SENIOR OF THE YEAR VIOLET COOK
Dedicated volunteer spends almost a century serving her community
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by Helen Hall
Good friends and playing cards.
That is what Kitchener’s Senior of the Year Violet Cook says has helped her live such a long and satisfying life.
“I have a lot of friends. I love them and they love me,” Cook said.
In her 100th year, Cook received the Senior of the Year recognition at Kitchener City Hall on May 27.
Eight seniors over the age of 65 were nominated for the Senior of the Year award that is sponsored by the provincial government.
Cook said she started volunteering “as a school girl” and just kept going.
“Volunteering makes me so happy,” she said after receiving the award.
And Cook has created an impressive resume over her long life.
Cook worked for over 30 years as a bookkeeper for E. Honsberger and Sons Lumber. Ahead of the times, Cook was allowed to work from home when her second daughter was born.
As a young professional and mother, she also became active in her church and served on the Board of the YWCA, where she advocated for subsidizing swimming lessons and summer camp for underprivileged children.
She stopped working in 1984 when her husband Earl became ill. She cared for him until his death in 1989.
After Earl’s death, she poured even more time into volunteering. For several years she volunteered as the office and accounts supervisor for the United Way.
Wanting to give back to St. Marys Hospital, where Earl received his care, she started working in the gift shop and quickly became a day supervisor.
At this time, St. Mary’s started the Festival of Trees fundraiser. Cook became the treasurer of the week long event. When the Festival of Trees ended, she continued to work in the gift shop and still volunteers every Friday morning.
Faith has always been an important part of Cook’s life. She has attended St. Marks Lutheran Church in Kitchener for over 50 years, and has done every volunteer position in the church except ushering. She taught Sunday school for over 25 years.
Cook’s friends say she is a role model for living well. She has good health, a keen intellect, a positive outlook on life and a natural interest in everyone and everything.
Cook lives alone in her house, plays bridge two to three times a week, attends church and prayer meetings, volunteers at St. Marys, and does her own shopping. Four years ago, she gave up driving and relies on her friends for a lift to her many activities.
Cook was one of a very deserving list of Senior of the Year nominees.
They included: Bill Brubacher, who has spent countless volunteer hours as a peer mentor providing caregiver and bereavement support to adults over 55; Mary Collins, who is passionate about the Kitchener Market and volunteers in a number of programs there, and raises funds for many local non-profits; Marian Cooper who has been an active volunteer and participant at the Rockway Centre as well as volunteering at her church; Jerry Corriveau, who is a community builder and volunteer at the Forest Heights Neighbourhood Association; Joan Feth, who has volunteered for 14 years at the Hospice of Waterloo Region; Dorcas Schauberger, a woodcarver who has volunteered with a long list of non-profits in Kitchener; and Betty South, who has been volunteering at Freeport Hospital for almost 40 years.
From left: Mayor’s Advisory Council for Kitchener Seniors chairperson Randy Farrell, Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile, Senior of the Year Violet Cook, and Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.