Who’s planting? Who’s growing? Who’s new?

Last fall I wrote a column about the Old Boys Club. So often people sneer about the ‘old boys’ and I wanted to draw attention to their contribution to our community welfare.

Well, there’s a new opportunity to honour the do-ers in our community, but this time it’s not for people who’ve been in Barrie a long time.

Is there a special teacher who has made a real difference in a kid’s life? How about a hospital volunteer, the one with the winning smile? Perhaps a business owner who goes the extra mile; or a mentor? Maybe you know someone who’s always first to take on the extra, or perhaps someone who’s a real role model for you.

Next month, on March 7, International Women’s Day will fĂȘte five very special women.

They will be newcomers to Barrie. They may have moved here of their own free will, for better housing, or simpler lifestyle. They may have moved to Barrie to care for aging parents. They may be the victims of a job transfer for their life partner, but they’ve come along and dug right in.

Whatever their reason for moving here, they must be newcomers, here in the past five years, and an entire room of celebrants wants to applaud them.

“Grow Where You’re Planted.” That’s the theme for the fourth annual International Women’s Day celebrations. The organizing committee of 10 women is looking for those newcomers who haven’t hesitated to get involved.

You know… a hockey coach who’s really outstanding, a volunteer from one of Barrie’s many festivals or sports or cultural events. Perhaps a member of a service club.

So far the committee has received seven eligible nominations, but they are expecting many more before the February 15 deadline.

Doris Doran, one of the judging committee, makes a point that often it’s the people at the helm who get the credit. “We’re looking for women who don’t get recognized because they’re not the leader. But their work (volunteer or otherwise) is so critical to the whole organization… those are the women we’re looking for!”

Doris points out that there is no nomination ‘form’ per se, but each nominator is to include the person’s name, business, address, phone, email address and then indicate how long they’ve been in Barrie, and why they are deserving. Are they a role model, a mentor, a volunteer?

The selection committee will select five ‘winners’ from the nominations, though Doris is quick to point out that they are all ‘winners.’

This year’s International Women’s Day celebration is expected to experience continued growth, as indicated by the past three years. The first evening, in 2004, held at the City Hall Rotunda, drew 100 participants. The second, held at The Event Centre celebrated 150 attendees. Last year’s 2006 event attracted 224 celebrants. This year, the event is moving to the splendid Army Navy Air Force with a semi-formal environment, cash bar, dinner and lots of recognition.

Guest speaker for the evening is Sue Augustine, fabulous, inspirational author whose new book, Turn Your Dreams to Reality… 101 Ways to Make it Happen, is a fitting tribute for the evening. B101’s Wendy King will emcee the event.

Award selection committee includes Doris Doran of Prepaid Legal, Cathy Greer of Business Enterprise Resource Network, Audrey Wiede, former business owner.

The entire evening is really a cornerstone of the WINGS organization, headed by Diane McGee. Diane has been instrumental in assisting a number of organizations in this region plan and carry out their own International Women’s Day events.

What a terrific opportunity for women and men to celebrate today!

You can nominate your favourite new Barrie person by dropping off your nomination to the Business Enterprise Resource Network, at 22 Commerce Park Dr., Barrie, L4N 8W8. Or, you can email your nomination to doris@simcoemessage.com

Want to come to the festivities? Great! Tickets are $40 each and you can reserve yours, or buy a table of eight, by calling Gail Winters at 739-3575, or emailing Gail at designergail@msn.com.

This year’s event promises to be so significant, especially for people who have chosen to call Barrie their new home and have wasted no time jumping in to make a difference.

Thanks to the whole team of volunteers who are making this happen!