Joan Forry and Shane and Nikki Sanderson see an awful lot of each other on a regular basis.
That's because they're all in the food business - Forry with the Squamish Food Bank and the Sandersons as the owner/operators of Squamish's MarketPlace IGA.
Which makes it fitting that the members of the Squamish Chamber of Commerce named Forry Citizen of the Year at the same time they named the Sandersons Business People of the Year for 2004 at the Chamber's 71st Annual General Meeting and President's Banquet Saturday (Jan. 29).
For the first time, all the nominees for the two awards were invited to the dinner and the winners were named on the spot rather than being announced in advance, adding a little drama to the evening.
"The British version is gobsmacked," said Forry about her reaction to her win. "It was just total shock because I really didn't expect it. I thought it was going to go to Denise [Imbeau]. She does so much."
So does Forry. She donates hours of time to the Squamish Food Bank, Community Christmas Care, and the Santa Claus parade. She is the Emergency Social Services director, and has organized the Loggers Sport parade in the past and she's on the communications committee for the Squamish Humanity Village Project.
How does she make time for it all?
"I've got a very understanding husband," she said.
"It's one way of giving back to a community you enjoy being in. You're helping people you know?"
But Forry doesn't go in alone.
"I have come to learn that you can't do anything without the support of the community," she said. "I think the community embraces the food bank."
The food bank gives out about 240 to 260 bags of food and produce every month.
Until the government gives a reasonable amount of support to people in need there will always be a need of a food bank, Forry said.
Forry would like to see Squamish have an amenities building the food bank, the soup kitchen and Community Christmas Care could use to help people.
"I think a community building is an absolute must for this community."
In the meantime, Forry will continue volunteering - she now has another opportunity to help out."I like this Humanity Village," she said. "I'm right into that. I think it's the best thing Squamish has done in years. Can't see me heading to Sri Lanka any time soon."
John Harvey, Denise Imbeau, and Pat Wilbur were also nominated for Citizen of the Year. Harvey works with local youth, and has been the driving force behind community projects, including the skateboard park at Brennan Park, bus shelters, and the latrines at the Smoke Bluffs.
Imbeau coaches girl's ball, chairs initiatives for the Squamish Skating club, and is a familiar face on the My Squamish Magazine program on Channel 10. Wilbur's accomplishments include facilitating the first Youth Entrepreneurship Conference in 1996, and she was a resource member of the Youth-In-Action committee. She was also the treasurer for four years at the Howe Sound Women's Centre and was elected to the Squamish Chamber of Commerce board of directors in 2002.
Shane and Nikki Sanderson from MarketPlace IGA were as surprised as Forry to be named Business People of the Year.
"We were honoured and shocked," Shane Sanderson said. "There are a lot of great businesses in town."
The Sandersons and IGA have helped or sponsored Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Test of Metal, the Bob McIntosh Triathlon, the Howe Sound Secondary grads, Community Christmas Care, hockey, Squamish Days Logger Sports, soccer, baseball and breakfast and lunch programs in Squamish elementary schools.
"We fuel the racers in both the triathlon and the Test of Metal," Sanderson said.
They accept registrations for sporting events and groups sell tickets or hot dogs outside of IGA's doors.
"There's so much competition you have to get involved and support groups and causes and hope they support you back as well," Sanderson said.
They help because they love Squamish too.
"When we first move here we just loved it," he said. "It was easy to meet people and the people in Squamish are very passionate and love this town and we feel the same way.
"We couldn't have done it without our staff. Our staff is very community-minded."
The Sandersons seem to be following an IGA tradition. In 1998, the Chamber named previous owner Bob Hoy the Business Person of the Year.
Kirstin Clausen from the BC Museum of Mining and a co-nomination of Dave and Sandra Heisler from Corsa Cycles and Al and Lorraine Ross from Tantalus Bike Shop were also put forward for Business Person of the Year.