Unsung Heroes (2000-2004)

Unsung Heroes (2000-2004)

Ruth WillisMetro Halifax ChapterApril, 2000
Dan MorrisonOttawa ChapterJune, 2000
Jean HumphreysMetro Halifax ChapterSeptember, 2000
George PuhlVancouver ChapterNovember/December, 2000
Solange CorbeilMontreal Ileostomy/Colostomy ChapterMarch/April, 2001
Judy WoodsFredricton & District ChapterJune, 2001
Huguette Levesque, ETOttawa ChapterSeptember, 2001
Alfred PettipasMetro Halifax ChapterJanuary, 2002
** Burleigh WileMetro Halifax ChapterApril, 2002
Debbie LalondeOttawa ChapterMay, 2002
Mike and Betty WoolridgeMetro Halifax ChapterMarch, 2003
Bernice RichardsMetro Halifax ChapterMay, 2003
** Astrid GrahamOttawa Support GroupJune, 2003
Doug GrahamOttawa Support GroupJune 2003
Alf KeatingSaskatoon Ostomy AssociationJune, 2003
Charlie BairdMetro Halifax ChapterMarch, 2004
Ken ZomerOttawa ChapterMay, 2004
** Minerva HoltonMoncton ChapterMay, 2004
** Muriel KinnearOstomy Toronto ChapterJune, 2004
Tala Al-AwaidMetro Halifax ChapterDecember, 2004
** Deceased





Ruth Willis – Metro Halifax Nova Scotia Chapter

Although Ruth considers herself a Maritimer, she was born in Toronto but only a month old when her parents moved to Halifax.

Before and after her marriage, she worked in the Halifax office of Imperial Oil for 7 years where she acquired her clerical and accounting skills. In 1951, Ruth married Ralph, and eventually became parents of two daughters, Deborah and Susan, and now she is a grandmother of three.

Ralph became ill in 1962 with cancer of the postate which affected bladder control. In the interim between 1962 and 1979, various procedures were tried to improve the bladder control but all failed. So, in 1979 it was decided that he should undergo urostomy surgery to try and bring relief from infections, etc. often requiring hospitalization.

Ralph had his surgery in September of 1979 and joined the chapter in February, 1980. Ralph, being a musician entertained members on the organ that was in the meeting area before and after the meetings. It was in December of 1980 - in Ruth's words - she inquired of the then present Treasurer, who had expressed the desire to give up the position he had held for 9 years, just what was involved. "Before I left the meeting, I had the books"!

Ruth held the Treasurer's position for 10 years and during that period she was also Chair of the Telephone Committee with 10 callers under her direction, plus she assisted the Refreshment Committee. So, she was a busy lady.

Ralph passed away in 1985, but Ruth's involvement with the chapter never diminished. In 1990 she relinquished the position of Treasurer, but accepted the Chair of Membership.

Although her main interest has been with the Metro Halifax chapter, she was just as interested and concerned with the welfare of outlying chapters, travelling with the members to visit them on innumerable occasions.

When Les Kehoe, then Executive Director of the National Office was setting up the memberships, both Ruth and Treasurer Jean Humphreys were often in contact with ideas and suggestions for setting up the original scheme.

This lady keeps busy with many other activities, e.g. Ruth is very involved with her local Cancer Society and their unit of 22 members raised $65,000 in 1999. Ruth is also in the Senior's Leisure Club in Bedford and was on their Board of Directors, a member of the Heritage Society, a bowler and a 'mean bridge player'.

Ruth's involvement with the chapter and her constant loyalty and support is so appreciated and a sterling example of a true volunteerism spirit.




Dan Morrison – Ottawa Ontario Chapter

A young New Zealander Scientific Officer with Auckland's Government Analyst Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Dan Morrison, came to Canada in 1965 - after a short teaching sojourn in England - where he met and married Elisabeth, a lovely young Swiss Canadian. Dan spent the next thirty years teaching and devoting his time and energy to causes dear to his heart. Between positions as Chemistry teacher in Petrolia, Ontario and Chemistry Master at Algonquin College in the biochemical and chemical technology programs, he devoted himself to his family, the Humanist Association of Canada, NDP Riding Association, Operation Dismantle, the Ottawa Peace & Environment Resource and the Unitarian Church. All of these were volunteer nonprofit groups.

In 1972, Dan underwent colostomy surgery for cancer. He immediately began a labour of love, visiting and helping others who were facing ostomy surgery. This led to a long and varied career in the Ottawa Chapter of U.O.A. He has held, often more than once, every position on the executive of the group. His keen intelligence, attention to detail and ability to get to the heart of every problem and suggest a solution have been invaluable. His first love was editing the newsletter. He said his proudest achievement was chairing the bilingual UOA Conference (CAPITAL CARE) here in Ottawa in 1981. He says he is a bit of a loner, but his companions know, a loner with a deeply felt social conscience and compassion for his fellow human beings. His wife, Elisabeth, too, spent many years working for the ostomy group most often as Membership Officer.

In 1992, Dan was involved in an accident which left him with double vision and with a broken back among other serious injuries. Then came difficult years of healing and operations mostly successful; however, he still cannot stand for more than ten minutes at a time. Through all this, his courage has been an example to his friends at U.O.S.G. And he remains an active Director and, in his words, "a grandfather figure," to the rest of us. Dan can always be counted upon to interject exactly the right idea or observation when the rest of us are floundering.

When asked what his dreams and hopes for U.O.S.G.'s future are he said: "We must maintain a connection or a presence in every hospital that does ostomy surgery. Regular contact and reaching each individual ostomate is of primary importance. We should find bigger and more reliable sources of donations so that valuable people wouldn't have to spend so much time on fund raising."

