(Following is the second of a three-part series about the 2021 Leaders of Tomorrow and Heart of Okotoks recipients. The awards are part of National Vounteer Week April 18-24).
The passion for volunteering grew from good old-fashioned family values for the 2021 Heart of Okotoks recipient.
“My dad was always signing us up to volunteer as a family to do things,” said 2021 recipient Oliver Hallmark, who grew up in Kimberley, B.C. “My dad always taught that you should give one-third of your time and your money to self, family and your community."
It turned out volunteering was a great way to meet people and to spend his time during Hallmark's now 11 years in Okotoks.
“A lot of my clients would always ask if there was something I could help fill in for,” said Hallmark, a hairstylist at Blunt Hair Studio. “It was something to do and have some fun.
“I usually volunteer for anything I am asked to do now.”
The Heart of Okotoks is given to an adult who shows exceptional leadership through volunteering.
Volunteering means Hallmark having a bit of fun in helping the community.
“When I do anything, I give it 100 per cent,” Hallmark said. “I find when I volunteer, I want to have fun doing it. I would never sign up for something I didn’t want to be there for.”
For the past three years Hallmark played a big role that Will Ferrell would admire for the Sheep River Health Trust.
“The health trust does its pictures with Santa and I have done it for three years now,” he said. “I dress up as an elf. I like to dress for the occasion.”
He follows the trust on social media and when it has a fundraising effort, he signs right up.
Hallmark has also been heavily involved with Baby It’s Cold Outside for the past six years.
He has set up monthly teams of 16 volunteers who stuffed the organization’s toiletry bags which were given to those in need.
And when it is cold outside, Hallmark comes to the plate like a slugger in the summer game.
He went above and beyond during the BICO’s 2020 Christmas feast.
“The day offered challenges with a snowstorm and many of our volunteers were unable to make it,” wrote Pamela Morgan, founder of Baby It’s Cold Outside, in a nomination letter for Hallmark. “Oliver in his selflessness, doubled up his shopping list without hesitation and made sure families were served.”
As well, prior to the 2019-20 school year, he co-ordinated haircuts for more than 60 students, with all the donations going to the Okotoks Food Bank.
“Oliver has a knack for inspiring people to step up and enjoy volunteering alongside him,” wrote Kaleena Bartek in her nomination of Hallmark. “As well as financially supporting others and organizations that he believes could use a little help.”
Hallmark said his favourite fundraiser was raising $5,700 for the Okotoks Food Bank’s Jail and Bail in 2018.
It was a bum rap, he shouldn't have done the full sentence.
The concept has Okotoks dignitaries like Hallmark sitting in the makeshift clink until they raise $1,000.
“I actually had already raised enough money at the salon to get out of the jail,” Hallmark said. “I told Sheila Hughes, the executive director of the food bank then, ‘don’t let me out until I raise enough money and I will stay to the end.’
“Then at the end, I surprised her with a big envelope of cash. That was the favourite thing I have done so far.”
Turns out a volunteer can get surprised as well.
Like when Hallmark received the call from Jana Giger, the Okotoks community and volunteer administrator, informing him he was the 2021 Heart of Okotoks recipient.
“It was unexpected and I am very grateful,” Hallmark said. “Like I told Jana when she called me, I could have given her a list of people I feel are way more deserving than I am.”
The Leaders of Tomorrow and Heart of Okotoks are sponsored by the Town, The Okotoks Rotary Club and the Western Wheel.