Ron Blum was presented with the 2016 Outstanding Community Volunteer of the Year Award (and some flowers from a local student) by the Morden Area Foundation on May 8.
Despite never having been asked, and until now never receiving any recognition, Ron Blum has been picking up garbage in Morden for 14 years now. “Now it’s just to the point that I’ve been doing it so long, if I see something I have to pick it up,” he said. “I can’t just walk by. You just do it.” He takes a bag with him on his daily walks around the city and collects any pieces of garbage he sees on the street.
The Morden Area Foundation named Blum the 2016 Outstanding Community Volunteer of the Year.
“Ron is the epitome of a volunteer because he’s always out there doing something no one asked him to do,” Chairperson of Morden Area Foundation Avaline Widmer said. “He does it without any expectation of reward, or even a thank you. That’s what the true spirit of volunteerism is about, doing something that you haven’t been asked to out of the kindness of your heart.”
Blum moved to Morden 14 years ago from Sioux Lookout, Ontario. “Morden is a relatively clean town,” he said. If you drive around, it’s relatively clean. There’s just those odd bits of garbage that are around, and if somebody just picked it up, it just makes it look better.”
Blum follows the same routine daily, and usually collects about a shopping bag full of garbage. “Hopefully somebody will follow in my footsteps and do the same thing,” he said. “That’s kind of what I was hoping would happen. I don’t see too many people walking with a bag in their hand.”
Mayor Ken Wiebe was at the reception, and expressed his gratitude to Blum.
“This community is a super place to live, and most of it is because of volunteers,” he said. “Mr. Blum is getting this award today, and he didn’t even volunteer. He just went out and did something on his own. He saw something that needed doing and he’s been doing it since he came here. A little thing like that, over a long period of time, makes a huge difference to our community.”
Five years ago, the Foundation decided to add to the volunteering award by presenting $1,000 to the charity of the recipient’s choice. This year, Blum chose to donate that money to United Way of Morden & District.
Every year, United Way has a campaign to raise money, and they disburse that money raised to other charities. “It is a wonderful charity to support, because it also supports multiple organizations in our community,” Widmer said. “It’s great, and it just keeps building.”
Morden Area Foundation is currently running a campaign to promote acts of kindness and goodwill in the community, and Widmer said that Blum’s actions tied in with the Pay it Forward May campaign. “He’s been doing this since 2003,” she said. “That’s a long time to be picking up litter in our community without any recognition or thank you. We thought it was time.”
Pay it Forward is still running through the month, and Morden Area Foundation wants anyone engaging in (or receiving) an act of kindness to take a picture and post it to social media with the hashtag #PIF17.