Mounsey Fund supports volunteers through awards - Feb. 21, 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Last week, the Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund (DMMF) handed out a number of awards under its Order of the Good Samaritan Awards umbrella, honouring several local volunteers for their efforts in the community.
Among the local winners were Grace Caldwell from the Belgrave area, who won the Police Const. Vu Pham Award, and Bob Rowe of Walton’s Freedom Syrup, who won the Cpl. Matthew Dinning Award.
DMMF Founder Patrick Armstrong says that since the awards were established in 2012, the Fund has tried to do two things with the awards. Not only is the DMMF honouring worthy, hard-working volunteers throughout the community, but the awards are honouring fallen police and military members at the same time.
The awards were established in the same year that the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals were being handed out. Armstrong was one of the recipients, but it got him thinking that the DMMF should be honouring outstanding citizens in the community as well.
Armstrong said that while the DMMF itself is a registered volunteer-run charity, installing defibrillators in public buildings all over southwestern Ontario, he didn’t want the Fund to be a “one-trick pony” either.
Once he brought the idea to the executive and the members were in favour, Armstrong then approached family members of fallen emergency responders, such as the Phams, the Dinnings, the family of OPP Constable Bruce Crew and several others.
Through those consultations, he worked with family members to marry a fallen member of the emergency responder community to a winning volunteer with attributes that would make sense with that person. For example, deceased OPP Const. Vu Pham was a dedicated volunteer with area youth, both through sports and through the church, so his award honours a young volunteer in the area.
Armstrong says that in the years since the awards have been handed out, he has seen a sharp increase in the number of nominees put forward and he’s always impressed with their achievements, even if they aren’t deemed the winner of an award. The quality of volunteers in Huron County, he said, is second to none and often they are taken for granted.
He said that handing out the awards year after year has been humbling. To hear all of the volunteer work being done in the community is truly amazing, Armstrong says.
Really though, Armstrong says, it has been the buy-in from families like the Dinnings, the Phams and the Crews, among others, that has legitimized the awards in the community.
To have Lincoln and Laurie Dinning, the parents of fallen soldier Matthew, present an award in his name, Armstrong says, makes it an amazing experience for the winners, for the families and for the DMMF.
The same could be said for the Pham family and the Crew family. When Caldwell won the Vu Pham Award and was presented her plaque by Heather, Vu’s widow, and Jordan Pham, their son, Caldwell said it meant so much more to know the story of the man behind the award.
With the families of fallen emergency personnel so supportive of the DMMF, Armstrong says it lends the awards a tremendous amount of credibility and they really mean something to those who win them.
As for the Fund itself, it has now placed over 100 defibrillator donations throughout the province and beyond.
The 102nd donation, Armstrong says, has been placed in the name of a man who died in Haiti in 2010 with the help of the Rotary Club in the Dominican Republic. Armstrong says that while the defibrillator couldn’t make it all the way to Haiti, it’s on the same island and there to serve Haitian refugees.
There have also been donations in Petrolia, Milverton and Millbank and there will be another donation this May in conjunction with the DMMF’s Run Around The Square in Goderich on Mother’s Day.
For more information on the DMMF or its Order of the Good Samaritan Awards or to nominate someone, visit davemounsey.com