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United Way presents Arnprior man with Community Builder Award

For more than 15 years, Goedon Bethune has been building a legacy as a strong influence in his community through his volunteer work and dedication to helping others.

Gordon Bethune, a volunteer from the Braeside-Arnprior area, is a very quiet and low-key individual, and so was the setting last Friday, July 29 at the NeighbourLink Fountain site in Arnprior when representatives from United Way East Ontario paid a surprise visit and presented the 92-year-old volunteer with the Community Builder Award. It is one of the agency’s most high-profile award.  

For more than 15 years, Bethune has been building a legacy as a strong influence in his community through his volunteer work and dedication to helping others. From the few staff members on hand to watch Bethune accept his award. The staff agreed that the newest recipient of the United Way’s Builder Award, they said it will add to his legacy.

“When Gord sets his eye on a project, he not only gets it done, but he brings more volunteers to help make his role a little bit easier,” one staff member commented.

Although the award honours the outstanding volunteers and champions of community that exist in its catchment area (Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark and Renfrew County), this year’s recipient is perhaps the furthest thing you would ever consider as “high-profile.”

When the United Way representatives made their way inside the Neighbourhood Fountain site, a non-profit entity started in 2003 by Bethune and his late wife Marion that was set up to help some of the most vulnerable members in the Arnprior region, they were not shocked when he said the presentation should hold off because he wanted to share the honour.

“You good folks should have showed up 30 minutes earlier to surprise us,” said the man who still has his driver’s licence and is a volunteer driver for the local chapter of Meals on Wheels. “Pretty much the whole board of directors were here and those are the volunteers that make this place operate as well as it does. It would mean a lot to me if we could recognize them as well.”

Anyone who has stood along Bethune over the last 50 years would say the man who wants to credit all those around him for their efforts in the community is who he is. His efforts to call back the board members who had just left the non-profit he helped build, indicated the true measure of this man.

That is why Allan Neumann had absolutely no qualms about nominating Bethune for the work he and his late wife Marion put in to create a non-profit organization back in 2003 that eventually became the NeighbourLink Fountain in Arnprior. 

When it first began, A&D NeighbourLink was an office Resource Center from which volunteers answered calls for assistance from people (clients) in the community and connected clients to local helping agencies or church volunteers who would help meet the need.

The organization expanded in 2009 to provide a community centre, with services such as a thrift shop, an activity room, a community kitchen, and more. Bethune has participated as a board member and a volunteer at NeighbourLink for more than 13 years. Several times he worked alongside Neumann and he was amazed at the energy and positivity shown by Bethune no matter what challenges were thrown their way to ensure the invaluable community centre survived and flourished.

“The work that Gordon does makes his community a better place to live by enhancing the lives of the people around him and it is inspirational,” Nauman added.

In Neighbourlink's early days, Gordon was instrumental in enlisting many like-minded volunteers to join the team. At the age of 92, he stays busy – most recently getting involved in the delivery of meals to seniors and those at local shelters. 

“Many drop-in centre guests gravitate to Gordon for a friendly word and some quiet wisdom,” said Jade Nauman, United Way East Ontario’s Regional Director for Renfrew County.    

An entrepreneur in Braeside, long before his recent volunteer work, he established himself as a reliable member of the business community as one of the few individuals throughout all parts of the Valley, who established a business within the town and his attention to detail and honest practices led to his

historic influence in Arnprior and the surrounding areas for some time. 

United Way East Ontario’s Community Builder Award program —those organizations, partnerships, agencies, neighbourhood groups, and individuals who work tirelessly and collaboratively to make our communities better for everyone. 

Throughout the year, we honour Community Builders with individual awards for their outstanding contributions in Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark County and Renfrew County. 

With this award, we thank Gordon for his dedication to his community and for his efforts with a United Way East Ontario Community Builder Award. 

"I just appreciate the award, and I appreciate the NeighbourLink Fountain. It's part of my life and it keeps me going," said Gordon. 

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