By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Described by Mayor Al Strathdee as "exciting", Council began last Tuesday's meeting with the February nominees for the Town's "Strong As Stone" recognition program. The initiative was unveiled last month and aims to showcase St. Marys residents doing good deeds and helping the community get through the COVID-19 pandemic. Nominees will be recognized monthly at Council meetings and nominations can be made through an online form at www.townofstmarys.com/strongasstone. The Mayor encouraged residents to submit as many nominations as they see fit.
The six nominees were present via Zoom for their official recognition. Christa Royal was the first nominee recognized. She was nominated for being kind to everyone she meets while walking downtown, no matter who they are. Royal regularly looks for ways to give back to her community, and even after the pandemic shut down her business, Yoga For You, she continued to find ways to promote healthy living in St. Marys online. She also volunteered with the Nourish Food Market this past summer.
The second person to be recognized was Missy Little. Nominated by multiple people, Little has not only had to be extra cautious at her job at Kingsway Lodge but has also found ways to help people. She has gone above and beyond working at the local nursing home, raising money for Town services and projects, celebrating local businesses, and caring for everyone lucky enough to know her. Nominated alongside Little was her stuffed monkey Gunther, who has provided plenty of laughs on Facebook over the last year.
Next to be recognized was a group, specifically, Monica, Dayna, and Alice Hinz. Last November, the Hinz girls spearheaded a pandemic-friendly poppy drive, raising money by selling handmade paper-plate poppies to put on the front doors of St. Marys' homes. The three girls, all under the age of 10, raised $1,600 for the St. Marys Legion.
Recognized next was Julie Docker-Johnson. Recognized for many different reasons, one of the primary things Julie has done was put out daily Facebook posts, reminding her friends of all the good in the world. Docker-Johnson was described as the first to help when needed and volunteers year-round on various projects. She was also recognized for her work as a member of the BIA Christmas Committee and her participation in the United Way Perth Huron's Coldest Night of the Year walk.
You've probably heard the next group recognized at some point in the last year. The Widder Street Noisemakers were recognized. The group included Docker-Johnson, Jo-Anne Lounds, Alan Lounds, Diane Downing, Casey Downing, Brian Boyd, Deb Fletcher, Harold Levy, and Tim O'Connor. The group of Widder Street residents came together during the pandemic to raise their community's spirits. Stationed outside of Holy Name Church, the group played music and banged pots and pans every night from the Spring to the Fall. Most importantly, for a few minutes every day, they made many people feel less lonely and isolated. Before leaving the meeting, O'Connor touched on one of the major reasons for their initiative, saying "we did it for the health care workers! It was an honour to support them and they did so much for all of us, and continue to do so much for all of us."
The last nominee to be recognized was Ted Mahoney. Mahoney is a lifelong St. Marys resident who is always willing to lend a helping hand, whether taking his grandson to hockey practice or giving his longtime neighbour a ride to medical appointments. Mahoney and all nominees have received certificates from the Town and all of them are indeed Strong As Stone.
Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent