To celebrate National Volunteer Week, Thompson members of the Canadian Red Cross organized an April 9 surprise party for resident Norma Leahy, who’s been working with this organization for the last quarter-century.
Tuesday’s festivities took place at the Marymound North childcare centre and comprised a dinner and gift-giving ceremony featuring Leahy’s friends, family and fellow Red Cross volunteers.
Former CBC North Country host Mark Szyszlo served as the master of ceremonies, and told everyone in attendance about Leahy’s background and contributions to the local community as a whole.
After growing up in Blackpool, England and living through the Second World War, Leahy and her family arrived in Thompson in 1973, and she was able to put her background in nursing to good use.
“Over the years, Norma has filled a variety of roles with the Red Cross: providing some basic needs to evacuees, completing family registrations, serving meals, helping evacuees settle into hotel rooms and offering assistance wherever and whenever it's needed,” said Szyszlo. “Working alongside Norma is always delightful. Her positive attitude and strong work ethic is simply infectious. You'll always see Norma at our monthly meetings. She’s often the first to arrive and the last to leave and so generous with her time. Norma just never says ‘no.’”
Szyszlo also mentioned how Leahy didn’t limit her community involvement to the Red Cross and has been a long-time member of groups like the YWCA board, Thompson Crime Stoppers and Operation Red Nose.
For all of these contributions, including being a founding member of the Thompson Crisis Centre, Leahy received a YWCA Women of Distinction award back in 2015 and continues to stay involved with the community through groups like the Red Cross.
“I am very honoured,” Leahy said on Tuesday, addressing her fellow volunteers. “All this is shared with you because you all deserve it. You work all day and you work in your off hours to help people and thank you so much. I’m just one little cog in the wheel. It takes a whole community to do this.”
According to their official website, the Canadian Red Cross has more than 15,000 nation-wide volunteers.