Community Service Award 2017 kicks off Montrose Days

Plenty to see and do at Montrose Family Fun Day beginning with fireworks Friday at dusk.

Last year’s Montrose Family Fun Day raised $598 for Kids Helping Kids (Left to right): Jayme Fowler, Art Benzer, Gord McAlpine, Courtney Jones, 2017 Community Service Award recipient Barb Leavitt, Linda Zol, Rory Steep, Mitch McLean and Carmen Gattafoni. Front: Bailey Jones (left) and Jordana Jones. (Missing) Montrose councillors Mike Walsh and Mary Gay. (Submitted photo)

Barb Leavitt’s life has been a cakewalk the last few years during Montrose Family Fun Day, figuratively speaking that is.

She’s been a volunteer for the village’s annual festivities nearing 30 years, and two years ago, resurrected the event’s past and popular challenge as a fundraiser – the ever tasty Cake Walk.

For those curious, a Cake Walk is like a game of musical chairs. There is a stash of cakes behind the scenes, ready and waiting to be eaten by the winners.

Baking talent aside, Leavitt has been a familiar face in many local causes over the years. Thursday night, she is being recognized for her helping hand as the recipient of the Montrose 2017 Community Service Award.

Hesitant to open up about her years of service, the Trail Times was able to pull a few highlights from the mom-of-two boys, now adults.

“I have volunteered at Montrose family day since we moved there in 1989,” Leavitt shared. “I loved the idea of a community day, the boys were four and seven and Leo (Barb’s husband) joined the fire department, so we were always involved in some way.”

The couple became integral to the event over time. They volunteered for shifts in the ticket booth and concession before joining planners from Montrose recreation, and for the past decade, Leavitt has organized the Saturday parade with fellow volunteer Carmen Gattafoni.

“Leo and I both really enjoy doing it,” she said. “(And) this is the third year for the Cake Walk, lots of fun for both young and old.”

Leavitt was also involved with PAC (Parent Advisory Council) for 25 years, district PAC for several years, and back in the day when more Beaver Valley schools were open, she was part of three PACs – Montrose Elementary, Beaver Valley Middle School as well as J.L. Crowe Secondary.

She recalls the battle to keep the village’s elementary facility open called SOS (Save Our School).

Although the site was permanently closed in 2003, Leavitt is proud of the fact that because of parents coming together, young students did get one extra year of school in the Montrose community.

Other service work included the Air Cadet sponsoring committee, One-to-One reading with elementary students, and volunteering for St. Rita Catholic Church in Fruitvale.

“Funny, it’s not something you think about at all, so it feels odd listing it,” Leavitt shared. “Still doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary … I do what I do because I enjoy being involved in the community first and foremost!”

The 61st Annual Montrose Family Fun Day kicks off with the Community Volunteer Dinner and Leavitt’s award presentation tonight in the village hall (Thursday).

Weather permitting, fireworks and a refreshments fundraiser for Kids Helping Kids is slated for Friday at dusk. Notably, each year the event doubles as a fundraiser for a worthy local cause – again this year, it’s Kids Helping Kids.

(Since 2014, a group of parents have been raising funds to assist with breakfast, lunch and healthy snack programs in local schools).

Saturday activities begin with a hike up the Antenna Trail and a pancake breakfast from 8-10 a.m., ball games start at 9 a.m., the parade down 9th Avenue at 11 a.m., and family friendly activities like an inflatable corn maze, bungee run and petting zoo from noon until 4 p.m.

For a full listing, visit the Trail Times website, and click on the Community “Calendar” tab.