Ex Awards
January 16, 2024

Making a difference in members’ lives is what Co-op team members do each and every day. It is a concept that has guided us for nearly a century, and it will continue to ensure our longevity and relevance for generations to come. We are recognizing team members that have delivered exceptional service to our community with our new Ex Awards program. We want to recognize all forms of exceptional community service, be that within their work at Pembina West Co-op or out in the community.

Read on to learn the stories behind the Ex Awards we have presented so far.

Have a great story about a Co-op team member? Please share your story with us so that we can recognize their exceptional service. Complete a nomination here. 

Great service is part of the job here at Co-op, and the Exceptional Service Awards Committee reviews all nominations based on the criteria that the specific instance of service demonstrated goes beyond a job well done.

We know that these are only a few of the generous acts that our team members have displayed, and we encourage you to continue to submit nominations when you witness exceptional service by Co-op team members.

Read their amazing stories in the article below!

2024 EX Awards Winners

Lea Ann White

Lea Ann always goes above and beyond for myself and the other customers. It said to pick a date of the exceptional service, but it isn't just one date, it is every single time I shop. Lea Ann is always helping me find the best packages of meat, and tries to help me find the best deals on them too! Aside from her friendly demeanour, the pre-made chicken and pork meals she prepares are absolutely delicious. Our family LOVES the pork appie sticks and the seasoned bacon wrapped chicken she prepares. Every time I see Lea Ann in or out of the Co-Op, she is friendly and easy to talk to. She always makes a point to talk to me and my kids, and gives them stickers. She is a true asset to the Mayerthorpe CO-Op Grocery store and our community.

Rachelle Rutledge and Jeff McKay

A customer was having trouble with payments for his order. He was quite flustered and the Gas Bar was busy, but Jeff and Rachelle went above and beyond to help him out. He had to split the transaction between multiple payment types and even over separate transactions (the details were a bit faded upon a follow up call to get more information). The member shared that they were very calm, patient, helpful and kind during his struggle. He said that he has never had a bad experience in our Gas Bar, and the excellent team at the tills and at the pumps are what keep him coming back.

Lorainne Rose

We had a customer come in this winter, just to warm up his hands. Lorraine without even a thought said we need to get him gloves. We have a bucket of spare gloves in our break room that have been there for ages. So Lorraine went back and went through the gloves and gave him a pair to keep his hands warm with the upcoming cold weather.

Cassidy Davis

Cassidy presented the Member Relations team with an idea to provide low-income or underprivileged community members with a Christmas Dinner hosted by us and FCSS. Cassidy put so much work into presenting it, finding data to support her idea and showing the possible impact it would have on our community. Cassidy's hard work paid off, and both the SLT and Board approved the idea. Although there is lots of food team members and FCSS volunteers who will be helping support this cause, Cassidy deserves a shout out for the compassion, dedication and drive she exhibited in making this initiative come true. - Cassidy, you are a blessing to the community, thank you for making this happen.

Les Besler

A lady came up to the deli asking if we could help her as her keyfob batteries died and she could not get into her vehicle without it...he was going to take her to customer service to see if they had a small enough screwdriver. I told him we had one so he changed the batteries for her right at the deli till and she was very thankful.

Darlene Gross

Last summer Pembina West Co-op had a spot at the community garden and we did not have very many volunteers. Darlene and her husband when above of what was expected of them. They rototilled and pegged out our garden spot while they were doing there own. They went above and beyond what was expected of them, They watered and pulled weed when the other volunteers were not available. When the garden was over taken by weeds they rototilled again. I don't think our garden spot would have been a success without all there hard work.

Aqeel Askari

A guest shared feedback that he has recently received the best service he has ever experienced at a pharmacy when filling a new prescription at our pharmacy. Without mentioning anything, Aqeel picked up on the fact that the guest was having some trouble hearing him. Very considerately, without calling attention to his trouble or appearing patronizing, Aqeel suggested that they move into a private consultation room to continue the conversation. Aqeel ensured that the guest was able to hear everything, and took the time to ensure that the guest fully understood the details of the new prescription. While it is certainly the responsibility of the Pharmacist to communicate this information, the way in which it was handled ensured that the guest felt truly cared for and respected. It left a very positive impression both of our pharmacy and our newest Pharmacist. This is only one of a handful of similar positive pieces of feedback that we have already received about Aqeel's service.

