Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen presenting Joan Halvorsen with a volunteer award. Halvorsen retired after 37 years of service with the Oak Bay Volunteers. (Hazel Braithwaite/Contributed)

Local volunteer awarded for 37 years of service to Oak Bay

Joan Halvorsen began with the Oak Bay Volunteer Society on Dec. 1, 1979.

Not all awards come from knowledge and academic prowess, but dedication, heart, and community spirit.

As is the case of Joan Halvorsen, one of Oak Bay’s most renown volunteer and longest-serving volunteers, who was awarded the Oak Bay Volunteer Award by the District of Oak Bay on Monday night’s council meeting.

Halvorsen began with the Oak Bay Volunteer Society on Dec. 1, 1979, a whole 37 years before retiring recently. She became executive director of the Society shortly after its inception.

“You leave a wonderful legacy of volunteerism here in Oak Bay,” said Mayor Nils Jensen as he presented her with the iconic Oak Leaf award. “The amazing work that you’ve done to build it up to where it is now is such a wonderful contribution to our community.”

Originally from Saskatchewan, Halvorsen worked as a social worker before coming to British Columbia. After starting with the local volunteer group in Oak Bay, she Jensen bridged the gap between those in the community and much-needed basic services, such as transportation, legal and tax services.

“It’s a great honour to receive this award,” Halvorsen said. “As both an administrator and social worker throughout the years, I’ve had lots of opportunities to see the challenges that people face, and the challenges that organizations face, and I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from so many great people.”

In addition, Halvorsen was also a founding member of the Direct Volunteer Services Committee of Greater Victoria, which helped start up services in other areas and other communities.