Give where you live

Nov 8 • Feature Story, ViewpointNo Comments on Give where you live

What makes Chatham-Kent such a special place to live?

Sure, we’ve got some great beaches, some mild winters, and live in close proximity to the U.S. border for cultural or pro sports excursions, but it’s not all about the geography.

Actually, it’s much more about the people.

We’re talking about people like the Williston family. This clan of dedicated volunteers was honoured recently with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Chatham Goodfellows, the local organization that has, since 1954, worked to ensure that no child goes without a Christmas in Chatham and area.

And that Lifetime Achievement Award understates the Willistons’ commitment.

This is a family, albeit a large one, that has volunteered its services to the Goodfellows for a combined 450 years.

Family patriarch and matriarch Phil and Mary Williston have been involved in the organization since 1958. In fact, their first date was a jaunt to a local Scout hut to paint a red wagon, which was given to a child in need that Christmas.

Since then, they have been heavily involved. Both have earned the title Mr. or Mrs. Goodfellow over the years, as have two of their three children, Scott and Craig, who are members of the current board of directors. The third child, Cynthia, moved to Sarnia, but remains involved in the organization.

The Williston family commitment doesn’t end with the second generation. The children’s children are also volunteers. Ditto for members of the fourth generation.

Mary Williston said it was with great humility that the family accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award. We must say that if a family gives so much of its time to collectively volunteer for a cause – we’re talking a combined four and a half centuries of service here – its members don’t have to be humble about it.

But we’re talking about the Willistons after all. They are collectively so committed to helping others through Goodfellows that it seems ingrained into their DNA.

Of course, they aren’t the only giving family, and Chatham Goodfellows isn’t the only fortunate charity to have such dedicated support in Chatham-Kent.

Look no further than Connie Mardling, who was surprised to earn Mrs. Goodfellow honours this year. While heavily involved in this charity, she also reaches out to support other groups and events. If it helps local children in need, chances are she’ll jump at the chance to be involved.

These two examples stand out and were honoured for their efforts recently, but they are certainly not alone. We are blessed to live in such a giving community.



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