Cache Creek resident Clayton Cassidy is the first person in the Fraser-Nicola riding to be awarded the B.C. government’s Medal of Good Citizenship.
The award, created last year, recognizes outstanding citizens for their “exceptional long-term service, and contributions to their communities without expectation of remuneration or reward. The medal reflects their generosity, service, acts of selflessness, and contributions to community life.”
At the medal ceremony at the Cache Creek park on June 23, Cassidy said he was “honoured and humbled” to be chosen for the award. “There are many others in this community who are very deserving.” Among those he thanked were his wife Rose and their family, “for allowing me the time to volunteer. I really appreciate their support.”
Cassidy was nominated for the award by the Cache Creek Beautification Society (CCBS), largely through the initiative of president Carmen Ranta. “She brought [the award] to the society’s attention and submitted the application, which was a lot of work,” says CCBS secretary/treasurer Wendy Coomber. “The rest of us basically listened to her and said ‘What a great idea!’”
Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart, who presented the award, said that Cassidy needed no introduction. “He has been volunteering in the community for more than 30 years; there’s probably no committee that he hasn’t sat on.”
She said the award was given “in recognition of his selflessness, generosity, and outstanding contributions to his community and the province,” and that it was an honour to present him with the medal.
“I have known him for so long, and know the work he does. The letter of recommendation [for the award] was so easy to write. He’s such an incredible presence in the community.”
Cache Creek mayor John Ranta said to the 50 people at the ceremony “I don’t know about you, but those two words—Clayton Cassidy—evoke a sense of reverence in my soul. If you know Clayton is involved in doing something in our community it’ll be done right and done well. He’s the type of person who makes it an honour to serve in this community.”
Carmen Ranta was out of town and unable to attend the ceremony, so Coomber spoke on behalf of the CCBS. “Clayton has demonstrated amazing leadership and selfless devotion to his community for many years,” she noted. He has been a member of the Cache Creek volunteer fire department for more than 30 years, serving as chief from 1992 to 2002, and again as of May 2016. He has coached minor hockey, soccer, and minor softball and served on myriad community committees, including the Cache Creek Elementary School Parent Advisory Council and the Graffiti Days committee.
However, it was his work in the aftermath of the flood of May 2015 that many people singled out. “After the worst part of the flood was over, I drove up part of Stage Road to look at the damage,” said Coomber, “and there was Clayton, walking towards us in his gumboots with an umbrella, and that irrepressible grin of his.
“The process of applying for this award included interviews with many other volunteers, council, and four families who were greatly impacted by the flood and who were helped by Clayton. Their recollection of the events of the flood, along with their glowing praise for his relentless assistance, were sometimes made as tears filled their eyes. It was amazing and heartwarming to hear from them how Clayton continued to assist flood victims into the fall, months after the crisis was over.
“Clayton has been volunteering for centuries,” said Coomber after the ceremony. Noting his recent re-acceptance of the fire chief position, she says that it is an example of how he is always ready to step in. She adds that volunteering runs in his family: “His father Ken was a big community volunteer, and his children are.”
Of his actions after the flood, she says that was “just him. He spent a lot of time with the Kovacs’s, whose house was devastated. He got down and dirty in the mud, and gave everything he had.” He was also one of five members of the Flood Relief committee, and Coomber says he took a good active part. “It was very clear he was very concerned about everyone who had had any kind of damage.”
Cassidy remains humble about his many contributions to Cache Creek over the years, including his work after the flood. “It was easy to help people in need after the flood. It was gratifying to be able to help families clean up and get back into their homes after the flash flood.
“The reason I volunteer is a desire to help other people. I consider it good karma.”