Sisters saluted as top citizens
“Citizens of the Year 2013” Florence Hill and Jane McLeod were saluted, alongside dozens of other volunteers, long-time employees, and retirees, during the town’s annual appreciation dinner Friday evening at Sunny Cove.
Whether it has been baking pies for Legion dinners or pushing around the goodie cart at La Verendrye Hospital, the sisters have worked for more than 60 years for the simple pleasure of making life more enjoyable for themselves and others.
“It’s been an honour to do what we do and we love Fort Frances,” she added.
“We come from a family [the Calders] that loves Fort Frances.
“We love the place where we live,” Hill reiterated. “We raised our family here.
“And I don’t think we can get away with anything,” she joked.
Angela LaForest, who had nominated Hill and McLeod for the honour last fall, along with Irene Laing and Janet Lambert, provided some background on the sisters’ long service to the community.
“It has been said the service we render to others is really the rent we pay for our room on this Earth,” said LaForest, adding the sisters are “two exceptional ladies” who “certainly have paid the rent for their room on this Earth.”
McLeod, who will turn 95 this year, and Hill, who will be turning 88, both were born in Fort Frances and have lived here all of their lives.
They’ve raised their families here, noted LaForest, adding their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren still live in Fort Frances.
LaForest also said she would never have enough time to detail all of the sisters’ volunteer work over the years—and she’s certain even they cannot remember them all.
Hill and McLeod both are life members of the Legion Auxiliary and La Verendrye General Hospital Auxiliary while Hill also is a lifetime member of the Rainycrest Auxiliary.
They still are the “Pie Ladies” at Legion dinners, and every Wednesday push the goodie cart around the hospital “sharing smiles and words of encouragement,” noted LaForest.
The sisters also dish out shortcake at the annual “Strawberry Social” here.
They also are active members of their churches. McLeod, as a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, serves on the lunch committee, has been a member of the C.W.L. of Canada for 60 years, and always helps with teas and bazaars.
Hill, meanwhile, is a member of St. John’s Anglican Church, where she looks after the altar, belongs to the vestry, and is a lifetime member of the Anglican Church Women of Canada.
“As I skim over these areas of service, be assured that Jane and Florence are legend for being involved in all aspects of these various organizations and several other things,” said LaForest.
“Working as a team is their favourite pastime,” she added.
“They call each other daily to confirm their plans for that day.”
LaForest said she, Laing, and Lambert felt Hill and McLeod have worked diligently in the background for “the simple pleasure of making life more enjoyable for themselves and others.”
“We felt Jane and Florence exemplified all of the unsung, devoted seniors, especially women, who are the mainstay for bringing comfort and service to our community, not to mention the financial contribution that volunteers help generate for our churches, hospitals, and veterans,” she remarked.
Mayor Roy Avis also saluted the sisters.
“I have always known those two ladies as ‘Mrs.,’” the mayor noted. “So from that, you can picture how many years they have been making their contributions to this municipality. . . .
“Thank you on behalf of mayor and council,” he said.
The spirit of volunteerism was front and centre at Friday’s event.
Two volunteers who help out the town in different ways also were recognized. Dave Chepil was thanked for maintaining the Eighth Street trails while Karl Tosberg was applauded for regularly being an usher at the Townshend Theatre.
Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig noted that “without the work of the committees and without the work of the volunteers, we’re in trouble.”
“Volunteerism is waning—it’s a fact,” he added. “If you can go out there and encourage anyone to volunteer, it is crucial to our town.”
McCaig added many of the volunteers he knows of are individuals who helped out in many ways over many years, and their contributions must be recognized at events such as the town’s appreciation dinner.
Mayor Avis agreed that volunteers are very important, as they comprise all of the town’s numerous boards and committees which have made many important decisions—and recommendations to council—over the years.
“We are fortunate to have such a dedicated group that works so diligent to move Fort Frances forward,” he noted.
The mayor added that coinciding with the municipal election this fall, volunteers’ current terms on the various town boards and committees also will be coming to an end.
As such, he urged the public to re-apply to committees or try out new ones, and please to keep participating in local government.
Also recognized at Friday’s dinner were four retirees. They included grader operator Brian Lee, day care dietitian Midge McTaggart, deputy treasurer Debbie Scofield, and town clerk Glenn Treftlin.
One employee, Memorial Sports Centre program director Leana Moffitt, was recognized for achieving 25 years of service to the Town of Fort Frances.
Employees who already have achieved 25 years of service also were recognized, as were past retirees.
A moment of silence was observed for Tom Pollard, a town employee who passed away in the last year, and spouses of deceased employees also were recognized.
The dinner also was an occasion for the town to recognize local media, members of council, the management group, and the volunteers sitting on all of the town’s boards and committees.