‘Most remarkable’ South Surrey senior remembered

Renee Nicholson at one of the Rotary club’s shredding fundraisers. (Contributed photo)Renee Nicholson at one of the Rotary club’s shredding fundraisers. (Contributed photo)
Renee Nicholson was named president of the Rotary Club of South Surrey in 2015. (File photo)Renee Nicholson was named president of the Rotary Club of South Surrey in 2015. (File photo)
Renee Nicholson had a passion for supporting the Pacific Assistance Dogs society and spearheaded a fundraiser that saw the club sponsor a trauma dog for Sophie’s Place. (File photo)Renee Nicholson had a passion for supporting the Pacific Assistance Dogs society and spearheaded a fundraiser that saw the club sponsor a trauma dog for Sophie’s Place. (File photo)
In 2015, Renee Nicholson was celebrated for having amassed the most volunteer hours ever logged by a White Rock community policing volunteer. (File photo)In 2015, Renee Nicholson was celebrated for having amassed the most volunteer hours ever logged by a White Rock community policing volunteer. (File photo)

South Surrey senior Renee Nicholson wasn’t known for beating around the bush.

She could also never be described as someone who was content doing nothing.

The fact is, Nicholson did far more than many, and for far longer – but was always clear about her limits. She expressed those succinctly in a 2015 interview with Peace Arch News that followed word she had logged a record 8,000-plus hours as a community policing volunteer for White Rock RCMP.

“If I’m not happy, I’m not staying,” Nicholson said.

READ MORE: Community policing volunteer logs White Rock record

This week, those who knew Nicholson through her community policing, Rotary and sundry other efforts to help are remembering a “remarkable woman” and “selfless contributor to our community”; a woman with a quick wit and kind heart, who calmly advocated for others, and who had a passion for supporting the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS).

“We all face different challenges in life and Renee was an inspiration to anyone who thought their own situation was insurmountable,” retired White Rock RCMP staff sergeant Tom Forster told PAN Tuesday (Nov. 3).

“Renee faced a physical disability and accomplished more than most people not because she dwelt on herself, but received strength and determination by the feeling one gets from helping others.”

Nicholson died Oct. 29 at the Peace Arch Hospice.

“‘Remarkable’ barely scratches the surface of Renee’s character and capabilities,” Rotary Club of South Surrey president Patrick Hahn writes in a Facebook tribute.

“With all her skills, charm and ability to be direct when necessary (in a wonderfully positive way) Renee contributed greatly to our Club.”

Nicholson began her community policing volunteer ‘career’ at the White Rock detachment in September 2000, eight years after retiring from Telus. For more than 15 years, her dedication was unwavering – at times, she would log up to 12 hours in a day – with her involvement ranging from establishing the Mature Drivers program and patrolling the streets at night with other volunteers, to helping with the annual Red Serge fundraiser, assisting with fraud and drug awareness programs and looking after the city’s wandering-persons registry.

Her efforts were first cited by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General in 2003. At that time, she had contributed more than 1,100 hours to programs including Stolen Auto Recovery, Block Watch and Community on Patrol. She showed “an admirable level of commitment,” a news release issued at the time states.

Nicholson also devoted hours of her time and energy to the Kent Street Activity Centre, pitching in as treasurer for the bingo activity group and the thrice-monthly Fresh and Lively Friday luncheons. She was also the most keen volunteer when it came to help low-income seniors do their taxes in the spring.

“We had to hold back some taxes from her so there was enough to go to the other volunteers or she would have done them all herself!” White Rock’s community recreation co-ordinator Dianne Sawicki told PAN in a Nov. 5 email.

Sawicki described Nicholson as feisty, determined, fiercely independent and a straight shooter.

As well, she was “probably one of the hardest working volunteers we have had at the centre,” she continued.

After COVID closed the centre, Nicholson stepped up to help by making comfort calls to other seniors, and continued to do so even as her own health was failing, Sawicki said.

Up until three years ago, Nicholson was also heavily involved with the Rotary Club of South Surrey. Introduced to the club by Forster, she was named its president in 2015, and was inducted as a Paul Harris Fellow the same year. She was particularly proud to spearhead the club’s sponsorship of a canine assistance intervention dog and handler through PADS. The effort led the club to raise $15,000 for the cause.

READ MORE: Rotary Club of South Surrey has paws to celebrate

PADS was Nicholson’s “great love,” Hahn notes.

“She glowed when she showed pictures of the dogs she had sponsored (and our Rotary Club of South Surrey’s funded ‘trauma dog’ for Sophie’s Place), especially the puppies.”

Sawicki noted that Nicholson had been looking forward to the arrival of a new PADS puppy that she had sponsored that was coming from Calgary.

In Nicholson’s 2015 interview with PAN, the senior described volunteering as “an honour.”

“I don’t look at it as being anything special. I did it because I could give back to the community,” she said.

She credited her penchant for helping others to the way she was raised.

“My family always believed in doing good for others,” she said. “I always learned to give, not to keep.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

SeniorsSurreyVolunteerWhite Rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lisa Werring, Surrey Christmas Bureau boss, inside the charity’s new home. (Submitted photo)
‘Toys, toys, toys, we need toys’: Surrey Christmas Bureau calls for donations

‘It’s been a challenging season to say the least. Every day is a new adventure,’ says bureau boss Lisa Werring

Sukhi Sandhu, organizer of Wake Up Surrey. (File photo)
Wake Up Surrey welcomes Lipinski as city’s new police chief

But Surrey Police Service will not solve Surrey’s gang violence on its own, Sukhi Sandhu says

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

Extras in Promises include many who currently serve in uniform in law enforcement, the military and the Canadian Border Services Agency. Contributed photo
Movie traces Punjabi soldiers’ role in battle during Second World War

Surrey director and White Rock councillor participate in film project

THE REAL PHOTO: Linda Annis, executive director with Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers holds a note commonly posted on doors when people go on vacation. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Surrey councillor slams mayor’s slate for doctoring her photo, quote in social media attack ad

Linda Annis says the Safe Surrey Coalition has been running “fake news” and a doctored photo of her in an attack ad on the slate’s twitter account and its Facebook page.

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read