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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Couple shares 2019 Essex Citizen of the Year title

by Sylene Argent

Since 1978, community members have nominated a deserving individual, or two, as the annual Essex Citizen of the Year recipient. This annual award is presented to acknowledge outstanding volunteerism within the community.

On Saturday, before musician Jody Raffoul took to the Essex Fun Fest main stage, Essex couple Laurie and Chris Lapain we’re called front and centre.

Chris and Laurie Lapain, Essex Citizen of the Year Committee members Tom Bonneau, who is the Grand Knight of the Holy Name Knights of Columbus Council, and Essex Councillor Morley Bowman explained have been heavily involved in coaching minor sports for many years. Chris coaches hockey, high school and Essex County Ravens football, and they are both involved with their church, Holy Name of Jesus Parish.

“They are always around to help anyone in need,” Bonneau said.

The Lapain’s have seven children and four grandchildren.

Chris and Laurie were both surprised to hear of the nomination. A few white lies had to be told to get them to take a quick break from their camping plans to be at the official announcement. Chris was told his wife earned the award, and he told her a friend was the nominee.

Chris and Laurie said they have always been involved in helping area youth as they think it is important. They enjoy having a positive impact on the youth they coach and enjoy being involved.

Over the years, Chris said, he has been able to meet and coach a lot of great kids, who have, in turn, had a positive impact on him as well.

What Chris and Laurie try to instill in the youth they mentor is that they do not have to win, it is about learning life skills.

It is important for parents to teach their kids respect, they said, and they are pleased to help guide youth through their formative years.

“We are not perfect, but we keep trying,” Laurie said.

Chris is not the first of his family to earn the Essex Citizen of the Year award, his grandmother, Cecilia Burling, was also a recipient.

Laurie recalled when Burling won the award, she was a bit upset as she preferred to be in the background and forgo getting any recognition. She passed away six-years ago.

Community members can celebrate with the Essex Citizen of the Year winning couple at the annual banquet, which will be held on October 26 at the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201).

The Essex Legion, the Essex Rotary Club, and the Holy Name Knights of Columbus Council host this event in conjunction with, and as a fundraiser for, Heritage Essex, which maintains the Essex Railway Station.


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