June Ball was honoured on Nov. 24 for 50 years of service with Girl Guides of Canada during a ceremony at St. James Anglican Church here.
Ball, a Fergus resident, has been a Guide leader since 1963, when her oldest daughter wanted to sign up at the local club in Downsview Toronto.
“They were full so they said, ‘If you’ll come on as a helper, we’ll take her’ – so I said ‘okay,’” Ball remembers. “Well, six weeks later I was in uniform and going to training.”
Not long after, Ball and her family moved to Maple, where she served as a Guide and Brownie leader and district commissioner for five years.
When they moved to Fergus in 1969, Ball said she was looking to step away from Guiding for a while. But when she took her girls to sign up, local officials had already heard of her qualifications.
“I got [the girls] joined in and then the commissioner called me – headquarters had sent them a letter stating they had a fully-qualified leader that had moved to their area,” she said with a laugh. “So that’s how I got back in again … I’ve been with Fergus ever since.”
Fellow Guide leader Lisa Winter says Ball has been an invaluable part of the Girl Guides club.
“She’s wonderful. She belongs to the St. James Anglican Church where we hold our meetings and it’s because of her that we’re allowed to hold our meetings there,” Winter explained. “She’s very patient, very kind, she loves the girls and the girls love her. She’s brought lots of wisdom to the meetings.”
Winter says Ball’s dedication has been a blessing, especially as it gets more and more difficult to find volunteers.
“It’s a bit of a process to go through and become a leader. There are some strict guidelines,” she said.
“Not everybody is willing to volunteer nowadays, people have busy family lives and their kids are involved in lots of other things, so it’s a bit tough.”
Like Ball, Winter says she joined because her daughters are members and there weren’t enough leaders for the number of girls signed up.
“My daughter was in Sparks for two years and [now] is in her second year of Brownies and she really wanted to join again,” says Winter. “I had to volunteer to become a leader in order for her to get involved again.”
This is partly because of the wide range of activities available to children now – particularly for girls, Ball says.
“Girls are included in so many more things now, like Sports and all that,” she says.
Although Ball originally got involved in Girl Guides to fill a need, she has stayed with the organization for the companionship and community involvement it provides – and she doesn’t plan on quitting just yet.
“It’s a wonderful program. It’s good for the girls and I’ve always thought if I could keep a couple girls off the street and give them something to do, at least I was doing something,” she says. “It’s been great, you meet a lot of great friends and it’s wonderful… [I’ll stay] as long as I can and as long as they need me.”
For more information on Girl Guides visit www.guidesontario.org.