Volunteer Recognition- April 2021
Featuring- Darlene McNeil
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is proud to celebrate Darlene McNeil as the Volunteer of the Month for April 2021.
It was through a good friend that Darlene learned about the Grand River Council on Aging and started volunteering in 2020. She quickly joined the Subcommittee on Education and worked diligently with a group of volunteers to further the development of the “Seniors Discount Directory” which launched earlier this year.
With a keen appreciation and gift for public speaking, Darlene is an integral part of the volunteer team, organizing and delivering biweekly workshops on a broad range of topics for the “Community at Home Virtual Workshop Series” which has become a great source of knowledge sharing and connection for many members of our community.
Throughout her career until her retirement in 2011, Darlene was a dedicated public servant working in the Provincial Court System in Brantford and later for the City of London Municipal Traffic Court. Although she had a full career, she always made time to volunteer with various community organizations in different municipalities. Darlene has been a member of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority in Brantford for nearly 40 years, holding Executive Positions within the Chapter. She is also a grateful transplant recipient and promotes Organ Donation actively through public speaking engagements.
In her free time, Darlene focuses on healthy living through fitness programs and sports such as golf and pickleball. Before the pandemic, she enjoyed various adventures traveling across Canada in her camper. Most recently, she has been taking online classes, expressing her creativity with unique forms of acrylic and watercolour painting, and learning how to play the piano.
Darlene has a genuine interest in increasing the quality of life in our community and it is with sincere appreciation that the Grand River Council on Aging acknowledges her volunteer contributions. Thank you, Darlene for your kindness, enthusiasm, sharing your talents, and encouraging an age friendly community. We appreciate you!
Volunteer Recognition – March 2021
Featuring Sara Darling
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is proud to celebrate Sara Darling as the Volunteer of the Month for March 2021
Sara’s journey with the Grand River Council on Aging started through her role as a Community Service – Learning Co-ordinator at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford Campus. She joined our Board of Directors as a Community Agency Representative in the Spring of 2019, and has since been a positive and dynamic presence, volunteering with our annual fundraiser, Taco Fest; assisting Laurier students in being involved with the work of the GRCOA; and most recently joining the group that is hosting our “Community at Home Workshop” series.
Through her role at the University, Sara works very closely with local organizations to explore and identify experiential learning opportunities for Laurier students. Over the years she has assisted students in learning about and becoming involved with the GRCOA through their projects and field placements. Currently, GRCOA has 3 students assisting in establishing a crowd funding campaign, creating a distribution data base and providing content for the GRCOA newsletter, which launched earlier this year.
Sara began her career working with young children and their families and has served in various roles in education, coordination and facilitation. She has over 15 years experience with local projects and initiatives which focus on community building and bringing people together with common goals.
As a devoted wife and mother to a hockey loving son, Sara states that she and her husband spend a lot of time in arenas, and enjoy traveling and exploring together as a family. During her personal time, Sara reaps the benefits of practicing yoga, reading, and spending time in nature. She also makes time to be present with simple pleasures in life such as sunny days and meaningful quotes.
The Grand River Council on Aging is grateful for Sara’s dedication and service. Her integrity and professionalism continue to build an inclusive and age friendly community which echo the sentiments by Helen Keller “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Volunteer Recognition- February 2021
Featuring Sharon Norris
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is proud to celebrate Sharon Norris as the Volunteer of the Month for February 2021.
Sharon’s journey with the Grand River Council on Aging started approximately 2 years ago while attending one of our workshops. She was inspired to start volunteering shortly after and has since dedicated her time and talents in various ways.
With a keen attention to detail and accuracy, Sharon assisted with the development of GRCOA’s “Volunteer Data Base”. She also served on the work group which helped develop GRCOA’s online “Seniors’ Discount Directory” to assist the age 55 plus population maximize savings with over 250 local discounts in Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations. Most recently, Sharon has been volunteering her editorial skills to assist with our new “Community at Home” newsletter which launched earlier this year.
Sharon is retired from a successful career in Administration, working in various sectors with a diverse clientele. She is a positive and motivated individual with a natural inclination towards community service. She started volunteering with the Literacy Council for Adults over 30 years ago and also served in various roles as a volunteer at a local long-term care home for several years before the start of the pandemic. During her personal time, Sharon enjoys spending quality time with her grandkids, going on outdoor walks with the family dog, reading and learning.
The Grand River Council on Aging is grateful for Sharon’s humble service. Her encouragement, professionalism and integrity continue to build an inclusive and age friendly community while increasing the quality of life for all its citizens.
Thank you, Sharon. We sincerely appreciate you and all your contributions!
