Carole Ward brought new meaning to what community service is really all about. Reognized by the city.

Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON August 4, 2011 – There are advocates and then there are advocates. Some are fiery and loud other are more subtle and use the carrot instead of the stick. And then there is Carole Ward, recipient of the 2010 Civic Recognition Award for community service.

Quiet, unassuming but it doesn’t take long for what she thinks to come to the surface and she doesn’t bother to argue or disagree – she just gets on with getting it done. “When I see something is wrong, I do something was the way Ward explains her advocacy role. As for the recognition she was given by her community she thought it was “quite something”.

Carole Ward, recipient of the Burlington 2011 Civic Recognition Award for Community Service.

Carole Ward, recipient of the Burlington 2011 Civic Recognition Award for Community Service.

The daughter of a dentist, a woman who will tell you that once walked across the QEW – “there wasn’t as much traffic when I did that” – she explains, focuses on the quality of life. She lived in Aldershot as a young girl and has seen the community grow and it critically aware of how isolated life can be for seniors in that community.

“It would take me two buses if I had to use public transportation to get to the hospital”, which for Carole Ward is unacceptable. “We need to be thinking in terms of grouping services in a community. Walk in clinics should be where the supermarket is located and there could be a small branch of the library as well as a place where we could sit down and talk to our friends. Community is a large part of what Carole Ward believes brings quality to the life of people who are older and not as active. She is quick to point out that Burlington has a Senior’s Centre – in the middle of town – not close to the community she lives in.

Her husband Ralph passed away at the age of 65 from multiple Sclerosis and Ward spends a lot of her time educating people about “a terrible disease”. The public is much more aware of MS today and accessibility has improved considerably.

Ward doesn’t think the community is at all prepared for the “tsunami of seniors” that will need services and support. There will come a point where seniors will need help dressing and feeding themselves and many will want to stay in their homes for as long as they can, according to Ward and she doesn’t believe the community is at all prepared for the number of people who will need care and support.

Brian Heagle, a former Citizen of the Year – 2009 – tells how he was influenced by Carole Ward several years ago. “She shared her tremendous experience and knowledge on a wide range of subjects – and, consistent with her generous spirit, I also left with several pounds of materials.

More importantly, Carole gave me a renewed sense of what effective advocacy can mean. It was one of the first times that I had a detailed discussion on the topic with another local volunteer. In effect, while groups rightfully focus on fundraising, event-planning and other vital concerns for worthy causes – advocacy can also make a huge, lasting difference on our quality of life.

“I’ve noticed”, continued Heagle that, “since my chat with Carole that many organizations – from Heart & Stroke to the YMCA – have increasingly committed their time and resources to advocacy.

Carole’s insights was ahead of their time. Hopefully, Burlington is listening closely to the concerns that she is sharing and putting out into the community now about the inevitable “tsunami of seniors” will be heard and acted upon.

Heagle had hoped to be able to advocate for Burlington within the hallowed halls of Queen’s Park but his attempt to move out of the Liberal camp and into the Progressive Conservative party didn’t have the traction needed and so Heagle withdrew his nomination

Ward believes the city should be thinking in terms of community hubs built around the services people need and in locations where they can get outdoors and sit in gardens and interact with their friends and neighbours.

Burlington has and will continue to have for some time, one of the fastest growing seniors populations and while Ward doesn’t come right out and say so – she wonders why Burlington isn’t making plans today for that “tsunami” that she knows is coming.

Dental care of adults has been a concern of Carole Ward’s for as long as she has been involved in senior’s issues.

Ward lives in a small bungalow on North Ashore Road, a short walk from LaSalle Park. Before retiring she taught geography and mathematics at the secondary level and the in a Learning Resource Centre for Special Education students.

Her Mother was a gardener she tells you and mentions “that we had dozens of the Civic Rose award plaques in the house”.

She thinks Mayor Rick Goldring understands the demographic change that is going to take place in Burlington in the very near future and that her Council member, Rick Craven is “marvelous”.

Ward sat on the Board of the Community Care Access Centre for Hamilton Niagara Haldimand and Brant, and understands at a strategic level, what the community can do to take care of people who need support. Funded by Local Health Integration Networks through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, CCAC advice and services are covered by OHIP.

Each CCAC is staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals who assess needs, determine requirements for care, answer questions and develop a customized care plan that meets individual needs. Ward was part of the governance process that ensured the real needs of real people were being met.

Burlington will release a draft Strategic Plan in September and Ward wonders if the needs of Seniors will be recognized and planned for in the document. Expect her top have some comments for the Mayor when the Strategic Plan draft is released.



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