When the Canadian Curling Association’s Volunteer of the Year for 2009, John Lavich, was younger he had his eyes set on becoming an RCMP officer. Circumstances changed for the Brookdale, Manitoba native because he was building both his family and his general contracting business.
The long-time curler was President of his curling club when in late 2008 it was apparent that the building exhibited structural problems and had to be demolished. “So should we close the club or build a new one? So we decided to build a new one.” commented Lavich matter of factly.
The former 2 sheet rink was attached to a community complex that boasted a skating rink, kitchen, viewing area and change rooms. With only 80 people living in the town, located 35 minutes north-east of Brandon, Lavich spearheaded a community drive to raise the funds, design the building, process the paper work, oversee the construction and have the new 2 sheet facility opened for the 2009-2010 curling season.
Lavich credits the curling club Secretary who “did an amazing job” and the club’s Treasurer who along with him “applied for everything we could think of and we were fortunate.” Through his construction business contacts he retained an architect, oversaw the work of the structural engineer, got the architectural drawing approved and got fire safety approval. The construction began in June 2009 after about three months of paper work.
Now most Canadians flock to their cottages on languid summer weekends. Not Lavich and his forty volunteers. They spent summer weekends building. In total 41 work bees and 1600 man hours powered the 5 month construction period. His nomination paper extolled John’s dedication: “Without John’s expertise and dedication to this project we would never have achieved our goal in such a short period of time or maybe at all.” wrote his nominator Gaye Loree.
Did it affect his marriage to Carolyn his wife of 24 years? “Oh not at all. Lots of other things to test it other than this.” laughed Lavich. A 10 day August trip to Japan with his 15 year old son Tyson’s hockey team didn’t halt construction. He detailed instructions enabled the volunteers could build the walls in his absence. He has two other children – Christian 21 and Kalie 18. He also helps coach his daughter’s curling team.
The new rink opened in October 2009 right on schedule. Lavich proudly states: “by the end of the first curling season it was completely paid for. We have no debt. The community really comes together for something like that.”
The rink complemented the previously renovated kitchen and dressing rooms which not surprisingly were both renovated with the help of John Lavich.
Now about the RCMP dream…Lavich does 2 shifts a month as a volunteer RCMP Auxiliary Officer. “It’s an awesome job also. It’s very gratifying” said Lavich. He’s been volunteering at that for 14 years.
John is proud of his thriving club. “It’s the heart of the community and keeps everyone going. It’s very good for everybody.”
Mr. Lavich will be honoured as the CCA’s 2009 Volunteer of the Year on March 14th during the final of the 2010 Tim Hortons Brier in Halifax.