By Kyle Reid
Thistle, Milmore and Rumsey nominated for Mount Pearl Citizen of the Year Award
There’s no shortage of volunteers and community minded residents in the City of Mount Pearl, but this year three outstanding individuals stood out from the pack.
Stephen Thistle, Sandra Milmore and Bren Rumsey are the three nominees for the City’s Citizen of the Year award. The award celebrates the community contributions made by Mount Pearl’s finest selfless contributors.
This year, federal Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan honoured both Milmore and Thistle for their outstanding community contributions by awarding them with Canada 150 Award Pins.
“That was such a humbling experience,” said Milmore. “I was flabbergasted, overwhelmed, humbled — shocked actually… I love Mount Pearl, you’d have to blast me out of here.”
It’s difficult to find a Mount Pearl community event or effort that Milmore doesn’t have a hand in. She serves as the President of the Ladies Auxiliary with the Knights of Columbus, volunteers with the Frosty Festival organization and serves as the President of the Particular Council for the Newfoundland and Labrador food banks — and that’s just some of her major projects. Milmore, who holds a full-time job with Eastern Health, also volunteers to organize various food drives, cooks for those in need and generally just helps anyone and anywhere that she can.
“I have no clue,” said Milmore when asked how she finds the time to give back to her community in so many ways. “I really enjoy it, because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be doing it. I’ve met so many great people”
Milmore, originally from Colliers, began her volunteer work with community food banks with the prompting of her husband Con Milmore, another active community volunteer. Once she began, Milmore never looked back. Despite all of the recognition she has received from the community Milmore receives the most recognition from those who see her work firsthand — her family.
“She goes above and beyond,” said daughter Brittany Milmore. “She’s an extremely compassionate and kind person. She’ll do whatever it takes to bring people together, whether it’s cooking for someone who’s sick, or cooking for someone just because.”
Milmore said that while she has seen community members go through hard times, the support she has seen from various organizations in helping those in need is heart-warming.
“All we have to do is make calls and you wouldn’t believe how fast we can get things done,” said Milmore.
Fellow Canada 150 Pin award winner Stephen Thistle celebrated his 98th birthday in January. Thistle is a long-time Mount Pearl resident who first moved to the area as a teenager, building a life for his family in Mount Pearl when the only people in the area were part-time residents who owned summer cottages. Thistle was responsible for helping with the construction of the first school and the Park Avenue church, which was first church to be built in the area when Mount Pearl was being settled. Thistle was instrumental in the development of the surrounding community, and has watched the area grow into the city known today. Thistle lived in the house he built on 18 Park Avenue with his wife the late Gertie (Billard) Thistle in his twenties and it wasn’t until last year that he decided to take residence in the Hillcrest Estates retirement home at the age of 97.
The Mount Pearl community veteran also served on the first amalgamated school board in Mount Pearl Park, and was the first President of the parent-teacher association, and the home and school association. Thistle has credited his late wife with continuously pushing him to be active in his community.
Like most of the dedicated community members nominated, Bren Rumsey prefers to stay under the radar.
“It’s not the kind of thing that I look for,” said Rumsey about his nomination. “That in itself, the fact that someone put my name forward (was a surprise).”
Rumsey said he was shocked to learn about his nomination, but judging from the contributions made to his community it should be no surprise at all. Rumsey, who has lived in Mount Pearl since 1975, was one of the members responsible for organizing the Mount Pearl Men’s Recreational Hockey League — a league which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. Rumsey was an active member in organizing the anniversary events to celebrate the formation of the league, which began as an effort to organize a fun hockey league for senior players.
The league has grown from three teams to eight teams and has become quite a fixture in the Mount Pearl community.
“I don’t think that those involved with getting the league off the ground thought that’s what would happen,” said Rumsey.
Rumsey is also the past President of the St. Peter’s Parish Council, and serves on as many parish committees as he can. Rumsey was first actively involved with the Mary Queen of the World Parish when he helped to spearhead efforts for a small chapel attached to the O’Donel High gymnasium that would eventually become the parish found on Ashford Drive. Rumsey served on the building committee which oversaw the construction efforts for the parish which opened in December of 2002.
The former St. Theresa’s school assistant principle has also served as a member of the Founding Committee for Big Brothers and Big Sisters and as the President of the St. John’s branch of the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Foundation. Rumsey currently holds a number of positions with the Roman Catholic Archdioceses of St. John’s and the Sisters of Mercy organization. In the ‘90’s Rumsey served as the co-ordinator of the school board’s response for referenda on denominational education and chaired the Mount Pearl effort.
Most recently, Rumsey worked alongside others to see a Mount Pearl resident receiving treatment for cancer find new housing and transport accommodations.
“It’s things like that which give you a lot of satisfaction,” Rumsey admitted. “It takes a fair bit of time, but at the same time you’re doing something to help somebody else, which I think is extremely important.”