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Sudbury senior honoured for decades of volunteer work

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Reijo Viitala, a long time volunteer at Finlandia Village in Sudbury, has been honoured with a provincial award.

Dignitaries, residents, family and friends gathered Tuesday to celebrate Viitala’s accomplishments.

The Ontario Senior Achievement Award is handed out to just 20 people in the province each year.

“It’s a great honour to get recognized by your peers, and this reception here is basically designed to have the presentation in front of my peers, the people that I volunteer for and the seniors especially,” said Viitala.

The Ministry of Seniors Affairs reviews all nominations. The award is presented to honour outstanding seniors who have made significant contributions to their communities.

Jeanna de la Morandire, volunteer coordinator at Finlandia Village, nominated Viitala forward for the award.

“His parents are founding members of the village and so for over 40 years, Reijo has been very instrumental in engaging events and activities and groups mostly notably with the finish veterans association of Sudbury,” de la Morandire said.

Recipients are selected by an independent committee made up of representatives from the senior’s community.

“To hear that he has been recognized, it’s very exciting and we’re very happy for him and his family,” said de la Morandire.

Viitala said it’s touching to be recognized by his peers after four decades.

“I’d stress the importance of volunteering,” he said.

“Especially for the seniors, who are sometimes -- and now with COVID has brought that to the forefront -- have found themselves to be very lonely and volunteering opens up venues for them to come and celebrate.”

This isn’t the first time Viitala has been recognized for his work. In 2022 he received the Knight of the Order of Finlandia Award. 

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