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Airdrie Victims Assistance names Golden Heart winner

Longtime volunteer honoured to be recognized

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 12:38 pm

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Airdrie and District Victims Assistance Society (ADVAS) has named volunteer Susan Ferguson as the recipient of the Golden Heart Award for her exemplary efforts with the society in 2013.

“The award means everything to me because it’s awarded from my peers,” Ferguson said.

“People in our organization look up to those people who go above and beyond,” said ADVAS Executive Director Lori Rehill, adding Ferguson is one of those individuals who has the time to do so. “She exemplifies what our organization is in terms of supporting people impacted by a crime or tragedy.”

Ferguson has been with ADVAS for four years and worked her way up from frontline advocate, where she would be on call to assist when a crime or tragedy struck, to team lead and mentor where she helps support other volunteers.

She said she decided to volunteer with ADVAS because she wanted to give back to an organization she felt a connection with and ADVAS fit the bill in part because of her interest in policing. She said the decision was such a good fit for her that working with ADVAS is, “like finding home.”

“We all take from our community and this is my way to give back to the community,” Ferguson said.

The Golden Heart Award was created in memory of Marlene Le Blanc, who served as a volunteer and staff member with ADVAS. The annual award, which began in 2003, is awarded to a volunteer that has shown outstanding selfless efforts to reach out to victims and have showed efforts that extend above and beyond what is expected.

Ferguson was quick to point out the award is really about supporting the victims of crime and tragedy, which involves the work of everyone at ADVAS.

“It’s not just me,” she said. “We have people that have been here for 10 years.”

Ferguson’s desire to take the attention off of herself and focus it on the society and the work it does is not out of the ordinary for volunteers with ADVAS, according to Rehill.

“The people who volunteer for us are very altruistic and very humble,” she said.

The ADVAS website describes the society as a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that provides 24-hour crisis response and support to victims of crime and/or tragedy through the RCMP.

“It’s people like Sue that are there to support (victims),” Rehill said.

Ferguson said the group helps victims connect with resources and support after a crime or tragedy in order to, “find their new normal.”

“I do what I do because I found my home,” she said. “My motivation is internal.”

As the 2013 Golden Heart Award winner, Ferguson received a trophy at the ADVAS Christmas party in November 2013, and her name was added to the plaque kept in the ADVAS office.


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