In an emotional address in the Carleton Place council chambers on Nov. 21, Kory Earle, the president of People First Canada, paid tribute to the town’s deputy mayor, Jerry Flynn, as a tireless community advocate who places people above politics.
The salute to Flynn came during a presentation from the group’s Christmas Day Committee, which for 11 years has organized free holiday meals for the entire community. Over 1,300 people have been served by some 425 volunteers, one of whom – Flynn – has been involved annually since the very beginning.
“He is not there for a photo-op, he would rather work behind the scenes, and that he does,” Earle said, noting Flynn has spent the last 11 Christmas Days working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to ensure the success of the event. “The word ‘no’ is not in his vocabulary, from cooking turkeys, peeling potatoes, serving tables, driving people to and from the event, delivering meals, singing carols, and the list goes on and on.”
Following the chaotic meeting of town council the previous week, when insults were hurled and calls were repeated for Mayor Louis Antonakos to resign over an alleged breach of confidentiality, the chambers were relatively sedate, adorned by holiday decorations and a brightly lit Christmas tree.
Earle also took the opportunity to remind politicians that is was Ontario bullying awareness and prevention week. “Bullying has no place here in council or out in the public, and I absolutely stand here today as a commitment with People First and the various committees I sit on to show solidarity with that,” Earle said.
Earle mentioned that this year’s Christmas dinner will not only feature Santa Claus, but also a free kids colouring contest as well as country music sensation Arlene Quinn, who will perform at 2:30 p.m. at the Carleton Place legion, which is offering the hall for free.
The group is still looking for donations of turkeys, hams, buns, cranberries – especially hoped for because they seemed to go missing last year – veggies, mittens and gloves. The drop-off address for donations is 132 Mississippi Road.
“We would like to wish everyone the best during the holiday season and remember all those who have nothing,” Earle concluded. “Let’s do our best as a community to help one another especially during difficult times.”