Local Heroes 2020

A focus on essentials: Profiles of the folks who kept us all going in 2020.

November 24, 2020 | | Local Heroes

A lot of us may have spent much of 2020 in isolation, but there is no question that getting through a pandemic is a group effort – a reality reflected in our annual salute to local heroes. Usually, we compile our list as a good news story, showcasing individuals who tend to be leaders making a difference in our community. But how do you choose just a few heroes in a year that is chockablock with them?

This year our picks are representative of the team efforts that brought out the best in one another in service to us all. For some, the role is unexpected or new. For others, crisis management and essential work has always been their jam, though the intensity of this storm may have tested their limits.

From health care and social service workers to school staff and grocery clerks among many others, hundreds across our hills are putting themselves at risk and continuing to adapt. We are so fortunate to have them.

While health and survival are obviously essential, so too is our social well-being. We Canadians like to crow about our peaceful, multiracial makeup, yet there remain too many untended corners where hate and racism can hide. The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired young people in Headwaters – local heroes, all – to rise up, aiming to build a more just society. What could be more essential than that?

Lena Bruce (left), Dr Charlie Joyce and Darlene Fitzpatrick in front of the Headwaters Health Care Centre Covid-19 assessment centre. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Lena Bruce (left), Dr Charlie Joyce and Darlene Fitzpatrick in front of the Headwaters Health Care Centre Covid-19 assessment centre. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Hailey McLarty and Shyanne Wharton-Haines Ricci (left) organized the June 14 Shelburne Black Lives Matter march. Sisters Seanna (left) and Makenna Thomas (right), were behind the Orangeville march the same day and walked with little sister Emma. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Hailey McLarty and Shyanne Wharton-Haines Ricci (left) organized the June 14 Shelburne Black Lives Matter march. Sisters Seanna (left) and Makenna Thomas (right), were behind the Orangeville march the same day and walked with little sister Emma. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Some of the Orangeville Food Bank staff and volunteers, from left to right : Pam Vender, Laura Jotham, Claudette Riechart, Andrea Thomas, Heather Hayes, Jennifer Sinclair-Webb, Diana Engel, Gary Malone, Trevor Lewis, Vickie Lewis, Deanne Mount, Cathy Wilson and Steve White. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Some of the Orangeville Food Bank staff and volunteers, from left to right : Pam Vender, Laura Jotham, Claudette Riechart, Andrea Thomas, Heather Hayes, Jennifer Sinclair-Webb, Diana Engel, Gary Malone, Trevor Lewis, Vickie Lewis, Deanne Mount, Cathy Wilson and Steve White. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Belfountain Public School teacher Wendy Brooker is one of many educators and school staff who worked tirelessly to ensure students could return to school as safely as possible this September. Photo by Karen Dhaliwal.

Belfountain Public School teacher Wendy Brooker is one of many educators and school staff who worked tirelessly to ensure students could return to school as safely as possible this September. Photo by Karen Dhaliwal.

Staff and volunteers at Family Transition Place last year, from left to right, back row: Sara Smith, Janice Snow, Janet Taylor, Lynette Pole-Langdon; third row: Travis Greenley, Ashlynne Cameron, Kendra Wassink, Joanne Jordan, Samantha McCabe, Sara Flache, Debbie Cribbis, Diane Vandenberg, Trish Grabb; second row: Femi Oke (on arm of chair), Lyn Allen, Kristy Fearon, Lisa Goodison, Norah Kennedy, Janice Glassford, Andrea Chantree, Laura Moscatiello, Debbie Lahey, Bonnie Waterfield, Donna Buchan, Stephanie Figliomeni; front row: Christina Gonzalez (seated), Kelly Bohonos, Julie Newton, Tiffany McMillan, Courtney Halkett, Cheryl Martin-Goncalves and Keely Horan. Photo by Kelly Lee.

Staff and volunteers at Family Transition Place last year, from left to right, back row: Sara Smith, Janice Snow, Janet Taylor, Lynette Pole-Langdon; third row: Travis Greenley, Ashlynne Cameron, Kendra Wassink, Joanne Jordan, Samantha McCabe, Sara Flache, Debbie Cribbis, Diane Vandenberg, Trish Grabb; second row: Femi Oke (on arm of chair), Lyn Allen, Kristy Fearon, Lisa Goodison, Norah Kennedy, Janice Glassford, Andrea Chantree, Laura Moscatiello, Debbie Lahey, Bonnie Waterfield, Donna Buchan, Stephanie Figliomeni; front row: Christina Gonzalez (seated), Kelly Bohonos, Julie Newton, Tiffany McMillan, Courtney Halkett, Cheryl Martin-Goncalves and Keely Horan. Photo by Kelly Lee.

Foreground: Kurt and Donni Geiser with son and store manager Matthew. Background, from left: Massimo Policciardi, Morgan Innis, Renata Kolaric-Blas, Brenda Brook, Ron Persaud, Cassidy Sandru, Mitchell Greenham, Josh Inglis, Brenda Cordon, Linda Widdes, Cecilia Navarro, Kait Laurenza, Julie James, Maddie Belfry and Erik Rasmussen. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Foreground: Kurt and Donni Geiser with son and store manager Matthew. Background, from left: Massimo Policciardi, Morgan Innis, Renata Kolaric-Blas, Brenda Brook, Ron Persaud, Cassidy Sandru, Mitchell Greenham, Josh Inglis, Brenda Cordon, Linda Widdes, Cecilia Navarro, Kait Laurenza, Julie James, Maddie Belfry and Erik Rasmussen. Photo by Pete Paterson.

