bayfield's volunteers to be recognized as remarkable
John Elmslie is not just a resident of the Bayfield Mews. He is also president of the Bayfield Lifestyle+ Executive that looks after both projects and operations at this local life lease development. He is seen here in the development as it looked in 2011. (Photo by Melody Falconer-Pounder)
Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson invited people throughout the riding to nominate and recognize the remarkable dedication and volunteer work done by local citizens. At least four people from Bayfield were nominated and they will be recognized at the 8th Annual Remarkable Citizens Awards evening will be hosted by Thompson during her annual New Year's Levee event, at the Teeswater Town Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
Each year, Remarkable Citizens Awards are handed out to respected and dedicated community leaders, volunteers, and residents who have made a positive impact within the riding of Huron-Bruce. To date, 138 remarkable citizens have been recognized. Adding to that number are Bayfield’s Mike Dixon, John Elmslie, Pat Lewington and Helen Varekamp.
"Volunteers are the lifeblood of every community, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet so many across the riding,” Thompson said in an earlier press release. “It never ceases to amaze me how dedicated these special people are. They help make their communities better in so many different and impactful ways and I look forward to honoring even more citizens from our riding this year."
Those who did the nominating had to describe their nominee in approximately 250 words sharing the person’s contributions to the community and why they felt they were deserving. These nominations follow:
Mike Dixon (Photo by Melody Falconer-Pounder)
Mike Dixon has had a connection to Bayfield since the late 1970s. As a member of the Bayfield Optimist Club since 1993, he has dedicated his life to improving the lives of children. His efforts have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for kids in Bayfield and surrounding area.
His accomplishments include:
Leading the charge raising private funding in excess of $140,000 for the
installation of the Bayfield Splash Pad
Initiating the raising of private funding in excess of $40,000 to supply new
playground equipment replacing outdated apparatus which he had originally
raised funds for years before and convincing the municipality to reduce the speed
limit from 50KM/hr to 30 KM/hr around the children’s park
Raising funds annually for the children’s “Make a Wish Foundation”
Participating in the annual “Breakfast with Santa” for local children
Assisting with the annual Christmas in Bayfield events and parade
Raising thousands of dollars for children through the Optimist Club events
including the annual golf tournament, wood auction and special events such as
the visit of the Tall Ships to Bayfield and commemorative benches in Clan Gregor Square
Advertising manager for Bayfield’s own online newspaper: “Bayfield Breeze” that is circulated around the world
Mentoring many others with their volunteer causes
Dixon is well known to all in the Bayfield area for his tireless volunteer efforts, which are not even close to being fully listed above. In all these causes, he is a relentless leader who volunteers freely of his time to improve the lives of children and citizens throughout the Bayfield community.
Without the dedication and expertise of John Elmslie, the “Bayfield Mews”, a non- profit lifestyle community for seniors in Bayfield would not exist. For decades, after a certain age and health stage, Bayfield residents had to move away from their friends and community in order to find a residence that was safe, comfortable and affordable as well as requiring minimum maintenance.
For almost 20 years, Elmslie has been the driving force behind the Bayfield Mews. As Board Chair since the concept was first presented, he has been involved in all purchasing, design, contracting, financing and sales decisions. He continues to be the person residents go to when there is an issue that needs addressing at the “Mews”.
He has invested countless hours to this project and has been paid no salary. His only compensation has been the satisfaction of knowing that the Bayfield Mews project was the right thing to do for his village. The Bayfield Mews project now features 47, two-bedroom units and by next year it will be complete with 55 units.
Once complete, the Bayfield Mews will soon house almost 100 seniors in a supportive and comfortable community setting. Villagers that would have had to move elsewhere. In a village like Bayfield where this represents almost 10 per cent of the population, the social impact is huge.
The Bayfield Mews is John Elmslie’s community legacy and he deserves to be honored for working so hard to make his village a better place.
Pat Lewington (Submitted photo)
Bayfield would be a much less active and fit community if Pat Lewington were not a driving force in this community’s fitness and recreation programs. The countless volunteer hours that she has invested in these programs are remarkable.
Lewington is the founder of the fitness programs in Bayfield. In collaboration with One Care, Pat brought eight separate fitness classes per week to Bayfield. These classes are geared to all fitness abilities. In addition to recruiting certified instructors organizing and maintaining equipment as well as maintaining schedules, Lewington also travels to retirement homes through Huron County to instruct fitness classes.
As an adjunct to the fitness classes, she initiated the Urban Pole Walking group in this community. Yoga sessions for all age groups have been another program that she has introduced to Bayfield.
In order to maintain the community’s brain health, Lewington has taught Bridge and Mah Jong. She has instituted regular meetings for both of these challenging games for all levels of ability. These sessions also contribute to the social life of the village reducing seniors’ isolation.
Lewtington has in the past been a volunteer on the Bayfield Ratepayers’ Association Board and happily volunteers for a wide variety of events that take place in this community.
The health and welfare of Bayfield would be poorer but for Pat Lewington.
Helen Varekamp (Submitted photo)
Some of the community projects that make Bayfield special wouldn’t have happened without Helen Varekamp’s enthusiastic support, and creative and meticulous administrative leadership.
