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June 7, 2004
For immediate release
Six Seniors Honoured for Exceptional Community Involvement
Health and Social Services
The PEI Seniors’ Advisory Council Community Awards were created to honour the sometimes unsung heroes within the province’s senior population. The awards recognize the outstanding contributions made by seniors to their communities. Awards were presented to seniors in each of the four health regions – East Prince, West Prince, Queens and Kings.
Health and Social Services Minister Chester Gillan praised the seniors for their dedication to their communities. “These people have given selflessly with no expectation of personal gain, and often without recognition of their efforts, for decades,” the minister noted. “Each of our recipients exemplifies the vital role that seniors play in their communities. They have given generously of their time and expertise to help those in need.”
This year’s recipients are a lively mix of seniors who have been involved with their communities for many years. They have been sharing their knowledge and talents through music, humour, food, and simple acts of kindness and compassion.
The recipients for the Queens Health Region were sisters Aline and Doreen Reid. The nominating committee received nominations for both Aline and Doreen, and found it impossible to choose one over the other, so decided to present the region’s award jointly to the sisters.
The Reid sisters have been serving their community through their involvement with their church, driving elderly people to appointments and to church, providing financial help to the needy, baking for family or acquaintances, supporting individuals who are grieving, visiting nursing homes, helping refugee families, and a variety of other activities for various groups.
The East Prince Health Region recipients are also a team. Al and Belle LeBlanc have worked together for twenty three years with Meals on Wheels, ten years with the Let Older Volunteers Educate Program, and ten years with the Heart and Stroke Foundation. They have worked as volunteers for both Wedgewood and Summerset Manors, with their local community school, at the Parkside Seniors Club in Summerside, transporting patients requiring medical treatments back and forth between Summerside to Charlottetown, and in the Seniors’ Organization for the Blind and Handicapped. This dynamic team also arranged the Guinness World Records Kissing Contest in Summerside a few years ago.
People in the West Prince Health Region are well-acquainted with John H. Fitzgerald, this year’s recipient for the area. Fitzgerald is a founding member of the Helping Hands Band, which has raised more than $500,000 for charity since its beginning seven years ago. He has been on the board of the Angel Network – an Eastlink program that raises money for people who need to travel off-Island for medical services – for six years, and is a past member of the West Prince Caring Cupboard food bank.
Fitzgerald’s music is his way of reaching out to those in need. In addition to his work in the Helping Hands Band, he is a member of the choir of Grace Christian Church, which appears regularly on Eastlink, and a regular performer on that channel’s Community Showcase. John performs regularly at manors, seniors’ residences, birthday parties for seniors, at the chronic care wing of the O’Leary Community Hospital, and at the Tyne Valley Hospital.
The recipient in Kings Region is Clarisse Gallant. Gallant has been a volunteer for most of her life. Since moving to Souris some 50 years ago, she has worked tirelessly for the betterment of the community, particularly on behalf of senior citizens.
She has been a member of the Silver Threads Seniors Club for 30 years and president for two terms. During this time, the building underwent major renovations, and the Foot Care Clinic and Vials for Life Program were established. She was instrumental in securing two garden suites for the area. Other involvements include the Parent-Teacher Association, Co-op Housing, Catholic Women’s League, fifty years in the church choir, volunteer driving for seniors, the Eastern Kings Tourism Association, and the St. Thomas Aquinas and Acadian Societies.
Minister Gillan congratulated all of the recipients for their dedication to their communities, and encouraged all seniors to continue their volunteer work. “Staying active, as you all know, is one of the keys to good health. To those of you who volunteer within your communities, I encourage you to continue. You are impressive role models for the next generation of volunteers.”