Giving back to their communities

by | Nov 1, 2023

Carleton Victoria Outstanding Citizen Awards handed out to 12 hardworking, dedicated volunteers

Two sisters and a married couple were among the dozen outstanding citizens recognized for their volunteer efforts and dedication to their Carleton and Victoria county communities at an annual event in Plaster Rock on Oct. 19. 

Centreville sisters Barb Swim and Bev Haines and Juniper couple Randy and Judy Lutes made volunteering a family effort as they received the Carleton Victoria Outstanding Citizens Award at the annual awards night held at the Tobique Lions Club. 

Other recipients were Robert Paget, John Larsen, Cheryl Campbell, Nancy Whyte-McCauley, Barb O’Donnell, Nicki Plant, Jodi O’Neill and Elaine White. 

CVOCA chair Doris Dickson and secretary Alanda Banks-McLeod, who served as emcee for the evening, invited Caleton-Victoria MLA and Aquaculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson, host Tobique Valley Mayor Tom Eagles, Southern Victoria Mayor Cindy McLaughlin and Carleton North Mayor Andrew Harvey to welcome the recipients and their guests to the event. 

“It’s a great honour to recognize these people,” said Dickson.

Banks-McLeod urged recipients to “feel very proud of your impact” on their communities. 

Johnson outlined the vast impact of volunteers and the importance they play in improving the lives of their neighbours.

“I look forward to this event every year,” she said. 

Mayor Eagles welcomed everyone to Plaster Rock, noting the free time volunteers give up to help others. 

“We can’t afford to pay them what they’re worth,” he said.

Mayor McLaughlin described CVOCA recipients as “exceptional people who dedicated their lives to others.” 

Mayor Harvey thanked the CVOCA committee and sponsors for the awards night, noting the accomplishments of the 12 distinguished 2023 recipients and all volunteers.

“No one does it for the recognition,” he said, “But it’s still nice to be recognized.” 

One by one, in alphabetical order, the dozen recipients accepted their award after the nominee or someone on their behalf shared the award-winner’s volunteer efforts. 

Cheryl Campbell

Tony Wright nominated Cheryl Campbell for her long-time dedication to the Athurette Legion.

“She basically kept the Legion up and going,” Wright said, “doing yard sales, dances, bingos, and the list goes on.” 

Wright said anyone driving by the Legion would see Campbell’s car there. 

“Her commitment is evident as she takes on the role of organizer without a second thought.” 

Bev Haines and Barb Swim

Andrea Callahan introduced Haines, as she did later for Haines’ sister Barb Swim. She praised both women for their life-long dedication to the Centreville Royal Canadian Legion Branch 84, area veterans and the creation of Victory Park. 

Callahan described Haines and Swim as the driving force to keep Legion Branch 84 alive after the close of its aging building. 

“Their idea to create a place of remembrance and recognition for the multitude of veterans from the Centreville area transformed into what is now known as Victory Park,” Callahan said. “They quickly formed a committee to transform the old Legion property into a peaceful place to visit and reflect.

In 2013, Callahan explained, the village moved the existing cenotaph from the front lawn of the Centreville Community School to the new park, where it was refurbished and rededicated to its new home. 

The veterans’ monument now sits surrounded by a beautiful park, which has become Centreville’s focal point. 

“Bev and Barb continue to work for the betterment of Victory Park and have recently embarked on the Victory Park Banner project, another phase of remembrance and recognition for those who fought for our freedom,” said Callahan. 

She noted Haines, in her more than half-century involvement with Branch 84, held every executive position, including the first female Associate President. Her efforts with the Legion’s Upper Valley District earned her a Certificate of Merit and the MSM Meritorious Medal, the highest award granted to any member. 

Callahan said Haines and Swim continue facilitating Centreville’s annual Remembrance Day service, and Haines still chairs the Poppy Committee. 

She commended Swim, who, through the Ladies Auxiliary and the Tracy Mills Women’s Institute, provided additional funds for the project through several fundraising efforts. 

Callahan said Swim received a Diamond Jubilee Medal for her exemplary volunteer work.

John Larson

Sharon Moffatt nominated and introduced Larson, saying, “Volunteering and helping people is embedded in this man’s DNA.” 

