Patty Sproule, executive director and one of the founding minds behind the Chestermere and Area Youth and Community Development Society known as SYNERGY, has been awarded the 2015 Alberta Urban Municipal Association’s (AUMA) Above and Beyond award.
Previously a director of community services for the City of Chestermere, Sproule has seen the SYNERGY project from a pilot program all the way through to its transition to a full-fledged not-for-profit agency in the past four years.
The award, which “recognizes staff, residents or organization (that) have played a significant role in implementing a municipality’s sustainability plan and achieving the community’s goals,” was previously unknown to Sproule and, without a word of her being nominated, she was quite surprised and honoured to learn she had won.
“It’s very nice to be recognized for the work you do, especially if it’s work you really love,” she said.
With how quickly the population of Chestermere has grown, Sproule said the city had not been able to grow a not-for-profit system organically like most places do over time.
This missing element in Chestermere also meant the rural areas surrounding the city, as well as southeast Rocky View County (RVC), did not have access to those programs that usually stemmed from the largest populated area in a region.
“We needed to create something that could be a model for not-for-profits to build on,” Sproule said.
The concept of SYNERGY was two streamed – by developing youth leadership and working towards developing community leadership at all ages.
Youth Encouraging Lasting Leadership (YELL), SHOUT – for preteens – and Creative Kids are programs designed to encourage children throughout development to become leaders. The society also helps grassroots organizations develop volunteerism from within the organizations.
“(SYNERGY) surpassed our wildest dreams because it was something that was embraced by the community at large and we’ve had so many people become involved in it,” she said.
During her eight years with the City, SYNERGY was just one of the many programs Sproule helped develop and she said it is not the work of one person that leads to success, but rather the efforts of a whole team of staff, volunteers, community members and participants to pull it off.
She views her awards as a win for SYNERGY and what the people behind the society have been able to accomplish throughout Chestermere and southeast RVC.
“Everybody does the very best they can with the time they have,” Sproule said. “I feel like it’s something for our whole group to be proud of.”