2023 EX Awards Elite Winners

Gordon Hall

Every year, our board diligently reviews all of our EX award winners, selecting those who best embody the core values of Pembina West Co-op: Community, Integrity, and Respect. This exceptional team member has not only received an EX award for their actions during freezing temperatures, ensuring that a guest's vehicle was fueled up properly but also received recognition for generously covering fuel bills for guests during the holiday season, quietly identifying those who might need assistance.
We are thrilled to announce Gord Hall as the recipient of the prestigious EX Elite award. Congratulations, Gord! Your selfless actions and commitment to our values are what truly set our Co-op apart. Thank you for your outstanding contributions!

2023 Outstanding Volunteer Award Winners

Joanne Dunbar

This year, at the 'Celebrating You' team member event, graciously hosted by our CEO, Board of Directors, and Senior Leadership team, we had the privilege of honoring an extraordinary team member. Joanne was presented with the inaugural Pembina West Co-op Outstanding Volunteer Award in recognition of her exceptional efforts during the Whitecourt Christmas Parade. Her commitment and contributions to community events go above and beyond, exemplifying what sets Co-op apart. Joanne, we extend our heartfelt thanks for your unwavering dedication.

Darren Tauscher

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Darren Tauscher was presented with the brand-new Pembina West Co-op Outstanding Volunteer award. His outstanding efforts in making the 2022 pumpkin walk a resounding success went far beyond the norm for a volunteer. Regrettably, Darren couldn't be present at the event to accept his award, as he was celebrating his 50th birthday!

2023 EX Awards Winners

Nettie Kerstane

“Nettie received a call from one of our senior members and he was wondering if he was receiving an equity cheque because he was short on cash and did not have enough to buy food or medication. She looked into his membership and realized that he did have a stale dated cheque. She made sure this cheque was reissued and left it for him at the Food Store. In the envelope that the cheque was in, she added a $100 gift card that she had purchased on her own. She wanted to make sure he would not go without food. She informed him that since we was over the age of 70 he could withdraw his equity. While some of this was just part of her job, her concern for his well being went beyond her work duties. The gentleman called her and was so grateful for everything she had done for him!” – Rachel Paull

Mark Henderson

“We had a customer with a dead battery at the liquor store. I was going to get a booster pack when Mark showed up with cables and had the customer boosted and taken care of before I even had time to leave the building." - Justin Loitz

Joanne Dunbar

“Whitecourt had its Christmas parade and we were short handed on volunteers. We were very stressed out about whether we could keep up with handing out candy and we spoke of it at our H&S meeting on November 28. Justin went back to Barrhead and mentioned it to Joanne. She surprised us on the day of the parade and asked if we needed a hand. She not only showed up to lend a hand, but was more than willing to wear a Care Bear costume. She did this on her time, and travelled to Whitecourt at her own expense. Joanne was so appreciated by us that night, and I’m sure the families who came to enjoy the parade appreciated it as well! Thanks Joanne!” - Christine Hennessey

Justin Loitz

“In the absence of a health & safety coordinator, Justin has stepped in and helped tremendously. He has been hosting the health & safety meetings in Barrhead and in Mayerthorpe. I know that the Mayerthorpe meetings fall on his days off, and regardless of any compensation that is being given for that time, I feel that it is important to recognize that he has willingly given up his free time to ensure the health and safety of our Pembina West Co-op team and our guests. I would like to thank Justin for his dedication.” - Christine Hennessey

Gordon Hall

“I became aware that over the holiday season that Gord was using his own money to top up the tanks of several Gas Bar customers. These were customers that he has observed throughout the year struggling to afford fuel, customers who are only able to put in $5 or so at a time. Gord stepped up to make their holiday travels a little easier, and demonstrated the respect and community values that are core to our Co-op. Thank you Gord.” Holly Lingel
“I had trouble filling up my truck with diesel when with was -30 out because we had recently had work done on the deck. Both Brian and Gordon came to help try to get fuel in it by trying to drive on to a ramp, and they realized that when the work was done that the fuel line had been compressed and was too flat to allow fuel into the tank. They helped by calling a few places in town to find somewhere to get it fixed. They went above and beyond to ensure that I was taken care of.” - Kelsey Potts

