The driving force of a Mensch: Harold Cammy

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Harold Cammy (right) with McDonald’s entrepreneur and philanthropist Pierre Brunet at surprise retirement party, Dec. 2018

Much has been said about Harold Cammy who takes his retirement after serving the city of Cote Saint-Luc for a remarkable 45 years. I’ve known Harold for most of my life and he has known my family for just as long. My reminiscence here is upon Harold, the character, as there’s not much I can add to the long list of accomplishments and achievements which can be read at some of the links below.

I begin my comment with Harold’s concluding ones, in his farewell address posted online:

We have the ability to be “kind” to people, to be “responsive” to people, to “support and assist” people because that is what a City and its staff should be doing. Making someone’s day just a little bit better…a little more enjoyable.

It doesn’t take a great effort to be kind and helpful…it just takes a little empathy, compassion and understanding of human behaviour.

“People will not always remember all the good things you do for them, but they will always remember how you made them feel about themselves”.

Harold and Beverly Cammy

We can learn a lot from Harold’s wise words. They are prophetic and introspective, philosophical and visionary. He lead his career, and obviously leads his life by these words. Many of us would be better off if we walked in Harold’s direction.

Indeed, whenever I would come across Harold during my many years as a City Councillor there was always a positive, cheery exchange. Always smiling, he would have the uncanny knack of making you feel important in his world, and invariably you’d walk away being a bit happier yourself.

A people-person by nature, Harold wouldn’t forget to ask how the family was doing, usually by name. ‘How’s George?’, he’d ask about my father. ‘Send him my regards,’ he’d say. ‘Say hello to Judy,’ my wife.

I was most always on the receiving end of peppy one-liners, a quick joke, a greeting or a comment from Harold. I’m sure he had plenty of reason to be gloomy or dreary over the years, but he chose the path of positive reinforcement: A firm handshake, eye-to-eye contact and a warm smile. He chose kindness and compassion. He chose to be charitable and he brought us all along. He was and is a real Mensch.

I salute Harold not only for his praiseworthy efforts for the residents of Cote Saint-Luc over these past 45 years, but for his kinder, gentler and humbler ways. This unpretentious career professional touched more lives than we can imagine. We’re all lucky to have benefited from his generosity of spirit and his acts of kindness.

Judy and I wish you a wonderful retirement, Harold, and many years of good health and continued happiness for you, Beverly and Lacey. I will always remember how you made me feel.

 

N

 

 

Read more:

Mike Cohen’s blog and Harold’s retirement memories

Canadian Jewish News, Jan. 10, 2019

 

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Farewell 2018. Hoping for a healthy, peaceful 2019.

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Sunset on the Atlantic. Cape St. Vincent, Portugal. Oct. 25, 2018.

 

As the sun sets on 2018 I chose this photo I shot just eight weeks ago at the southwestern most tip of Europe, Cape St. Vincent, in Portugal.

At this very point, 500 years ago, explorers set out into the unknown as family members waved goodbye, not knowing if they would see their brave, loved ones ever again. Off they went into the cold, rough ocean, not knowing what lay ahead, not quite sure on their course, nor their destination. They saw this exact same setting as we see today.

So too do we head off into the unknown: 2019. We don’t know quite what lies ahead and our destination is not assured. But just like the explorers of centuries ago, we are steadfast and resolute in our direction. We’ve plotted a course for a good year, a healthy year, a peaceful year. We have hopes and dreams just like they did.

Here’s wishing you well in all that lies ahead on your journey, wherever you may be headed. Happy New Year.

Glenn J. Nashen

Portuguese Merry Christmas

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Wishing my friends and neighbours a season of peace and love. Here are some photos on my recent trip to Portugal which suit the season.

Sé Cathedral, Lisbon. Oct. 25, 2018.

 

Monument of Christ the King looms over the rooftops of Lisbon. Oct. 27, 2018.

 

Jeronimos Monestary, Belhem. Oct. 27, 2018.

 

11th century Silves Cathedral. Silves. Nov. 3, 2018.

 

Our Lady of the Rock Chapel looms over the sea at Alporchinhos in the Algrave. Nov. 2, 2018.

One thousand lives touched by the kindness of a quiet mom

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Phyllis Nashen with Jeremy and Nathalie dropping off Holiday gifts with Stephanie at the Shriners Hospital (Dec. 12, 2018)

When a mother of four very active boys realizes they’ve all grown up and don’t have the same needs for her protective and nurturing ways what is she to do to continue providing happiness and joy to young children? Many return to their chosen professions or choose new ones. Some take time for themselves. Others choose to volunteer their time for a host of charities and community organizations.

My mother had volunteered in public schools in the capacity of a social worker, helping kids who didn’t fit in, or had difficult family situations or acted out in class. She would help them by playing games with them and sharing in one of her favourite pastimes, drawing and painting.

She also decided that she would continue to spread a little sunshine to some far less fortunate than her own kids and she turned to the Shriners Hospital in Montreal. Since late autumn of ’75, my mom has repeated her annual tradition of going out and purchasing little gifts for kids who would be spending their holidays in the world-renowned children’s orthopedic hospital. In the early days, she would head out to Woolworth and Kresge, two long forgotten department stores and stock up on 25 toys for little girls and boys. Her gift wrapping would be unique for Christmas and Chanukah, for boys and for girls.

