By Andrea Tomkins –
Back in May, Keith Hobbs was presented with a “Volunteer of the Year Award” by the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association (CHNA). He’s known to many in his own neighbourhood but we are presenting five things that stood out during a recent conversation with KT.
1) His local roots are deep ones.
Keith was born at the Grace Hospital, “… and with any luck, the Grace Manor will make bookends of my life,” he jokes. He has a few bricks when the hospital was closed and torn down in 1999 to make way for the Salvation Army Grace, a licensed long-term care facility. His grandmother was born in Hintonburg and his grandparents were married at the Nepean Town Hall (now known as the Churchill Seniors Recreation Centre).
2) Longevity runs in his family.
Keith’s mother is 93, and last year she drove from the farm to the Good Companions Centre to deliver a church service.
3) He’s modest to a fault.
Keith says there are many neighbours who are more deserving of the CHNA honor.
4) Before he was a volunteer he worked in various communication roles in the Public Service.
Keith jokingly “blames” his drive to volunteer on his mother’s “preachy teachy side of the family.” He first moved to the area in 1973, the year of a public meeting about the Ottawa Near West Neighbourhood Study. “I thought it would be interesting to see what’s happening and meet the neighbours.” (A common refrain for anyone who volunteers with a community association!) The CHNA grew out of that, although it was originally known as the Homeowners Association. He’s been president, a board member, and a “backroom player” ever since. In the early days of the association, a lot of time was spent going door-to-door, informing neighbours of the issues of the day. Some of the hot topics he’s dealt with include traffic, development, and local parks.
5) Keith agrees the social benefits of volunteering can’t be understated.
“For a shy quiet guy who doesn’t really like to speak, I really like to be with people,” says Keith. He jokes that the cookies that are served at the meetings are the main reason for his continued service, but we know it’s really because he’s deeply invested in his community. “I think some things could and should be different, and I want to see how change can come about.”
Is there a non-profit group or volunteer that you think we should feature in KT? Do you know someone who is making our community a better place? Let us know! Send your suggestions to us via this form.
* This feature is brought to you in part by Catherine McKenna, MP Ottawa Centre.