Sandher awarded for many volunteer years in Golden

Atma Sandher has accomplished many great things since moving to Canada in 1970 with his wife Jasbir.

Atma has been working on his successes since he began attending school as a young child. His father always encouraged him to get educated, and continue learning throughout life. Before moving to Canada, Atma moved to New Delhi from his home in Punjab, where he was born and raised. In New Delhi, he worked on computers for the federal government with punch card systems, data tableting machines, soldering, and collating. There, he married Jasbir, and began their journey to Canada.

Atma originally moved to Vancouver, and looked for a job each day for four months. During the recession, work was difficult to find, but he was told to make the move to Donald, where he could more easily find employment.

He began working at the mill stacking drying lumber. The work was difficult, and the winters were cold. Atma decided he would go back to India to the warmer weather, but he was encouraged to stay. He worked at the mill for seven years total, and in his sixth year, he was promoted to supervisor, managing an overnight crew.

Moving over at the mill to become a lumber grader, Atma won awards and competitions. Atma worked at the mill for seven years. He taught classes in Golden and Kamloops, and got his first aid certificate, which was needed at the mill. When he got the training, the chief of the ambulance asked him to join the volunteer medics in the community.

Tragedy struck the Sandher home in Donald, which he shared with another family. A propane fire destroyed the home and sent his wife to the hospital with burns. Everyone escaped, but only barely. Their lives were changed drastically once again, and Atma fell sick for many months.

After returning from recovering from his illness in Vancouver, the Sandher family finally moved to Golden. The Sandhers bought the Ponderosa Motor Inn in 1987, and Atma made a major change to his career in millwork.

This is when Atma began his volunteer efforts, getting his start with the Golden and district ambulance. He went on to volunteer in that role for 16 years, helping people who needed medical assistance right from the initial medical help, into the hospital, and assisting staff with X-Rays, moving stretchers, and more.

Without the support of many friends and family, Atma says he wouldn’t have been able to get where he is now. It started with help getting to Canada, and then to Donald, and to Golden. Atma is grateful to have had help from so many people on each step of his journey. One of the reasons he volunteers is to give back to the community and help others.

Recently, Atma retired from 35 years of service with the Columbia Valley Credit Union. Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski presented Atma with an award for his years of dedication, an honour Atma says he is very appreciative to receive.

Stetski arrived at a retirement dinner at the Cedar House organized for Atma on July 13, along with many of his fellow volunteers, friends, and family.

Throughout the years, Atma also spent seven years on the hospital board, the Kicking Horse Country Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Golden, and more. He played an integral role and was a founding member of the Golden Sikh Temple, which hosted its opening ceremony in 1980.

The Sandhers have met many great people along the way who have helped them along their progress, and want to give back to the community. Atma is starting an award for the Golden and District Community Foundation, which will be awarded to others who show community leadership in Golden.

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