The snap and crackle of Canada Day comes with a few rites of passage – temporary maple leaf tattoos, collapsible lawn chairs, sweaty cold beverages and great Canadian music. It’s also a time to appreciate the many volunteers who give their time locally and abroad.
This year, the City of Kingston has acknowledged five outstanding citizens who have enriched the lives of the many and have helped in building a stronger community.
Dr. Robert Gordon was awarded the 2013 First Capital Distinguished Citizen Award. Gordon came to Kingston in 1966 to teach physical chemistry at Queen’s University. He worked at Queen’s for 30 years before retiring in 1996.
“I’ve never lived in this small of a town before, but I found it delightful,” said Gordon. “It was a big enough place that it had lots going culturally. And yet you didn’t have long traffic jams and you could be out in the country, in many interesting places in half an hour.”
Gordon is well-known for his work at Martha’s Table. For the last 15 years, his involvement has stretched from fundraising to being a board member to peeling 100lbs of potatoes. He has volunteered with Chalmers United Church, the Rideau Trail and helps senior citizens with their tax forms.
Councillor Brian Reitzel described Gordon as “one of the quietest, most unheralded and almost irreplaceable community volunteers that we have in Kingston. That’s essentially him in a nutshell.”
Since there are many hardworking volunteers in Kingston, Gordon didn’t expect the award would land on his lap.
“I was delighted and quite surprised,” said Gordon. “While I made some contributions, I can think of many others who would be equally deserving, but I see this as a tribute to volunteer activity in general.”
Tammy Babcock was awarded the 2013 First Capital Honourable Achievement Award.
“It’s overwhelming, to be honest,” said Babcock. “It’s a little bit embarrassing. It’s never easy to be recognized for volunteer work that you do, but at the same time I’m really grateful for being appreciated, especially by a city like Kingston. I love Kingston. It’s absolutely an honour.”
Babcock has 20 years of international volunteer work behind her. She rebuilt homes and constructed a community centre in Thailand following the tsunami in 2004. Since the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, she has invested her energy in Cité Soleil by establishing a water tower and medical centre through her organization Help Tammy Help Haiti.
Babcock is doing all kinds of training work out of the medical centre she created. They have a First Aid for Peace program that brought together 10 different people from six different gangs. Over the course of a month, these young men were taught how to clean and pack bullet wounds, clean and stitch stab wounds. Skills that are relevant to their way of life.
“We just put them in an environment to learn,” said Babcock. “And naturally they became friends, all of them were friends at the end. In the beginning, certainly not. They were extreme enemies.”
The medical centre also has a first aid program for young women, with a focus on hygiene. On July 15, Babcock is heading to Haiti for 10 days where she aims to train 100 young mothers in CPR for infants. St. John’s Ambulance has contributed to this project by donating $3,000 worth of materials and first aid equipment.
Babcock is currently fundraising for a community centre in Haiti. Benefit by Design, a local company, has sponsored the facility’s basketball courts.
The next major fundraiser Babcock is hosting will be happening at Queen’s on July 6 at the main gym. There’s a registration fee of $25 per person, or $75 for a team of three. To get involved visit helptammyhelphaiti.com and send Tammy an e-mail.
The 2013 Mayor’s Award Winners for Youth Volunteerism went to Cheyenne Wood (Grade 5-8), Cynthia Bradley (Grade 9 – 12) and Katrina Putos (Post-secondary).
Wood has devoted time to Community Response to Neighbourhood Concerns for the last four years and is a leader in her school with respect to anti-bullying. Bradley is part of the Ongwanada Volunteer Team. She works with adults who have developemental disabilities. And Putos has been involved with the K-Town Triathlon since she was four years old,. She has served as the event’s run director, transition director and bike birector. She’s also the assistant volunteer Pegasus Club coach in volleyball.