Asked for more detail, he put his goals for U.O.S.G. in the following order: 

  1. Newsletter. Our primary connection with ostomates. 
  2. Visiting. The importance of this cannot be expressed too often. 
  3. Monthly meetings with their important personal contacts and education. 
  4. Library. Literature. 
  5. Youth Camp. 
  6. Fund raising. 
  7. Conferences. Whose main value is to new leaders learning about UOAC.

Wise words from a wise man who has dedicated himself to ostomates for twenty-eight years. A true Unsung Hero!




Jean Humphreys – Metro Halifax Chapter

It took Jean Humphreys a few months after having an ileostomy in 1987 to become active in the Halifax chapter of the Canadian Ostomy Association but when she did, there was no stopping her voluntary enthusiasm.

The Halifax woman, born and brought up on a farm in Greenvale, near New Glasgow, earned her elementary, junior and senior high school education in a one-room schoolhouse, attended business college in New Glasgow and Halifax, and, on graduation, worked for various firms in Halifax. She finally retired from "real" work at University of King's College in 1990 but that just pushed her harder into volunteer efforts.

Her IBD problems began in 1982 and escalated until, with the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, she underwent surgery for an ileostomy in 1987. A hospital visit was of great help and, in July, 1988, Jean joined the chapter. A year later, she was secretary. In 1991, she replaced Ruth Willis ('Unsung Hero', April 2000), as treasurer. She still controls the books today. The spirited Jean has only missed one meeting since joining the chapter, that because of a brief hospitalization for suspected, but unproven, heart problems.

The Halifax Stroke Club asked her to be treasurer in 1992, a position she gladly accepted and held until January 2000. Jean volunteered to look after the Halifax Ostomy chapter's grocery store tape program. Each month, she counts at least two well-filled grocery bags of donated tapes, helping the chapter add $600 to $700 a year to its funds. Jean, always the money lady, has served as treasurer of her local church for a number of years.

For relaxation, Jean bowls in a Ladies League and, surprise, was their treasurer until 1997 when brochitis forced her to reduce her volunteer activity.

But work for the Ostomy Association and her love of gardening keep her busy today. Last year, she had so many raspberries, neighbors enjoyed the bountiful supply. (Joel Jacobsen)




George Puhl – Vancouver British Colombia Chapter

Already a member of the Vancouver chapter's Hall Of Fame, George Puhl has been our General Meeting Host since joining our Chapter on April 13, 1974. Still going strong at age 85, George and his wife Vi, who has been looking after refreshments, have been stalwart supporters and an integral part of the nucleus of the Vancouver Chapter for 26 years.

He had his ileostomy in 1973 for ulcerative colitis and joined the chapter the following year. Since April of 1974, George and Vi have faithfully attended almost every single meeting. Along with his General Meeting Host duties, he is Chairman of the Memorial Fund Committee, a position he has held for many years. In the former position, George cheerfully greets newcomers and established members, putting them at ease and answering their questions. He has also willingly pitched in on many other tasks whenever called upon. One very large and important job in itself was during the UOA Inc. 1980 Annual Conference when he was in charge of all the audio and visual requirements.

George's life long hobby is a radio ham operator and through this medium has made friends all over the world.

I want to thank George and Vi for their dedicated service to our Chapter and know that all our members join me in expressing our appreciation for George's efforts and in honouring him with the Unsung Hero Award. Congratulations George !! (Editor Fred Green)




Solange Corbeil – Montreal Ileostomy & Colostomy Chapter

'Look Good - Feel Better' program of the Canadian Cancer Society abounds in volunteers whose devotion and solicitude exceeds the limits. All deserve a reward. It is therefore understandable why there is great difficulty in choosing one person. This year, the award recipient, is Mrs. Solange Corbeil, team leader of the Look Good - Feel Better program in the Montreal, Quebec area.

Her strong dedication to workshops in this program is most commendable and deserves recognition. Solange has stated that her career with the Mary Kay Cosmetics Company provided her with first hand insight into the importance of looking good to feel good. 'When I see the patient arriving at the workshops so sad and hopeless, and after participating, leaving with such happy hearts, saying, "this is the most gratifying thing that has happened to me since my diagnosis." You have no idea how good this makes me feel. These people are so marvelous and my reward is seeing their happiness, it fills me with love and gratification.' When someone very close to us has cancer, one becomes far more sensitive to their problems. My contribution of two hours per month seems so minimal and brings me such personal growth and enrichment. I am very proud to be with the Look Good - Feel Better program.'

Solange and Fernand Corbeil both joined the Montreal Ileostomy Colostomy chapter in 1993 shortly after Fernand had a colostomy. The following May, Fernand was elected president and along with that responsibility, they both took on providing for the nutritional break.

In 1995 saw them accepting the telephone committee chair whose task is to contact members prior to the meeting. If that didn't keep them busy enough, in 1996 they coordinated the visiting program.

Since the death of her husband Solange has continued with the telephone and visiting committee.

Every month, she always arrives one hour before the meeting, and makes the new ostomates and visitors welcome. She also takes it upon herself to contact them later to learn whether they enjoyed the meeting and intend to return.

During the Annual Conference in Montreal, she was one of the hostesses welcoming delegates and visitors.

On behalf of all ICAM members, we are most grateful to Solange for her devotion and loyalty to the chapter.(Jean-Pierre Lapointe)




Judy Woods – Fredricton & District Chapter

JUDY WOODS had her first of several operations when she was only a few days old (born in 1949) and that was to close an opening in her spine. In the next few years, Judy had more operations with the result that she was five years old before she was able to walk, and was nine years old when she was able to start school.

Medical problems continued to plague Judy, and in 1960, at the age of eleven, she had a urostomy operation. Dr. George Bonnell performed that operation which was the first recorded in New Brunswick. Judy still remembers vividly the many visits that she had from interested doctors and nurses, all wanting to see her stoma, and the attached "bag" or appliance which was indeed quite uncomfortable and very primitive by today's standards.

