Last night we drove to Springbrook, southwest of Red Deer, to attend the 2009 Taylor Award presentation ceremony. The recipient was Richard’s sister, Susan Hall.
The Taylor Award was established in 2001, the International Year of Volunteers, and is presented annually to an outstanding prison volunteer by Corrections Services Canada. The award was named after Dr. Charles Taylor and his wife, Charlotte, of Wolfville, Nova Scotia for their lifetime dedication to faith-based counselling with offenders in both correctional facilities and the community and for Dr. Taylor’s contribution to the development of prison ministry education.
Sue was nominated for the award by the Prairie region, one of five regions across Canada, and was subsequently selected as last year’s winner. She was instrumental in bringing the Christopher Leadership Course to the Bowden Penitentiary in 1991 and over the past 18 years has taught the course to 29 classes of inmates. The 10 week course, taught by dedicated volunteers, focuses on building confidence and communication skills through public speaking. While Sue received many accolades during last evening’s event, the most meaningful were the testimonials given by three inmates who were allowed to attend under supervision. They spoke eloquently of the difference that Sue and the skills that she taught them have made in their lives.
In addition to proudly celebrating a sister’s accomplishments, we enjoyed a couple of unexpected surprises last night. During the initial meet and greet we began chatting with a woman who is a director of the John Howard Restorative Justice program in Truro, Nova Scotia. We happened to mentioned our visit to Mahone Bay last summer. The conversation went something like this:
She: Oh, you know Mahone Bay!
Richard: Yes, we were actually visiting friends who live at Indian Point.
She: Indian Point! What part?
Me: Right out on the point next to the water.
She: Oh my goodness! What are their names?
As I began to tell our pen pal story (see my posts of June 19 to July 2, 2009), we quickly learned that her mother is Myrna and Ron’s close neighbour, that she knew we had visited last summer and that she thought she’d actually seen us while she and her family were loading their boat in preparation for their annual excursion to their cottage on one of the islands off the point! Amazing!
Then, a little while later, as we stood in line at the buffet table we were next to a couple of tables of seniors dressed in white shirts and green vests. They were the choir who would entertain a little later in the evening. I noticed one of the lady’s name tags and was surprised to find that I recognized the name! Looking more closely, I realized that she was indeed someone I knew, a lady who had been part of the music ministry team in our church for many years! She and her husband moved to Olds more than ten years ago and I hadn’t seen her for several years. It is indeed a small world!