Volunteer grant to replace federal cuts: Clark

Super volunteer Frances Clark thanks government for grant, then takes jab at federal cuts to social programs.

Volunteer extraordinaire Frances Clark formally received her lifelong achievement award for the Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards from Richmond MP Alice Wong Friday afternoon at the Richmond Centre for Disability.

"Seeing things get achieved, that feels good. You don't do things alone, you always have people with you," said Clark, whose award came with a $10,000 grant that will be put toward the very centre she helped establish.

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Described by RCD board chair Vince Miele as being a tenacious and hard working individual Clark lived up to those words by sending a light poke to Wong, the Minister of State for Seniors.

 

"That $10,000 might replace the money the federal government is cutting," quipped Clark to the delight of the audience.

 

"But that's another story," said Clark.

 

Wong thanked Clark - who recently celebrated her 79th birthday - for her hard work as a volunteer over the past 60 years, which includes setting up Richmond Caring Place.

 

Her work has always meant soliciting donations from the community and funding from the city. 

 

So it was appropriate that local politicians were also on hand to celebrate the award. In attendance were Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie and city councillors Linda McPhail, Ken Johnston and Bill McNulty, the latter of whom is the council's liaison to RCD, having helped draft the award nomination.

 

Clark said she's not done working in the community.

 

"I still have a few things I want to accomplish through city hall," said Clark, eliciting some nervous chuckles from the politicians.

 

Brodie noted that through Clark's efforts of raising awareness for the disabled Richmond became a leader in making the city accessible. 

 

"Frances, we know is a very determined individual," said Brodie.

 

Miele concurred.

 

"Things that have been done locally have been copied elsewhere, we know that," said Miele.

 

Born with brittle-bone disease, Clark, in need of a wheelchair, started volunteering in her late teens as a means of participating in the community since during that time she was often excluded from society (she

wasn’t allowed to attend public school because of her disability).

 

Clark became a passionate dog lover and worked with non-profit animal organizations. She turned that love into founding the Western Federation of Individuals and Dog Organizations (FIDO), which sought to establish responsible pet ownership guidelines. In the 1970s she helped eliminate no-pet policies in BC social housing units. Her love of animals led her to establish a kennel on No. 5 Road.

 

The Prime Minister’s Volunteer Awards is an award created in 2011 to recognize individual volunteers. There is just one recipient each year in the lifelong achievement category. 

 

gwood@richmond-news.com

 

@WestcoastWood

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