“Leo is always there.”
Those four words sum up why Leo Leavitt was a shoo-in for this year’s Community Service Award in Montrose.
Previous recipients: 2018
Previous recipient: 2017
Previous recipient: 2016
When the father and grandfather got the call he was chosen as the 2019 service award recipient, Leo’s response was humorous and humble, like the man himself.
“I said, ‘Why? what did I do, seriously,’” Leo told the Trail Times. “Because it’s stuff I’ve been doing for years. I enjoy doing it, because I get to help out, see everyone in Montrose, and talk with them. And I’m having fun, so it’s cool (laughs).”
The well-deserved recognition was given to Leo in a private event at the municipal hall on Thursday. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the community can’t give him a high-five when he’s front and centre in the annual parade on Saturday – or flipping burgers behind the barbeque – during Montrose Family Fun Day festivities.
Inspired by his father who served the village as an on-call firefighter for 27 years, Leo has spent three decades being a member of the Montrose Fire Department and is recognized for doing a great job getting new recruits and mentoring them.
In a bittersweet way that chapter will soon close, because Leo turns 60 years old next month.
“I would like to stay longer,” he said, mentioning the age limit for paid on-call positions is 60 years. “It’s personal pride for me … between my dad and I we’ve served this community for 57 years,” he added.
“But I am so proud of every one of these young guys that they just do it completely, and only for, community service,” Leo laughed. “Plus we all like to play with the light and siren, too.”
Besides all those years on the fire department, Leo has volunteered at just about every event the Recreation Commission hosts, he helps out with the Beaver Valley Age Friendly lunches monthly, and he’s been there for the Air Cadets to lend a hand when needed.
While he has fun at all these occasions, his favourite, by far, is Montrose Family Fun Day.
“The man’s heart is all Montrose and Leo isn’t shy about letting anyone know,” said Mayor Mike Walsh on council’s behalf.
Even though Leo is being honoured this year, he’ll still be behind the grill from morning until night cooking sausages and pancakes for breakfast, burgers for lunch, and as a member of the Montrose fire department, grilling steaks for the dinner crowd.
“For Montrose days, my wife and I just went down and got a whole pile of food,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “There we were unloading, and a bunch of residents stopped by to talk, and they came over to help us unload the car, just like that,” Leo shared.
“I’m not one for big speeches, but that’s why we all consider Montrose the best community, it’s 10 per cent where we live and 90 per cent about the people that makes it so great.”
The Citizen Service Award marks the launch of Montrose Family Fun Day, which includes fireworks at dusk tonight , and day-long activities on Saturday.
All are welcome to the schedule of events that start with an Antenna Trail hike at 8 a.m. with a free pancake breakfast for all hikers before 10 a.m. The concession will be running from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and “Hairloss” will be playing live from noon until 4 p.m. Other family-friendly activities include a magician, a cake walk, the annual watermelon-eating contest, an inflatable obstacle course and henna tattoos in the park, located behind the Montrose Community Hall.