KAGAWONG – The inspiration to get involved within one’s community can come from many origins, but for Kagawong’s Mary Buie, her devotion to her faith has opened many new opportunities to volunteer and improve the lives of those in the area, leading her to become the first recipient of Manitoulin’s Vivian Levensohn Award for Volunteerism.
“I love talking to people, encouraging them, I like to share the joy of the Lord and I love doing what Jesus wants me to do. I feel I have the Holy Spirit flowing through me,” says Mary Buie who, among her other community involvement, is a lay member of the Anglican Church’s Algoma Diocese postulancy committee and a lay reader for the Anglican church in Kagawong.
She says even small gestures can make profound impacts on the lives of many, such as calling lonely people in the community to see how their lives are going and to show that people care. She often delivers tea biscuits and jelly to neighbours who might be in need of friendship.
“It’s just about being able to talk with them and making their day happier,” says Ms. Buie. “That’s what I enjoy doing, especially for somebody like that.”
Ms. Buie has a background in nursing and midwifery. She currently works for the M’Chigeeng Health Centre and offers her opinions to community members who are concerned about their well-being.
“I still call myself the village nurse here in Kagawong because I enjoy being a nurse and I will always be a nurse. I’m really happy if (community members) contact me because often I can alleviate their fears,” she says.
Gardening is also a passion of hers and she has worked with both the Kagawong Economic Development Corporation and the Main Street Café to plant and display flowers and beautify the community.
“My parents were very much for helping people and helping their neighbours, so I carry on doing the same thing. That’s how I was raised, helping neighbours, and our neighbours are everybody who needs help,” she says.
Ms. Buie is involved in the community’s Circle of Hope cancer support group and has given countless hours to both Guides and the 4-H Club.
“I love being part of this community. I love being part of the church and I just love helping people find out about themselves,” she says. “Our words can make people feel better.”
For Ms. Buie, a crucial component of volunteerism is caring about others’ life situations and being genuinely passionate about offering service to others.
“You have to have a love for what you’re doing and it has to come from the heart. Whether it be the Holy Spirit or whatever tells you in your head, ‘okay, you should go help somebody,’ then you should do it,” she says, adding that everyone has the capacity to improve the lives of others they meet.
“Just do it! Think of somebody in your community that needs cheering up and go and see if you can cheer them up in whatever way that seems right to you.”
Living on Manitoulin Island offers a perfect environment for Ms. Buie to continue aiding others in their lives.
“It’s neighbours helping neighbours. That’s what’s so good about Manitoulin. There’s community spirit, people helping people, which is how it should always be,” Ms. Buie says.