Image Credit: M Pochwat
"Mary Westgarth is a wonderful lady," says Margaret Geer, the principal of Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Port Perry, Ontario. "She volunteers at our school on Thursdays. Rain or snow, cold weather or hot, she walks and is always on time. She brings in storybooks and reads to the kids. She loves that and the children listen so carefully."
Mary was diagnosed more than fifty years ago with a developmental disability and now lives in a home set up through Community Living's Supported Living Program. Linda Donnelly is Mary's support worker. She says whenever they are doing errands, it is Mary who is recognized. "Mummy, look there's Mary. She's the helper at my school," is a familiar refrain.
Principal Geer says, "Imagine someone volunteering with children for more than twenty-five years. The children learn a great deal from her. So do we all."
Mary was recently nominated for an award from the Council for Exceptional Children. Some students sent along their comments, including: "Mary makes the library feel like home," and, "Mary makes you feel good about yourself."