About the Author More by Tralee Pearce

Tralee Pearce is an associate editor of In The Hills Magazine.

Related Stories

Lena Bruce (left), Dr Charlie Joyce and Darlene Fitzpatrick in front of the Headwaters Health Care Centre Covid-19 assessment centre. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Call of Duty: Headwaters Health Care Centre

Nov 24, 2020 | Jeff Rollings | Local Heroes

Manager Lena Bruce, physician Charlie Joyce and nurse Darlene Fitzpatrick kept Headwaters Health Care Centre’s Covid-19 assessment centre going during the pandemic.

Hailey McLarty and Shyanne Wharton-Haines Ricci (left) organized the June 14 Shelburne Black Lives Matter march. Sisters Seanna (left) and Makenna Thomas (right), were behind the Orangeville march the same day and walked with little sister Emma. Photo by Pete Paterson.

The New Hope: Local Black Lives Matter Organizers

Nov 24, 2020 | Janice Quirt | Local Heroes

These four young women (plus one younger sister) were the moving force behind two crucial local social justice marches – one in Orangeville and one in Shelburne.

Some of the Orangeville Food Bank staff and volunteers, from left to right : Pam Vender, Laura Jotham, Claudette Riechart, Andrea Thomas, Heather Hayes, Jennifer Sinclair-Webb, Diana Engel, Gary Malone, Trevor Lewis, Vickie Lewis, Deanne Mount, Cathy Wilson and Steve White. Photo by Pete Paterson.

A Community Steps Up: Orangeville Food Bank

Nov 24, 2020 | Tony Reynolds | Local Heroes

When the pandemic caused a spike in need, executive director Heather Hayes and a small army of staff and volunteers worked overtime.

Belfountain Public School teacher Wendy Brooker is one of many educators and school staff who worked tirelessly to ensure students could return to school as safely as possible this September. Photo by Karen Dhaliwal.

Class Acts: Our Educators

Nov 24, 2020 | Tralee Pearce | Local Heroes

“At Belfountain Public School and beyond, teachers, principals, custodians and support staff got our kids learning again in classrooms and online.”

Staff and volunteers at Family Transition Place last year, from left to right, back row: Sara Smith, Janice Snow, Janet Taylor, Lynette Pole-Langdon; third row: Travis Greenley, Ashlynne Cameron, Kendra Wassink, Joanne Jordan, Samantha McCabe, Sara Flache, Debbie Cribbis, Diane Vandenberg, Trish Grabb; second row: Femi Oke (on arm of chair), Lyn Allen, Kristy Fearon, Lisa Goodison, Norah Kennedy, Janice Glassford, Andrea Chantree, Laura Moscatiello, Debbie Lahey, Bonnie Waterfield, Donna Buchan, Stephanie Figliomeni; front row: Christina Gonzalez (seated), Kelly Bohonos, Julie Newton, Tiffany McMillan, Courtney Halkett, Cheryl Martin-Goncalves and Keely Horan. Photo by Kelly Lee.

The Need Doesn’t Stop: Family Transition Place

Nov 24, 2020 | Jeff Rollings | Local Heroes

With everyone stuck together at home during the pandemic, conflicts escalated and this team went into high gear to help new clients.

Foreground: Kurt and Donni Geiser with son and store manager Matthew. Background, from left: Massimo Policciardi, Morgan Innis, Renata Kolaric-Blas, Brenda Brook, Ron Persaud, Cassidy Sandru, Mitchell Greenham, Josh Inglis, Brenda Cordon, Linda Widdes, Cecilia Navarro, Kait Laurenza, Julie James, Maddie Belfry and Erik Rasmussen. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Keeping Food on our Tables: Grocery Workers

Nov 24, 2020 | Tony Reynolds | Local Heroes

We salute the newly minted essential workers at Foodland in Caledon East and across our region for working overtime in the aisles for us.

Task force members (left to right) Alethia O’Hara-Stephenson, Soha Soliman, Geer Harvey and Althea Casamento. Photo by Rosemary Hasner / Black Dog Creative Arts.

Up to the Task

Nov 24, 2020 | Tralee Pearce | Community

Four members of Shelburne’s Anti-Black Racism, Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task Force discuss their mission and the vision they have for Shelburne.

Pandemic Journals

Pandemic Journals

Jun 25, 2020 | Tralee Pearce | Pandemic Journals

We thank everyone who shared a glimpse of their lives with us.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By posting a comment you agree that IN THE HILLS magazine has the legal right to publish, edit or delete all comments for use both online or in print. You also agree that you bear sole legal responsibility for your comments, and that you will hold IN THE HILLS harmless from the legal consequences of your comment, including libel, copyright infringement and any other legal claims. Any comments posted on this site are NOT the opinion of IN THE HILLS magazine. Personal attacks, offensive language and unsubstantiated allegations are not allowed. Please report inappropriate comments to vjones@inthehills.ca.