Faye Sperling

“A customer forgot their wallet at home, so couldn't pay for their purchase. Faye immediately offered to pay for his purchase since the customer lived out in the country. He was very appreciative of her gesture. When Faye went to get her wallet the customer expressed to me how impressed he was and assured me that he would return to following day to repay her, which he did. Faye often goes above and beyond, and I believe she deserves recognition for her exemplary customer service.” - Esther Maludzinski

Dave Young

“Dave had stopped by the deli on his way out of the building after his shift had ended. I was attending to dishes at the time. Our sprayer had been broken for a while, and I was getting soaked by it! When Dave noticed this, he was quick to take action. He said "step aside" and repaired the sprayer to allow me to stay dry.” - Kathy Neudecker

Darren Tauscher

“On October 29, 2022, Darren came in on his day off after spending until 10PM with his fellow team members cleaning up after the Pumpkin Walk and loading stuff up onto trucks. He made sure that the leftover pumpkins were back at the store to start selling and avoid spoiling in an unheated building until Monday. He did all of this all without asking for any help (or being told to do it), and never made a big deal of doing it on his own. He made sure that all the extra product for the candy bags was put back into inventory and stored away where it needed to be. Doing this saved a lot of time for numerous people on Monday, as it only left things to be put back into the sea can. It allowed the Home Centre to have the trailers back in use on Saturday if they needed, as well as the truck. Darren goes above and beyond at every activity that Pembina West orchestrates or is instrumental in helping coordinate. His commitment to these events and volunteer hours is Exceptional. Darren lives our value of Community, and we are proud to have him as one of our team leaders.” - Joanne Dunbar

Brian Lamha

“I had trouble filling up my truck with diesel when with was -30 out because we had recently had work done on the deck. Both Brian and Gordon came to help try to get fuel in it by trying to drive on to a ramp, and they realized that when the work was done that the fuel line had been compressed and was too flat to allow fuel into the tank. They helped by calling a few places in town to find somewhere to get it fixed. They went above and beyond to ensure that I was taken care of.”- Kelsey Potts

Arlene Vandersluis

“I was waiting in line to purchase lunch at the customer service desk and the customer ahead of me was paying for a few essentials. She had a $20 bill and went to pay for the remainder on her debit card, but realized that it wasn't in her wallet. The customer quickly asked to go check her car to see if it had fallen out, and Arlene reassured her as she bagged everything up. While she was in the parking lot Arlene gave me a knowing smile and tapped her own debit card for the remaining $8 of the customers total. She came back in very worried that her card was missing and apologizing, then realized Arlene had paid the rest of her total and was handing her the receipt. The customer was extremely thankful and Arlene was so courteous, saying it was no problem at all, and everyone has to eat. I'm so thankful we have team members like Arlene that embody our values so completely. Thank you Arlene!” - Amy Kolumbus

2022 EX Awards Elite Winners

Shana Lind & Rhonda Carnduff

Pembina West Co-op is honoured to announce the very first EX Award Elite Winners! With so many amazing stories of Exceptional Service, one winner wasn't able to be chosen, and so this years grand prize has been split between two winners! These stories both exemplify all three of our Co-op’s values. (Community  Integrity  Respect) 

2022 Recipients

Rachel Paull

Rachel has been recognized for two acts of Exceptional Service! 

