“We should not live for ourselves alone, but for the joy in doing good for others”, a quote from Arch C Klumph, founder of the Rotary Foundation, sums up best when it comes to defining and serving community. This concept is exemplified entirely by a popular community practitioner Kenn Whiteman, who, for the past four decades, has made his mark in the development of our region. Whiteman is among the very top individuals who has enthusiastically spent time serving the community as a leader, consultant, advocate and dedicated practitioner.
Through his professional careers and volunteer work in the Valley, he has contributed significantly to improve the lives of many, by working with people of all ages, from the youngsters of the Pinnacle Youth Program to the seniors living in the Valley’s multiple care homes.
”He is a man who is never too busy or to tired to provide support and leadership to his fellow citizens,” someone commented.
Throughout his years in Port Alberni, Whiteman’s name has been a synonym of involvement and dedication to serve in countless worthwhile causes.
We have known him as an entrepreneur, college instructor, group facilitator, kayak distributor, tour guide, business planner, career councillor for Youth Service Canada projects and an advocate for the unemployed. In addition, he has worked in a variety of occupations covering nursing, recreation and teaching. His educational curriculum includes Master of Arts (Community Development), University of Alberta, Edmonton, 1982; Bachelor of Arts (Sociology) University of Alberta, 1976; Registered Nurse, Red Deer College, Red Deer, Alberta, 1973; Registered Psychiatric Nurse, Alberta Hospital, Ponoka, 1968.
An ancestor’s wanderlust had everything to do with Whiteman’s move to Port Alberni in the late 1970s.
“I was motivated to come to Port Alberni in the fall of 1978. Part of that was due to an old family relative of mine in the name of David Thompson, explorer, navigator and astrologer. Somehow, he got in my blood and I needed to move on and explore a new province and new community. The other part came from working with the Alberta Provincial Government as a supervisor in community nursing. It appeared at the time, for me at least, that more time was being spent on rationalization of our positions than working with individuals with mental health problems.”
His extensive and prolific professional background has included, among others, Interim Executive Director Pacific Rim Tourism Association; Project Manager, WorkLynx Wage Subsidy Program for the Federal Government of Canada in the Alberni-Clayoquot Region; Innovations Director for Pinnacle Youth works Inc., Salmon Arm/Port Alberni; Interim Executive Director Port Alberni Friendship Centre; Leisure Services Division Coordinator for City of Port Alberni Parks &Recreation Department; Social Services &Community Health Coordinator, Alberta Provincial Government.
In 2005, he was elected councillor for the City of Port Alberni, a position he held until 2011. As a council member Whiteman took the liaison responsibilities for First Nations, Children, Youth and Families, Tourism, Recreation Services, Grants in Aid and Economic Development.
By the end of his term as a councillor, he was presented with the “Freedom of the City”, the highest honour that council can bestow on an individual for exceptional merit and contribution.
Since the 1990s Whiteman has volunteered his time for various organizations, including his role as president of the Port Alberni and Arrowsmith Rotary Clubs; Alberni-Clayoquot Continuing Care Society; BC Council for Families; Tall Ships Society; Director of Vancouver Foundation Child, Youth and Family Committee; Port Alberni Dragonboat Society; Vancouver Island Coastal Communities; Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of the Coastal Community Credit Union Port Alberni Grant Committee; and membership in the 2011 Pulling Together Canoe Journey; Gyro Club of the Albernis; Port Alberni Toy Run; Community Investing Committee for the City of Port Alberni.
Currently, he serves as the President of the Port Alberni Maritime Heritage Society and Assistant District Governor, Area 3, Rotary District 5020. He is also putting the finishing touches on a musical CD entitled “Second Chances”.
Finally, it is important to point out that Whiteman’s care and dedicated involvement to help others in his community led to be recognized with the “Kiwanis Citizen of the Year” award in 1985, followed in 1986 with the Certificate of Merit from British Columbia Parks and Recreation Association.
Orlando Delano of Port Alberni writes the monthly Valley Seniors column, which usually runs the last Tuesday of the month. This is a special edition of Valley Seniors.