Cranbrook local Neil Cook has been awarded the B.C. Good Citizenship award for his years of volunteer services towards helping and improving the community.
His list of achievements includes founding the Cranbrook and District Community Foundation in 2003, now known as the Community Foundation of the Kootenay Rockies. The organization has since grown and currently funds 37 different permanent endowment funds, with over $2.6 million.
“I was doing a campaign for the United Way. There had been an approach on how community funds and the United Way work together across the country,” explained Cook. “It’s taken on a life of its own. I’m totally amazed at the growth and the interest in the foundation.”
Cook and his wife Marilynne had taken 24 foster children into their homes over the years, some of which still keep in touch with him.
“One of our foster children in Calgary sent me a text Thursday night about the award. That was pretty nice to hear from them,” said Cook.
Speaking of the award ceremony in Vancouver, Cook said he spent time with other medal recipients from across the province while he was there.
“It was quite humbling when you sat there and listened to the recipients at this event. To sit there and listen to the diversity, some were in the arts, some were in education, Cheif Louie from Creston for the advances he’s made with the Lower Kootenay Band folks. It was quite humbling to hear all of their stories,” Cook said.
Cook has been a volunteer and supporter for many community events and fundraisers, including the SPCA, Cranbrook Children’s Festival, Canadian Cancer Society, and volunteered with the Cranbrook Community Christmas Dinner for 22 years.
“The first year we were here, I was driving around town the Thursday before Christmas, and they were calling for volunteers to come help with the food prep and serving,” said Cook. ” I just went over and pretty soon I was peeling potatoes and helping get dinner ready.”
Currently, Cook is working to open a 24/7 homeless shelter established in Cranbrook.
“The nearest shelters are in Lethbridge and Nelson, so there’s quite a geographic area where they just don’t have that emergency assistance other than the ministry,” said Cook. “Some of the elected representatives were quite skeptical. As we started developing and getting some of the details, we ended having an awful lot of support from the regional directors as well as municipal councils.”
Cook added that he feels thankful for those that he worked with over his time in community service.
“A big thanks to all the volunteers out there that I’ve worked with over the years,” said Cook. “Some of that is just giving up their time and caring about the community, that’s made a big difference.”