others. On May 10, John and Joyce Henderson were one of 25 recipients of the 2021 BC Achievement Community awards presented by the BC Achievement Foundation.
Although there wasn’t an official ceremony because of the pandemic, Premier John Horgan said of the recipients in a news release: “As a result of their commitments to causes beyond themselves, they have ensured that B.C. is a better province for all of us.”
Anne Giardini, chair of the foundation, remarked: “This year’s recipients exemplify the spirit of the Community Award. Celebrating their achievements honours the very best of our province and inspires us all to public service and excellence.”
While Joyce said she and John are very honoured, they think the recognition could have gone to any number of people.
“It seems really strange to be given this award, because we just do what is natural to do. There are so many people who volunteer in this community and make a difference in the richness of life in this community, that it seems almost wrong to pick out one couple.”
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The description of the Hendersons in the news release notes that as medical professionals – John a doctor and Joyce a nurse – their path was always one of service. Some of the organizations listed they have given time and energy to include: Shuswap Theatre Society, Shuswap Community Foundation, the Good Food Box, the First United Church Ghana Project and Salmon Arm Minor Hockey. It notes that through the community foundation, they support students at UBC Okanagan who are involved in international community development projects.
Although the Hendersons were being recognized for their volunteering in the Shuswap, they have not limited their contributions to this region. In the mid-1970s they went with their four children, now in their fifties, to rural Kenya to volunteer for a year. Over the next 30 years John and Joyce volunteered in Kenya two more times. When Joyce retired as a nurse, she taught nursing for a semester at a university in Ghana.
Asked to choose an organization in Salmon Arm she has particularly enjoyed volunteering with, Joyce said Shuswap Theatre. She found it satisfying the way the thinking changed to begin spending funds to take care of the building.
Asked if she ever acted, she recoiled in her chair.
“No, heavens no. There’s enough drama being off the stage than being on it,” she laughed. “I was really just on the board. You had to have a good board, supportive of what happened on the stage for good things to happen on the stage. Though I was not on the stage I felt I had an influence.”
John singles out the Salmar Community Association, whose board he was on for about 20 years. He pointed to building the Salmar Grand and, with a laugh, said, “It was very fun because you got into the movies for free.”
He noted that volunteering is a good way to make friends.
John served on the school board for about 10 years and city council for two.
Joyce said volunteering made her and John feel more a part of the community.
“I remember with the loppet, because I was involved for years in timing and doing the awards ceremony, and I participated, when I finished that I remember just going, and watching wasn’t nearly as much fun as being involved.
“I think when you’re involved in the community, it’s more in your heart than if you’re just sitting here as a spectator…”
More recently John and Joyce have slowed down their volunteering and help with the Good Food Box once a month, but they still contribute in other ways to other organizations.
Joyce gave an example.
“When you think about the Trail Alliance, the Trail Alliance is a phenomenal organization. When you think about how many groups they have drawn together to make a difference around trails… In my current view of the world, I’ll give money to them but I won’t be out there digging…”
Mayor Alan Harrison noted the Hendersons were the only couple in the list of 25 recipients chosen in B.C.
He said council will be sure to have a more personal recognition and presentation for them at a later date. He thanked Coun. Sylvia Lindgren for doing the legwork to get the nomination in.
“I have personally worked with both John and Joyce in a number of areas, most recently at the Shuswap Theatre, and I just so appreciate how they just carry on humbly,” Lindgren said. “They’ve donated money, time, talent, countless hours… and they ask for nothing in return.”
Stated the award description: “In every aspect of the Salmon Arm community, from arts and culture, to health care, education and the environment, their contributions can be felt.”
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