Vernon woman named JCI Vernon Good Citizen of the Year for 2023

Barzan a good citizen

Gena Barzan is busier than ever.

Requests for help at the Vernon Animal Auxiliary Thrift Store that she manages have increased by 100 per cent over the past few months and she is doing what she can to meet those needs for both people and pets.

Barzan also organizes monthly food hampers for area seniors who are having a tough time making ends meet.

And since 2005, she has been active during emergencies providing animal food and assistance to residents and their animals impacted by wildfires and floods.

“We help on a daily basis with animal feed also,” Barzan said. “I've never seen it this busy.”

And for all her hard work, Barzan was awarded the JCI Vernon Good Citizen of the Year for 2023.

Barzan was getting ready to head home for the day Thursday when she was convinced to stay a little longer.

Thinking perhaps something was wrong, Barzan was surprised to see members of JCI Vernon and Kidston Helm Ross Lawyers standing in the 29th Avenue thrift store.

“It's hard to surprise me, but they did,” said Barzan. “We've had lots of people coming in needing help, so I thought it was something really serious. When I came out, everybody was standing there.”

Along with the prestigious title, Barzan will have a place of honour in the Vernon Winter Carnival Parade.

She also received $500 which she donated to the Forever Home Sanctuary, a North Okanagan farm animal rescue group.

“I can't believe it because there are so many wonderful people that help out and I never even imagined that I would have won something like this,” she said.

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