Sunday, 11 December 2011

Top 50 in 50 Award Winners

For the 50th anniversary of the OGS, a special contest was undertaken to find the top 50 volunteers who had gone "above and beyond" in their dedication and commitment to genealogy. Our Brant branch was fortunate enough to have three of the recipients.

Last night, at our annual turkey supper, Regional Chairman for Region 4, Ken Bird, was on hand to make the presentations to these very special women. Certificates were also received from our MPP, Dave Levac and our MP, Phil McColeman.

(retiring) Region IV Chairman, Ken Bird
The first recipient was Helen Doctor.

Prior to the opening of our new library – Helen arranged for a sub-office in her home when the thirty-four stairs at our downtown library became too difficult for volunteers and the general public to negotiate, and provided the use of her personal office and facilities for our general and executive meetings, as well as serving lunch after the meetings, so that we would no longer have to endure substandard accommodations elsewhere. She provided the use of her club- house for the monthly year-round meetings of the British Isles Study Group and the Family History Group.

Fundraiser Extraordinaire – Helen has continued to provide the use of her community hall for the two popular fundraising workshops held every year, and also cooks and serves the delicious hot lunch served at these workshops. Every year she holds a fundraising turkey dinner, and a barbecue and strawberry social. She arranges for a branch sales table at the Smokey Hollow Estates spring and fall bazaars, and at their annual yard sale. Helen has been a volunteer for over ten years and was our treasurer for quite a few years, raising a substantial amount of money through her ingenuity and boundless energy.

Our New Library - When the branch required new accommodations and was unable to afford them, Helen built us a lovely new library, including a full basement and handicapped access, at her Smokey Hollow Estates property. She also looked after purchasing furnishings for the library and office and supervised and helped with the move. She continues to help us in many ways with her expertise and with the use of her office facilities. The library opened on November 23, 2008 and is manned by volunteers five days a week. Helen’s collection of native history and genealogy is on the shelves, available to everyone.

Tweedsmuir Historian – Helen is the historian for the Hamilton Area Women’s Institutes. She is our resident expert on the history of the Women’s Institute and the history contained in the Tweedsmuir books. Helen has spent years locating old Tweedsmuirs, borrowing them and making two photocopies of each page, and then putting them in archival binders. She has also indexed some of them, a monumental task. A copy is then given back to the person providing the book, along with the book, and the other copy is put on our shelves. This way, future handling of the original books can be avoided. These books are invaluable historical resources.

British Home Child Descendants’ Reunion and Memorial Quilt Display - On October 23 and 24, 2010, the Brant Branch held a reunion for the descendants of British Home Children and also displayed a home child memorial photo quilt. Over 400 people attended during that weekend. Brant MP Phil McColeman, who brought forth a motion in parliament to recognize 2010 as the Year of the British Home Child, was in attendance along with Brant MPP Dave Levac, Brant County Mayor Ron Eddy, and Shirley Sturdevant, from O.G.S. Helen provided the use of two large rooms in her community hall for this event, as well as meals all weekend for visitors. The branch received certificates of honour and appreciation from the government representatives. 

Helen is a very generous and special person, an outstanding volunteer.

The second recipient was Donna Kemp

Donna Kemp is a founding member of the Brant County Branch and has been a volunteer from the branch’s inception.

From 1994 to the present time Donna has either been chairperson, co-chairperson, vice chairperson or interim chairperson of the branch.  Along with these duties, more than once she has filled in as newsletter editor when the position has been vacant.     

She has been a library volunteer since the beginning, and was in charge of the office at our former library, directing and assisting with the production and printing of our publications, and all other issues concerning the branch. 

Donna has carried on with the duties of library and office manager on a full time basis in our lovely new library at Smokey Hollow Estates. The library is open twenty-seven hours a week and she is on duty the entire time. She is also on call in order to accommodate library visitors outside of our regular hours, and she has always spent a considerable amount of time working at home on branch-related business.      

In recognition of her dedicated service and outstanding contribution to Brant Branch, Donna has been awarded a Life Membership. Her common sense approach to tasks and problems, along with her expertise and generosity of spirit make Donna an invaluable asset and an invaluable volunteer.  

Our third recipient was Marilyn Cross.

Marilyn joined Brant County O.G.S. in 1987 and she helped librarian Alice Pope with the library books at the meetings, before there was a branch library.

About 1990, Marilyn worked as Alice’s library assistant in setting up the branch library. When the library was situated in downtown Brantford she took regular turns on library duty, and since the library has been moved to its present location she has been helping in the library almost every day.
In 1988 Marilyn worked with Angela Files transcribing and typing all of the Brant County cemeteries, which was an ongoing project, until they were updated and completed a few years ago.

Marilyn started the British Study Group, which meets every month year round, to assist others with their British research, and to purchase British genealogical books for the library. She has chaired it ever since. Her plan to start a U.S.-Canada Study Group was taken over by another member.  She also substitutes as chair of the monthly Family History Group if Audrey Elcomb is unavailable. Since 1988 Marilyn has attended executive meetings, and for about ten years she has been co-chairperson.

In 1996 the branch began a Special Projects group to work in the library, cutting, pasting, indexing, photocopying and adding information into the computer, in order to make that information more readily available. Many publications had to be computerized, resulting in a large searchable database that makes finding family material much easier. Marilyn has been co-chairperson of this group since its inception.

Marilyn is an industrious, diligent, helpful and dependable volunteer, a real asset to the branch.

Congratulations Ladies!!

Special thanks to Janice Harris for her dedication in nominating these three women, allowing them to receive the recognition they so richly deserve.


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