Carefully selected from Bowen’s stock of incredibly dedicated volunteers, who spend countless hours sharing their talents to help organizations and causes, The Citizen of the Year award recognizes one outstanding individual or couple whose accomplishments particularly shine. This is not to diminish the work of all of Bowen’s volunteers, who undoubtedly play a crucial role in increasing the connections between people in the everyday life and special events on our island. In the words of 2007 recipient Lois Meyers-Carter, “The person who gets the award is really a symbol, and that person represents all those people that contribute.”
The recipients for this year’s award are a couple who, together, have given a formidable amount of their time, administrative and communications support, manual work, fundraising effort, record-keeping skills, emotional support and advice to the people who come through the organizations for which they volunteer. With great pleasure, the Citizen of the Year award will go to Iris and Bill Carr.
When Iris and Bill first moved here in 1998 from Horseshoe Bay, they started their volunteering legacy on Bowen when Bill was encouraged to help with sorting the recyclables at Bowen Island Recycling Depot by then-president David Wrinch. Motivated by a desire to do more to recapture resources for environmental sustainability, Bill’s role at BIRD helped grow the depot to an impressive scale, even allowing for not-for-profit groups to collect returnable items to raise up to $1,400 for their group from a single container of recyclables. He eventually became president of the organization for his work.
Iris is a distinguished volunteer in her own right. She was one of the founders of Coast Animal Welfare and Education Society (CAWES), whose initial focus was to get the overpopulation of feral cats on Bowen under control. CAWES has helped fill the vacuum in animal advocacy to the community, since there was no SPCA or wildlife rescue group here. Iris averages 4-5 volunteer hours per day on CAWES-related activities, which include: phone calls and emails about feral cats and lost/found companion animals, putting up posters and sending out word, delivering animals that have been adopted through CAWES, commiserating with pet owners in distress, offering advice and support to community members with respect to companion animals and wildlife, stocking up feeding stations, fundraising, grant-writing, and lots and lots and lots of communications, postings, and record keeping. Bill has been of great support to CAWES as well since its inception.
While Iris may be synonymous with CAWES and Bill with BIRD, both volunteer virtuosos have been involved with other causes on Bowen. Bill initiated the Speed Watch team in 2013 with Iris completing the first shift, a team that worked closely with the RCMP and ICBC to reduce traffic accidents; they are now both official volunteers of the RCMP. Iris volunteered for a couple of years at The Library. She and Bill also helped with the BIFF initiative. Bill is now volunteering with the Heritage Society to preserve the Davies orchard cottages. The couple has been voluntarily active in this newspaper as well; Iris used to write animal-related articles in her series “CAWES Corner”, a complement to Bill’s column “BIRD Droppings”, which used humour to educate recyclers about proper sorting.
The couple truly deserve the honour for their years of committed service. Bravo, Carrs!