Laura Moore is a hockey Mom. She’s very involved in every Barrie Minor Hockey game her son plays. She’s also on the fundraising committee at his school, and treasurer of the school council. Laura Moore is also a very busy entrepreneur. Last July she opened her spectacular flower and gift shop, Flower Garden and Gifts, on Bryne Dr. in Barrie’s emerging mega shopping district in the south end. You may have seen Laura and Flower Garden’s lime green and daisy covered VW bug. It’s her signature.

Reta Whelan volunteers at Out of the Cold, providing meals and overnight accommodation for dozens of Barrie’s homeless people. She sings regularly with Sweet Adelines too, giving concerts to elderly and infirm across the region. Reta is also an active entrepreneur, owner of Simcoe Credit Management Services, dedicated to avoiding bad debt for small businesses, and collecting accounts that go wrong.

Kim Raycraft is immersed in schools, books and kids, both in her business and in her volunteer life. Owner of Chalk Dust, Kim sells teaching solutions and supplies,books for kids of all ages as well as reference materials. And she volunteers her efforts in both the computer lab and in a youth ski program for a Barrie school. She also participates in the reading program for Big Sisters.

David Smith owns Ontario Automation Services. David builds automation devices, troubleshoots existing systems, streamlines, installs and is generally an automation guru in the manufacturing sector. He also spends alot of time with Big Brothers.

Shawna McLachlan is opening McLachlan Floral Design in Cookstown this weekend. She takes her love of flowers right into fundraising for the Cancer Society by selling daffodils on their behalf.

The Year of the Volunteer is over! Why is any of this significant?

Because each of these people has taken their lives and their futures into their own hands and has started a new business. When you’re in year one of business start-up the last resource you have is time. And yet these folks take time to offer their talent to others. It’s the ultimate in generosity.

Keith Aikens machines custom parts for Harley Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts. He’s a tool and die maker. He also climbs onto his own Harley to raise money for the blind in CNIB’s Ride for Sight.

Crystal McGrath is a dog trainer, owner of the newly minted Pawsitively Obedient. And she offers her skills to orphaned animals at the OSPCA.

Mark LeMay is a wizard with problem vehicles. When the mechanic can’t figure out what’s wrong, Mark gets called in with his Auto Aide to do his diagnostic wizardry so your mechanic can fix the problem. Mark’s community work involves the same ability to analyze and assign as he volunteers on a cemetery board.

Mike Thomas, of HW Enterprises, hauls and recycles waste. He’ll empty your garage, haul away wood from a job site, deal with materials that you no longer want... old barbecues, lawn chairs, etc. And Mike’s generosity extends to keeping the Re-Store in steady supply of re-saleable goods. And Re-Store’s revenues support the Habitat for Humanity housing projects throughout the region.

Automation is Mike Smith’s forté. He can let your dog let itself in and out of your house, safely and without disturbing the home’s security. And he’s using his inventiveness with the March of Dimes’ Designability Project, producing solutions to individual problems suffered by the disabled.

Brenda Richardson started Sharp Shooters this year. Sharp Shooters provides DJ services, buying, setting up and serving of alcohol at various types of private functions. And then Brenda provides drivers and vehicles for her Safe Ride Home program. She also picks up people for functions, eliminating drinking and driving as well as the liability for the sponsor of the function and the owner of the facility. Brenda takes her commitment to this into Mothers Against Drunk Driving as her volunteer commitment.

Grace Sajczyk is a nutrition and weight loss counsellor, owner of Easy Lifestyle. She volunteers at a retirement home, offering music and exercise for their residents.

Bryan Goruk owns Sybran Property Maintenance... lawns, snow removal, pools opened and closed, power washing etc. He started his company last June. And he’s a powerhouse of volunteer effort in the Santa Claus Parade that thrills so many in November. It’s an all-fall project!

I could go on and on. Each of these small business owners displays a generosity of spirit that lets them step outside their day-to-day business efforts, extend their hands and use their skills to make life a little bit better for someone else. These people keep the circle moving as they “pay it forward.”

Isn’t it wonderful that people take time?

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