Volunteers will tell you they don’t do what they do for the recognition, but it’s nice when it comes.
Fred McMurrer has devoted more than 15,000 hours to volunteerism since retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces, and could happily volunteer another 15,000 without any fanfare.
But Monday afternoon at the Chilliwack RCMP detachment on Airport Road, the soon-to-be 74 year old was awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. It is a hard-earned honour, given to people who ‘have made a significant, sustained and unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad.’
|“The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers that was presented to Fred McMurrer.|
The medal was presented by RCMP Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment (UFVRD) Superintendent Bryon Massie.
“I’m very proud to get it and it’s extremely humbling,” McMurrer said with a smile.
McMurrer’s volunteer activities trace back to 1997, when he began working with the Canadian Forces Area Support Unit in Chilliwack, serving at various times as president, secretary and treasurer.
His time with the RCMP started almost a decade ago with the Speed Watch community policing program, where he was a full-timer putting in 35-plus unpaid hours a week.
“I did that for almost four years,” he said. “Then five-and-a-half years ago I moved over to with Chilliwack Victim Services.”
McMurrer said he made the switch because program coordinator “Darlene Wahlstrom was relentless,” and he didn’t think he’d be any good at the job.
But it was a job that needed to be done, so he did it.
And he found that he liked it.
“I’m not a touchy-feely kind of person. Thirty three years of military kind of gives that to you, and I just didn’t think it was going to be a good fit for me, at all,” he said. “But I’ve surprised myself every day by how well it’s gone. I’m a good listener and I have empathy and I don’t give advice.
“I just listen carefully, and that’s about 90 per cent of the job.”
It is a heavy load dealing with issues like domestic violence and suicides. It can weigh on a person, but McMurrer is the type to deal with the bad and focus on the good. Some days are tougher than others, but he said he enjoys donating his time, Monday through Friday, 35-40 hours a week.
“There’s always something that comes up to put a smile on my face,” he said. “I hope there’s somebody that day that I can talk to and help to make a change. That’s the big thing. Some days you’re frustrated with what took place, but if you get one person during the day who says, ‘Thank you. I really appreciate what you’ve done for me,’ that’s enough.
“You go home with a little pride that you accomplished something.”
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