Curling Club Revitalization Project chair named Melfort’s 2024 Citizen of the Year

Submitted Photo Kerrie de Gooijer, seen here speaking at Curling Day in Canada in February, has been named Melfort’s 2024 Citizen of the Year.

A person who helped to spearhead the recent revitalization of the Melfort Curling Club has been named the 2024 Melfort Citizen of the Year.

Kerrie de Gooijer, who is the chair of the Melfort Curling Club Revitalization Committee was very surprised when she heard the news.

“I was shocked,” de Gooijer said. “I definitely didn’t expect it. I don’t do this for any kind of recognition. My personality type is definitely more that I would much prefer to be in the background doing my thing.”

She added that she was surprised to win because there were so many people who could have got the award who were involved in the revitalization project.

In their award announcement, the Melfort Trade Alliance Chamber of Commerce (MTACC) described de Goojier as a dedicated volunteer and agronomy operations manager who has played a pivotal role in elevating the Melfort Curling Club in Saskatchewan. That includes leading a successful fundraising campaign that secured over $800,0000. They added that her practical approach and strategic thinking have revitalized the local curling scene.

de Grooijer said she has been involved in many things in her life, but the Melfort Curling Club has become a passion.

“I was on the board for quite a while and we came across some situations where we needed to do something, we needed to do something different and we figured there was an opportunity,” she said.

In the last 12 months, the local curling rink has continued to thrive, as nearly $1 million has been raised for its revitalization project.

The Melfort Curling Club also got some national spotlight as the host for Curling Day in Canada in February.

“(As) with any volunteer-based organization, if you want something to be done, you’ve got to do it,” she explained. “You have got to come up with the plan and get your team together and make things happen and that’s kind of how it started.”

de Goojier said she learned early on that the Curling Club can matter beyond just curling because it’s such an important part of the community.

“It’s beyond just curling. It’s a lot of great things and I guess that’s why I’m so passionate about it.”

The Melfort Curling Club, which has now been named the Bourgault Curling Centre after a sponsorship from the St. Brieux company, has always had strong membership but the Revitalization project and other parts have expanded on that.

“We have always had a pretty great club…. We just identified some new opportunities for growth and kind of made it happen while also fundraising for our major infrastructure needs, so that’s kind of tied into it as well,” de Goojier said.

“Early on, I looked to other communities to see what they had done and for inspiration and hope, I guess that’s also how it started. You get some new ideas and see that other communities did some pretty amazing things and figured ‘why can’t we as well?’”

The Club is also doing little things like building their presence on social media, de Gooijer said that they are trying to do those things. de Gooijer and her husband Curtis de Gooijer are both members of the club.

The conclusion for the nominator’s package summarized the reasoning for her nomination.

“Kerrie’s remarkable contributions to Melfort as both a dedicated agronomy operations manager and a committed volunteer have left an indelible mark on the community,” the nominator said.

“Through her instrumental role in leading a successful fundraising campaign for the local Curling Club, she not only secured vital financial support but also revitalized a beloved community institution. Kerrie’s practical approach, strategic thinking, and community-building efforts extend beyond her professional role, showcasing her genuine commitment to the well-being of Melfort. Her impact is not only seen in the successful execution of projects but also in fostering partnerships, promoting inclusivity, and securing a promising future for the town. Kerrie’s multifaceted contributions make her an exemplary candidate for recognition as Melfort’s Citizen of the Year.”

The most recent Citizen of the Year recognized for their contributions to curling was Wayne Garringer.

Kerrie de Gooijer will be presented the Melfort Citizen of the Year at the Mel-Bex Awards on March 23 at the CJVR Performing Arts Centre in the Kerry Vickar Centre.