Donna Leach named Mount Forest”™s Citizen of the Year

Donna Leach is Mount Forest’s Citizen of the Year.

She was honoured on April 21 when the Mount Forest District Chamber of Commerce held its annual  Excellence Awards Gala.

After accepting the award Leach said “a lot of people give a lot” in the community, acknowledging fellow nominees and adding it was “truly an honour” to win the award.

A member of the Louise Marshall Hospital Foundation, the Mount Forest Thrift Store, the Community Pantry food bank and her church, Leach said the reason she volunteers is a selfish one.

“It makes me feel good,” she said, citing examples such as providing food to a needy family, helping people who have experienced a disaster start over at the thrift store, and collecting a donation to help purchase much-needed  hospital equipment.

“And because I feel good, it makes me want to do more,” Leach said, explaining she had no relatives in the area or ties to Mount Forest when she and her husband decided to call the community home.

“I love this community… I feel Mount Forest is my hometown and I’m pleased to serve it,” she said.

Chris Holden, publisher of the Mount Forest Mirror, which sponsored the award, introduced Leach as the winner.

Also nominated were Dace Reeves, Ruth MacDonald, Steve Chambers, David Robinson, Scott Corrigan, Rob Mattice and Marg Rapp.

The Young Citizen of the Year award was presented to Victoria Cross Public School Grade 7 student Riley Wake.

The current junior ambassador of the Mount Forest Fall Fair, he volunteered with numerous organizations, including the Mount Forest Fireworks Festival, the Youth Action Council and as the “Chamber Elf” during the organization’s Christmas promotion.

Gabby Ieropoli and Lucas Rodriguez of the Wellington North Youth Action Council presented Wake with the award, stating the youth genuinely cares about his community.

Also nominated as Young Citizen of the Year were Ethan Andrews and Savanna Rehban.

The Arny Feairs Customer Service Award went to Shelly Hansen of Shelly’s Just for You Spa.

In presenting the award Lee Rogister of the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation, which sponsored the award, said Hansen treats her clients as friends and goes above and beyond in terms of rescheduling appointments to accommodate them.

Hansen said she loves what she does and her clients.

“This is a great community and I try to do as much as I can for it,” she said.

Also nominated for the customer service award were Country Carpet & Furniture, M&M Food Market and The Spot Restaurant.

Robert’s Farm Equipment was honoured with the Corporate Citizen of the Year award, sponsored by the Township of Wellington North and presented by Mayor Andy Lennox.

With locations in Chesley, Lucknow and Mount Forest, the company employs about 80 people.

The family-owned company made “a significant investment on Sligo Road,”

the mayor said, when it moved its West Grey location (formerly Watson Tractors, purchased in 2010) into Mount Forest last September.  

Robert’s Farm Equipment sponsors and supports the Mount Forest Fireworks Festival as well as events at the Sports complex and the new radio station in town.

Brian and Karen Osterndorff accepted the award and said they are proud to be in Mount Forest.

“This is the 49th year of the business my father started in 1968,” Osterndorff said. “He was all about serving the community.”

Also nominated as Corporate Citizen of the Year were Jim the Barber, Young’s Home Hardware and Walsh’s IDA.

Three additional one-time special awards “for going above and beyond” were also awarded.

The Mount Forest Lions Club was named organization of the year, with an award sponsored by TD presented to president John Rowbottam.

Ruth MacDonald of M&M Meat Shops was presented with a special achievement award sponsored by the Mount Forest Lions.

And the Mount Forest Museum and Archives received an honourable mention sponsored by the Mount Forest District Chamber of Commerce.

Marlene Markle and Bev Fettes accepted on behalf of the organization.

Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece attended the event and presented certificates of recognition.

David Sharpe is president of the Mount Forest District Chamber of Commerce.

Also on the executive is past president David Ford, treasurer Rob Dietrich, secretary Drew Nelson and directors Dan McCallum, Roslyn Fortier and Shawn McLeod. Trish Wake is administration and David Carney is the chamber’s summer student.