Resident recognized for extraordinary community service



jeff cummings/for metro calgary


Banff resident Larry Melnik was one out of eight Albertans given a Wild Rose Foundation 2007 Stars of Alberta Award for his countless hours of volunteering.

His name isn’t Earl, and he certainly doesn’t have a list of things he needs to do to improve his karma like the character from NBC’s hit show My Name Is Earl.

But residents in Banff say a man with a long moustache and mullet spends his days walking the streets giving the homeless food and clothing.

He’s also seen cleaning up litter on a busy sidewalk along the mountain town’s busy main street without being paid for his efforts.

Residents say the man, who they call “Crazy Larry,” is simply someone who goes around making a difference in the community.

“He’s such an active volunteer — he’s always the first one to help people out when they’re in need,” said Karen Suchowersky with Volunteer Banff.

Every Christmas Larry Melnik can be seen handing out custom-made grocery bags, hats, gloves, sweaters, socks and little decorated trees during what he calls his personal 72-hour, three-day marathon of hope to care for the needy in Banff.

Melnik, a local skier and mountain biker, also founded his own youth leadership club that encourages young people to leave the world of drugs and drinking in Banff.

“There are a lot of things going wrong in the world and a lot of it starts with our leaders,” said Melnik. “To lead is to lead by example — that’s why I am trying to make a difference in the world.”

Melnik was one of eight Alberta volunteers recognized for their extraordinary efforts by the province’s Wild Rose Foundation as he was given the 2007 Stars of Alberta award yesterday at the Royal Alberta Museum.

Other winners include siblings Dennis, Amanda and Samantha Brown from Calgary who volunteered over 1,000 hours together for numerous organizations and Edmonton’s Malika Ladha who is involved with a number of groups in and outside her high school. Khalid Tarabain of Edmonton, Shirley Stephens-Begg of Cochrane, and Helen Ileen Wentz of Taber were also honoured.