• James Armstrong

National Volunteer Week focuses on a local level


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

National Volunteer Week raises awareness about the important contribution of volunteers to community life. Hudson resident Gay Campbell is an excellent example.

Community events, fundraisers, and support groups depend upon the contributions of countless volunteers to ensure their success. The Town of Hudson is no exception where the fabric of community life is a tapestry facilitated by the hands of many volunteers over the years.

The Country Homes Tour is celebrating its 61st anniversary Thursday, June 1. It’s a fundraising event that supports local charitable organizations and is organized each year with the energy, skill, and talents of over 300 volunteers.

One of those is Hudson resident Gay Campbell.

“I don’t feel like I should be the one given special notice,” said Campbell when asked if she would do an interview with Your Local Journal. “There are so many others that have done more than I have,” she added. She said over the years, the workload had been shared with Jenny Black, Betsy Aird, Joy Forster and Linda Cobbett, to name a few.

Campbell began volunteering with the event back in 1971. “We have had homes in Saint-Lazare as well as Hudson,” she said, “People have been very generous donating their homes, time, food and everything else,” she added.

How it all works

Usually there are six houses on the tour and Campbell begins the search early in October of the previous year. “It’s good to start before people go away,” she said noting many things can happen before the tour all comes together at the beginning of June. She cited this year as an example where one homeowner was forced to cancel due to septic system problems and it was the fifth home on the list. “It’s not too late, we may find another two homes,” she said.

As the date of the tour approaches, captains are appointed for each home and they take on the task of organizing their volunteers for each specific residence.

“Flower gathering begins on Tuesday of that week,” said Campbell of the flowers donated from gardens across the community. Lilacs, mock orange, iris, tulips, peonies, hydrangea and many more are harvested by a flock of volunteers and are then arranged in decorative bouquets used in the final staging of the home.

White silk and mud

“It’s all very weather dependent,” said Campbell referring not only to the flowers but also to the day itself. She told the story of one very wet, muddy event and the fate of the white silk carpets in a house on the tour. “Everyone had to take off their shoes, of course, and we put down paper, mats, anything to protect the carpets,” she said. The tale has a happy ending, according to Campbell. The white silk remained pristine and the tour guests enjoyed their visit.

Historical background

The Country Homes Tour began with three volunteers and three homes and an idea in 1956. It has grown into an event that draws people from the West Island of Montreal, Ottawa, and Cornwall. Beneficiaries of the event include Le Pont/Bridging Food Bank, NOVA Hudson, Auberge Madeleine, La Passerelle Women’s Shelter, Mile End Mission, West Island Palliative Care Residence, Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence and many more. “We had to finally limit the number of tickets available for sale to 1000,” said Campbell. Tickets for the popular event will be available Monday, May 1.

Getting involved

Volunteers are always welcome and Campbell invites anyone interested in participating to call her at (450) 458-7441.

Tickets for the Tour to take place on Thursday, June 1 are available as of May 1:

Décors & Tissus Sérénity

67 Cameron Street

Hudson

(450) 853-0635

Centre Décor Hudson

33 Yacht Club Road

Hudson

(450) 458-5121

Boutique Alena Kirby

3200 route Harwood

Vaudreuil-Dorion

(450) 455-6156

Le Panier

274 Lakeshore Road

Pointe Claire

(514) 695-7038

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