by Betty Bardswich
BIG LAKE— Great music and a delicious fish supper on July 14 provided an ideal venue for the Big Lake Women’s Institute (WI) Selection Committee to announce the winner of the Citizen of the Year for Ward 3 of Central Manitoulin. Upwards of 150 people assembled at the Big Lake community hall (the old school house) for this event and to enjoy fish, salads, drinks and ice cream with strawberries courtesy of the Big Lake Community Association.
Carenne English, who is taking the place of president of the WI as Ruby Lavigne steps down, was pleased to announce that there are, in fact, two winners of the award for 2015 and presented that honour to Marlene and Darrel Dewar.
“Over the past 10 years,” Ms. English told those in attendance, “Marlene and Darell have volunteered endless hours to assist in all functions held at the old Big Lake School. They have worked with setting up the day before a function, assisted the day of the function with all kinds of jobs, and then also became the clean-up committee after the event. For many years Marlene has been the Treasurer of the Big Lake Community Association, and this has involved handling all of the financial and bookkeeping functions. Darrell, at the same time, has handled all the jobs which fall under maintenance, including repairing the furnace and water systems, and opening and closing the building in spring and fall. All of this work has been completed without complaint and with a smile and joke for everyone.”
Ms. English also talked about Mr. Dewar’s volunteer performances with The Islanders, a music group that plays at nursing homes, seniors meetings, birthday parties and other festivities throughout the Island.
In announcing the winners of the award, Ms English added that “volunteering is very rewarding and is also a very important requirement to keep a vital and progressive community.”
The Dewars’ two daughters were unable to attend the ceremony, but sent an email which Ms. English read. “Our mom and dad always kept it simple” said Valerie and Anita. “Their lesson was treat people how you want to be treated. They have taught their grandkids as well as us to make sure that when you are out in the community or anywhere, you include everyone and make people feel comfortable. Our parents have taught us about the importance of giving back to our community and spreading hope to anyone that needs it or is ready to receive it. My parents,” wrote Valerie Mussington, “have always shared their talents which include music, humour, dancing, poetry, baking, quilting and my dad’s ability to fix anything for anyone. We wish we were there and just want to end off by telling my parents that we love them very much and are proud to be a part of their family.”
MPP Mike Mantha attended this ceremony and brought greetings and congratulations from MP Carol Hughes who, Mr. Mantha said, was on grandmother duty. He went on to say that he was honoured to be at the award ceremony and noted that volunteers are the backbone of each and every community. “It is not for honours,” Mr. Mantha stated, “but for the good of the community. They always have the heart to do the work that is needed for our communities.”
The Citizen of the Year plaque was presented to Ms. Dewar by Betty Heis who was awarded the honour last year.