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Snow Angel given prestigious title

Black Diamond: Claude Gagnon named the 2018 Volunteer Of the Year
Angel
Black Diamond’s Claude Gagnon was named the 2018 Volunteer of the Year.

Black Diamond’s only snow angel earned his wings after receiving one of the community’s most prestigious awards.

Claude Gagnon was named the 2018 Volunteer of the Year amongst five nominated in Black Diamond and Turner Valley. He was selected by Black Diamond Town council.

Gagnon said he joined the Snow Angels program three years ago in response to a call for volunteers to provide relief to homeowners and renters unable to clear their sidewalks. The program is a joint initiative between Black Diamond and Turner Valley’s respective Family and Community Support Services (FCSS).

“I just do my duty,” said Gagnon. “I love the people here. They appreciate it so that’s important to me. I’m very happy to do it.”

Gagnon was matched with a nearby resident when he joined the initiative, so he met the snow shoveling needs of that individual his first year.

This year, he’s in charge of removing snow on three properties due to a lack of volunteers, and also shovels the sidewalks and walkways of his neighbours despite working full time as a facility attendant for the Town of Okotoks.

“This year they (FCSS) had trouble getting anybody so I’m the only snow angel,” said Gagnon. “We have 24 hours to clean sidewalks so I get them all done.”

Gagnon said it’s not the number of homes he needs to clear snow at that’s the challenge, it’s the recent cold temperatures that came close to breaking records last month and early this month.

“For a skinny little body like mine with less than 10 per cent body fat this month has been brutal,” he said.

As for getting the recognition for his civic duties via a community award, Gagnon said it’s an honour.

FCSS board member Ginny Sosnick, who hears frequently about Gagnon’s volunteer efforts, was the one who nominated him.

“I’ve heard really good things from different people in the community about him,” she said. “He goes wherever he’s needed. Sometimes seniors feel like they’re burdening people and he doesn’t make them feel that way.”

Sosnick said it doesn’t matter the conditions, Gagnon is always there with his shovel.

“It’s just amazing what one person can do and how he can make other people feel,” she said. “I have a neighbour who has a little Bobcat and snow-blower and every once in while he comes over and does it for me. These guys are truly angels.”