When Judy was sixteen years old, she noticed a write-up in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner that an ostomy chapter was being organized by Dr. H.M. MacSween and Joan Trainor. Judy attended that first meeting of what was to become the Fredericton and District Chapter of the UOAC.

Her problems were not all solved yet, and in 1984 she had a colostomy operation. Judy continued her membership in the local Chapter, not only as an interested ostomate, but served as Vice President, President, Librarian, News Letter editor, program facilitator, help-line respondent, publicity chairperson, and an ostomy visitor. Judy is now Program Chairperson, and also operates the Chapters Ostomy Help-Line from her home handling inquiries from not only the Fredericton region, but indeed from across the Province of New Brunswick.

As one sits back in a comfortable easy-chair, one cannot help but wonder how Judy Woods is able to accomplish so much. Since the Fredericton and District Chapter of the UOA was formed twenty-five years ago, it has grown from three or four members in 1976 to over one hundred members in the year 2001, and Judy has, in one way or another, been involved in every chapter activity and somehow continues to be one of it's most active members. It is indeed an honour to have Judy Woods as a member of our chapter, and you are indeed a true UNSUNG HERO!!! 
Written by Cyd Rioux and submitted by Judy Steeves for the Fredericton & District Chapter UOAC




Huguette Levesque, ET – Ottawa Chapter

ETs don't come any better than Huguette Levesque. Since her retirement, her expertise and her kindness are sadly missed by her clients but hopefully she will be a continued, much respected presence in UOSG (United Ostomy Support Group) Ottawa.

Huguette was born in Ottawa and has nursed in Ottawa, Montreal, Syracuse and Isle a la Chasse. In 1978 she became an ostomy nurse for the Victorian Order of Nurses and took her ET degree at St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver. Her hobbies are traveling, camping, alpine skiing and seadoing. She has skied in the Laurentians, Sun Valley, Banff and Whistler. Her favourite trips were two ocean trips from North America to Europe. She has explored Europe twice for six month stays. Her favourite countries are Greece and Spain though she thoroughly enjoyed Singapore and Thailand.

A brief summary of her many contributions to UOSG Ottawa:

Huguette has given 14 formal educational presentations for UOSG Ottawa, Inc. She takes part in all fund raising for Canadian Youth Camp and Ottawa Chapter and for the year 2000 found a child to send to camp and made all arrangements with parents and for UOSG. Was on committee for Trillium Grant and New Horizons Grant. Advertised in chapter newsletter. All her new clients received Ottawa Ostomy News, a brochure and an Ottawa Chapter Guide for New Ostomates. Posters etc. were displayed at her office. As many newsletters as our chapter could spare were given to new clients. Huguette has recruited and advised parents and all children sent from Ottawa to Youth Camp and worked as ET at camp for three years, setting up, educating, doing care etc. She yearly formed an ET panel to speak at a UOSG meeting; has lectured often at local college and hospitals to nurses, paramedics, etc. She did not charge for these services or for care given out-of-town patients. Has often mailed chapter contribution to SHARE at her own expense. She acted as liaison between chapter and hospital ETs; got Hollister to donate all posters, pamphlets etc. for past World Ostomy Days. Has been an invaluable source of advice to Visiting Coordinators. Huguette was Treasurer of Canadian Association of Enterostomal Therapists (CAET) for five years and worked on creating an ET School Correspondence Course and was Treasurer for the ET School. As an ex-VON nurse she owned and ran Capital Ostomy Corner. Has been a Director of UOSG Ottawa from its inception. Received the CAET President's Award in 1999.

Huguette is a self-effacing, selfless woman who worked quietly and tirelessly for the good of all ostomates. In her words, "The greatest gift that I can give is to teach ostomates how to handle their own care and go independently on their way knowing that if they ever need me again, I'll be there." She has been there for our chapter for twenty-two years.





Alfred Pettipas – Metro Halifax Chapter

It was in early 1970 that Alfred had his colostomy for a cancerous tumour of the lower bowel. Numerous and very serious complications kept him in hospital for almost 3 months and only in 1983 that Alfred learned about an ostomy group in the Halifax area. He joined almost immediately and the few meetings that he has missed have been health related.

Born in Chezzetcook, a picturesque fishing community on the Eastern Shore near Halifax, Alfred has had varied and interesting occupations, e.g. farmer, construction work, lumberjack, route mailman, and from 1952 for 25 years, manager of a large restaurant.

Although a widower for some years, he is kept busy with siblings, nieces and nephews. As Alfred says, joining the chapter opened many doors and introduced him to so many fine people. His first plane ride was in 1985 when he went with eight members to the UOA Annual Conference in Toronto, expenses being subsidized by the chapter. Since then he has participated with our chapter in supporting ostomy functions at various locations in the Maritimes. During the very successful 1987 UOA Regional Conference hosted by Halifax Chapter, he worked very closely with the then president Tony Goldsmith. Alfred is the official greeter at the meeting and everyone is welcomed with a wonderful cheery smile - and often a hug for the ladies! For the past 8 years he has been one of the team that helps get the monthly newsletter ready for mailing. In addition to assisting with the newsletter mailout, Alfred always stands ready to assist with any large or small challenge for our chapter. The chapter showed its appreciation for Alfred's dedication at the 25th Anniversary Celebration in 1998 with a presentation of a Certificate of Recognition.

Surely Unsung Hero is another name for Alfred Pettipas.




Burleigh Wile – Metro Halifax Chapter

The acknowledgement of Burleigh Wile as an unsung hero is long overdue. He was born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, and served in the armed forces in the second world war as an instrument mechanic. After the war he attended Acadia University and Technical University earning a degree in civil engineering and in his latter years worked for the Department of National Defence until his retirement in 1986. Burleigh, a widower, was married for thirty-five years to Margaret and they had three children, one girl and two boys, who have made him the proud grandfather on nine grandchildren.

