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Peter Waugh, the CCA’s Curling Volunteer of the Year

According to the mission statement of the Strait Area Community Curling Club in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, the club is “committed to promoting our sport in a friendly atmosphere while providing affordable, quality programs for curlers of all ages and abilities.”  Since 1965, local curlers, as well as those from the surrounding towns of Port Hood, Mulgrave and even Arichat, have been walking through the doors of this friendly two-sheet club. Beginners to seniors, ages 7 to 70 – curling at the SACCC has flourished.

That’s easy enough to do when the facility is new and the membership small. But over the years since 1965, as the building aged and the membership numbers crept up, the two-sheet SACCC began to struggle, and by 2008, the club faced a difficult reality: it needed a larger facility.

Now the SACCC was faced with an even more difficult task: how would it fundraise, plan, and build a badly needed new curling facility? In a completely volunteer-driven organization, with no paid staff, who could take on this daunting major project?

Like many curling clubs, the SACCC was lucky to have just the person already in place.

Club President Peter Waugh, this year’s recipient of the CCA Volunteer of the Year Award, began curling in Moncton, New Brunswick, in the 1980s, and moved with his wife, Janet, to Nova Scotia, joining the SACCC in 2000.

“For the first time ever,” he remembers about those first years at the club, “I was asked to be a skip and I found that I enjoyed calling the shots.”

Maybe it was that newly discovered gift for leadership on the ice that explains what happened next.

In the summer of 2008, Waugh was asked to become President of the club. That year, he chaired a committee focused on expanding and improving the SACCC. A feasibility study had already been conducted, so the requirements were clear. But someone had to take the helm and steer this ship.

“Our club president, Peter Waugh, was crucial to making it all happen,” say the SACCC members in their nomination essay. “Peter held meetings with both the executive and the larger membership to gain support for the project. [He] was the key contact with government to obtain both provincial and federal funding, chaired a fundraising committee to seek support from community businesses, contacted banks looking for mortgage approval and gave presentations to community groups.”

And that was before construction began. At the sod-turning ceremony in August 2010, Waugh had a chance to kick off the building demolition by taking “a large chunk out of the building by using a front-end loader.”  The planning and fundraising was done; now it was construction time.

But keeping a project this size rolling is no easy task, and leadership was called for again and again.

“He helped organize volunteers to complete tasks (in lieu of paying the contractor to do it all which we could not afford) and gave his own blood, sweat and tears,” say the SACCC members. “He led the volunteers in the 7500 volunteer hours that were needed to complete the project.”

“The biggest challenge as the project approached the final stages was volunteer burnout,” says Waugh. But he and his club mates persevered and turned those challenges into positives.

“The work parties, which were ongoing throughout the summer, fall and winter, were another highlight due to the amazing turnout of volunteers. It was quite a spirit of achievement seeing the new rink take shape with every work party.”

The renovated facility opened in January 2011, with over a hundred people packed into the brand new three-sheet Strait Area Community Curling Club to watch the procession, led by a bagpiper and including officials from all levels of government, representatives from the Nova Scotia Curling Association, many of the community sponsors and “most importantly,” adds Waugh, “the members of SACCC.”

He is the first to emphasize that the successful construction of the new club was a team effort, but anyone who has worked on a project of this size knows how hard it is to keep the team – hundreds of volunteers as well as officials and sponsors – on board.

“Peter showed that he has many talents,” says SACCC Junior Curling Director, Tom Wagar, “most noticeably his leadership and dedication to the club. Peter was a wonderful delegator, always ensuring that there was buy-in and commitment from fellow members before relinquishing control of aspects of the project, yet ensuring that everything got done in the right time and for the right cost.”

Those members are determined to recognize the man who led this project from start to finish, not just because the result has been new facility for curlers, but also because Waugh’s efforts have far-reaching effects in the community.

“Because of the new rink, curling received more local media coverage, more community awareness, and new members,” say his nominators. “Because of the renovations to our club, we are now able to host larger bonspiels and have been able to apply to host provincial curling events. This is something we never would have been able to do in the past.”

But did he stop there? “Of course not!” continue his supporters. “At the end of the season he was also successful in leading a grant proposal to obtain funding of $25,000 dollars for a governance project that will allow the club to move forward with updated bylaws, clearer job descriptions and executive training.”

“My kitchen table and I can attest to the many evening and weekend hours Peter spent filing grant applications,” says Waugh’s wife, Janet.

Being recognized for his efforts was a surprise, says Waugh. “It is an honour considering that the sport of curling has thousands of volunteers contributing to the many curling clubs across the country.”

And among those volunteers, he includes the members at SACCC, with whom he wishes to share the award. “They were amazing in making our new three-sheet rink a reality.”