Sometimes, the best part about volunteering is the other volunteers.
At least that's the opinion of Cynthia Donald, who was surprised and humbled to be honoured as the 2018 “Citizen of the Year” for Fort Frances during Monday night's council meeting.
She noted that mayor-elect June Caul had asked her if she wanted to go in the Christmas parade with her this Sunday (Dec. 2).
When she asked why, and found out she'd been nominated for—and then chosen by a special committee—as the “Citizen of the Year," Donald couldn't believe it and even now it feels "surreal.”
“You don't volunteer to hope to get this," Donald admitted. "I do normally shy away from too many accolades.”
So why does she keep on donating her time?
Donald gave full credit to the fellow volunteers she works with, noting it's their dedication—and the socializing that goes with volunteering.
“All of the people on all of the committees are just fun to be around,” she remarked.
“They're hard-working, and there's some people who have been involved with these committees for 20 years, doing the same job, and they really help keep it together.”
Donald, who is married to her husband, Phil, and has three children, Evan, Sian, and Drew, is a longtime volunteer in Fort Frances.
She is chairperson of the “Fun in the Sun” committee that has been organizing Canada Day activities here for the past few years. She's also co-chair of the Rainy River District Festival for the Performing Arts.
Donald recently became a member of the Fort Frances Kiwanis Club and already has taken on the role of secretary. She also has helped start the Kiwanis Builders' Club, a student-run organization, at Robert Moore School.
She's been a Retired Teachers' Organization (RTO) director since she retired in 2014, and has acted as social convener whenever local retired teachers have a gathering.
As well, she's been a member of Knox United Church for many years, where she's been an active volunteer, and she coached girls' basketball and volleyball throughout her teaching career.
Donald also delivers “Meals on Wheels” when she's needed, and she's even branched out into acting with Fort Frances Little Theatre.
“Cynthia Donald has been a friend of mine for many years. Actually, we met when I worked at Sixth Street School,” Caul said Monday night.
“I learned then what a hard worker she is and how dedicated she is in anything that she does do in life,” she noted.
“She's now a retired teacher who does a lot of substitute teaching in our schools, and I know the children who have the privilege of having her for a day certainly enjoy it, including my grandchildren,” Caul added.
Caul said Donald is a “pleasure” to be around.
“If I have a bad day, all I have to do is spend five minutes around Cynthia and I am laughing,” she remarked.
“She has got the quickest wit, the greatest sense of humour, and she is one very great lady.”
Referring to her more recent volunteer work, Caul credited Donald's leadership in reviving “Fun in the Sun” events here.
“It's such a wonderful thing to see again,” she said.
Donald will be in this Sunday's Christmas parade.
She also will be among those volunteers honoured next spring during the town's annual appreciation dinner.