Mike Nelson was the driving force behind the “Guelph is Hockeyville” bid that galvanized Guelph this winter. As Mike’s wife Renee put it on the CBC’s Hockeyville page, “My husband nominated Guelph for Kraft Hockeyville over one month ago and I haven’t seen him since!” Mike was tireless in his efforts – doing countless media interviews; organizing and attending events; maintaining a Facebook page with more than 1,000 members; printing banners, posters and t-shirts; and arranging for “Guelph is Hockeyville” signs on Guelph Transit buses.
Guelph didn’t win the Hockeyville contest, but by the time the campaign was over, that was almost beside the point. As Mike’s nominator said, “Mike has managed to get almost everybody in this city fired up. A contest like this has more benefits than the possibility of winning the top spot; it has given Guelph a chance to come together as a community. That is something that won’t go away, long after the contest is over and the signs come off the buses.”
Mike is also the head coach of the senior Guelph Giants, a hockey team for people with special needs. There are lots of hockey fans in Canada, but Mike stands out for his efforts to bring his community together through his love of the game.
In her nearly 30 years as a member of the Guelph Public Library Board, until her retirement in March 2011, Eileen Hammill has made a significant difference for one of our community’s most valued services. Well-known as a board member who always had her homework done, Eileen took a businesslike approach and brought a keen eye for budgets, statistics, and market trends. During Eileen’s time on the board, the library grew from a circulation of less than 400,000 to 1.8 million, and from one location to six. Eileen helped usher in changes that helped Guelph Public Library become more successful and well-used than libraries in many other municipalities.
In the 1980’s, Eileen was instrumental in the establishment of the Southern Ontario Library Service and served on a provincial government task force on public library funding. The Ontario Public Library Association recognized Eileen as Trustee of the Year in 1990.
In addition to her service on the library board, Eileen also served as President of the Guelph Historical Society in the 1960’s, promoting the establishment of the Guelph Museum and the preservation of Guelph’s heritage buildings.
As far back as 1994, Eileen was a fierce advocate for the need for a new main library, and her support has not waned. Eileen is a tireless champion for the vital role that a free, accessible public library plays in people’s lives.
A busy mother and local business leader, Tova finds the time to volunteer and help others in countless ways. She contributes her marketing and public relations talents to local organizations including Women in Crisis, Holly’s Heart, and Taste of Guelph. She mentors youth in Junior Achievement, and serves on the board of the Guelph Youth Music Centre. For Victory School, she volunteers in the classroom and chairs the annual holiday craft sale.
In addition to her work with organized charities, there are many examples of Tova helping others in less formal ways. On learning that a family friend with an autistic child was unable to get funding for special education, Tova hosted a fundraising luncheon, personally preparing the meal for 25 people and raising more than $300. Tova also organizes biannual clothing exchanges where more than 40 women swap stories, strategies and outfits, with carloads of clothes and shoes donated to Women in Crisis and other charities in the process. She is a frequent participant in charity runs, raising pledges and awareness. Her family has even rescued a severely abused dog and transformed him with love and patience.
Tova’s efforts make a difference for many in the Guelph community.
Keith and Rosalind Slater
Guelph is home to a thriving amateur theatre, thanks in large part to Keith and Rosalind Slater. For 35 years, Keith and Rosalind have been an integral part of Guelph Little Theatre as actors, directors, writers, producers, and board members. Their faces are so familiar to local audiences that Rosalind has been stopped on the street over the years by people who think they know her, but actually only know her from having seen her on stage. Keith and Rosalind have helped GLT earn its reputation for producing shows of the highest calibre, winning awards over the years at the Western Ontario Drama League and Theatre Ontario festivals. As a non-profit, volunteer-run organization, GLT is able to provide entertainment and culture to the people of Guelph at a bargain price. While the theatre has a wonderful family of volunteers, Keith and Rosalind stand out for their remarkable dedication, commitment, and talent.
Though illness has forced the Slaters to limit their involvement in GLT in recent years, they remain a source of advice as well as enthusiastic audience members. They have left a lasting mark on our local community theatre, and in the process made our community a much richer and more vibrant place.