Burk's Falls creates local champion program

·3 min read

Between now and the end of the year, 10 Burk's Falls and area residents will be recognized as local champions as the village embarks on a monthly program that recognizes the kindest people in the region.

Recreation coordinator Lacey Stevens says there are people making a difference by doing things for other residents of the village in a COVID environment.

In a report to council, Stevens says it's time these people are recognized as Local Champions.

Stevens says examples of acts of kindness can be something as simple as helping someone cross a street, dropping by for a window visit to brighten someone's day or clearing a neighbour's driveway.

Each month the person who is named a Local Champion will receive a gift bag containing $100 in products that Stevens says will be bought from local merchants and are items people may need during these tough times.

Beginning this month, residents can visit the municipal website or Facebook page where they can nominate a Local Champion, explaining what the individual did to deserve recognition.

Staff and perhaps councillors will review the nominees and select a worthy recipient each month.

Stevens says the program will showcase how fantastic Burk's Falls residents can be and create community pride.

The plan is to also create a monthly video that highlights what that month's Local Champion did. The video will be posted online.

The total cost for the program is $1,000 and council is expected to fund it through the provincial COVID-19 relief fund the Ontario government created last year.

The idea isn't new and municipal Clerk Nicky Kunkel told council she happened to see another community doing just that.

“I thought it was a fantastic way to celebrate,” Kunkel told council.

Kunkel says the village has been hearing stories like people doing grocery shopping for others who can't get out because of the pandemic.

She adds buying the items to fill the gift bags from local merchants also helps the business out a little.

Mayor Cathy Still called the initiative “a heck of a good idea”.

“We need something to lift our spirits around here. Everyone is getting downtrodden.”

Still expects the program to be well received, just like an unrelated initiative was by East Parry Sound Community Support Services (EPSCSS).

A few weeks ago EPSCSS created COVID-19 relief kits that vulnerable people could use in a pinch.

Still says Burk's Falls was allocated 10 kits and the mayor was one of the village members who delivered them to people the municipality knew would be able to use the items.

“They were so appreciative and I had one lady crying,” Still said.

“They were very grateful.”

Among the items in the Local Champion gift bags will be food, clothing, cleaning supplies and everyday necessities.

Residents of Armour and Ryerson are also encouraged to take part in the act of kindness program.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget