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The community 'spark plug'

Over 50 pins weigh down Rosie Guay's Athabasca Lions Club vest, a visual marker of the decades of contributions she has made to the Athabasca community.
Rosie Guay, 87, has received the Lions’ Certificate of Appreciation four times, one Certificate of Service in 2000 and was Lion of the Year in 1999. She was also
Rosie Guay, 87, has received the Lions’ Certificate of Appreciation four times, one Certificate of Service in 2000 and was Lion of the Year in 1999. She was also bestowed with the highest Lion honour in 2005: a Melvin Jones Fellowship Award.

Over 50 pins weigh down Rosie Guay's Athabasca Lions Club vest, a visual marker of the decades of contributions she has made to the Athabasca community.

Besides her involvement with the Lions, Guay's long list of accomplishments include over 40 years with the Athabasca Pottery Club, being one of the original FCSS directors and a Farm Family of the Year award in 1969.

“If I did contribute, it wasn't something I did consciously. It was just something you do - something I got a much out of as I put into, ” she said. “But it's something everyone owes to the community; everyone that lives here owes something to the community. ”

Larry Armfelt said he has known Guay since he was a “babe in arms, ” and he said whenever anything ever came up, Guay was always there.

“With her energy for one thing, her commitment to the community, and she was always a force behind organizing and carrying things through, ” he said. “She never ever started something she didn't finish. ”

Lions Club secretary Mike MacLean said when Guay took on a role or responsibility, she established a “real commitment there. ”

“It wasn't like she would come up with some ideas or projects and then gradually phase it out or pass it on, she really seemed to take ownership, ” he said. “I have a lot of respect and admiration for her

Guay said she was a “Lion before she was a Lion, ” meaning she was involved in the club before they officially accepted women. After her husband Lucien passed away in 1995, Guay was invited to become a Lion, and she was one of the first women to do so.

“Yes, it was meaningful, it gave me a purpose, really, because I continued feeling connected from the time (my) husband worked on it, ” she said. “It gave me a connection there. It was important to me at the time. ”

Armfelt said Lions Club members “affectionately ” call the Lions Centennial Park “Rosie's Park, ” due to her extensive involvement in the project.

Guay said the park was one of the projects that is dearest to her heart. She approached Lions executives with the idea for a park after a member of town council asked her if the Lions would like to develop a bit of land that was “just being demolished by vandalism. ”

Alongside a “great group ” of people who worked on the park, Guay said she headed the project, and the Lions transformed the piece of land that was a mess of vandalism into the nice, clean park that opened 2005.

Armfelt said the park “brought surprise ” to Athabasca residents. “They had a place to go and admire the river and the town from a beautiful spot that Rosie created, ” he said.

Guay has also been running the Seniors Harvest Festival for 41 years, which she said is a special day of entertainment and food for seniors.

“The Lions do so much for children … but not that often we have something especially for seniors, ” she said. “It's one day out of a year where we can honour them and bring them some enjoyment with music, nice lunch. ”

For all of her involvement in the Lions Club, Guay has received the Lion's Certificate of Appreciation four times, one Certificate of Service in 2000 and was Lion of the Year in 1999. Guay was bestowed with the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award in 2005, the highest form of recognition for embodying humanitarian ideas consistent with Lionism.

Without Guay, the Athabasca Pottery Club would not exist right now, according to club member Jackie Jorgensen.

Guay said after her youngest daughter was born, she felt like she needed to do “something for me. ”

“A lot of the farm women out in the country were also lacking something for us, ” she said. Although Guay was not one of the six founding members, she joined shortly after, when she was invited by Irene Schinkinger and Eleanor Osment.

The club began in a “dungeon, ” the basement of the Old Brick School, which had very little lighting.

One day, Guay said the founding members “put down their books ” and said it was time to close shop.

“Which upset me terribly. For the first time in my life I was doing something for me, ” Guay said.

Rather than ending the club, Guay said she was willing to take on leadership. This was in 1973, and Guay continued to provide leadership to the club up until two years ago.

Jorgensen said Guay and her husband allowed the pottery club to make clay at their farm, and turned the garage into a clay making process.

“Without those two people, I seriously doubt the club would keep going, ” Jorgensen said, adding Guay has been passing on knowledge for “many, many years ” through teaching.

Jorgensen said Guay has been an “absolute spark plug ” for the community as a whole.

“She's an amazing person and she's done wonders for the community, ” she said.

This section was sponsored by: Morning Star Ink, Value Drug Mart and Athabasca Community Chapel.





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