Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Community Builder Award Winner Thankful to Community

Dear Editor,

My first task is to thank the citizens, my nominators, and Municipality of Meaford for choosing me as the 2024 Recipient of the Community Builder Award. I am truly grateful and awed that I can be recognized for doing things I love. I really wanted to be clever and draw an analogy to building but I keep slipping into memories of how I got here. Like building, it seems to be about connecting and connections which come together to form a beautiful or a useful structure. Communities that thrive are those where the residents connect to create experiences which would be difficult to do in isolation.

I moved here in late 1980 when I was 24. I had never lived in a small town. I was afraid to drive to Owen Sound where there was a physiotherapy job. My mother-in-law’s friends were lovely to include me, and I visited the library a lot, but my life was isolated. I started volunteering at Meaford Long Term Care – a wonderful experience. I got it in my head that I should help with Beavers – again a wonderful experience. And finally, I taught Sunday School even though I never went to Sunday School. These first connections set the foundation for all my future adventures in volunteering and there have been many – that is not a boast, it is a sigh of gratefulness for the opportunities and trust people put in me. As our family came together volunteering continued with organizations such as Girl Guides, Therapeutic Horseback Riding, and Track3/Special Olympic Skiing. I have had the honour to volunteer within my professional life with the most fantastic opportunity of becoming the founding president of the International Neurological Physical Therapy Association – all done from Meaford on Skype. I have loved my Municipal volunteering on the Accessibility Committee and the many adventures at the Meaford Museum. The Scarecrow Invasion introduced me to great mentors with multiple talents that they were willing to share. Dance for Parkinsons has been pure joy. Recently I have been challenged as the DEI Lead for Christmas On The Bay™ which has been an extreme learning experience and I love every minute. This year I had no intention to volunteer for Meaford 150 just to suggest the Hello Campaign, but I am so pleased that Verna Hindle and I made the rash decision to do the 150 Kickoff. I worked with a group of people I knew but who I had never worked with – another fantastic memory.

So now I am a Community Builder – no longer isolated and extremely happy with life. All my life I have loved the concept of the Little Way by St. Theresa of Lisieux. I don’t think to be a community builder you need to do many things, but I do think we each have to do a little thing well for our community. Most of our best efforts are not recognized except to those they have positively affected. One connection, many connections all go towards building a welcoming community where we don’t feel isolated, and where we all contribute because we belong and care for each other. Thanks, Meaford, for this honour.

With every good wish,

Mary Solomon, Meaford

Editor’s Note: Congratulations Mary, a well-deserved honour, you and your efforts are treasured by this community.


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