Saturday July 2, 2011

UFV News

Twice As Good 

Betty Urquhart Award given to two community volunteers 

Released by Patty Wellborn, UFV


he purpose of the Betty Urquhart Community Service Award is to recognize those who give back to their communities. 


And this year, the University of the Fraser Valley has two winners - two shining examples of people who spend countless hours working to improve the quality of life for their neighbors.

Abbotsford's' Dr. Elizabeth Watt and Hope's Patricia Murakami were both nominated for the Betty Urquhart Community Service Award and because they both give tirelessly to improve the quality of life for people in their towns, the committee chose to honour both of them.                                                                        

Each spring UFV presents the Betty Urquhart Community Service Award to people, or groups, who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities in the UFV region. Betty Urquhart was one of the first employees at Fraser Valley College and she continued to work at FVC, which by then was UCFV, until her retirement in 1992. She embodied the dream of lifelong learning and dedicating oneself to better one's community.

If you're lucky you might catch Dr. Elizabeth Watt between clinics, her medical practice, volunteer time, or off duty with her family. She's one busy lady, but still makes sure she has time to help out at the Abbotsford Youth Health Centre. A fairly new entity, the health centre - operating under the umbrella of the Abbotsford Community Services - is an open access clinic to people between 12 and 24 years of age. While Watt says they do see some 'marginalized' clients, the clinic is about accessible health care for anybody of a certain age demographic.

"It's a full service centre for any kid who needs to come in and ask some questions and get some help," she says. "We provide non-judgmental help and our clients are welcome to come in with friends, or family members if they feel they need that support."

While Watt was thrilled to learn she has won the award, she quickly points out that not just one person that makes the Abbotsford Youth Centre run as smoothly as it does.

"We have had so much community support, it's been amazing. But I also think it's because we've it right from the very beginning. We have included so many partner groups and we have worked with them, and the community, to make sure we are helping our targeted group."

The Abbotsford Youth Health Centre grew directly from recommendations from the City of Abbotsford's report on fostering a Child- and Youth-Friendly Abbotsford. The health centre is open every Tuesday afternoon and deals with everything from "the common cold to mental health issues."

The second Betty Urquhart Community Service Award recipient is Patricia Murakami, who lives in Hope and is long-time volunteer in that community. Murakami founded the Tillicum Centre 40 years ago to give people in that community who were dealing with mental and physical disabilities a place where they could go and just hang out and have fun.

She has volunteered at the Tillicum Centre since it opened and is well known for her cheerful demeanour and willingness to help people - even those in a crisis situation. She helps organize leisure and recreation activities at the Tillicum Centre, but this year decided it was time to retire.

While happy to win the award, Murakami says she wants to share the recognition with the many other volunteers at the Tillicum Centre. The centre would not be the success it is today, she says, without the help of many people who have stood beside her and lent a hand.

"I'd like to accept it on behalf of all the people who have worked at the Tillicum Centre. There is a handful of people who have been there since the very beginning and every success we have is because of all the people who dedicate their time to the centre."

During her many years volunteering at the Tillicum Centre, she was also a volunteer teacher's aide offering support to children with learning disabilities. She is also on the board of directors of the Murakami Centre for Lyme Research, Education, and Assistance Society, serving as the secretary-treasurer.

Formally educated in the field of clinical psychology, Murakami is known for her deep understanding of people and priorities. She is well known and respected in the community where she has lived for so many years and is the perfect recipient for the Betty Urquhart Community Service Award.

"I am so very thankful to be presented with this award and it is certainly an honour to be recognized by the university."

Murakami and Watt were presented with their awards at the June 10 convocation ceremony in Abbotsford.


Copyright (c) 2011 The Valley Voice