Peter and Virginia Budinski of Mundare Named 2014 Alberta Volunteer Citizens of the Year

Six Albertans recognized for the outstanding work they do in their communities

CALGARY, Alberta, May 27, 2014 /CNW/ - Direct Energy and the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association (AWNA) are pleased to announce that the winners of this year's Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award are Peter and Virginia Budinski of Mundare, Alberta. Peter and Virginia will receive a $1,000 cash award from Direct Energy and Direct Energy will make a donation of $5,000 to the M. Drahomanow (Moscow Hall) Literary Society and Recreation Area, a charity chosen by the Budinskis.

As dedicated volunteers for more than 35 years, Peter and Virginia have spent countless hours making a difference in the community of Mundare. Their involvement at the M. Drahomanow (Moscow Hall) Literary Society and Recreation Area ranges from looking after minor repairs and upkeep to spearheading the community's centennial celebration.

"Peter and Virginia should be an inspiration to all of us. Their commitment to volunteering and bringing people together at the community hall for the past 35 years is what makes communities like Mundare such an important part of Alberta," said Tanis Kozak, Vice-President and General Manager, Direct Energy Canada. "Their ongoing dedication to the community hall and passion for volunteering should be celebrated and Direct Energy is proud to honour them with this award."

Peter has volunteered at many functions at the community hall including ball tournaments, family reunions, camping, and card parties. He also spends many hours a week cutting trees and grass, fixing fences, shoveling and plowing snow, and performing any other maintenance and upkeep that the facility needs. Peter was also involved in the major renovations that the facility underwent.

Virginia is just as active in the community. She has been Treasurer of the Literary Society since 1981 and played an instrumental role in organizing the centennial celebration in her community. At the community hall, she is looked upon for her expertise in booking events and organizing food services. As vice-president, her volunteering extends to the administrative duties that keep the hall successful and running smoothly.

"The AWNA congratulates Peter and Virginia Budinski as volunteer citizens of the year. The community hall in Mundare is integral in connecting local families and neighbours for celebration and recreation," said Fred Gorman, President of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association. "The hall is enjoyed because of a 35 year commitment and the inspirational efforts and talents of Peter and Virginia. I am sure Mundare would agree with our 2014 choice of award recipients."

When told that they were winners of this year's award, Virginia was absolutely delighted that the M. Drahomanow (Moscow Hall) Literary Society and Recreation Area would benefit. This is a very active farming community and the hall and recreation area are the scene of many weddings, family unions, barbeques, baseball tournaments and other social events within the community.

In its tenth year, the award is sponsored by Direct Energy and the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association. This year close to 50 nominations were received. Nominations for the award were solicited from more than 100 Albertan communities.

Four finalists were also selected for outstanding volunteer efforts in their communities and will each receive $1,000 toward their charitable organization of choice:

Lee Tanghe of Slave Lake has been active in the Slake Lake community, volunteering for a number of different organizations for the past 24 years. As coach of the Slave Lake Boxing Club since 1990, Lee goes beyond coaching by becoming a mentor and supporting youth in the community. Lee also organized a local men's baseball team and volunteered as coach for minor ball for over 20 years. Lee currently serves on the provincial boxing association, Boxing Alberta, as the Director of Coaches, which is a volunteer position. Lee is known for "making our community a better place to live by involving the youth in community events."

Lee has chosen the Slave Lake Boxing Club as the recipient of the $1,000 award. The Slave Lake Boxing Club has produced 17 national champions and other medal winners. Classes are also offered for folks interested in fitness and a healthy lifestyle. This club provides many of the youth in the community with a purpose and a safe place to go after school where they feel like they are part of a family.

Bill Jackson of Turner Valley has been an instrumental part of the Millarville Racing & Agricultural Society (MRAS) since the age of 14. Now 75, Bill continues to be an active and dedicated contributor to the MRAS and has volunteered for nearly every committee and has worked for the betterment of MRAS events. Over the course of his lifetime, Bill has volunteered with numerous organizations including the 4-H Club Alberta since 1949; the Calgary Stampede - Sheep Committee since 1963; and with the Christ Church in Millarville since 1953. In addition, Bill still operates with his family a small cow / calf operation on his family's homestead which was founded in 1896 by his grandfather.

Bill has chosen The Millarville Racing and Agricultural Society, a non-profit organization which had its start in 1905, as the recipient of the $1,000 award. MRAS provides facilities and family-oriented social and recreational activities that cultivate community spirit and promote communication and socialization among community members in an educational, activity-based environment.

Sandra Smith has been volunteering for over 25 years in her hometown community of Sundre. Sandra has been involved with the Bergen 4-H club, a volunteer assistant in her children's classrooms, coordinated "craft days" at the local community hall; and acted as a representative for the Harmattan Community on the Emergency Medical Services Board. In 2009, upon hearing of concerns regarding the senior citizens in Sundre, Sandra, along with 3 other ladies formed the "Cooking for Kindness" program. This program prepares and serves a hot lunch to nearly 250 senior citizens of Sundre. Sandra not only makes up the monthly menus, purchases the food, assists with the preparation of it, but also co-ordinates the volunteers each month that assist with the meal. Sandra is a talented cook, but also has the ability to make each volunteer feel appreciated and valuable.

Sandra has chosen the Cooking for Kindness program as the recipient of the $1,000 award. More than 60 volunteers contribute to ensuring seniors within the community are provided with a "home cooked style" meal each month from October to May, where they can visit and enjoy an afternoon with their peers. For any seniors who are unable to attend the luncheon, volunteers prepare and deliver "take-out meals" to their home.

Walter Atchison of Rocky Mountain House is described as having "a generous heart and a great sense of humour." Walter volunteers in the Rocky Mountain House Museum in various capacities including Director and in 2013 alone contributed 237 hours of dedicated volunteer time. Walter is also the Vice President of the Clearwater Community Policing Advisory Committee. For 10 years, Walter has volunteered endless service hours to the Central Alberta Antique and Model Club. The Rocky Mountain House Airshow and Rocky Pro Rodeo have also benefitted from Walter's volunteer time.

Walter has chosen the Rocky Mountain House Museum as the recipient of the $1,000 award. The Rocky Mountain House Museum collects, preserves, researches, exhibits and showcases artifacts and archival items that relate directly to the history of the area.

Direct Energy and the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association are proud to recognize these four finalists for the outstanding work they've done in their communities.

About Direct Energy
Direct Energy is one of North America's largest energy and energy-related services providers with over 6 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE: CNA), one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 46 states plus DC and 10 provinces in Canada. To learn more about Direct Energy, please visit

About Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association
Alberta's community newspapers reflect the images, thoughts and everyday happenings of the communities they serve. While these communities may vary in size; from tiny, isolated locations to bustling suburban centres, they share one important feature - a strong weekly newspaper. Today there are over 120 member newspapers throughout Alberta and the Northwest Territories. They boast a combined circulation of 900,460. The smallest newspaper circulates 443 copies each week; the largest - 127,593. We are part of a Canada-wide network of community newspapers through the Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA). Together with six other provincial associations, we represent nearly 650 newspapers.

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SOURCE: Direct Energy

For further information:

Jeff Lanthier, Direct Energy, 905-943-6260 - Office, 647-221-4763 - Mobile,

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