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Citizen of the Year Judy Reid's acceptance remarks

BY JUDY REID Special to the VOICE Thank-you to all in attendance.
Hungry hordes await the start of dinner last week at Old Town Hall. VOICE PHOTO


BY JUDY REID Special to the VOICE

Thank-you to all in attendance. I am delighted and overwhelmed to see the hall filled with family members, close friends of all ages, former co-workers and acquaintances, and new friends that recently moved into the Town of Pelham.

Four weeks ago this evening I along with good friend Barb Dochstader were nicely settled in to a condo by the ocean in Myrtle Beach when I happen to check my IPad for messages—and there was a message from Kinsmen President Brian informing me that I had been selected as 2017 Citizen of the Year and would I accept!

My immediate reaction brought Barb running to ask if someone had died!

“Shock and awe” was my first reaction, followed by a warmth of gratitude. The Myrtle Beach experience was enriched with over 200 messages of congratulations through emails, Facebook, cards and calls—all gratefully received and appreciated.

I must acknowledge two very special family members that are unable to attend this evening: One is my sister Sharon Secord. Sharon is Head of Wardrobe/Costume and Design at Waterloo University. At this moment she is teaching and mentoring 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students of the Theatre Arts program at Waterloo as rehearsals are underway for the 2nd production of the year! She gets excused because she is working with youth! Sharon was the one after I expressed struggling to come to grips with this recognition, as there are so many wonderful volunteers in Pelham, why me? Sharon’s response: “Oh, please. Get over it and just say THANK-YOU!”

The second special individual is my mother Lois Secord—if you know me, you more than likely have endured one or more of my “mother “stories!

My mom is 96 years of age, and due to physical disabilities she is unable to attend this evening, but her mind is very sharp. Upon hearing that I was nominated and selected for this honour, I connected with Mom from Myrtle Beach by phone. The conversation went something like this:

Mom: So I understand that you have been nominated and selected as the 2017 Citizen of the Year.

Me: Yes...

Mom: Was anyone else nominated?

Me: Yes...

Mom: “Well, I guess you are deserving.”

Then came, I want to say “I am proud of you,” with a long pause. Then came, “Do you have to make a speech”?

Me: Yes…


I am going to attempt to do that, but I leave it to the cousins and close friends attending this evening to report to Mom.

It was my parents, Lois and Wally Secord, that led by example and planted the seed that life includes giving back.

Raised on a tender fruit farm in St. Catharines in old Grantham Township, my parents while raising three children and tending the farm found time to volunteer within the community and any surplus fruit or produce from the farm was always given to those in need.

Eventually the City of St. Catharines grew and spread to the farm and my parents moved to Pelham in the mid-’60s.

With the social responsibility seed planted, I would like to share how my ties to Pelham have nurtured the volunteer seeds to grow and provided me with many years of enriched volunteer experiences.

Over the years others have influenced my desire to volunteer, but one individual that made a huge impact on me was the 2011 Citizen of the Year recipient, Gordon L. Klager, or, as he was known in our home, “Butch” for Butcher.

Ruth and Gord Klager would visit our family or would trek to Fonthill to visit and pick up a side of beef. Gord always shared what he was involved with in the community. Usually he was selling tickets to raise funds (Fonthill Lions Club) and even in his last year, I arrived at Lookout Ridge and he was sitting out in the warm sun in his wheelchair. Gord waved me over—I was expecting words of wisdom but instead was asked if I had my wallet, because he was holding tickets for a community cause! The Jolly Butcher instilled in me that giving back was a must, no matter the age.

Let me take you back to September 1969, as I entered E. L. Crossely Secondary School as a first-year teacher hired by the man known for plaid jackets, and the newly appointed Principal, Mr. Ralph Hogue.

Four days in to teaching and having prior knowledge that annually the students in the area high schools took part in what was then known as Youth Day at the Welland Fair, Ralph Hogue called Danna Lee Berry, my counterpart, and myself into the office to inform us that the students would not be released for youth day because there was not enough interest in the other aspects/entries of the Fair. Well, that was like waving a red flag in front of two young teachers. We plotted and worked with students to get sewing, projects completed, food items prepared, and in the final hours we had over 150 entries loaded in two vehicles. Ralph Hogue reversed the decision and E.L. Crossley was strongly represented at Youth Day and in the exhibits that year.

Call the two young teachers rebellious, maybe, but my personal benefit at that point was meeting directors of the Fair and discussing how to improve student participation. The result was that I was asked to join the board that became known as the Niagara Regional Exhibition—a 10- year volunteer experience that set the stage for me wanting the best for young people as well as viable, strong community organizations.

That experience, along with 20 more years of teaching adolescents and adults, a short five week retirement at the end of 1998, plus a second career that resulted an additional 14 years of employment with the Business Education Council of Niagara, in the not for profit sector, opened doors, connected and provided me with so many volunteer opportunities.

These included volunteer experiences within Pelham, across the Niagara Region and the province of Ontario.

And now the present. I am often asked what are you up to in retired life.

Life continues to be full and rewarding, and a number of you are the reason that I continue to volunteer…Gail Hilyer is here tonight, who I worked with on the Pelham Seniors’ Advisory Committee, along with Joe Bouchard. I happily Chaired the first year but stepped aside in 2015, still on the sidelines tuned in, as my mother is now in long term care and I have chosen to become an advocate for her and other residents.

I have always wanted the best for our youth but truly I want the best for all ages and for neighbourhoods and communities.

Volunteering, for me, has been and continues to be a wonderful gift of “giving and receiving.”

The giving includes time, expertise through mentoring, sharing skills and knowledge in collaborating with others. The receiving is seeing young people grow and achieve, be successful in their world of work, as parents, in their community and witnessing/being part of organizations to foster their growth in strengthening their services to benefit individuals and to build strong communities.

Thank-you for allowing me to share my personal road map of volunteering.

In closing, I would like to end with a huge thank-you to the Fonthill and District Kinsmen for initiating this award in 1998. In honouring an individual annually you are also putting a lens on all volunteers and their work throughout the community to make the Town of Pelham a wonderful place to call home.

I am humbled and honoured to accept this gift of recognition of 2017 Citizen of the Year!

Thank you!