From the seed of an idea, volunteers grow a significant event!

Moving to Barrie as a newcomer can be daunting. But Mike Beard has grabbed life in Barrie by the coat-tails and the community is benefitting.

Mike has brought his generous nature and his divine graphic design and branding skills here to open his own business. He’s joined a couple of networking groups; he’s signed up for a business program; he’s an active member of the Barrie Chamber of Commerce. In short, Mike arrived wearing his pitcher’s glove, not his catcher’s mitt!

It was at a Chamber event that Mike ran into Larry Palmer, Executive Director of Camphill Communities. As Larry began explaining Camphill’s urban and rural programs for special needs people, Mike became intrigued.  The Camphill Core (as I like to call them) Diane & Chuck Kyd, Treasa O’Driscoll, Larry were in the early stages of developing an annual fundraising event that looked into the Barrie community at large to honour one individual and say thanks.

It’s got several purposes… it brings the Camphill story to the forefront, it pays tribute to an individual who is bettering our community, it mobilizes business and community leaders to a common goal, and it creates a prestigious event that raises important money for Camphill programs.

With this in mind, Larry got to talking with Mike at a networking event.

Turns out Mike had been heavily involved in a similar event in York Region, raising money and paying tribute to the Queen’s York Rangers, the country’s oldest military regiment.

So Mike jumped in with both feet to Larry’s idea and with remarkable community support, the first Tribute Dinner will be held on Thursday, March 7 at the Barrie Golf and Country Club to honour Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman. It’s amazing to watch people jump onboard to make this happen.

Mike has done all the graphic design and branding for the event.  Chuck and Diane Kyd have given their quiet guidance that is their trademark.  They’ve been the core leaders at both the rural and urban programs for many years.

Mike and Karen Fox are volunteering substantial energy to the event.  Mike’s the Executive Director of Living Green Barrie.  He’s also a mortgage agent.  Karen is a realtor with Remax Chay who also serves on the board for Living Green Barrie. This is a couple who have given incredible energy to many Barrie associations and networks, particularly Ecofest and Harvestfest.

Tickets are priced to maximize participation at the event. Tables at $1000 (Remax Chay grabbed a table immediately), tickets at $125. Generous charitable contributions are receipted from each type of purchase.

The group attracted the involvement of developers Charles Mady and Jack Pong.

Treasa is plying her considerable reach into the art world to encourage poet laureate Dr Bruce Meyer, Theatre Artistic Director Scott Hurst, a violinist, and photographer Andre Benetot to capture the event.  Treasa has also powerhoused spectacular wine

The Camphill Bell Ensemble will play bells during the evening.

Mike (Beard) has designed a crystal trophy which is being produced by Crystal Sensations in Richmond Hill. This company makes glorious renditions in glass and is producing the three-dimensional award that will be presented to Jeff Lehman during the event.

Behind-the-scenes-event coordination–technology, video, microphones–is being offered by Erica Angus, new director of the Collingwood theatre.

Jennifer Armstrong Lehman is taking on a role leading up to the event as is Barrie Culture Director Quammie Williams.

A tribute event needs eloquence at the podium and Mike Fox, Bob Lehman, and Charles Mady have stepped forward.

So you can see that this event, while it looks like a simple dinner honouring a committed, caring and multi-focussed person, is benefitting from the generous talents of many, many community residents.

If you’re interested in playing the major role of the event (that of diner/supporter) you can do that by downloading the order form from the Camphill website,, or by calling Emily Alward ( at the Camphill Cornerstone office at 78 Toronto St.

This event promises to support Camphill in a meaningful way.  And it’s thanks to the hard work of volunteers like Mike, Erica, Mike & Karen, Scott, Jennifer, Quammie and Charles!