She outlined the retired middle school teacher’s many volunteer efforts for several service organizations and campaigns in Perth-Andover and Southern Victoria. 

Moffatt praised Larson’s role with the Perth-Andover Rotary Club, noting the Rotary motto of “service above self,”

“No one fits this better than John,” she said. 

Moffatt outlined Larson’s community contributions as a member of the Perth Elks, Royal Canadian Legion and as a youth curling coach. 

She added Larson was also a long-time organizer with the Larlee Creek Hullabaloo annual music festival. 

Judy and Randy Lutes

Randi Haywood introduced Judy and Randy Lutes and read the nomination from Barb Somerville and Valerie Doherty for their ongoing efforts supporting the Miramichi Headwaters Salmon Federation in Juniper.  

She explained Judy grew up in the riverside community of Juniper, learning about salmon fishing and the outdoors from her family. Randy, who grew up in Salisbury, moved to Juniper with Judy in 1997.

Living along the South Branch of the Southwest Miramichi River, protecting the watershed has become the focus of their lives.

“They have had a major impact on the health of the Miramichi Headwaters and have taught a generation of fishers, boaters, and landowners to respect, enjoy and preserve this unique natural resource.

Randy served as president of the Miramichi Headwaters Salmon Federation since 2007, with Judy as secretary-treasurer. 

Together, the couple dedicate many hours to the conservation organization, organizing events, building and maintaining partnerships with many other organizations, lobbying government and businesses for better conservation practices, and publishing the MHSF newsletter. 

The couple’s efforts for MHSF are almost endless, including holding fly-fishing camps for young anglers, the annual fishing derby and planning the salmon dinner and auction, the federation’s primary fundraiser. 

The couple worked with local businesses and the N.B. Wildlife Trust to establish two satellite rearing tanks for raising salmon. It employs one full-time person and a summer student. 

Together with the Miramichi Salmon Association, they help capture broodstock to ensure the health of the Miramichi’s salmon population.

Among their many awards is the Federal Recreation Award presented to them in Ottawa in 2012 by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, recognizing their efforts with children. 

Haywood noted the health, conservation and enjoyment of the Miramichi headwaters continue to be a focal point in their lives. 

“Randy and Judy Lutes have had a huge impact on the area as volunteer conservationists, educators, and promoters of a unique and irreplaceable resource,” the nomination explains. “They are most deserving of the Carleton-Victoria Outstanding Citizen Award.”  

Nancy Whyte-McCauley

Wendy Rae nominated and introduced Nancy Whyte McCauley, recognizing her for her years of dedication and volunteer efforts to Carleton North’s arts and music.  

Since the early 1990s, Whyte-McCauly has sat on the board of the Carleton Victoria Arts Council. Since 2005, she served on the Andrew and Laura McCain Library and Art Gallery boards. 

Rae explained that Whyte-McCauley, who spent almost two decades as a Florenceville-Bristol councillor and deputy mayor, played a central role in promoting literacy, language, arts, music, and the great outdoors.

In 1999, she helped bring the Early French Immersion program to Florenceville and started a local chapter of Canadian Parents for French.

Rae said Whyte-McCauley volunteered at science and heritage fairs, the Carleton North Music Festival, canvassed for the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the Diabetes Foundations and was a founding member of the Valley Outdoor Centre. 

Rae explained how Whyte-McCauley and her husband, Mark, stepped forward to help welcome the first Syrian family to their new home and country in 2016.

Describing Whyte-McCauley as an animal lover, Rae noted her efforts to rescue strays and promote DunRoamin’ Stray and Rescue. 

Rae ended with a quote from Whyte-McCauley


“We are so fortunate to live in a community that has so much to offer, and it is a joy for me to give back through volunteering and community involvement.”

Barb O’Donnell

Anne Turner introduced O’Donnell, calling her a steady force for childcare development in the Victoria County region. 

“I have known Barbara O’Donnell both personally and professionally for over 25 years,” Turner said. “Barb is truly an asset to all those around her.”

She explained that after a brief period as a nurse at the hospital in Perth-Andover, O’Donnell started work as a Public Health (P.H.) Nurse, where she continued until her retirement in 2017. 

