Thursday 5 May 2011

Local Heroes

If you are around downtown Duncan on a week day, you are likely to see someone ride by on a bicycle, towing a trailer full of recyclable materials.  The riders are the Cowichan Recyclists, who started collecting around town in 2007 from businesses, apartments, and strata title properties.  Their idea was to take recycling a step further by using pollution-free human power.  It’s caught on in a big way. 

I admire the Cowichan Recyclists tremendously for their good work within our community.  To me, they’re local heroes.  They’ve built a business that can function profitably while still honouring their ethics and, in doing so, they’re helping to make our town a better place to live.

Aaron Bichard, one of the owners of Cowichan Recyclists, recently took the time from his busy schedule to tip his hat (or should I say helmet?) to a long time local volunteer.    When one local hero takes time to point out the good works of another, I stop and listen.  I’d like you to hear about this person too.  Here’s his editorial from The Cowichan Valley Voice[1]:

Inspiration Among the Empty Tuna Cans

Taped to our fridge is a 10 dollar bill.  It’s an ordinary sample of Canadian currency serving as an extraordinary reminder.  It was given to us by the most self-less, community-minded volunteer we’ve ever met; a person who has given so much she need never give again.  Yet she gave it to us.  From her own pocket.

In 2007 when we started this recycling service, we approached the Cowichan Valley Basket Society and asked Betty Anne Devitt—the tireless volunteer who for more than two decades has been keeping the local hungry folks fed—if we could help out by taking away her recycling.  It was a tiny gesture meant to lighten a seemingly overwhelming load.

Betty Anne, who has given and given of herself since 1988 and not asked for a thing in return, was so thankful and supportive that she immediately said yes, and made it a habit of thanking us every Thursday for taking the material.  For more than three years we’ve hauled away hundreds of tuna tins, mayonnaise jars and hot chocolate canisters that Betty Anne and her team emptied serving two meals a day to hungry people.

And on that first Christmas, despite our great protestations, Betty Anne made us leave with a 10 dollar bill from her own pocket to show her gratitude.  It’s taped to our fridge—a constant reminder of the deep and pure goodness (nah, Greatness) that exists in people.

If we ever feel as though we have nothing left to give, we can always turn to the $10.00.  And for that inspiration, Betty Anne, we thank you.

Betty Anne retired on April 18.

Joseph Joe is one of the many Cowichan food bank users who will miss the dedication of longtime volunteer manager Betty Anne Devitt.

[1] Cowichan Valley Voice, Issue 30, May 2011


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