Long-time volunteer receives Citizen of the Year award

by Adam Gault

One local resident received the surprise of the evening at the Essex Fun Fest this past Saturday. Amidst the Fun Fest festivities, long-time volunteer, Christine Hayes, was astonished to find out she was named the 2018 Essex Citizen of the Year during the annual announcement, held before the evening’s main entertainment.

“Thank you, I’m a little shocked, I had no idea,” Hayes said, after making her way to the stage upon receiving the distinction. “This town is everything. We do so much here, and I’m glad I could be part of it. Thank you.”

The Essex Citizen of the Year is awarded annually at the Essex Fun Fest, and its recipient is decided through a committee partnership of representatives from the Rotary Club of Essex, Knights of Columbus Essex, Heritage Essex, and the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201).

“We’re really looking at how they’re contributing to the community as a whole,” Heritage Essex Vice Chairperson, Morley Bowman, said of the award’s selection process. “You’ve got to be pretty careful that you’re not taking somebody that is single tier in what they do. You look for some broad-based community work, and [Hayes] has really exemplified that.”

Bowman added Hayes’s portfolio of community-based work and initiatives went well above and beyond the qualities of what the committee was looking for when making their 2018 decision.

Citing Hayes’ work and volunteer initiatives with her church, the Royal Canadian Legion, and fundraising efforts for local charity groups, Bowman explained it was important to recognize those in the area who take the time to go above and beyond in enriching the living experience in the community.

“A lot of these people really don’t get a lot of recognition,” Bowman said of volunteers. “Each year, we try to pick somebody from the community that has done something for the community. It may have been something they’ve done this year, or it may be something they’ve done over a lifetime.”

Hayes explained that it was the influence of her father, the late Pat Hayes, former Essex MPP, who taught her to put the community at the forefront when it comes to working together and helping others.

“It all stems from my dad. He just instilled in us [the idea] of your community, and doing the right thing, and it’s just one of those things that I do all the time,” Hayes said. “It’s something I like to do, being here, being part of the community. I’m beyond humbled.”

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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