SPRINGHILL – Always smiling, quick with a joke or story to tell, one might be surprised there is one thing that can stall Gary Griffiths and make him go quiet: praise.
Griffiths has been named Springhill’s volunteer representative of the year and will travel to Halifax in April for the 39th annual volunteer awards ceremony hosted by the Government of Nova Scotia.
Griffiths admits the news that he was chosen is still sinking in, which means for a reporter it can be a chore to get him to acknowledge his hard work as a volunteer.
“I am pretty shocked,” Griffiths said. “I’m not into being in the spotlight.”
Sports play a large part in Griffiths’ life. Hockey and baseball seasons are staples for him, but in between seasons there is one standout sport his name is attached to locally: ball hockey.
Griffiths volunteers his time and passion to students who share his enthusiasm for pounding the ground and chasing after the embolic orange ball, organizing tournaments each year, fundraisers and taking teams to Hockey Night In Canada’s annual street hockey tournament, Play On. For the past seven years the community has had representatives at the tournament thanks to his time. Locally, the long weekend in May has become synonymous with ball hockey, when Griffiths organizes a local ball hockey tournament that fetches upwards of 60 young participants.
“I guess it all started because I have kids,” Griffiths said. “I played hockey in school, and then wrestling, and now it’s my kids. But, with any sport I deal with, I tell them my number one rule is to have fun.”
And it’s that lesson that’s netted the greatest returns, Griffiths said.
“When I see a kid I haven’t seen in a couple of years and they tell me they’re still following my number one rule, that’s worth more than any plaque,” he said.
And it’s something he couldn’t do alone. Griffiths is quick to point out that he’s just one of a number of volunteers who step up when the need arises, and his success is shared success.
The 39th Annual Provincial Volunteer Awards Ceremony will be held Monday, April 15 at the Westin Hotel in Halifax. More than 70 volunteers will be honoured for the tremendous contributions they have made to their communities and to the province.