Burleigh had his colostomy in February, 1986, joined Metro Halifax Chapter that March, and immediately became a working member. The chapter hosted a Regional Conference in 1987 and under the leadership of then-President, Tony Goldsmith, Burleigh was constantly available - making signs, running errands, helping with set-up - in other words, he was the conference "gofer".

Burleigh became a certified visitor as soon as was possible and always answer "YES" to making a visit. He makes sure that the grocery tapes collected by members are delivered to the local office of the grocery chain involved for monetary reimbursement. Never one to watch the scene go by, he is a Past President of our chapter and has been Travel Coordinator for many, many years, arranging for members to drive to other chapters all over the Maritimes, e.g. Saint John and Moncton, N.B., Sydney, Valley points, Yarmouth, New Glasgow, etc. in Nova Scotia year after year.

In other words, Burleigh is an "active" member in every sense of the word. We are very happy to sing the praises of our chapter's hero, Burleigh Wile---no long unsung. (Bernice Richards, Past President, Metro Halifax Chapter) 
(Burleigh Wile passed away on 9 January, 2003)




Debbie Lalonde – Ottawa Chapter

Debbie Lalonde is a pretty, bubbly lady who smiles and laughs a lot and who claims to be shy. But she is also a gutsy, generous lady who cares deeply about others and puts that caring into action.

Debbie came from a Canadian Air Force family who moved from Rockcliffe (Ottawa) to Montreal, Belleville, and then back to Ottawa. She has lived in Ottawa since she was fifteen, attending Glebe Collegiate and Commerce where she took a commercial certificate. Bookkeeping is her forte but she has worked at several jobs including a stint with the Ottawa Municipal Employees Credit Union and the Japanese Embassy.

She became seriously ill in her twenties with the usual painful symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis and at twenty-six she was finally diagnosed as having Ulcerative Colitis after two years of being told it was her nerves. Prednisone gave her relief for a few months but she ended up in hospital on complete bowel rest. However, when Debbie was thirty-two in the summer of 1985 she was again a very sick girl. She was given a temporary ostomy in September even though she asked for a permanent stoma. There were complications but eventually the ostomy worked after a month in hospital. By February a permanent ostomy was needed and the Ulcerative Colitis was cured. After all of this Debbie was lucky enough to meet Huguette Levesque RNET who helped her through adjustment. Also Debbie had belonged to the Ileitis and Colitis Foundation who sent her on to UOA Ottawa.

Debbie met her husband, Larry, just before surgery and he supported her through it. They were married when she was well again. Her quality of life had improved one hundred percent.

Debbie learned to crochet when she was eleven and since then she has "crocheted a chain that would circle the world." Stained glass, Christmas decorations, jewelry, and computer art are some other crafts. Debbie is the Consummate Crafter. She has, with her usual generosity established an annual Craft Show from which all the table profits go to charities. Debbie's charity of choice has always been UOA ,Ottawa to which she has contributed more than two thousand dollars over a six year period and intends to continue this support every year.

Besides this, Debbie has been a Director of UOA, Ottawa for three years. She produces our special bookmarks. She sees to the designing of all trophies and plaques. She produced our new publicity pamphlet and is working on a new business card. She supervises the annual Cheese Sale. She created the Ostomy Trivial Pursuits Game. And takes part in all activities and social events. She has even been known to turn into an elf. She is a Visitor who takes her turn on the hotline. She says, "I just try to do my bit."

Well your "bit" has been invaluable to your fellow ostomates, Debbie. Debbie believes in complete openness about ostomies. "I educate people all the time. I don't hide my ostomy. How else can people learn? And when they learn, they needn't go through the terrible shock which ostomy surgery can be."

When asked what she thought UOA provided, she replied, "People need ostomates to be there for them and give them information. We do that."

Well you certainly do that, Debbie. You are a true Unsung Hero. (Dolly Dunlop, President)




Mike and Betty Woolridge – Metro Halifax Chapter

The Metro Halifax chapter of the United Ostomy Association of Canada has been blessed by a pair of imports, a hustand and wife who have given years of dedication to it, and without whom many of the details of running an organization would not get done.

These two Newfoundlanders who have been Halifax chapter members for the last 10 years, have not limited their contribution to their local chapter for both have been instrumental at the national level too.

Mike and Betty Woolridge arrived in Halifax in 1994 after a circuitous journey that took him from his native province and her from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Richmond, B.C. and then back to Nova Scotia.

Mike, an airline employee for 35 years before retiring in 1994, grew up on Newfoundland's east coast. He was a mechanic with Eastern Provincial Airlines, then transferred to Canadian Airlines as a line maintenance manager for the international section. After he transferred to Richmond, Mike had a check up in 1992 when a tumor was found in the bowel. An operation at Richmond General left him with a permanent colostomy.

He immediately joined the Vancouver chapter in April, 1993 until he retired in 1994 and moved to Halifax. His wife Betty was born in Edinburgh. As a child, she came to St. John's, Nfld. in 1945 with her war bride mother. After school graduation, she took a secretarial course, joined the Canadian Women's Army Corp for three years, then met and married Mike. They have three children and two grandchildren.

When Mike joined Metro Halifax chapter after settlingin their new home in Enfield, about 40 km from Halifax, he and Betty joined in chapter activities. He became vice-president and organized a newsletter mailing committee. Betty helped at the meeting wecome desk and took full responsibility for that in 1999.

Mike was elected president of Metro Halifax in 1999 and immediately started campaigning for a UOAC conference in Halifax which came about in August of 2002. Its success was mainly due to Mike and Betty's exceptional organizational skills, and along with co-chair and chapter past president Bernice Richards, kept everyone enthused.

