Westport nominates senior for Ontario award

·3 min read

(Corrected - Mayor Robin Jones stated the initiative started by Ken Rose was called Westport Cares and that it did not have a website, but the initiative is called Westport Shares and has a Facebook page. As well, she stated that the pass-it forward pizza initiative was delivered by Rose but community members now pick up the pizza themselves.)

It came as a surprise – a secret addition to the special council meeting agenda with no mover or seconder – when Westport Mayor Robin Jones congratulated Ken Rose for being the village's nominee for the Ontario Senior of the Year award.

Many months ago, Jones stopped Rose on the street while he was biking to tell him council had put his name forward to the province for the award and it was a unanimous decision to do so, explained Jones during Thursday night's special council meeting.

According to Jones, there were many reasons the council put his name forward to the province.

"There were a lot of heroes during the last 18, 19 or 20 months, but we particularly wanted to raise you up, Ken, for the work that you do silently, quietly and behind the scenes," added Jones.

Council looks for people who go "well beyond being a good neighbour," those who go out of their way to help and support others in the community, said the mayor.

"Thank you very much," said Rose during the special council meeting. "So many people do a lot to make this town great and I’m just happy to be a citizen who lives here."

He added he appreciates all that the village has done for him and the community.

"I'm glad to give back and kudos to all of us for being neighbours and part of the community."

Many councilors and participants in the virtual council meeting clapped and congratulated Rose on the nomination.

The award is given by a municipality to recognize an outstanding senior who, after age 65, enriches the social, cultural or civic life of the community, states the Ontario government website.

Previously Rose had owned two businesses in the village with his wife, but within the last couple of years he sold them. He was nominated for the community initiatives and work he had started throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including a pass-it-forward pizza initiative, called Pandemic Pizza.

He’d call different nominees and they would have a choice of any size and type of pizza they would like.

In the beginning, Rose would deliver the pizza but now they order it and pick it up at their own convenience. He would ask if they’d like to pay it forward.

She added another initiative he has started is a group of other concerned residents entitled Westport Shares, for people who have fallen through funding and granting cracks; if they need a leg up and a bit of money, the group helps without any bureaucracy or strings attached.

Westport Shares is an ongoing source of emergency funds in the community, supported by local community members and services like the Westport Lions and the Westport Legion. The initiative can be found at Westport Shares on Facebook.

Jones said during the meeting on Thursday: "Part of your magic is so often behind the scenes but you're really accomplishing the goals that you want and making Westport just that neighbourly, friendly place that we all call home."

(Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times

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