Looking for more local legends to take the lead

The Beach has lost one of its anchors. One of its leaders. One of its heroes.

Glenn Cochrane, the tireless benevolent advocate for our wonderful community!

The list of Glenn’s community crusades is endless: saving the Leuty Lifeguard Station, championing Community Centre 55 initiatives, spearheading the ‘Lord Mayor of the Ward #9’ fundraiser, educating everyone on the history of the Beach, leading the charge on helping victims of the 1999 Neville Park fire, and so much more.

We are truly fortunate Glenn and his family chose to call the Beach their home. Our community is a much better place thanks to Glenn!

And there are others like Glenn.  In fact they were a team, these thoughtful and generous volunteers. Birds of a feather seem to flock together! Glenn’s motley crew included Bubbly Bob Murdoch – our former fearless leader of CC55; Arie Nerman – interfaith champion and community engager; the infamous Gene Domagala – a dynamic doer not simply for Ward 32 but for the whole city – a guy who wouldn’t hesitate to give you the shirt off his back; Joan Brent – a humble helper involved with most of our local service clubs and events; all of our Beach Citizens of the Year, and more wonderful citizens.

But I worry.

I fret about succession planning. Who will fill their big shoes?

I worry about their valuable oral histories. Who will regale us and visitors with the incredibly fascinating history of our area?

I wonder about interest. Is anyone nowadays interested in giving unconditionally of their time for the betterment of the community the way these fine folks have?

I worry about energy. Does anyone even have that kind of adrenaline rush that these key leaders thrive on?

I think those people exist. Some are already doing great work across our ward and in our city.  But I believe we need to cultivate and empower more people to jump onto the volunteer train. I believe we need to encourage youth especially to get involved in our community. How about a Junior Beach Citizen of the Year? How about Malvern C.I. history students follow these Beach legends around with tape recorders? Who would like to revive the Beach and East Toronto Historical Society with me?

All it takes is one person with a passion! We’ve seen it on Gerrard around Woodbine with Kate Tennier spearheading the ‘I’m a Local’ crusade to empower neighbours to shop locally. We’ve read about it with Dawn Chapman and the Gerrard East Community Organization crafting the Social Fabric Quilt project, connecting residents and business owners in Little India to share their stories and connections. We marvelled at one of our talented local actors, Dawna Wightman, who dreamt up the innovative idea of performing her play Life of a Pomegranate in the Essentia Mattress shop on Queen Street!

There are many more keen people helping out our community. But we can never have enough! If each of us can give back in some small way, Ward 32 will be an even better community.

It’s easy – pick a project and jump in to get it started!

It’s fun – the joy of giving back to your neighbourhood is exponential!

It’s contagious – as soon as you get started – others will join!

And most importantly, it is a tribute to legends like our dear friend and neighbour, Glenn Cochrane!

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Glenn Cochrane, Gene Domagala and I worked together like the Three Musketeers. I was the dumb one! Together and throughout the years we accomplished a lot and we leveraged the resources of Community Centre 55 to achieve so much. We had a lot of great support too from people like Carol Stimmell, and others who made our work easier.

We had fun and we could see the results of our work and how it improved the quality of the community.

Succession planning is tough, because people like Glenn and Gene are irreplaceable but, there are lots of people, who have skills, knowledge, experience and time to make a difference. It starts with volunteering. Community Centre 55 is a vibrant, involved place and one of the most valued of jewels in the Beach Crown. Call Nancy at 416 691 1113 to see what is available. Their Santa Claus Parade is coming up and they always need help.

There are lots of other organizations as well-The Lions, The Rotary, Churches, Sports Leagues and Clubs.

Finally having a supportive City Councillor like Mary-Margaret is a big help as well.

I might add that if there was an Organization that identified, honoured and promoted the Sons and Daughters of the Beach Community, Glenn Cochrane deserves to be it’s first member!

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