The Boundary has long been a bastion of volunteerism, and Rock Creek resident Vivien Browne has, during her 11 years in the region, exemplified the principles of “neighbours helping neighbours.”
Browne’s tireless dedication to the needs of the less fortunate through her various food distribution efforts has not gone unnoticed, and the Boundary Creek Times would like to acknowledge her work by awarding Browne the inaugural “West Boundary Community Volunteer Award.” The award carries no material reward; simply, it is a big thank you from residents, who wish Browne to know how much they value her presence in the community.
Browne moved to Canada in 1973 from her native England, settling in Kamloops, though soon relocated to Nanaimo with her husband and four children. There she remained for 22 years, eventually making her way to Penticton in 1991, where, in nearby Vaseux Lake, she established and operated an organic berry farm from 1996 to 2004.
The people Browne has worked with are quick to laud her work ethic. Here are some of the comments received by the Times:
“Back in 2010, I started working with her within the Food Sharing group as she was concerned about helping people not only with food to alleviate hunger, but with nutritious food to improve health. She has delivered food to people, visited with them, and in some instances has shown them how to cook the food in their own kitchen.
“She has also been involved with community gardens, often doing much of the work of growing in order to give away the produce to those in need. When food stores were short, she would sometimes purchase items out of her own pocket. With a concern for the whole person, she has advocated for health and social assistance needs of others, often driving people to medical/government/food bank appointments.
“She has been the coordinator of the Kettle Valley Seniors’ wellness car, and was instrumental in obtaining a grant for that car’s purchase. Even when she was a paid administrator of some community grants, she would often take the money she made and use it for gas money to volunteer.
“With a music therapy background, she also teaches violin and organ to individuals at below rates, or even volunteering her time. Her main concern is for the students, not making money from teaching. She has also musically volunteered with the Singing Kettles and St Mary’s church in Kettle Valley.
“Vivien is definitely an asset to the West Boundary. She exemplifies “a neighbour helping a neighbour.”
“Vivien is one incredible lady. I have never had the opportunity to work with an individual as focused and dedicated to what she believes is right and just, and what she is focused on, is something that we all should be involved with—each in our own way. Each of us has a lot to contribute to the common good, but Vivien goes above and beyond what one person can do. She is the influence behind the beginning of the FAR Society, and the moving force of the Food Sharing Exchange.
“Aside from these two major ways of helping those who would otherwise fall through the cracks of our governmental systems, she cares enough to make sure they get heard, and get the help they need She also is the person who will spend time to take people to appointments, whether in Grand Forks, Penticton or Kelowna, many times using her own limited funds to help them get there.
“She was one of the organizers of the Senior Car Ride, and still does quite a bit of driving for them.
“Quite frankly, she does— without fanfare or demand of recognition or compensation —what the Bible would teach us if we were to listen: Taking care of the widows, orphans, the downtrodden, and those who cannot help themselves.
“Is she a saint? No, just a very caring, loving, and selfless human being.”
“For many years Vivien has always had a heart for those in need and has always reached out by helping out in whatever way she can. She has been instrumental in developing the West Boundary community garden and ensuring that it was and continues to be a beneficial experience for all involved—either as volunteers, participants or food recipients. Her more recent focus has been on helping ensure that all families in the West Boundary are well and properly fed and cared for in whatever way they need with no questions asked.
“To this end she has helped develop a regular and well-coordinated food sharing program with many individuals and families being assured of no bare cupboards—ever!
“She has also been a very active musician sharing her time and talents with other community members and doing all of the above and performing many other random acts of kindness with complete selflessness! A true friend of everyone, but especially of those in need.
“We are blessed to have Vivien as a friend and neighbour.”
Browne herself, in a fashion typical of most dedicated volunteers, is quick to downplay her contribution, stressing that there are many others who donate their time and effort to volunteerism.
When notified about the community award, Browne said, “I’m a little dumbfounded! It’s taken a little while to know what to say. I feel there are so many more deserving people, but I know the food sharing cause will be helped by a positive article.”
West Boundary residents will undoubtedly make sure the cause is supported.