Mike and Betty have attended every national conference except Edmonton (when they couldn't arrange a flight) and was Metro Halifax's delegate to the first UOAC conference in Toronto in 1998.

While Mike is presently serving a second term as president, Betty has continued her instrumental role in the UOAC's Spouses and Significant Others program which she formed because of the horrendous experience they found with little ET or other support at the time of Mike's surgery.

Betty made a spouse's presentation at UOAC's 2002 conference in Montreal. Through her diligence, UOAC agreed with the need and a committee was formed of which Betty is now chair. The idea is taking off across the country with many chapters becoming involved.

In his non-ostomy life, Mike is 1st Vice President and poppy chairman of Enfield/Montgomery 133 Legion Branch. He is also chair of Call to Remembrance, a high school program to make students more aware of the Legion and its activities. When his children were home, Mike was a Cub leader for 15 years.

Betty, too, has heavy community involvement. She will be president of the Noval Scotia Crime Prevention Society in April, chair of the Tri-County Crime Prevention, was secretary and co-founder of the Citizens on Patrol and member of Safe Seniors' at Home program.

Betty was involved in the church, school and recreation programs while living in Gander and Goose Bay, was accountant of the local figure skating association for 19 years. When sex education came into the school in the mid-seventies, she was an advisor to the provincial board to bring it to the students in the correct way.

The Woolridges are certainly Unsung Heroes in every sense of the word. Our community benefits from their devotion and dedication. (Metro Halifax member Joel Jacobson)




Bernice Richards – Metro Halifax Chapter

Bernice Richards should not be "unsung". Her praises should be sung from the highest mountains. The Halifax woman, a Sydney, N.S. native, has been an active and invaluable member of the Metro Halifax chapter of UOA since she first joined in January 1995. It's not certain whether she realized that she'd get immediately involved, but within 18 months, she was chapter president. Because of the sudden passing of her mentor, past president Brad Amirualt, who assured her of his assistance, she learned quickly.

Bernice served two terms as president, while being corresponding secretary, a postion she still holds. But let's go back to the 16-year-old youngster who moved to Halifax from Sydney, took a job in a bank, worked there 20 years, then assisted a chartered accountant, and through him met the owner of a neon sign business, bought a share, and managed it quite successfully with two partners for many years. But while experiencing business success, her personal life took a turn when she was afflicted with ulcerative colitis, which hastened her retirement in 1991. Taking the steriod prednisone brought on a litany of problems, including cataract surgery and artificial joints. The illness was so debilitating, doctors finally consented to her request for surgery in December 1994.

With foresight, her daughter Nancy, had already contacted the ostomy chapter for information about life after surgery and urged her mother to join in January, 1995. Bernice attended her first meeting the following month accompanied by Nancy.

Until her husband of 35 years was stricken with Alzheimer's disease and required her more immediate attention in recent months, Bernice participated in all chapter functions and travel.

One highlight of her presidential term was the Chapter's 25th Anniversary celebration in 1997, the tremendous success of which was mostly due to the efforts of Bernice, assisted by Nancy. For the term 1999-2000 she held the position of Director for UOAC and participated in intensive and productive bylaw working committee on major revisions.

Bernice also worked tirelessly on the most successful 5th Annual UOAC Conference in August 2002 held in Halifax as assistant chair. Some of her duties were supporting the goody bag chair, obtaining many of the speakers, doing a tremendous amount of correspondence and being a general "gofer." Her two children, Nancy and Bill have supported Bernice in her work with the chapter and ostomates. She is a strong adherent to the church.

One side of Bernice chapter members recognize is her great empathy towards those who are ill or infirm. Former Connections editor, Bette Yetman recalls the time Bernice knocked on her door knowing Bette was ill. "There was Bernice with a lovely casserole of macaroni & cheese. She just handed it to me, said she couldn't wait, and dashed off. An amazing woman and so generous. Bernice is always taking some baking to those who aren't well and I don't know how she has time to do it."

Bernice Richards, working behind the scenes, taking little credit, the true Unsung Hero! (Joel Jacobson, Secretary, Metro Halifax Chapter)




Astrid Graham – Ottawa Support Group

Volunteering did not begin with the United Ostomy Association. Astrid has volunteered for many years as an Ottawa Hospital Board member even while she was still in the work force. During this time she managed many shops, such as the gift shop and coffee shop and the beauty salon. To be more effective in decisions made as a board member, she actually worked in most of these shops.

After her husband Doug's ostomy surgery in 1996, she searched the internet to get information about ostomies to help deal with Doug's problems. Shortly after, they became members of the Ottawa UOA Chapter with Astrid accompanying Doug to that first meeting. This has never changed. She is there with him every meeting.

After attending the National and International conferences in 1997, Astrid and her husband both decided to help out wherever possible. Almost immediately after joining, both became involved in the Ottawa Chapter. When the position of Treasurer became difficult to fill, Astrid volunteered. She has since been elected for a second term in this position. She soon created her own computerized accounting system from the previous hand-written records and files. Between her computer prowess and creativity, she has initiated and designed an expense/reimbursement form, an invoice system for a steady cash flow, a direct membership renewal system, a bilingual charitable cash receipt and name tags with the Ottawa Chapter logo for the members. She has also initiated and participated in the development of various financial policies.

Astrid works tirelessly in all our fundraising endeavours and social events. The Ottawa Chapter has benefited remarkably because of her hard work and dedication.

Astrid's excellent computer skills saw her as part of the transition when large, cumbersome computers evolved into hand-held models. Because of this expertise, she has been able to redesign and produce a number of pages of the Ottawa newsletter.

Astrid has accompanied her husband to every UOA of Canada conference and the past two IOA conferences. She attends every session as well as the spouses of ostomates sessions. She has participated in the creation of the pamphlet for the UOA of Canada Spouses group.