"When we had to clear out the file room for renovations, Rachel helped go through the marketing supplies, and helped me move a ton of boxes even when her feet were already sore from previous work. She could see I was overwhelmed and really went above and beyond to assist another department that was not her responsibility, and was not asked of her. Thank you Rachel!" - Amy

"When checking my credit card receipts against my monthly statement, I noticed that I had been double charged for two separate gasoline purchase transactions. My credit card company confirmed the double billing as the two purchases were time stamped for the same time. I contacted Natasha at the Gas Bar and she was able to confirm the doubled transactions. She then notified Rachel at Co-op Administration that I would be calling. Within an hour after my conversation with Rachel (and only 2 hours after first speaking with Natasha) my credit card had been refunded. I truly appreciate how quickly and efficiently this matter was resolved thanks to Natasha and Rachel's assistance." - Margaret Osborne

Kelton Snyder

"Kelton was an excellent addition to our team at the Home Centre, and we were proud to have him. His customer service skills we beyond anything we expected, and our members loved his kindness and willingness to find them the complete solution. Even though it was tough to lose him from the Home Centre team, I was excited to see him find his perfect fit as IT Assistant. In his new role, Kelton continues to be his best self and now contributes to all of our teams.

He has immersed himself in his new duties so that he can provide the best service and help every department.
About a month ago, when we were getting ready to do cash out before the store opened, our systems went down. Paige texted Kelton at 7am to get help and with zero hesitation Kelton was helping and trying to troubleshoot, despite not being on-shift until 8:30am. I have texted Kelton '911' many times and he always shows up with a smile on his face. He is the definition of integrity and Pembina West Coop is incredibly lucky to have him on our team."

- Jennifer

Natasha Lefebvre

Natasha has been Recognized for two acts of Exceptional Service! Thank you Natasha!

"Natasha was an incredible help during Santa’s Workshop! She shows up not just as a volunteer, but brings her amazing photography talents along and does an incredible job bringing out the best in the kids for their Santa photos. This event wouldn't have been the same without her help!"  - Amy

"When checking my credit card receipts against my monthly statement, I noticed that I had been double charged for two separate gasoline purchase transactions. My credit card company confirmed the double billing as the two purchases were time stamped for the same time. I contacted Natasha at the Gas Bar and she was able to confirm the doubled transactions. She then notified Rachel at Co-op Administration that I would be calling. Within an hour after my conversation with Rachel (and only 2 hours after first speaking with Natasha) my credit card had been refunded. I truly appreciate how quickly and efficiently this matter was resolved thanks to Natasha and Rachel's assistance." - Margaret Osborne

Joy Cooke

"A member phoned to tell me how exceptionally happy she was with the service provided by Joy for a cake that she had ordered for a special event. The member had been juggling a lot, and was expecting the cake to feel like yet another chore to coordinate. Joy just made everything so easy for her, far beyond her expectations. To top it off, she said that Joy did an outstanding job decorating the cake, again above and beyond her expectations. She could not have been happier with the whole experience, and demonstrated this by taking the time to ensure that the praise made it up to me." - Holly

Nolin Dube

"We were dealing with a bat in the Barrhead grocery store for a few days, and on July 30th the situation came to a head when the bat was swooping at customers and they were getting understandably scared. Nolin came out of the meat room and caught the bat and never gave up. He managed to trap it humanely and packed it up for another co-worker to take home. Flying rodent eradication is certainly not in the job description, and we thank Nolin for stepping up to save the day." - Jennifer

Rhonda Carnduff

"An older gentleman come into the Whitecourt store and asked Rhonda if he could park his vehicle in a corner out of the way, for hopefully no longer than a couple days, as he had done some work for someone and was waiting for them to pay him, and he had no money.

After a few days we noticed he was still there. We had leftover pizza in the store from our meeting the previous day so Rhonda went out and knocked on his window to offer it to him. He came in the store a short while later to get the pizza and proceeded to tell her that he was still waiting for his cheque and hadn't eaten in days, so he was extremely grateful.

Rhonda realized then that he probably didn’t have anything to drink either so she bought him a couple bottles of water with her own money. He then started crying, saying how nice it was of her. Before you knew it, all the staff was crying. This man proceeded to tell Rhonda a bit of his life and it’s been a hard one I must say. Such a little thing sure made his day!" - Christine

Shayne Stock

"In the late fall of 2021 on the Saturday before Halloween we had gambled on taking advantage of a window of good weather to strip, prep and re-shingle 2 roofs of our personal home and garage in Barrhead. Early in the day Shayne along with other staff members gladly organized our short notice order and loaded our trailer we set on their site without any hesitation or problems which speaks volumes of the continually friendly and helpful staff as a whole. Later that same day in the evening it became apparent after the roof being stripped that all of the original roof edge that was on the home was in poor shape and in need of replacement. With weather being a real concern and a very small window of o.k. weather in the forecast we realized that waiting until Monday morning was not in the cards if we wanted to have a roof on our home for the winter.