Volunteer Recognition- January 2021
Featuring Maryellen MacLellan
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is proud to celebrate Maryellen MacLellan as the Volunteer of the Month for January 2021.
It was during a Housing Forum in 2018, when Maryellen announced her retirement that she was warmly greeted by Lucy Marco and invited to join the GRCOA’s Board of Directors. Since then, she leads as the housing expert, assisted with the planning of our annual Taco Fest and serves as GRCOA Treasurer.
Maryellen has over 40 years of experience in the Social Housing sector, starting with the Brant and Brantford Housing Authority and on to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Housing. During her service, she was responsible for the implementation of the Special Priority Policies for victims of family violence, Race and Ethnic Relations Policies and Quality of Life Policies. Later in her career, she worked her way to General Manager of Niagara Housing.
Prior to her retirement, Maryellen was responsible for the building of Brantford’s first self-sustaining, energy efficient, mixed income 57-unit apartment building for persons over 60. Maryellen has dropped out of her retirement for a short period of time to return to the City of Brantford as Acting Director of Housing and Homelessness and coordinated the team responsible for the Marlene Ave. “Home for Good” affordable/supportive housing development.
The Grand River Council on Aging is grateful for Maryellen’s dedicated service. Her leadership, extensive knowledge, experience and integrity continue to build an inclusive and age friendly community while increasing the quality of life for all its citizens. Thank you, Maryellen.
We appreciate and celebrate you!
Volunteer Recognition – December 2020
Featuring David McKee
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is proud to celebrate David McKee as the Volunteer of the Month for December 2020.
David McKee’s journey as a volunteer with the Grand River Council on Aging started when he participated in the Age Friendly Community forums and information sessions, leading to the Community Impact Report published in May 2017.
Currently, David is thrilled to be part of a group of volunteers developing the “Seniors Discount Directory”. He states that it is a “wonderful resource” to be made available online and in print early next year. David has also served the GRCOA, in full traditional regalia as Brantford’s Official Town Crier. He has ceremoniously launched the annual Taco Fest, and although Taco Fest was cancelled his year due to the pandemic, he created a special “Proclamation for the End of 2020 Cry”, that will be shared with our community.
David was declared as the Official Town Crier for the City of Brantford in 1992. What he envisioned to be a networking tool, turned into a colourful avocation. He states that after researching and really discovering Brantford, he found that his town crying skills allowed him to “tout this fair burg’s virtues far and wide”. Locally, he performs at over 30 civic events, charity and non-profit fundraisers annually. He currently serves on various committees, and in spite of COVID-19, has managed to proclaim at local events, including two charity fundraisers. He states that shouting through a mask is interesting and that through it all, his partner Betty Jean has been his source of encouragement and inspiration.
The Grand River Council on Aging is thankful for David’s enthusiastic service. We appreciate his vibrant energy and cheerfully proclaim, “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!” Be it known to all and singular that, David McKee has successfully served to help promote the voice of Elders and build a community for a lifetime, and has done so with candor and virtue.
Volunteer Recognition – November 2020
Featuring – Sherrill Heys
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is proud to celebrate Sherrill Heys as the Volunteer of the Month for November 2020
Sherrill Heys has been a steady presence with the Grand River Council on Aging, joining as a volunteer after participating in the 2016 Age Friendly Community forums and information sessions that led to the Community Impact Report published in May 2017. Seniors involved in that process provided 628 suggestions towards making our community “age-friendly” for all ages, from 5 to 105! This process led to the City of Brantford and the County of Brant being recognized by the World Health Organization as “Age Friendly Communities”.
Sherrill is an active member of the GRCOA’s Education Committee where she has provided feedback, made suggestions, and been involved in the development of two new exciting projects. She is the originator of the Seniors Discount Directory currently being developed to assist the 55 plus population maximize savings with a few clicks of the mouse. The “Seniors Discount Directory” will be available on line and in print early next year. Sherrill is also the originator of another new initiative in the development stage, an Information Bookmark highlighting the GRCOA INFO HUB as the “go to” site for links to over 250 community resources.
Throughout her professional career, Sherrill raised a family and worked as an elementary teacher for 20 years, and supply teacher for 10 years. A lover of travel, Sherrill took a Travel & Tourism course and became a Travel Consultant where she created a “Single Ladies Travel Group” to connect female travelers with other like-minded individuals, making travel more economical and safer for everyone. Although she has been keeping busy recently connecting with others through various online activities, she looks forward to being able to travel again once the pandemic is over.
