EDSS student Tiffany Weber was recognized by the KW Legacy organization this week for her volunteerism work in the community and internationally. The Grade 12 student, a Linwood resident, was the recipient of the inaugural Jim Lehman Legacy Scholarship for the sum of $5,000 towards her university career.
After an emotional meeting with the family of the late Jim Lehman on Tuesday, Weber said she was especially grateful to have been selected.
“It’s very encouraging in helping me to continue to volunteer and help others. I think that I’m very honoured and thankful,” she said, noting that she still felt in shock a bit. “I’m just blown away.”
Weber learned a lot of the significance of the award, she says, when she met the family. The KW Legacy organization manages and fundraises for a number of scholarships offered by different groups. This year, family members of Lehman had created an award in his memory.
The organization helped to find members in the community eligible for the scholarship, but it was the family of Lehman that selected the winner.
“We’re basically looking for future leaders in our respective community,” explained Mike Denomme, who is the co-founder of KW Legacy as well as the nephew of Lehman on his mother’s side. Denomme’s father Vince, mother Diane, and brothers Brian and Scott put up the $5,000 together to fund the scholarship.
“We’re actually looking for these types of students, and when she was talking we knew we had found the right student,” he added.
For Weber, who hopes to become a registered nurse, volunteering seems as much a way of living as anything else. With her church youth group, she’s routinely given her time at local organizations like the Reapers of Hope or the various group homes in Waterloo. The group will also pass by the Chartwell retirement home just to talk and, sometimes, sing.
“It’s not great singing but they love it anyways,” she added with a laugh.
Beyond her local efforts, it was also Weber’s volunteerism across Canada and out of the country that left an impression. Some of that may have been inculcated into her by her family. Weber’s parents founded the Crane Lake Discovery Camp, a registered charity and camp run by volunteers in the Muskoka area.
Abroad, Weber last year made a trek to Bolivia to lend her hand at an orphanage that her church had been supporting.
“It was with a group of youth and we just hung out at this orphanage called Ninos Con Valor, and we just got to know the children of the orphanage. And then we built a shed there too, and just did a lot of activities with the kids there.”
Closer to home, Weber also ventured out with another group to the Grassy Narrows First Nations reserve in Western Ontario to meet and learn from the locals.
“There we just did a lot of service learning with the community. Just seeing some of the struggles, the harder parts of Canada and trying to understand their journey and their experience in life,” she said.
Choosing a recipient for the first Jim Lehman Legacy Scholarship, the family wanted someone who best exemplified his own qualities. Lehman was himself heavily involved in the community as a volunteer, but more than that was his character, which, Mike Denomme says, they found mirrored in Weber’s application for the scholarship.
“She talked about justice a lot. She really wants justice for all, she doesn’t want people to be mistreated. She roots for the underdog,” said Denomme. “Just these traits that my mum talked about that were very similar to Jim, that we found when we read it, we knew we kind of had her person.”