She constantly keeps in contact with a number of our members and spouses, often including taking them out for lunch or shopping.

She is the Treasurer for FOW (Friends of Ostomates Worldwide) and always looking for surplus, unused supplies and cash donations. Her latest project was initiating and designing the FOW website.

Outside her volunteer activities, she likes to cook, make crafts, travel, sew, work in the garden and is very much involved with her grandchildren and family. She enjoys competing in contests and sweepstakes on her computer.

Astrid has been incredibly dedicated to the UOA movement and has been steadfastly loyal to our Ottawa Chapter, where her husband is presently the President. It is now time that we recognize her as an "Unsung Hero."




Doug Graham – Ottawa Support Group

Doug underwent surgery for an ileostomy in September, 1996 to correct a serious ulcerative colitis condition that had developed early in the same year. At that time he and his wife Astrid were unaware of the existence of the United Ostomy Association. Subsequently, through information obtained from the Winnipeg UOA web page, and later with the assistance of the visiting VON nurse, Shirley McSavaney, Doug and Astrid were able to benefit from membership in the local UOA Chapter.

Doug was born and educated in Ottawa. After graduating from high school he enlisted in the Armed Forces where he spent nine years in the Black Watch regiment. During that time he served in Europe and spend a considerable amount of time on peace-keeping duties in Cyprus. Returning to civilian life, he went to work with the Municipal Government and later joined the Municipal Health and Safety Association of the Ontario Government. He is now their Eastern Ontario Manager, responsible for teaching all aspects of health and safety requirements to workers, management, council, police and fire departments in Eastern Ontario. His duties include promotion of public awareness and in some cases being part of the investigation of serious industrial accidents and presenting his expertise in court.

Upon joining the Ottawa Support Group in 1997 his talents and work ethic were immediately recognized and he was nominated as the Group's delegate to the IOA Calgary conference. In the following year he became President of the Ottawa Chapter, a post he held for two years. He performed his UOA duties in an exemplary manner in spite of his heavy work schedule which necessitated constant travel. Through his efforts and leadership the Chapter prospered. In addition to organizing and chairing monthly meetings, Doug was actively involved in fund raising, speaking at local hospitals and providing telephone support to ostomates. He promotes and attends all National and International conferences.

In the year 2000 he was elected as director of the National UOA and was made chairman of the By-laws Committee. He was again elected to the National Board in 2002 and presently holds the position of Secretary. In addition to his duties at the local and Canadian UOA level, Douglas is a member of the International Standards Committee. He, in 2002, accepted the presidency of the local chapter for a second term.

Besides being involved in UOA activities, he also has been a volunteer board member of the Ottawa Safety Council for many years and presently holds the position of vice-president.




Alf Keating – Saskatoon Ostomy Association

Seven years ago, Alf stood up at one of our local chapter meetings and announced he'd like to spearhead a golf tournament on behalf of our association. He said he wanted to raise funds our chapter could use to send delegates to the UOA National Conference, young people to Youth Ostomy Camp and (for that year) our E.T.'s to a conference in the United States. Like many chapters we struggled to raise funds and awareness of our chapter and UOA Canada. You would think we would have jumped at the offer but we were reticent. I think many of us were unsure we could manage all that was involved in a golf tournament. Alf, however, was undaunted, as well as outrageously confident we could do it.

That year Alf, almost single-handedly, planned the tournament, rounded up sponsors, arranged media coverage, found prizes and sold entries to golfers. His letters to potential sponsors (largely local businesses and doctors) began by explaining what ostomies were and what UOAC had to offer. Each year he arranged media spots to publicize the tournament but the publicity focused on raising awareness of ostomy surgery the role of UOAC for ostomates. Our association did contribute in finding prizes and running the tournament but it never would have happened without Alf. For three years he ran a lovely tournament and each year members of our chapter became more involved. For three years our chapter was able to send delegates to each of the National Conferences, send as many children as we could find to camp, and support our ET's.

Then Alf announced he thought we should have a celebrity golf tournament! Once again our chapter was hesitant but Alf was fearless. This time he sought national sponsorship and was able, through ConvaTec, to secure Rolf Benirshke as the keynote celebrity. Alf worked tirelessly to orchestrate a banquet, featuring entertainment, Rolf as the key note speaker, and a silent auction, followed the next day by a golf tournament where each foursome enjoyed the company of a celebrity. Alf secured several media promotions leading up to the tournament, including a 15 minute interview on CTV News with Rolf and Jessie, a child who has had ostomy surgery. Again the emphasis was on the role of UOAC.

Last year Alf, very ill with heart problems, announced he could not run the tournament. Our chapter agreed it would be shame to let the tournament die, and banded together to discover we could do it – maybe not with Alf's style, but we did it! In four years Alf had created in us the confidence to take it on. It was a tremendous morale booster for the chapter. This year Alf has taken on the challenges of running our sixth Norm Faulkner Ostomy Classic Golf Tournament on the Sunday following the conference.

To my way of thinking Alf exemplifies the very type of person who will keep UOAC alive and well. He has reached many people in the business, medical, and general community with information about ostomy surgery and the support UOAC can provide. He has helped our group feel proud of who they are and what they can accomplish. He has brought heart and spirit to our chapter through his tireless efforts. I believe it was the confidence we developed through the golf tournament that lead us to believe we were up to the challenge of hosting the National Conference in Saskatoon.




Charlie Baird – Metro Halifax Chapter

Charlie Baird has a big smile, a willing manner, and a heart so warm and caring it almost breaks yours. No task is every too large, too much trouble or inconvenient. Charlie is reliable, gentle with everybody, a model to other volunteers and an inspiration to patients undergoing ostomy surgery.