The Grand River Council on Aging sincerely appreciates Sherrill’s contribution of her time and expertise in being part of the team that “promotes the voice of elders” in “building a community for a lifetime”
Volunteer Recognition – October 2020
Featuring – Frank and Gayle Zaunscherb
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is proud to celebrate Frank and Gayle Zaunscherb as the Volunteers of the Month for October 2020.
Frank and Gayle’s journey with the GRCOA started in early 2019, when Lucy contacted the City to see if someone on the Brantford Cultural Advisory Committee (BCAC) would act as a representative on our Board. Frank was serving as the Vice Chair of the BCAC at the time and through a series of events decided to meet with Lucy. He stated that within three minutes of their meeting, he learned how to see through a new, age friendly lens according to the principles of the “Go/Go, Slow/Go and No/Go” stages of life.
Frank shared his excitement and this new understanding of age friendly communities with Gayle, his wife and business partner. In their personal life, they lovingly raised 4 children, navigated caring for their aging parents, and served on other community committees such as the BCAC and Brantford Rotary. Together, they also built a successful business called ZRB Creative Marketing. Their shared values and careers have led initiatives nationwide and beyond, working with organizations such as the Department of Canadian Heritage, Communities in Bloom and America in Bloom. Again, they decided to employ this amazing experience, skill and dedication to our community and joined the GRCOA Board in March 2019.
While serving as Resident Directors, Frank and Gayle have provided pro bono marketing materials that led the GRCOA into expanding its online platform. Their creative contributions promoted TacoFest, assisted with the growth of our Facebook page, and developed GRCOA’s InfoHub brand and advertising campaign. They also participated on various committees, including the Strategic Plan Workshop, the Communication Committee and the Fundraising Recommendations Sub Committee to research and develop a sustainable membership plan.
Recently, Frank and Gayle announced that as they enter into their “fourth quarter of life”, they are gradually transferring their business and moving to Nova Scotia. Together they are planning full retirement a few years down the road, with dreams of exploring, discovering new places, and sharing their experiences with others.
Gayle is an avid chef, talented and passionate animal lover, and is excited about learning how to knit. While Frank, after thirty five years of commercial design, is looking forward to reconnecting and releasing his own creative expression through writing, music and all things artistic.
Thank you, Frank and Gayle. You have successfully served to help promote the voice of Elders and build a community for a lifetime. Your presence and contributions have made a lasting impression in our lives and we wish you both, the greatest of health and prosperity with the new adventures ahead of you.
Volunteer Recognition – September 2020
Featuring – Betty Anne Whitney
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is proud to celebrate Betty Anne Whitney as the Volunteer of the Month for September 2020.
Betty Anne has known about GRCOA from its inception. She was convinced to volunteer after meeting with Lucy Marco for coffee one day, and agreed to help organize and facilitate, TACO Fest. Since that day, Betty Anne stated that she was “hooked”.
With a natural inclination towards community service, Betty Anne joined the GRCOA as a Resident Board Director in May 2019. Although TACO Fest was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, she continues to serve in the Fundraising Committee, which is currently researching and developing long term strategies to help make the GRCOA more sustainable.
As a retired Educator, Betty Anne has over 30 years’ experience in Education as an Elementary School Teacher and Principal. She also worked as Coordinator of Special Education and as Principal of the Grand Erie Learning Alternatives, an alternative high school and adult continuing education program for Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk.
She is currently the President of the local district 40 RTOERO, Retired Education Workers, and member of the Canadian Federation of University Women. She remains an active volunteer and her legacy and contributions have supported many social service and educational organizations such as Nova Vita, Soroptimist International, St. Leonard’s, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Grand Valley Education Committee.
Betty Anne has a genuine interest in increasing the quality of life in our community and it is with sincere appreciation that the Grand River Council on Aging acknowledges her volunteer contributions. Thank you, Betty Anne in helping us encourage an age friendly community and promote the voice of Elders.
We appreciate you!
Volunteer Recognition- August 2020
Featuring – Kathy Poirier
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is proud to announce Kathy Poirier as the Volunteer of the Month for August 2020.
In 2010, Kathy joined the GRCOA as a part time coordinator and for the past 10 years has been a driving force in the development of the organization….sometimes as a staff member and always as a volunteer. Today, she volunteers as a member of the Board of Directors and is acting as the Treasurer.
Kathy brings many years of employment and community connections to the GRCOA. Her employment background includes child care management and social housing management through the YMCA. This experience was taken to Habitat for Humanity as the Executive Director and then to the GRCOA.
Kathy’s demonstrated experience in counselling, teaching, coaching and training was instrumental in recruiting volunteers. Her talent for writing has resulted in articles that have greatly contributed to Brantford/Brant residents becoming familiar with the impacts of an Age Friendly Community on their lives.
