At the May 2017 AGM, Brenda Lee received the Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award from OSCA for over 20 years of volunteering on the OSCA Board and on the Events Committee. Brenda has been a strong supporter for events that bring the community together and has given of her time and knowledge openly and selflessly. Her contribution to the community has been felt in many ways, and the community will continue to benefit for years to come because of her efforts, and establishment of key OSCA events.
This is a transcript of her acceptance speech originally published in the June 2017 OSCAR.
I’d like to thank the community of Old Ottawa South for this award and for the past 17 years that have literally changed my life. I came to this Association in 1999, very unschooled in the ways of boards, committees and event planning. When I joined I was unsure of myself and hesitant to speak up, something I am sure we can all agree is no longer the case!
There are too many people to thank and I will never be able to thank everyone properly, but I hope you all know who you are, and what you mean to me.
I want to thank Anne Marie Corbett for convincing me to join the board in the first place, for co-chairing both Special Events and the Program Committee with me for years, and for teaching me that rules could sometimes be bent, and that that was okay. The late Deirdre McQuillan, Dinos Dafniotis, and Cathie Buchanan for their infinite patience with a newbie, and for sharing in so many adventures and laughs with me over the years.
Darcy Middaugh, Julia Morency, Ilona Peltz, Nancy Brunet, Michelle Terris, Bob Adamyk, Rebekka Roy, Kate Charland, and every single person who ever sat on the Special Events Committee and volunteered their time and ideas to this community, as well as the literally hundreds of people who volunteered at events over the years. Your hard work and dedication is inspiring, and reflects on all that this community is.
My husband, Chris Heilmann, for all of his support and love and for not kicking me out of bed when I was tossing and turning and making to do lists in my head at 3:00am, and for helping me to put so many things into proper perspective.
And lastly, of course, my Mom, who was an event planner extraordinaire even though she would never admit it, and at whose knee I learned those basic lessons of how to give back and how to plan a kick-ass party on a budget.
When I joined the Special Events committee, OSCA hosted two events a year. That grew significantly over the last 17 years, due in great part to the many people who had ideas and ran with them. The thing I will always treasure about those years was the grass roots nature of it all. We volunteers planned events in neighbourhood parks with children playing around us, in our living rooms over coffee, in small meeting rooms at the Firehall… and yes occasionally at the local pub. The events were small and community oriented, well attended and cherished by so many. People pitched in where they could, brought out their best foods for friendly neighbourhood competitions, businesses donated prizes and children who attended events grew up and were suddenly teenagers volunteering at the same events they had attended as children. They really were special times. Change is inevitable, and OSCA is undergoing its own changes. Professional event planners will now be hired to host OSCA events, with the hopes that the events will grow in size and scope, and attract a bigger audience than just those in Old Ottawa South. But I will always hold those memories of the early, simpler years close to my heart, and be forever grateful for being lucky enough to have been a part of them.
I will end this sentimental speech by saying that I truly believe that the Beatles were genius and that “in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make” is not just a brilliant lyric but also a mantra that I hold to be the absolute truth. All that I gave to this community I received back ten-fold, and I am a very lucky woman. I thank you all so very much, not only for this award, but also for all of the wonderful memories.