Decades of giving back
Not one but two nominations for Gillain Konst came into our inbox this year – following a nomination in years past. Currently, at the helm of the Lynn Valley Community Association’s board of directors, Konst has been a constant contributor for 30 years or so.
“I can’t be a part of something and not give back,” said Konst, after the surprise – to her – announcement at the Parade of Trees light up December 4th.
Longtime friend and fellow LVCA volunteer Stefanie Donohoe, echoes Konst’s thoughts.
“She is the type of person who loves doing things for the community,” said Donohoe. “She brings people together to do what they do best. Many of the other volunteers in Lynn Valley – like myself – are a direct result of Gillian getting us involved and making us want to do something for our community.”
Donohoe also mentioned Gillian is quick to hide in the background and pass on recognition to the others involved. In fact, the first words out of Konst’s mouth at the announcement were:
“There are a lot more people behind this than just me!”
It is Konst’s consistency of support that benefits Lynn Valley, starting many years ago. She was a supporter of youth soccer, Beavers and Cubs, and the Eastview PAC when her sons were in school. Then it was a trip to the library that started her greater community involvement.
“I was in line at the Friends of the Library book sale when I saw a little leaflet asking for volunteers and I thought – that might be fun,” she said. “We didn’t have a lot of money at the time, so I liked the idea of giving my time.”
That led to volunteer hours, then a position on the board. Soon she was involved with the Lynn Valley Lions, garden and flower clubs, the Lynn Valley Services Society, helping seniors, and of course the Lynn Valley Community Association.
“If you need to get something done in Lynn Valley, go to Gillian,” said Susie Chant, MLA for North Vancouver Seymour. “She is such an active and motivated force and really knows how to bring community together. I am so glad to be able to see the amazing work she does, and I always love volunteering with her for the Lynn Valley Community Association.”
Learning from mentors, leaving a legacy
Konst’s passion for giving back comes from her parents and she hopes she has passed it on to her sons.
“I got it from my mom – she was always giving back from my earliest days as a Brownie,” she said. “My dad worked away so much but he did a lot for sport for disadvantaged kids in the UK through the Lord’s Taverners. Volunteering is in my genes”
She is proud her sons have taken on roles of coaches and supported cadets. Her civic support has inspired future community leaders like Susie Chant’s assistant and past DNV council candidate, Eli Manning.
“Having grown up as her neighbour, Gillian truly stands out as a leader in our community,” he said. “She does her absolute best to bring people together and make Lynn Valley a more connected and beautiful place.”
As Konst looks to step back from her board position at the LVCA, she hopes to support the next era of volunteers.
“To thrive an organization needs new ideas and ways of doing things,” she said. “I want the community association to do well and that won’t happen without others bringing their energy and ideas.”
She will continue to be a part of the LVCA helping out with their community plans.
“I love the events, even when I am bone weary,” she said. “Then I see a child or a senior participating in something happy that I helped create and I know I am doing something special.”
With numerous volunteer opportunities available in Lynn Valley at the LVCA, the Disability Resource Centre and the Lynn Valley Services Society, there are plenty of chances to reap the benefits, she said.
“You make good friends and build connections to the community you can’t in any other way. Those friends become your supports when you need them. It’s such a reward to create happiness in the community – it’s addictive.”
We would like to thank the Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub for donating a gift certificate for our Good Neighbour Award.