Charlie was born, raised and attended school in River Hebert, N.S. where he played hockey, softball and ruby; belonged to the Cadet Corp and joined North Nova Army Reserve during the Second World War. Joining the Bank of Nova Scotia after high school, Charlie spent most of his working life in the finance industry with the exception of a few years as one of the few who worked on the infamous Avro Arrow in Ontario. He also spent five years in the Naval Fleet Air Arm.

Charlie has four children, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren. He lives in the home he and his wife purchased when they moved back to Nova Scotia. Always community active, Charlie participated in Community Club work and the Home and School organization. He also enjoyed being a hockey coach and playing rhythm drums with dance bands.

Charlie's wife Evelyn succumbed to cancer in 1986 and he fought his own battle with cancer requiring colostomy surgery in 1995. As has happened with many of our members, he was inspired by his ostomy visitor to get better and to help fellow ostomates. He joined Metro Halifax chapter, became a very effective certified visitor and, following his own visitor's example, inspires others to look ahead to see how good life can be with an ostomy.

Charlie lives by the philosophy with which he was raised, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,"and six years ago he began volunteering at the Emergency Department of the QEII Health Sciences Centre, (spending six to seven hours a day there, three or four days a week). He is now affectionately known as "Wheelchair Charlie". Presently coordinator for 16 other volunteers in that department, he is the only non-medical member of the Continuous Quality Improvement Committee (CQI), whose mission is striving to make improvements in the Emergency Department for staff and patients. Charlie has conducted some 400 surveys of former patients for CQI. His efforts volunteering were recently the subject of a very complimentary article in one of the Halifax daily newspapers.

Wouldn't you think all of the foregoing would be a full plate for anyone! In addition, Charlie is a very effective and imaginative Program Director for Metro Halifax Chapter; "Jack-ofall trades" at monthly meetings; still regularly visits a nursing home where his mother died several years ago (40 miles from Halifax); has organized a group of his schoolmates of 50 years ago, meeting 4 times a year; and supports out-of-town smaller ostomy chapters by attending their meetings. Equivocation vanishes when the name of Charlie Baird prompts the synonymy "Unsung Hero". (Bernice Richards, Past President)




Ken Zomer – Ottawa Chapter

About six years ago Ken Zomer underwent surgery which resulted in a colostomy. This was his introduction to life with an ostomy. Fortunately for both himself and all our members, he learned about our United Ostomy Support Group, Ottawa through a newsletter.

Almost immediately he became involved with our chapter and has contributed steadily ever since. He began by managing the membership portfolio and taking responsibility for mailing our newsletter. He also became a member of our Board of Directors. Not only has he presented at our monthly meetings, but he has also helped to chair these meetings on occasion. More importantly, he willingly and very positively shares his experience with ostomates at meetings and can always be seen giving support to other members. He is presently enrolled in the uncoming Visitor's Training Program.

But this is only a part of his contributions. He arrives early to set up for every Board meeting and the general meeting which follows. And he is often one of the last to leave. The chapter can always count on him to help whenever and however needed at the Christmas Party or summer picnic. Leading the Christmas carol singing on the piano has become an annual event.

Ken and Betty have three daughters. Both are from Holland. Ken landed in 1956 in Halifax at Pier 21. Although retired as a Security Officer, it would appear that his latest employment is with our UOAC chapter. Ken's beautiful tenor voice can be heard with the Ottawa Male Choir. As well, he is a master at the piano and organ.

But of all he does and contributes, Ken's greatest attribute to his fellow ostomates is his stalwart dedication to the UOAC mission.

On behalf of all chapter members thank you Ken, for all you have done and all you will continue to contribute to spread the word of the UOAC. You have earned this "Unsung Hero Award" - accept it with great pride. (Ottawa Awards Committee)




Minerva Holton – Moncton Chapter

Minerva Holton received an ileostomy in 1998 after years of suffering with Crohn's disease. She fought against the surgery for years and once she had surgery, she did not accept it at first. After talking to other ostomates, she decided to come to the UOAC meeting. At these meetings, she realized that more should be done to help ostomates in the Moncton area. She quickly got involved with the group and within a year, she was elected as President of the Moncton chapter.

During her term, Minerva met with government officials and people in charge of both hospitals in the Moncton area to lobby for an ET. With her efforts, we now have one fulltime ET nurse at the George Dumont Hospital, one person with the Extra Mural Hospital who is presently taking the ET course and one position is now available at the Moncton Hospital. This person has two years to complete the ET course. This would give the ostomates in the Moncton area 3 ETs in the next couple of years.

Minerva wanted to have the group and ostomates recognized in Moncton. October 5, 2003 was proclaimed World Ostomy Day at a meeting at City Hall and Minerva had her picture taken with the Deputy Mayor. She also went on a Cable TV program to talk about ostomy surgery. The tape of the TV program along with the proclamation and what members did during WOD were sent to the World Ostomy Day Contest and the Moncton Chapter received the 3rd prize.

Minerva also applied for a charitable donation number from Canada Customs. After this was received, memorial cards were made up and taken to funeral homes in the Moncton area.

With Minerva's efforts, the Moncton chapter sent a young person to Youth Camp in June, 2004. To make this happen, she made arrangements for pizza voucher sales. She also contacted the Miramichi chapter who helped with the expenses.

When her term ended, she volunteered to become the Vice President - Program and Education. When the President could not carry on with his duties, Minerva quickly volunteered again for another 2 years as President.

Minerva got involved in organizing the Moncton Chapter's 25th Anniversary celebration which is scheduled for June 5, 2004. To raise money towards this event, she went to several businesses in the Moncton area for donations to make up a basket for a draw. At each business, she explained to them what we were all about and what we were trying to do. Everyone was happy to donate items for this cause. Minerva and two other members spent one day at each of the hospitals in the Moncton area. Ticket sales have been successful. The draw on this basket will be held at the general meeting on May 23, 2004.

