Back in July, Surfrider Volunteers John Morris and Kelby Holmes joined Long Beach Surf Shop manager Jason Ussher, and Surfrider chair Michelle Hall to ship around 270 wetsuits to California to be turned into new yoga mats. Initiatives like these lead to Hall receiving a Volunteer Service Award from Tofino’s council in December. (Photo - Alan Hall)

Surfrider chair honoured in Tofino

“She consistently deflects praise and thanks to the value of the entire Surfrider volunteer team.”

The Pacific Rim’s popular Surfrider Foundation chapter ended 2017 on an inspiringly high note as its chair, Michelle Hall, received a Tofino Volunteer Service Award for her efforts to clean local shorelines and encourage environmental stewardship in her community.

“She has been at the lead of a tremendous team of volunteers contributing to beach cleanups and leading systemic changes in the way we conduct ourselves and our businesses to reduce the impact of plastics on the environment,” said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne.

“She consistently deflects praise and thanks to the value of the entire Surfrider volunteer team. That’s appropriate, of course, and we are grateful for all of the Surfrider efforts, but Michelle’s particular ability to rally and inspire others to contribute to a better world is what sets her apart.”

Hall told the Westerly News she was “completely surprised” to be named the recipient during Tofino’s Dec. 9 council meeting as she had been invited to attend under the guise of applying for a special permit for Surfrider’s planned Jan. 1 cleanup as part of the community’s Polar Bear Swim event.

“I had no idea that it was actually to receive an award,” she said.

“After realizing what was happening, I was so honoured and emotional to have been recognized, and really delighted to receive such a recognition from my community.”

Hall said volunteers foster positive experiences for both locals and visitors in Tofino and it is important she is delighted to see her town’s council recognize those efforts.

“It will encourage more volunteering, and continue to build a happier community for everyone,” she said. “These people are the ‘spirit of Tofino’ and why it feels like a magical place to live…Whether you have lived here six months or 60 years, we can all be part of creating a community that continues to enhance the quality of life for everyone.”

Hall has been the Surfrider chair since 2015 and has been delighted to see the positive impact her group has had.

“Surfrider to me, is not only tackling some of the most talked about problems of today like plastic pollution and water quality, it is protecting the biggest part of this planet, the ocean and all of the life that connects to that,” she said. “The ocean is what connects us all and who doesn’t want to be committed to that?”

She added she’s enjoyed meeting like-minded locals who have been steering environmental stewardship efforts for decades.

“I have learnt so much from others, many people in this community have become mentors to me and have helped me navigate unknown waters and given so much encouragement and support when it mattered most,” she said. “So many people in the community became new and dear friends to me through volunteering, and the existing friends I have, are of course volunteering in all of their generous offerings.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about Surfrider’s efforts can check out the group’s website, created by volunteer Alyne Francis, at pacificrim.surfrider.org.

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