Burnaby's 2012 Citizen of the Year is Lou Beaubien

On May 24, about 50 years of volunteer work will be recognized.

This year's Kushiro Cup for 2012 Outstanding Citizen of the Year is going to 79-year-old Lou Beaubien for being a "tireless volunteer and enthusiast," according to a city report.

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"It's a great honour," Beaubien told the Burnaby NOW in a phone interview, after learning he had won the award. "I learned to volunteer from my parents."

Beaubien's parents were recipients of the Good Neighbour Award when his family lived in Coquitlam in the '80s.

"They went around to all the senior citizens' facilities," he said. "They were Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus for many years."

His parents would make lunch for seniors and Beaubien said his father would often give away his lunch ticket to someone in need.

"He bought another ticket of course, but those are acts of kindness that really work," he said.

Beaubien is being recognized for volunteering for the Burnaby Amateur Radio Club and played a major role with radio equipment and antenna work in the planning of both the old and new Edmonds Community Centres, works with the BRACES radio emergency group, the Burnaby area Radiosport Fox Hunt, he also established an active emergency amateur radio station at Burnaby Red Cross and he is an advocate of the Knights of Columbus Council 5423.

Beaubien has been a resident of Burnaby for fifty-eight years. He was the chair of the Courtesy Car Division for the 2012 BC Seniors Games. This involved a large group of volunteers, and he also set up radio communications for all the vehicles.

"I always like to see things through," he said. "That's my style."

Beaubien is one of the longest serving volunteers of the Vancouver Sun Run and has sat on the committee for 21 of its more than 25 years.

Radio amateurs provide communications in cases of medical emergencies and lost children, as well as providing traffic control.

"We had a motto," he said. "If somebody takes a fall during the 'run', we've reported it before they hit the ground. It makes people stand up and take notice that amateur radio is important and they can do a good job when they need to."

Beaubien said he also took the time to speak to the police officers at his location to make sure they understood the problems that exist, and they're prepared for the event.

"It could be raw recruits," he said. "And if they don't deal with it, they could have so much trouble you won't want to go to work on Monday."

The Burnaby resident said the team he works with has been very successful.

"It's a good team and it continues to be a good team," he added.

Beaubien has been a member of the amateur radio club since 1977 and has a radio set up at his home. For the last fifteen years, he has been an assistant director representing British Columbia with the Radio Amateurs of Canada.

When his son Chris was young, Beaubien was involved with the Scouts in Burnaby as a leader and spent fifteen years with the equipment committee as a quartermaster.

Beaubien spent 33 years working with Canadian General Electric, and spent 20 of those years as a factory service specialist of appliances and service.

"I was always in the service business," he said. I was a service specialist representing B.C. and Alberta for 33 years."

He married his wife Joyce in 1965 and they moved to their house in the Brentwood area soon after. They have a daughter, Michelle, and a son, Chris, who also live in Burnaby.

"Same house, same girl," he added.

After his time with Canadian General Electric, Beaubien spent four years teaching appliance servicing at BCIT, until the course moved to Kwantlen University College where he spent another nine years as an instructor.

"That course is now in Cloverdale at a beautiful facility," he said. "I'm still on their list as a volunteer instructor. Mind you, the technology is getting past me now."

Beaubien now spends a lot of his time doing technical writing, when he can find time from his volunteer work.

"I've been published in amateur radio magazines three times in the last year," he noted. "I've got a couple of projects on the go right now. I like to write about people and things."

Beaubien was preparing for the next Fox Hunt at Robert Burnaby Park on April 14 when he was interviewed by the NOW.

"It's a game we play in amateur radio that's called fox hunting," he explained. "We hide transmitters."

Then groups, in various age categories, race against each other to determine where the transmitters are hiding using specialized equipment.

"They're hard to find," he said. "I'm limited by my mobility, but ... out of five, (I'll) probably find three. For my age, that's not bad."

He is also gearing up for a full weekend in June, when he will be joined by members of the amateur radio club, as well as others from Coquitlam and New Westminster, for an emergency field operation. They will try to see how many places they can talk to in 24 hours. Beaubien has been participating in it since 1977.

"All radio clubs in North and South America do this," he said. "They set up using portable power generators and so one and we have our own kitchen and everything, so we can survive in an emergency and see how many places we can talk to ... in a 24-hour period."

Beaubien also spends his spare time helping friends who are limited by disabilities, by taking them to medical appointments or out for coffee "with the boys."

The point, Beaubien says, for him is working with teams of excellent volunteers.

"What I try to do when I find someone who has excellent skills, I say, 'Lookit, this is what I say we can do, but if you can find some changes that make it better then go ahead and we'll try together,'" he said. "Together means a lot to me, doing things together means a lot to me."

The Kushiro award will be presented on May 24 at the city's annual City Appreciation Dinner held at Edmonds Community Centre.

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