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Couple feted for their volunteerism

Paul and Margaret Marrow love to volunteer, but are much more reluctant to be recognized for their efforts. Still, the Winterbourne couple is this year’s recipient of Woolwich Community Service’s Yvonne Reid Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award.

The couple was caught off-guard when they got the news from WCS community engagement coordinator Leigh-Anne Quinn.

“I got a phone call from Leigh-Anne. I told [her] ‘Well, it’s not the sort of thing we usually do, but I’ll check with Marg when she gets home,’” Paul said of his immediate reaction.

Margaret was out, and when Paul told her the news, she says she was overcome by a sense of embarrassment.

“The thought [was] that there are a lot more people out there that are probably more worthy than we are,” she said of her response. But the duo decided that they would take the recognition in the spirit that it was offered.

Both are volunteers with WCS, part of a long history of volunteerism that includes collecting money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, teaching Sunday school and workplace volunteering for the United way and the Kidney Foundation. The voluntary work extends to helping coach a team in the South Woolwich softball league, canvassing for the Kidney Foundation and decade-long stint with Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region.

After retiring from teaching in 2002, Paul spent 15 years as a part-time contractor and was involved in several volunteer projects. When Marg retired from her teaching position in 2005, she began volunteering for WCS, driving for the Care-Ring  program and working in the thrift store for the past 15 years.

Marg has helped out at the thrift store through its changes over that time, eventually enlisting Paul into the cause, putting their truck and trailer into service hauling items to the Waterloo landfill site.

“About three years ago, Paul decided to help take the garbage, the things they couldn’t use, to the dump. I’ve been helping him with that … probably, on average, once a week,” said Marg.

That’s a job that’s been one of the few volunteering options that the couple has been able to continue through the pandemic.

“[The pandemic] has definitely changed everything, because I don’t even know if they’re running Care-Ring anymore. I certainly haven’t done anything, and they’re not using volunteers over the age of 60, I don’t think, in the store. So, I haven’t been working in the thrift store. But we do continue to do the garbage and, indeed, I think we’ve had to increase our work there because a lot of people have been clearing out their basements and closets and so on, and the store can’t take everything, can’t use everything that’s donated,” she said.

During the lockdown and the reduction in volunteer outlets, the couple has maintained a busy schedule, drawing on their hobbies.

“We both read a lot. We both work outside in the gardens and [on the] lawn,” said Marg, with Paul, adding, “we have a good lawn and gardens, vegetable garden and flower gardens. “

Before the pandemic, the couple would visit the gym three times a week. Over the winter, that was replaced with puzzle-making and going for daily walks.

They’re looking forward to resuming their volunteer activities when the time comes, encouraging others to take up the mantle, as well.

“I would urge anyone who thinks they might be able to help, to volunteer. I think they can still use people in the food bank. Certainly when things open up again, it’s definitely a worthwhile thing to do and you meet a lot of interesting people,” said Marg.

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