Familiar face amongst Airdrie's Diamond Jubilee Medal winners
One of Airdrie’s most familiar volunteers received a royal honour.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Lieutenant Governor Donald S. Ethell and Wild Rose MP Blake Richards presented Lori McRitchie, Airdrie Food Bank’s executive director with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award.
McRitchie joined 179 other recipients for the special ceremony at Calgary’s Red and White Club, Oct.9.
“I just feel blessed by receiving this award,” said McRitchie. “I accept the award on behalf of the community. It really is to be shared with this community that has made it possible.”
McRitchie, who sat on Richards’ ’s selection committee that was responsible for choosing the recipients for the MP, said she was surprised when she got the letter informing her she was to receive the medal.
“Blake had chosen a group of us to be on the selection committee… it was an honour just to be part of that,” said McRitchie.
The mother of three said she received the letter on her parent’s 60th wedding anniversary, something she found providential, given the encouragement her parents have always given to her.
“I felt that the honour was theirs as well,” said McRitchie. “They have been my inspiration for all they do.”
McRitchie, who is now a grandmother, has lived in the same home in Airdrie for 30 years. She has been an active member of the community for many years, from her involvement in Scouts and school council to her participation in Airdrie’s Rotary Club. Her involvement in the organization has included chairing the Tour de Airdrie race, which raises funds for Airdrie and District Victim’s Assistance programs.
McRitchie became the executive director of the Airdrie Food Bank in 2006 and has worked tirelessly to promote the organization’s cause of providing food to those in need.
Under her guidance, the not-for-profit organization has initiated a number of events, such as the Airdrie Empty Bowls Arts Festival, a fundraiser that brought in $18,000 last year and involved a number of residents, artists and business people.
Other events include the charity’s annual Shamrock Shimmy silent auction, dinner and dance; the biannual Holiday Train event, which brings in numerous non-perishable items for the Food Bank; and the annual Festival of Lights campaign, which brought in $7,500 of food last year.
The Airdrie Food Bank provides hampers for needy people, puts on a breakfast program at R.J. Hawkey Elementary School and provides emergency shelf items for all schools in the area in its Snack Attack program.
Despite her accomplishments, McRitchie attributes her Diamond Jubilee Medal to the people of Airdrie and staff and volunteers at the food bank.
“There is a great team that works here at the food bank, the staff and volunteers make it all possible,” she said. “They are dedicated, they give over and above for the community and it is just such a privilege to work with them.
“We have been recognized, but the reason is because people want to help their neighbours. (This award) really belongs to the community, it has to be shared with everyone who lives here because they are the ones that make the food bank successful.”