Minerva spent hours looking over past minutes and documentation to make up a list of past Presidents and the years they served along with any Board of Director members she could find. All this information along with some pictures is now available for future members of the UOAC Moncton chapter.

Minerva and her husband, George have attended every annual conference since becoming a member. She says that with every conference, she learns something new and has also made some life long friendships.

Because of Minerva's untiring efforts to be of help to ostomates of the Greater Moncton area and educate the public about ostomy surgery, we feel she would be a deserving recipient of the "Unsung Hero" award. (Eva Bordage, Secretary-Treasurer Moncton Chapter)




Muriel Kinnear – Ostomy Toronto Chapter

This person whom I will describe to you in the next paragraphs will most probably blush with embarrassment. This person exemplifies the adage above and beyond the call of duty. She has been a member of our Chapter for twenty odd years. I can never recall a time when she was down.

For at least the last fifteen of these 20 years Muriel Kinnear has made sure that there are always refreshments at our monthly meetings. Whether she has baked these goodies herself or had it arranged with other members, there has never been a time that I can remember we did not have plenty! After the meeting Muriel will see to it that the dishes are cleaned and the coffee urn is washed and all is put away before leaving for the evening(that's usually not before ten thirty). Muriel has help in this endeavor from Mildred Wilson.

Muriel is also responsible for making sure that the monthly newsletter is mailed each month. She takes this job of responsibility seriously. Muriel comes into the office and stuffs each envelope with the newsletter and includes a copy of the "Connection". She then processes the stuffed envelope through the mail machine with correct amount of postage. After this is completed, Muriel then proceeds to take the mail to the post office some 4 blocks away! All this is done in one day, by the way, no small feat! This is repeated 10 times a year! When asked to come to do our bingo sessions whether 10AM or 10 PM, Muriel can always be counted on! I rarely hear the words " I cant't do it" from Muriel.

It is for this reason I consider Muriel an Unsung Hero for us at Ostomy Toronto. (Submitted by Lorne Aronson)




Tala Al-Awaid – Metro Halifax Chapter

The ever-present smile on Tala Al-Awaid's face tells it all.

He's pain-free, eats whatever he wants, and faces each day with optimism.

The 18-year-old Dalhousie University freshman engineering student was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease five years ago. Like most Crohn's sufferers, Talal had constant stomach pains, a limited diet, and, for a time in grade 11, was on a feeding tube, ingesting nothing by mouth.

He was a regular resident of the IWK Health Centre, in and out of hospital through grades 9, 10 and 11. When in public, he feared not making it to a bathroom in time. It was a stressful period for a junior high, then high school, student who loved to play soccer and basketball, but even had those activities curtailed.

Then he heard the word "ileostomy" from his doctors. They told him one option to alleviate his discomfort, and maybe the only one, was to remove the colon and bowel, pull a small piece of intestine through the skin on his side, and create a stoma through which waste matter would collect in a pouch.

"It was well-explained to me," says Talal, who, with his family, moved to Halifax from Kuwait in 1992, after the Gulf War. His father had worked in the petroleum industry and is now in a private immigration consulting business, based in Halifax.

"I was in grade 11, so I understood well what I was being told," says Talal. "I read a lot about ostomies, talked to surgeons, watched videos, but still didn't know what to expect as a young person. Everything I studied was geared to older people."

The day before his surgery two years ago, Talal was visited by a 22-year-old man who'd had an ostomy since age 19.

At last, thought Talal. Someone near my age, wearing a tee shirt and jeans.

"He told me everything he went through. He showed me his ostomy. It didn't look so bad to me. And he talked of what he could do. He played hockey, had a girl friend, and I couldn't see that he had an ostomy. It didn't show. That took the pressure off. Going into surgery, I felt confident."

Talal said his father tried to get him to avoid surgery. "Crohn's isn't common in the Middle East so he didn't know what to expect. He wasn't sure I would be back to normal. He'd always ask the doctors if there were new medications (so I could avoid surgery)."

But Talal did become "normal", very quickly.

"Physically, I can do whatever I want," he exclaims. "I can play whatever sport I want. Sure, I get bumped in my stoma when I play basketball but it doesn't hurt and doesn't damage it. The only thing I'd rather not do is take off my shirt. But that's just me."

In grade 12 at C.P. Allen High, Talal was head of the prom committee, in the robotics club, and a member of the soccer team that finished third in provincials. He even described what an ostomy is all about to his classes. "This happening to me was out of my control, so I felt comfortable talking about it. There are people who say you shouldn't do this or you can't do that."

His big problem was not knowing young people with either Crohn's disease or ostomies – until he heard about a summer camp for young ostomates.

"I was questioning why I was the only (youth) with it," he says. "When I joined the Halifax chapter of the United Ostomy Association of Canada, I met a member who had gone to this camp in Alberta. When I went in 2003, I met other kids who had ostomies longer than me. All of a sudden, it wasn't so bad at all."

Talal says being at Camp Horizon for a week was the most normal he had ever felt. "We talked with each other of how we dealt with our ostomies, but really had only one scheduled session devoted to the subject. Otherwise, we did normal camp things, like sports, swimming and other activities. "The other campers understood. They, too, experienced pain, went through surgery, put on, emptied and removed their pouches, just like me."

Talal looks back "The first month (after surgery) was rough, but once I adjusted, I realized I'm better off than people who don't have ostomies."

Talal is only 18 with a full life ahead. He'll complete university, have a career, find a mate and probably have children.

"Among many other things, we discussed sexuality at summer camp," he explains. "We realized most relationships at school are based on looks or popularity. As you get older, people see you for who you are. "The fact I have an ostomy should have no effect on my life. Having spoken to older people at meetings of the ostomy chapter, I've discovered I have no reason to fear what's ahead, only look at life as positive."