GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – Volunteers are an essential part of our community, dedicating their time for the benefit of others.
The Town of Grand Falls-Windsor is lucky to have many wonderful volunteers, but one in particular goes above and beyond, dedicating as much time to volunteering as one would to a full-time job.
Laurie Ballard is a hands-on volunteer at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall, where she is responsible for organizing all activities that go on there, as well as the other volunteers.
Ballard is a liaison between St. Joseph’s Hall and other organizations within the community. She has applied for government grants for the hall and received money for a new roof, kitchen, windows and accessibility doors for the hall.
“She’s all heart – she’s got the time for any volunteer work in the town and she’s involved in everything,” said long-time friend and neighbor, Kevin Barry.
Ballard was in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 30, where she was honored for her dedication to volunteering. She received the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal, which celebrates the achievements of Canadians who have made significant contributions to their communities, and commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first sitting of the Senate on Nov. 6, 1867.
“I had a ball – it was really nice,” Ballard told the Advertiser. “I don’t know how to describe it – we were right in the Senate, red carpet, front-row seats.”
Al Hawkins, MHA for the District of Grand Falls-Windsor – Buchans, wrote a letter to Senator David. M. Wells nominating Ballard for the award. He attended the event with her.
He said she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves for all the time she puts into volunteering,
“Laurie has been working behind the scenes for years, within her church, within the community, (and she) never wants anyone to pat her on the back or say, ‘Laurie Ballard did this.’ She never wanted or even thought about any recognition,” said Hawkins.
“I guess that is what inspired me to nominate her.”
In his letter to Wells, Hawkins noted the role Ballard plays as a volunteer leader.
“St. Joseph’s Hall is a thriving, volunteer-based operation because of its many volunteers who are led by Laurie,” he wrote. “When a group needs a fundraising event such as a dinner, concert or meeting space, Laurie will volunteer her time to help set up and clean the hall after the event.
“Through her volunteer work with St. Joseph’s, groups such as Central Health, Special Olympics, Community Soup Kitchen, and many others are able to use the hall free of charge.”
Ballard never thought she would be honoured in such a way, calling her time in Ottawa the experience of a lifetime.
“We were served lunch, we had champagne … the staff was first class, everybody came over and shook your hand – it was something out of the movies.
“I have never been anywhere like that before. It was so welcoming and so electrifying. I can’t say enough about it,” Ballard said.
In addition to volunteering with St. Joseph’s Parish Hall, Ballard also volunteers with the Corduroy Brook Enhancement Trail, Community Soup Kitchen, St. Joseph’s cemetery committee, St. Joseph’s management committee, Meals on Wheels steering committee, and St. Joseph’s confirmation committee.
She also recently co-chaired a fundraising campaign for the Lionel Kelland Hospice, which raised $10,000.
Ballard is an inspiration to many, especially her children.
“Words cannot express how incredibly proud of my mom we are as a family,” said her daughter, Tiffany Dormody.
“She gives all of herself with no expectation of acknowledgement or reward. She is truly deserving of this recognition for the years of volunteering she has done, and will no doubt do in the future,” she added.
Laurie Ballard’s family proud of her boundless generosity
Laurie Ballard’s husband Rodney Noble tells a story of his wife’s generosity.
“Laurie’s busiest time of year is always just before Christmas, this being the case one year (that I know of) on Tibb’s Eve.
“There were still a lot of last-minute things to get done to be ready for Christmas at home. Laurie had a lot of drop-offs to make, which meant the car was full for delivery. (She was) dropping off items to all kinds of places she had planned, but with one stop left to go, all she had was an address to go by.
“When we finally found the home, she knocked on the door and a young woman answered it.
“When she came to the car, (Laurie had prepared) everything (the young woman needed) for Christmas dinner, from the turkey and vegetables down to the savory. Even presents wrapped for her two pre-school children.
“Laurie told us later that the young woman’s husband/boyfriend had left her a week before and it looked like there was going to be no Christmas. When Laurie got the call about the woman’s situation, she made some calls of her own and put the package together for her from anonymous donations from friends.
“As Laurie was returning to the car she was wiping away tears – tears of joy and contentment generated from the tears that came from the young lady and her two young children.
“We always wonder why she is always so busy, but when she needed to explain the tears – I will never ask again or be impatient with her.
“Heaven is not the only place you can find angels.”