A visit to the Lindsay and District Chamber of Commerce website will easily provide you with all the official criteria for Citizen of the Year nominees. In short, this award acknowledges volunteers who give of themselves to make our community a special place to live. The simple fact that many of these individuals do not see what they do as notable or expect anything in return makes them deserving of our recognition.
This June, Claus Reuter was presented with the Citizen of the Year award for his years of volunteer work with the Victoria County Historical Society and The Royal Canadian Legion.
It was his passion for military history that ultimately led Claus to The Olde Gaol Museum where an offer to loan the Historical Society pieces from his personal collection laid the foundation for his volunteer position. Claus took on many roles during his years with the museum from handyman to research and curating, particularly in the museum’s Lest We Forget Hall.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that a few years later that same passion for local history and the military led Claus to the Sir Sam Hughes Branch 67 of The Royal Canadian Legion. Here he found another military collection that was perhaps in need of a bit of organizing, an opportunity to create displays to share local history and a network of people who shared his interests.
Claus explains that the legion is not the closed-door club it once was. He stresses that their displays are open for people to come in and enjoy. As we continue to lose our older veterans, the legion needs to find new ways of connecting with the public. Part of building that connection is about listening to the people and what they want to see in the exhibits.
When asked why he continues to volunteer, Claus smiles and jokingly suggests “stupidity.” Quickly becoming serious he explains he and his wife Sonya have found a good life here – city, province and country – and “it’s all about giving back.” Awards are nice but a genuine thank you from a member of the public who has seen your work and enjoyed it means so much more.
If someone is looking to become a volunteer Claus recommends their local museum as a good place to start but “it depends on you and what your interests are.” Be prepared to put in the work, do the research and pick things up from others. “It’s a learning process and you need to make the best of it.” There are some jobs we all dislike but sometimes you have to do them. “We have to find ways to work together – we’re all pulling on the same string.”
When it comes to organizations that depend on volunteers Claus states what may seem to be the obvious for some — “appreciate what volunteers do.” While he openly acknowledges the need for guidelines and structure Claus believes it is important for volunteers to be able to do things to make them feel valuable and interested in their work.
“Little things make a big difference.”
If you know of someone you think qualifies as the next Citizen of the Year, the Lindsay and District Chamber of Commerce has already posted details about the 2020 Awards of Excellence. You can find information and nominations forms here.
If you wish to learn about Sir Sam Hughes Branch 67 of The Royal Canadian Legion, visit their displays or share local military information, visit the Lindsay Legion website.
For further information about The Olde Gaol Museum visit its website here.