Monday night last was International Women¹s Day. The Barrie Event Centre was abuzz with 200 women and a few men who were supportive and approving of the night’s festivities.
A project hosted jointly by WINGS (Women in Networking Growing Stronger), Business Enterprise Resource Network, The Wedding Wizard, Pre-Paid Legal Services, Blacks Signs & Banners, Royal Bank, the Barrie Examiner, and Sears… the entire event was celebratory, despite the lack of a liquor licence!
The evening honoured 12 “diamonds” in our community. The evening also heard entertainment from Kindred Spirits, a ladies barbershop quartette who valiantly raised their voices above the throng of visiting voices. Dinner music was provided by Keys and Strings. And everyone donated their talents to the event.
Groups reserved tables and brought centrepieces to be raffled away to ticket winners. Tickets were sold with nearly $800 raised for Gilda¹s Club, a cancer support centre. PD Murphy Jewellers stepped up to the plate and donated a beautiful pendant with three diamonds, in keeping with the
evenings ‘mining for diamonds’ theme.
As each ‘diamond’ was announced, the audience rose to its feet. Applause. Photos. And then the nomination was read. Again and again, the diversity of the types of achievements played itself out as nominees received their awards. While each was different, each was the same, too. Service above self. Winning attitude. Making lemonade out of life’s lemons. Aileen Carroll was this riding’s first cabinet minister. Janice Laking for municipal leadership. Patricia Gilbert for taking her experience with cancer and turning it into Gilda’s Club. Andrea Murray for her fundraising
work for needy college students. Ernestine Baldwin for her first nations work. Shannon Curran for bravery and service to others in the face of her own illness. Suzanne Gavine-Hlady for her achievement as a locally born olympic athlete, Barrie’s first since 1928. Carol Gordon, accomplished pianist and mentor to youth. Dale Picard for her RVH fundraising efforts. Rev Cheryl Ann Smith for her community and international work. Cindy Roddick-Smith for overcoming illness and helping others on the same journey. Luana Wood for her work in the corrections field.
Perhaps the pinnacle of the evening occurred after Rose Adams’ fabulous speech…the draw for the 3-diamond drop pendant from P.D. Murphy’s.
With great anticipation, the ballot box was brought to the podium. Slowly the hand of caterer Nancy Groves withdrew a card. “Elizabeth Cornish, The Performance Edge” All eyes turned. Elizabeth came to the stage, full of the magic of the evening. “Thank you. But I¹d like to donate this necklace to Gilda’s Club so it can be used to benefit other women.”
Silence. Stunned silence. And then applause.
Patricia Gilbert, president of Gilda¹s Club, was stunned. With tears in her eyes, Pat went to the stage, embraced Elizabeth Cornish and said “bless you!”
Each of us wondered where this goodness found its core… what would WE have done, had our name been drawn?
Pat Gilbert reacted: “It was completely overwhelming. It took my breath away. When that young woman walked up and said ‘thank you’ and then turned it over to Gilda’s as a fundraiser, I just started crying.’ Indeed she did.
“There are days when you wonder if it¹s all worth it. We work so hard and we wonder if it’s going anywhere. Then something like this happens, this totally unselfish act of generosity and it makes you soar. When I arrived as one of the nominees, I didn’t even know that the fundraising was going to Gilda’s Club… we were amazed that we raised so much money just from the sale of centrepieces.
“Elizabeth Cornish is one special lady.”
For Elizabeth, it was a spur of the moment opportunity… “Funny, but I didn’t even remember there was a necklace to be given away. All through the evening, as I heard about how much people had done to help others, about their challenges and their gifts, I just kept thinking, “gosh, there’s got
to be more I could do.’ But in that moment when my name was called, that moment of being stunned, it seemed like the contribution I could make. This is what I can do! It’s a little thing!”
Now the Gilda’s group, after ooo-ing and aaah-ing over the necklace, is discussing its best use as a fundraiser.