We were able to reach an after hours number where we were directed to wait for a phone call which would be quickly coming. Sure enough Shayne called me back immediately and asked me what my predicament was and what he could do to help. Without hesitation he told me to meet him at the home center and he would get me what I required. Shayne went out of his way that evening after hours to be sure I was looked after as a customer even though it was something I hadn't previously ordered or intended on using.

In most stores and situations I'm sure anyone would of had to wait entirely until the following Monday and start of the week burning up the very short window we had with frost and plummeting temperatures setting in on us the day after we finished on Monday. If we wouldn't have gotten those pieces we would have been waiting until May here to finish our roof. Shayne and the Co-op staff have gone out of their way continually day in and day out to help anyone who needs extra help and I felt it is only fitting to recognize what Shayne did for us on this specific occasion as I know he and the rest of the Co-op personnel do for others on a daily basis. Excellent Staff. Excellent People." - Jeffrey Parsons

Kevin MacKinnon

"On his own time, and wanting to alleviate customer concerns about special order material, Kevin went to the customer's house after hours and measured the project to confirm the area needed to be covered. This shows exceptional concern and care for our customers. Good job Kevin." - Brett

Shana Lind

"During a very cold period, we had a gentleman come in who was counting out his change for a bag of wood pellets so he could keep warm. He had no money in the bank, and when he was counting change he did not have enough, and he left. Shana, being the amazing human she is, picked up a bag of pellets and ran out after him. She bought them for him so he could keep warm. Shana is such a huge asset to our team and community." - Jennifer

Rob Pollon

"Rob has stepped up on many occasions to bring some special magic to the kids in our community. He brings an animated joy to our special character appearances, including helping to save Christmas at Dunstable school when the children's sleds were stolen. The furry shoes are not an easy or comfortable role to fill, and we appreciate how Rob has stepped up to create special memories for the kids in our community." -Anonymous

Ryan Roy

"Ryan went above and beyond over the holiday season taking on the role of Grinch for the kids in our communities. Despite dressing like a Grinch, Ryan helped save Christmas for the kids at Dunstable School, when he helped deliver treats and some replacements for stolen sleds. Ryan brought his own personal supplies to add some extra cheer to our Polar Parade float as well, decorating in the cold and playing a perfect Grinch for the parade." -Anonymous

Lyana Borle

"A distressed guest with an upset baby asked for her infant's bottle to be heated up. Lyana warmed it up for her and the guest was very happy. Lyana's caring attitude and exceptional service calmed both baby and mom." - Cassidy

Penny Stang

"Penny is committed to serving the community and the Co-op, well beyond her job duties. Penny stood out in the cold on New Years Eve to represent Co-op for the Mayerthorpe community and give out hot chocolate and doughnuts to spectators during the fireworks show."  - Lyrik

Veronica Miles

"Not only has Veronica been with us for 15 years, but she will be retiring with us. Veronica's commitment to our guests is exceptional, she regularly puts in extra time off the clock to ensure delivery and pick up orders are completed properly, and takes time away from scheduled breaks to be there for her team when the store is especially busy, or someone needs a hand. With retirement on the horizon, some would coast through the remaining days, but Veronica continues to deliver service beyond our expectations every day. Thank you Veronica!" - AJ

Sabrina Hopp

Sabrina has been recognized for two acts of Exceptional Service! Thank you Sabrina!

