ICE LAKE – Bill Baker moved back to his Manitoulin home in the early 1980s after spending 14 years in Sudbury and immediately began to volunteer his time with the community that raised him.
“When we came back, I was involved very heavily with the Strawberry Point Christian Camp,” Mr. Baker explained of his volunteer efforts. “I was a great contributor to that effort for many years, and was instrumental in the procurement of that property.” Prior to the land purchase, the camp rented the property on Ice Lake.
More recently, Mr. Baker is perhaps best known for his active involvement as a volunteer with Manitoulin Lodge, especially as chief organizer for the monthly men’s breakfasts.
“Slim Field recruited me to help out at the Lodge,” Mr. Baker explained. When Mr. Field left Manitoulin, Mr. Baker was asked to pick up where he left off.
“I organize the other volunteers for the men’s breakfast,” he said, noting the “seven or eight good guys” who come each month to help with the cooking and serving.
Mr. Baker has been assisting with these breakfasts for two decades or more.
The Ice Lake volunteer also helps with the men’s golf mornings at Golf Manitoulin (formerly the Manitoulin Island Country Club), as well as the Western Manitoulin Seniors Drop-In Centre where he serves as treasurer and has acted as president.
Mr. Baker finds himself heading the popular drop-in centre pool tournaments and has even started a winter shuffleboard bowling league.
Mr. Baker said he enjoys volunteering because it offers the opportunity to give of himself.
“The years I was working real estate, I was working 24/7,” he explained. “Once I had more free time it was something to fill the time and give back.”
Mr. Baker perhaps most enjoys his time at the Lodge. “It makes a few old men feel happy once a month. It’s a lot of fun.”
Mr. Baker said because of his years in real estate, he would see people move to Manitoulin because they fell in love with the place but would fail to get involved in the community. Five years later they would move again.
He encourages those new to Manitoulin to make the most of their surroundings. “Get out, get involved, meet people.” Volunteering offers “a chance to meet new people, especially if you’re new to the Island. Ask questions about where to volunteer and where to help,” Mr. Baker added, noting that a municipal office is a good place to ask.