Varekamp was one of the founders of the Bayfield River Valley Trails Association. As a Director, she has enthusiastically organized many of the fundraisers that have enabled the 14 KMs of nature trails to be constructed and maintained. As Hike Co-ordinator, she has organized most of the community hikes over the past 12 years.
She was the administrative genius behind the successful community fundraising campaign to acquire the Bayfield River Flats Natural Area.
In 2019, Varekamp designed and implemented the Memorial Forest fundraiser for the Huron Residential Hospice and continues to be a key member of Bayfield’s Hospice fundraising group for the future Bayfield Children’s Room. She is also a member of the regional Huron Hospice Fundraising Committee.
Varekamp has always been a key participant, usually behind the scenes, for the Bayfield Historical Society and other community fundraisers. She has sewn costumes and stage scenery for village cabarets and plays and is always one of the volunteers who make the Bayfield Town Hall’s ‘Sunset on Summer’ barbeque fundraiser so successful.
Bayfield’s “Home for Good” program works to help seniors remain in their homes and she helps by being a “shopping buddy”.
Varekamp also helps on a regional and global scale in addition to all her many local causes.
She participates in the “Days for Girls” program by sewing bags for menstrual supplies that are given out throughout the developing world.
The London Brain Injury Association supports families who are dealing with a brain injury and Helen has acted as a ‘peer support’ person during some very difficult circumstances.
cEntre for the arts
The Municipality of Bluewater Council endorsed the Bayfield Centre for the Arts (BCA) at their regular meeting on Dec. 2.
The BCA is intended to be a year-round, inclusive community space, promoting the visual arts such as, painting, photography, woodworking, digital media, etc.
As the individuals behind the concept continue their forward momentum, they ask that people consider filling out a short questionnaire (10 questions) so that they can better understand the artistic experiences and programs most desired by residents and visitors:
A Community Outreach Session will be scheduled for Spring 2020, please join the BCA mailing list at bayfieldarts.ca for updates on progress.
Get started on those New Year’s resolutions and join a Taoist Tai Chi class. Better balance and posture, increased strength and flexibility, improved circulation and greater calm and peace of mind are all possible gains from Taoist Tai Chi ® practice. For 50 years these classes have been offered by accredited instructors.
An open house and free introductory class will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 7 at the Bayfield Town Hall from 9-10:30 a.m.
For more information call Doug Brown at 519 565-5187.
BRVTA winter hike
It is almost time for the Bayfield River Valley Trail Association’s (BRVTA) Annual Winter Hike and Lunch. Start the new year off right on Jan. 11 with a community winter hike!
Guided hikes will be held at Mavis’ Trail, as well as the Taylor Trail. Choose one or the other, or do them both; bring snowshoes if the weather allows. Dogs on leash are welcome.
The hikes will begin at 11 a.m. followed by a light lunch served after the hikes at the Stanley Complex near Varna. Everyone welcome. There will be no charge for the event, but donations will be accepted.
This is also an opportunity to sign up for a Bayfield Trails Membership. Annual memberships allow the BRVTA to keep the trails accessible, covering expenses such as liability insurance, maintenance, programming and training.
To make membership even more attractive, the BRVTA is pleased to announce that they have teamed up with the employee discount store of Columbia Sportswear, located at 1425 Max Brose Drive in London. By showing a current BRVTA membership card, people are allowed to shop at 40-50 per cent off regular retail pricing several times a year during a special invitation period. Members will be notified by email if they subscribe to the BRVTA monthly newsletter.
Membership is affordable! Annual membership fees are $20 or $30 for a family rate. The BRVTA will hold several membership drives, enabling people to get their membership card. Membership can also be activated through the website, bayfieldtrails.com. As a member people will also receive special privileges to select Bayfield Trail events.
Anyone who has paid online or by mail, membership cards will be available for pick-up at the annual winter hike and lunch or at the following membership drives: Wednesday, Jan. 15 and Thursday, Jan. 30 at the Bayfield Public Library from 3-4 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. There will also be a membership drive at the Bayfield Lions’ Club’s Home and Garden Show held at the Bayfield Arena on Apr. 24-26.
For further information or questions, please do not hesitate to contact the BRVTA by e-mail at: email@example.com
Chocolatey mint campaign
Have you got your Chocolatey Mint Girl Guide Cookies yet? The local 2019 supply is almost gone! And at $5 a box they make terrific hostess gifts during this party season!
They can also be purchased now from members or by calling Melody Falconer-Pounder at 519 525-3830.
Profits from sales help with program activities, field trips and camps.
The Bayfield Area Food Bank (BAFB) is presently seeking someone to serve as Secretary.
Computer skills required, and board experience an asset. The job would entail preparing the agenda and taking minutes for the monthly meeting, approximately five to six hours month. Volunteer Police Check required.
If you are interested, please contact Boa-Youmatoff by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bayfield Travel Club
The fourth meeting of the Bayfield Travel Club will be held on Saturday, Jan. 11.
It’s a place where local residents can meet other people that have the same passion for travel, share their own travel experiences, learn about new exciting destinations and to just have some fun.
The point of discussion will be culinary travel with a special guest from Collette Tours.
The club will meet from 1-2 p.m. at The Lake House of Bayfield in their conference room, at 21 Bayfield Main St. North.