Kathy’s organizing skills have had a lasting legacy in the community. She was the original organizer of the “Workshop on a Bus” that ran for seven consecutive years until COVID 19 canceled it. She was the organizer behind bringing former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion to Brantford and to presentation of a “Musical Matinee” at the Sanderson Centre.
“TACO FEST” was developed by Kathy to become the signature fund raising event for the GRCOA, another event cancelled as a result of COVID 19.
Today, as Treasurer, Kathy is involved in the researching and planning for the financial future of the GRCOA.
Kathy’s commitment has been evident in all the time and expertise she has devoted to the Grand River Council on Aging in its dedication to encouraging the development of an “age-friendly community” for all residents from 5 to 105! Kathy has been a continuing part of its successful journey!
Volunteer Recognition- July 2020
Featuring – Jim Harder
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is pleased to declare Jim Harder as the worthy recipient of the July Volunteer Recognition.
Jim first came to the GRCOA when he was part of a small delegation from the Retired Teachers Organization (RTO). After that first meeting, Lucy Marco asked if any of the retired teachers would be interested in board membership, and Harder answered the call.
Throughout his teaching career, Jim taught every grade level with a focus on special education and was a principle at several elementary schools. Over the years he gained valuable insight and experience that served him in good stead when he rose to become a Department Head at a local high school for 9 years. Teaching was not his only focus during those years for as a dedicated family man, he and his wife proudly raised their family of five. In his spare time, he was a volunteer hockey coach for more than twenty years and still coaches sports today
As a resident of Paris, Jim brings County experience and knowledge to the Board of Directors. Over the years spent with the GRCOA, Harder has been part of many planning initiatives and endeavors with a prevailing focus on what might be best for the seniors residing in the County of Brant. When asked for a special memory of his time with the GRCOA, he answered simply, “all of it”.
As a quiet, unassuming gentleman, Jim thinks before he speaks and when he does, he presents different viewpoints and diverse ways to look at a given situation. Time after time, Jim has proven to be a dependable, reliable volunteer.
Whenever there is an event or activity for the GRCOA, Jim has been there as a member of the Board of Directors and a volunteer; be it the Musical Matinee, the Age-Friendly Summit, Taco Fest, or others.
As a member of the Brant County Accessibility Committee he was proud to witness the E-Rider transportation program released in late 2019. Wherever he goes in the County, he wears his “age-friendly” hat while continuously promoting the efforts of the GRCOA.
In the City, Jim provides his “age-friendly” perspective to the annual Jane’s Walk (Asset Based Development Collaborative) and to the GRCOA input relative to the City of Brantford planning initiatives.
With sincere thanks to Jim, The Grand River Council on Aging is still growing and evolving in its dedication to encourage the development of an “age-friendly community” for all residents from 5 to 105!
Volunteer Recognition – June 2020
Featuring – Peggy Wickham
New Monthly Recognition Program
The Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is proud to announce Peggy Wickham as the first recipient of the newly established Volunteer Recognition Program.
In 2010, recently retired and looking for volunteer opportunities, Peggy chose the GRCOA and during her stint, was present for much of its’ growth and progression. As a life-long volunteer, she also worked full-time and raised a family, all while negotiating the rewards and challenges of being a military wife
Over the years, her employment history and her very employable skills, had a significant bearing upon her volunteer choices. She spent her career counselling, teaching, coaching and training always with the view to help people understand what they had to offer. She is blessed with keen intelligence and wit and is strong in planning, development and implementation.
Peggy joined the Grand River Council on Aging in 2010 and held the office of Secretary and a member of the Executive Committee until 2018. She was also a major contributor to the Communication/Education Committee that created the Workshop on a Bus concept. An accomplished proof-reader, Peggy’s skills have contributed to internal and external publications and the web site.
Peggy was an integral member of the Age-Friendly Summit Working Group that went on to host two information sessions and eight community forums designed to determine what seniors want and need in order to create age-friendly communities. The resulting Community Impact Report included 628 suggestions from the residents of Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations of the Grand; its contents still guiding planning efforts
When asked about her favourite moment or memory from the GRCOA, Peggy quickly answered, “oh, it has to be the first Workshop on a Bus!” She then went on to describe how much fun that first bus trip was and her pride in the way this event has continued to be of strong appeal and value to seniors for seven years. Peggy continues to be involved and is a regular member of the Communication/Education Committee and remains available as an editor for any new work published by the Council on Aging.
With appreciation to volunteers like Peggy, The Grand River Council on Aging is still growing and evolving in its dedication to encourage the development of an “age-friendly community” for all residents from 5 to 105!