Turner said O’Donnell went above and beyond the regular duties of her position.

She championed local Early Childhood Initiatives to coordinate and strengthen service delivery in the area.

O’Donnell was one of the co-founders of the annual Connecting for Our Children conference and worked with the local Reaching Out to Read program. 

“She supported almost every newborn in the Bath/Perth-Andover and then Upper River Valley area through the Public Health neonatal program and clinics,” Turner said. 

Jodi O’Neill

Gerald Sullivan introduced Jodi O’Neill from Bath, describing him as a “strong community-minded” individual who volunteers long hours supporting Bath and surrounding communities. 

Sullivan said O’Neill’s vision and organizational skills help others reach goals to improve the community, empower youth and help those struggling with chronic illness. 

As a member of Bath council for 10 years and a volunteer in the village’s recreation department, Sullivan said O’Neill helped improve facilities and programs for area youth. He cited as an example O’Neill’s predominant role in securing funds for the $30,000 upgrade of the Bath Middle School track and soccer field. 

Over two decades, Sullivan said, O’Neill coached and managed basketball, often taking on multiple teams to ensure local youth had a chance to play. 

Sullivan said O’Neill, whose son Colton was diagnosed with C.F., might be most recognized for spearheading the tremendous success of the annual Bath Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History. 

Unable to get everyone to Moncton to participate in that city’s event, O’Neill created Bath’s first C.F. Walk, raising over $10,000. 

Over the next 15 years, O’Neill, his family and local volunteers raised approximately $300,000 for C.F. research. 

Robert Paget

Harrison Blizzard nominated and introduced Robert Paget for his essential role in organizing, supporting and promoting the Plaster Rock Minor Baseball Association. 

Blizzard said Paget’s role spans the last decade, but his coaching at all levels dates back much further. 

“Being involved in youth sports in the past,” Blizzard said, “I understand the sacrifice and commitment it takes to run a sports program, and the fact he does this with very little help makes it even more special.”

With little organized sport available in the village, Blizzard said Paget’s efforts to offer the well-run and popular baseball program takes on greater importance. 

“Without someone like Robert spearheading this program, it would not be possible,” Blizzard said. 

He also commended Paget’s role with the District of Tobique’s successful application to the Jays Care Foundation’s Field of Dreams grant, used to improve the community’s ball diamond. 

Blizzard said Paget’s contribution extends beyond summer. He also serves as the Plaster Rock Vice President of the Victoria-Tobique Jr Thunder Minor Hockey Association.

Nikki Plant

CVOCA chair Doris Dickson introduced Perth-Andover’s Nikki Plant on behalf of nominator Wes McLean. 

McLean cited Plant’s deep committee of time and energy to her community’s Elks Club and Royal Canadian Legion. 

“In an age where volunteerism is generally declining, she goes in the opposite direction,” McLean said in his nomination. 

He said that on most evenings, Plant, after completing her day job with the municipality, can be found at either the Elks or Legion, ensuring meetings run smoothly, overseeing hall entails or doing paperwork.  

“We often joke in our community that Nicki must never sleep,” McLean said. “Indeed, so many of her waking hours are spent giving back, in the extreme.” 

Elaine White

Marsha Cougle nominated While, a retired music teacher and school principal whom she has known for approximately 65 years. 

“She was a travelling music teacher who came with her portable keyboard to the Peel schoolhouse where I was a student,” said Cougle.  

White served on several NBTA local and provincial committees, often acting as president or chairperson.

Cougle described White as an excellent music teacher and valued volunteer, which began as a teenager when she sang and played the piano and organ at the United Church.  

 “She continues to perform this role today, which is a commitment for over 60 years,” said Cougle. 

While is an active member of the Provincial Music Festival Committee, Carleton North Retired Teachers Association and United Church Women’s Institute.

Cougle said White, over the last 35 years, played an instrumental role in organizing and developing the Carleton North Music Festival of Arts. White served as chairperson or secretary-treasurer for most of those years. 

CVOCA winners Judy and Randy Lutes of Juniper. (Jim Dumville photo)
CVOCA winners, sisters Barb Swim, left, and Bev Haines of Centreville. (Jim Dumville photo)

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