"You are the #1 location for bagged feed volume by a single retail outlet. Way to go! Thank you for your hard work, effort and commitment. It has been a pleasure working with you this past year." - Jody, FCL Feed Team Advisor 

"Sabrina took over our feed department 2 years ago when it was tanking and we had negative margins. We needed someone to take control and reinvent ourselves to the community, and she has done just that. Sabrina has built many positive relationships within our community of farmers and she often goes out of her way to make sure they are completely taken care of every time they set foot in our store. Sabrina has grown a lot over the years and is a respected member of our team. She is always open for training and bettering herself. She introduced feed to Whitecourt not knowing how well it would go and has recently bought out a pet store’s feed inventory in Whitecourt. By building these relationships and taking on new opportunities, Sabrina has grown our Co-op to the #1 location for sales volume of bagged feed sales by a single retail outlet in the Co-operative Retailing System! Sabrina is invested in the Co-op and we are proud to have her on our Home Centre team." - Jennifer 

Steph Penney

"A senior customer was expressing distress about getting home. Steph stepped up, no questions asked, to offer the customer a ride home with the approval of our manager. Steph's exceptional service ensured that our customer's safety and comfort came first." - Shana

Joanne Dunbar

Joanne has been recognized for two acts of Exceptional Service! Thank you Joanne!

"I have had the privilege to work with Joanne for a few years now. She has always went above and beyond. She is always at work earlier than needed and will stay later to make sure that all of her work is completed. She never says no, and is always one of the first ones to volunteer and help at an event. Joanne will help you whenever needed and always makes you comfortable when starting a new job. Joanne is dedicated to her job, and truly works hard to make it better place." - Katelyn

"Recently, Joanne took the initiative to personally deliver Christmas gifts to each of our team members. She gave her own time to ensure that every team member felt valued and create personal connections." - Rachel 

Bill Smith

"Bill is an absolute delight to work with. He's always busy and on the go, but Bill always takes the time for a friendly greeting and provides great service to keep us up and running every day.

Santa's Workshop is such a special event for the kids in this community, and we needed to come up with a creative solution to find a COVID safe option for our Santa photos without spoiling the experience with plexiglass or masks in photos. When I approached our maintenance department for their advice, Bill stepped up and offered his woodworking skills and time to create an impressive sleigh on a very tight timeline.

Their department was swamped, and Bill really went the extra mile to create something special for this event, and all future Christmases for our Co-op and our community. Bill went above and beyond his role in maintenance and helped bring so much joy to the kids at this event." - Brittany

Audra Sparshu

"This winter a customer won $3,500 on lottery and left the store, only to call back later and ask if we had found a lottery pouch with her winning ticket. We did not have it at that time. Just as I was about to check the camera, Audra came in from carrying out groceries and brought an envelope of lottery tickets. She said she found it on the ground and customers were walking over it. It turns out it was the pouch the winning customer called about! Audra showed integrity by turning it in, and our customer was thrilled." - Nettie

Christine Hennessey & Rhonda Carnduff

“I would like to nominate the team of Christine and Rhonda at the Whitecourt branch for an EX Award. I feel that their contribution to our presence and promotion of our brand in Whitecourt, through countless hours of volunteering, goes above and beyond normal expectations. Events like the Halloween Trunk or Treat, The Christmas Parade, Ag Society Mud Bog, to name a few, have seen this team prepare and present in a fashion that showcases what Co-ops are all about in their communities. Please consider Christine and Rhonda for a well deserved EX Award.” - Garry

LeeAnn Matula

“LeeAnn has volunteered her time on multiple occasions to help keep our standards high. She gives up her spare time to help with events out in our little community like the Coca-Cola holiday truck and the Mayerthorpe Light Up parade. Many people are happy to see LeeAnn when they come in to shop and the amount of compliments from both guests and staff are getting hard to keep track of. LeeAnn lives our brand and deserves this award.” - AJ

Mark Henderson

“In May the Gas Bar was experiencing management shortages due to COVID isolation periods. We asked Mark to help out at the Gas Bar, overseeing operations there during the absence of our manager and supervisors.

Mark did just that, spending countless hours there ensuring operations ran smoothly, from paperwork to ordering and more, and even pumping fuel when needed! At the same time, he was able to ensure his regular duties with the Energy & Ag Division were kept up.

In my opinion, Mark went above and beyond for the betterment of Pembina West Co-op.” -Garry

A big thank you to all our exceptional team members for going above and beyond, we are so grateful to have you as part of our team!