Local business owner Scott Gertsma has been honoured by the Sooke Lions Club for his generous support of the Lions and a host of other community causes.
Gertsma, the owner of Home Hardware, was surprised on Thursday when representatives of the Lions arrived at his store to present him with the Melvin Jones Fellowship, an award generated and administered by the Lions Club International Foundation.
“In our 50 year history, this is the first time the Sooke Lions have ever given this award to anyone outside the Lions club,” said club president Al Beddows.
“We felt that Scott has been such a support to the community that he more than deserved this fellowship. He helps out, not just the Lions, but the entire community … whether it’s hockey, football, or any of a bunch of other community charities and events.”
The latest contribution from the Gertsma family to the Lions involved the support of the RCMP Musical Ride shows.
“We didn’t do that much. We donated our van and paid the insurance on that and gave them all the bedding (for the horses) for free,” said Gertsma.
“We’re a quiet little store and we do a lot of things around the community, but that’s because we believe that, if you run a business in a community, you have to give back. But we don’t do it for any glory, that’s not what it’s about.”
Beddows was well aware of that sentiment and chuckled at the humility expressed by Gertsma as he received the award.
“We know Scott pretty well and we all came down here (to the store) to present him with this award because we didn’t think he’d come to a meeting to be honoured,” said Beddows, who added that it’s not uncommon for business owners to be self-deprecating about their community donations.
“We have a lot of support in this community and the people involved don’t do it for the praise. They do it because they love the community and want to help where they can.”
The Lions club is contemplating making the fellowship awards an annual practice, recognizing the critical role of community support to their efforts.
When a local Lions club nominates someone to receive the Melvin Jones Fellowship, that person’s name is engraved in the Wall of Fellows, located at the International Headquarters in Illinois. The club also donates $1,000 to the Fellowship to aid an initiative called Lion’s Quest. That initiative is involved in a variety of humanitarian and social aid programs in the Third World and beyond.