Local resident recognized for decades of volunteering

After growing up in small-town Saskatchewan, volunteering became pretty much a way of life for Vern Schick of Good Spirit. In recognition of his years of volunteer work in many capacities, Schick, who said he was “honoured to be receiving the recognition” was presented with the Yorkton-Melville Volunteer Recognition Award by MP Cathay Wagantall on September 15.

Schick was nominated for the award by Terry Peppler of Rhein for his dedication to the sport of fastball. Before moving to Good Spirit, Schick coached, managed and helped maintain the ball grounds in Duff for 31 years, the community where he grew up, located near Melville. For 20 of those years he served as league president of the Tri-Highway Fastball league. He was the manager and coach of the Duff Dodgers from 1966 to 1995. He coached ladies and girls fastball in Duff.

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When asked what initially sparked his interest in volunteering, Schick gives credit to his father J. Philip Schick and other community leaders in the Duff area.

“They recognized a need for volunteers,” he said. “Without volunteers, usually nothing gets done in a small community. Where I grew up, people just helped each other. Another benefit of that was, I got to know just about everyone around the region.”

Schick may have been nominated for his work in fastball, but has volunteered in many areas over the years.

One of his earlier volunteer efforts in the 1960s was as a member of the rink board in Duff for six years, during the time when the community built a new rink. He then became a member of the recreation board for 16 years, 10 as president. He was involved in the rebuilding of the Duff Community Hall and was a member of the hall board for about 10 years.

Schick quickly learned that when it comes to volunteering, “one thing leads to another.” With the coming of the new rink, he began coaching minor hockey, girls and boys. Around that time, he was involved in several local communities, and realized he was seeing all the same people at meetings, usually three per week. He became involved in amalgamating those communities into the Duff Recreation Association, which reduced the number of weekly meetings to one. He was on the Duff United Church board for 15 years, eight as recording secretary.

Schick’s work in fastball included taking teams to the Saskatchewan Summer Games in 1972, ’76, 84 and 88. Schick fondly remembers the 1977 team which had a memorable run to Junior A provincials.

“We played teams from all over the province, including the big cities,” he recalled. “That year we were the only team to beat the Saskatoon team which later went on to win the national championship.”

But Schick didn’t restrict his volunteer efforts to sports.

As his children grew older, he became a member of the local school board for six years.

Schick’s children were avid 4H participants, which led him to become involved in the Goodeve Beef Club for 15 years, the last six as leader. This led to his involvement as a volunteer on the Yorkton Regional Show and Sale committee. He served on the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool board for 10 years.

Schick’s minor hockey coaching included youngsters from Duff, Lemberg, Neudorf and Fenwood. After moving to his present home in the Good Spirit region, Schick coached the Canora Cobras senior hockey team for two seasons. Schick coached the Canora Cobras peewee team for the 2015-16 season. When asked why a 70-year-old would want to coach minor hockey, Schick said “I felt like I had a gift that was given to me by the coaches from my past which I would like to pass on.”

Schick became involved in organizing the annual Canora Senior Bonspiel.

He once again became a 4H leader, in addition to serving on the United Church board for eight years.

Schick said one of his most satisfying volunteer projects was the 200 to 300 hours he put in spearheading the community-wide effort to help Ben and Amanda Burym, a Canora couple, complete an addition to their home after their contractor disappeared with their money in 2012.

Some of the details appeared in the December 12, 2012 issue of the Canora Courier.

“The couple paid a contractor $45,500 to build a 600-square-foot addition. With very little of the actual work done, the contractor left the province. Many lists of materials that the Buryms thought had been paid for by the contractor, were not and they were forced to pay again. In total, they were left with a partially finished addition and a mortgage for $65,000 and they didn’t have any access to any more money to complete the project.

“What happened to this young family touched a lot of people and many wanted to help, said Schick at the time. Even before the first article on the situation was published, a number of tradespeople had already volunteered their services to put on the roof and enclose the addition.”

Looking back on the Burym project, Schick had a simple explanation for the satisfaction he gets from being a volunteer.

“The satisfaction comes from seeing the need of that young couple and being able to fill that need.”

The Yorkton-Melville Volunteer Recognition Awards were created by MP Cathay Wagantall as part of the Canada 150 celebrations, with certificates and medallions presented at the first ceremony in October 2017.

“To date, I have been honoured to recognize more than 40 very special people in Yorkton-Melville with the Volunteer Recognition Awards,” said Wagantall. “The recipients of the commemorative medals and certificates were nominated by their communities, peers, friends and families, for their time and talents dedicated to fundraising projects, service organizations and special causes.

“While 2020 didn’t allow me to hold a public ceremony, this year’s recipients deserve no less recognition. Knowing how vital our volunteers are, I’m so pleased to again be able to honour those who have been so committed to bettering our communities.”