Thursday, 2 Feb 2023

Saint John YMCA announces winners of community awards

After so many years spent serving the community, Dr. Shelley Rinehart is somewhat uncomfortable with the attention that comes with her latest accolade.

Rinehart is the 2019 recipient of the Red Triangle Award, given out by the Saint John YMCA to “recognize long and meritorious service, outstanding contributions and achievement in the community.”

The award will be presented at a gala, which often features lengthy tributes to the winner.

“That’s not my style either,” Rinehart said, when asked how she felt about singing her own praises.

“It’ll be a little embarrassing but, you know, it really is a very humbling and a very big honour for me.”

Rinehart is a former deputy mayor of Saint John and has spent years serving on various YMCA boards, along with acting as a billet mom for the Saint John Seadogs and as the director of the MBA for the University of New Brunswick.

When asked why she has chosen to devote so much of her time to volunteer work, her answer was simple.

“It makes you feel good and I love my community so I want to do things to make it better,” she said.

“So when you have the opportunity to give back, I think it’s important to do that. I’ve had a lot of opportunities from Saint John and from organizations in Saint John so I think it’s only fair that, you know, I give back.”

Rinehart, who has served on the Red Triangle Committee in the past, says she is humbled to be among those who have received the award in the past.

“It’s a very humbling experience because I was involved with the event, I know the angst that [comes with] choosing somebody to receive it and I also know the list of recipients and it is a very humbling experience to join that list,” she said.

Jennifer Brown was also announced as the winner of Leader to Watch Award, which goes to “a young individual that is a role model for other young adults in our community.

Brown, who grew up in the north end, said her passion for volunteering started when she was enrolled at UNB and got involved with the Promise Partnership, a program that matches students with kids from Hazen White-St. Francis School for one-on-one mentoring.

“Through high school and stuff I was involved but university was where I became very passionate about volunteering and giving back,” she said.

“That’s where it really started for me and that just led to so many other opportunities to give back and I just kinda took whatever I could get from there.”

Brown says that volunteer work acts as a source of strength for her.

“Any time someone talks about what their downtime is, if that’s reading or watching Netflix, like honestly for me that is volunteering and giving back,” she said.

“After work or after school when I was a student, that’s what I looked forward to was sitting on those boards and hanging out with those kids and kind of doing those activities.”

The awards will be given out at a gala on April 11, which doubles as a fundraiser for the Y’s Strong Communities Campaign.

Money raised ensures YMCA programs are available for all those who wish to access them. The YMCA hopes to raise over $100,000 through the event.

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