EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of two instalments of coverage of the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home barbecue fundraiser and bake sale event and awards presentations.
GORE BAY—There was a fantastic turnout for the Manitoulin Lodge barbecue fundraiser and bake sale event, which included great music, lots of tasty food and baking and a real feeling of everyone being happy to be together again, including residents, lodge employees and volunteers and guests. And it was also an event that provided an opportunity for the Lodge to make the presentation of two special awards, to a deserving employee and resident of the Lodge.
“We would like to welcome everyone here today. There is a great turnout and I hope everyone is enjoying the music so far,” stated Jamie-Lynn Kalmikov, administrator of the Lodge. “It’s been great to finally be able to have events like this again (after the pandemic) and it is awesome to see everyone.”
“It is great to see everyone again, and be able to get together again,” echoed Gloria Hall, events coordinator at the Lodge. “Thank you to ‘Family Tradition’ for the awesome music and thank you to all our hard-working volunteers and to all of you for coming out here today.”
Ms. Hall explained, “every year we are asked to choose and nominate a resident for the ‘Making A Difference in the Lives of Others Award.’ This year, after much thought, we decided to nominate a very special lady who is originally from London, England.”
“Betty Maureen Johnson was born in London, England on April 29, 1929,” said Ms. Hall. She explained, “her teen years were spent in the throes of World War Two, doing homework in the bomb shelters or being sent on a train into the countryside with all the other kids when London was being bombed. Can you even imagine that?”
Post-war, “she met and married Bob Johnson, Maureen’s lifelong partner of nearly 70 years,” continued Ms. Hall. “Together they struggled to carve out an existence in the post-war Europe.”
In 1957, the Johnsons reduced their belongings to fit into one steamer trunk, took their two children by the hand, (ages and seven and four and a half), boarded the Empress of England and sailed for Canada, explained Ms. Hall. “It is an understatement to say that these were not easy times. The only family they had in Canada were two of Bob’s sisters. They basically had to start their lives from scratch.”
However, “Maureen has always faced struggles head on and with remarkable resiliency and bravery,” said Ms. Hall. “This has engendered profound respect from anyone who has ever known her. She always worked outside the home, found time, and still managed to always be there for all of her family’s needs.”
“About 10 years after arriving in Canada, the Johnsons’ second son David was born, making the family complete, with Clive, Tove and David,” said Ms. Hall. “Her deeply compassionate nature and extraordinary clarity and intelligence made her a leader, no matter where she went. Maureen has always cared about her community and those that are in need of assistance can always count on her to champion their cause.”
After overcoming cancer herself, Ms. Johnson worked tirelessly to raise funds for cancer research and was the driving force behind ‘Hope in a Boat,’ which competed in the Dragon Boat races in Sudbury, explained Ms. Hall. “The team was one of the top fund-raisers for the event.”
“Once Manitoulin became home, there was nowhere else Maureen wanted to be,” said Ms. Hall. “She loves this land and the people on it. I know that many of you have been touched by her beautiful spirit.”
Ms. Johnson volunteered for many causes, one of them the Anglican Church, serving in many offices. “Maureen has been blessed with three children, three grandchildren and three great grandchildren,” said Ms. Hall.
Ms. Hall said, “Maureen joined a new family at Manitoulin Lodge in May 2019. She continues to be a resident advocate, participating in resident council and food committee meetings. She brings concerns of others to these meetings, promoting the best life for residents. And, once things started to open up after the COVID lockdowns, she advocated for residents being able to attend community church and go on outings.”
“Maureen enjoys many of the activities at Manitoulin Lodge, especially the bingos, music, special events and pastoral care,” said Ms. Hall. “She is always concerned for others if they are feeling under the weather. This also goes for staff as well as residents.”
“One of the staff members recalls how she and Bob helped to push her out when she inadvertently went into the ditch one stormy night,” said Ms. Hall.
“It gives me great pleasure to present this ‘Making a Difference Award’ to a very deserving person who makes a difference in the lives of everyone she meets. Congratulations Maureen,” added Ms. Hall.
“Thank you so much,” stated Ms. Johnson. “I was so surprised and I am probably not the most deserving resident for this award,” adding, “staff work very hard for residents.”
The event was sponsored by the Manitoulin Lodge volunteer program, with all proceeds raised going to resident program and activities.