In August I was awarded the Mississippi Mills Community Builder award. It was an absolute honour to receive this award, alongside Al Potion and Sheryll Smith who were also recognized for their outstanding achievements. To stand alongside these giants was humbling and exhilarating.

My husband and I arrived in Almonte 30 years ago, in June of 1992, with 4 young children in tow, aged 1, 2, 5 and 6. I was fresh off earning a Masters degree from Carleton University that same year, and I had just turned 30. Mike had just started to work for the City of Ottawa, after some years working in a private engineering firm that had him working around the province and only home on weekends. We made the decision that I would stay home with the kids for a while, while Mike commuted to Ottawa to work.

That decision turned out to be the best possible thing, and I was able to begin making deep community connections and fall in love with Almonte! I had just organized a Canada 125 celebration in Ottawa (and won a cool award in recognition) and knew that I wanted to have that connection in Almonte. By September, within 3 months of moving to Almonte, I was volunteering at The Hub, and at GL Comba.

I made a conscious effort to find volunteer opportunities, and over 30 years I have volunteered for so many events and festivals I have lost count and built my leadership skills as I have taken on progressively more senior roles. I have spent countless hours in training – becoming a referee in competitive swimming, learning to facilitate healing circles to support restorative justice, becoming an expert in Robert’s Rules of Order, building websites and acting as a social media manager, and learning to play the bagpipes – all in order to fully participate.

I have the skills and talents for volunteerism, and my passion is my community. When we feel deep attachment to our place, we care about the outcomes, and about the people who belong to the same place. As a family, we have all made this place stronger. As a person, I have loved every experience.

That is why volunteerism matters to me – because I am passionate about this place.

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