There were laughs, tears, but most of all pride and inspiration by the truckload as local couple Susan Tupling and Ken Thorn were officially named Citizen of the Year by the Georgetown Lions Club.
A ceremony was held at Mold-Masters SportsPlex last night (March 28) to honour the pair, with dignitaries including Halton Region Chair Gary Carr and Mayor Ann Lawlor, who presented them with a key to the town.
“We all need passions in life. They become our reason to live. They give a purpose to our lives,” Tupling said to her gathered supporters.
“If something moves you, excites you so that you will step forward and help out - and know that you don't need to know everything when you start,” she added.
Thorn, who at times was choked up by the support in the room, recounted the parable of the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley.
The story goes, a cynical grown-up finds a child on a beach throwing starfishes into the water so they don’t die. The adult lectures that they can't help all of them because there are too many on the huge beach. The child listens politely, picks up another starfish and throws it back into the ocean.
Thorn repeated the child’s very simple philosophy: “Made a difference to that one.”
The couple is well-known in the community for their volunteerism. When they aren’t welcoming refugees to Canada, they are lending their time to local charities.
Tupling has served as chair of Cancer Assistance Services Halton Hills (CAShh), a basketball coach at Christ the King Catholic Secondary School and a treasurer for Georgetown Bread Basket.
Thorn has volunteered with CAShh alongside his wife. But St. John’s United Church and Scouts Canada also get much of his time.
Both have put decades into their community. Tupling joked that her “scariest volunteer experience was being on stage with Georgetown Little Theatre.”
Mayor Ann Lawlor said that Thorn and Tupling “embody small-town living at its absolute best.”
Regional Chair Gary Carr recited quotes from several figures that he felt best embodied the new citizens of the year:
- “This city, or in our case this town, is what it is because the citizens are what they are.”- Plato
- “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”- Muhammad Ali
- “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”- Mahatma Gandhi
“And you have done that,” Carr said.
MP Michael Chong, who was represented by Councillor D’Arcy Keene, spotlighted their “selfless dedication” to the community and called them “such a great choice for the 2022 Citizen of the Year Award.”
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands - one for helping yourself and the other for helping others,” master of ceremonies Grant Harris said. “When you look at what Susan and Ken have done and continue to do in tonight's program, you can easily assume they both have more hands than a centipede.”