Mom was always very organized in preparing for her annual pilgrimage to the Shriners before her winter treks to Florida. Now at 90, my mom no longer vacations down south but that hasn’t slowed her own Santa’s Workshop in getting ready for these kids.

Phyllis Nashen, an unlikely Santa Claus, with Julie at the Shriners Hospital (Dec. 3, 2010).

For several years she recruited my daughters to help with the toy purchases, gift wrapping and the drop off at the hospital. My mother always believed that acts of kindness and charity were very important for the whole family to partake in.

“It’s important to me to put a smile on their faces,” Phyllis says.

While assisting my mom in wrapping gifts in December 2010 when my daughter Nathalie was seven years old, she said, “This is my project – I do it every year for Christmas and Chanukah. It is a Mitzvah (a good deed).”

That same year, my eldest, Nicole was 10. She remarked that this activity was lots of fun. “It makes me feel good knowing we did something to cheer up the kids who will spend their holidays in the hospital. Some can’t even get out of bed and they need even more happiness.”

Through the years my children have learned important life lessons from my mother’s generosity and acts of kindness. Indeed, our entire family is involved to varying degrees of volunteerism and community life.

Nicole and Nathalie Nashen (aka Phyllis’s Elves) deliver gifts at the Shriners Hospital (Dec. 3, 2010).

“It makes me feel good to share with others and to make the kids at the Shriners happy by doing a small thing like this,” Phyllis explained. “I’ve taught my children, and grandchildren, that we’re lucky to have what we have and we must appreciate this and give a little back.” My mom always loved children and thought that she could continue making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Maybe some didn’t have family close by. Perhaps some didn’t have family at all. “I like giving, not receiving,” Phyllis says.

My father, George, 95, couldn’t be more proud of his wife. “She has always shown compassion and acted with kindness,” dad says.

Nathalie, now 15 says she is, “incredibly proud of this legacy that my grandmother has created. I will be honoured to participate this year once again, and every year that Bubs (as Phyllis is affectionately referred to by her grand-kids) continues to do this.” Nathalie goes on to say,”My Bubs is like a candle spreading light, illuminating the next candle, and the next, one thousand times over.”

What’s my mother’s message to my own children? “Don’t be selfish and think of yourself. Think of others first,” she says. “Imagine the smiles on all of the faces you’ve touched, without ever knowing them or seeing them,” she says.

Though she never met face to face with a single child at the Shriners, her message is one of pure love and goodness. “I hope you enjoy what I’ve given you. I hope you’ll be healthy as possible and live a long and happy life.”

For more than 40 years my mom has wrapped and delivered holiday toys to bring joy to more than 1000 children who had to be in the hospital instead of at home with their families. My mom created 1000 happy moments out of gloom, turning 1000 frowns into smiles. We’re mighty proud of my mom, 1000 times over.

How about a Minister of Animal Welfare?

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Mike Cohen is a masterful communicator and a novel idea generator. Here Mike gets impressive publicity on his passion for animal welfare and a major plug for his outstanding annual Cats Concert.

Would you like to see a Minister of Animal Welfare?

 

Quebec election: A councillor calls for new ministry of animal welfare

 

‘There are so many municipalities with different laws on pets, but the provincial government needs to take leadership,’ says Mike Cohen.

Côte-St-Luc councillor Mike Cohen and Nancy Reich with twins LuLu and MiMi, whom she adopted from a litter born to a feral cat. DAVE SIDAWAY / DAVE SIDAWAY / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Mike Cohen has a big beef with the major provincial parties: “They are not really addressing the needs of thousands and thousands of constituents.”

Namely, cats and dogs.

Cohen, the Côte-St-Luc city councillor responsible for animal protection, has a soft spot for pets, particularly cats. But he laments that while the provincial parties have made billions of dollars of promises to two-legged constituents in this election campaign, they have talked precious little about animal welfare.

For the last eight years, Cohen has been at the forefront of Côte-St-Luc’s Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program, which has successfully dealt with the plight of nearly 500 feral cats in the community. To raise funds for the program, the Côte-St-Luc Cats Committee, which Cohen founded, will be holding its annual benefit concert, featuring the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, Oct. 9 at the Syd Wise Auditorium.

Cohen estimates that Côte-St-Luc alone is home to many thousands of homeless cats. “And that doesn’t take into consideration all those that die daily.”

“So, do the math and draw conclusions about the number of feral cats as well as homeless dogs throughout the province,” says Cohen, who started the Côte-St-Luc Dog-Owners Committee this year.

“I think it’s insulting that provincial governments over the last many decades have basically thrown these animals under the umbrella of the minister of agriculture. That ministry has sort of been responsible for animal welfare, but has achieved only limited success.”

Cohen’s concern is shared by the Montreal SPCA. In July, the Montreal SPCA mandated Léger Marketing to undertake a poll assessing the importance of animal welfare to Quebec voters. The survey determined that 72 per cent of Quebecers felt it was “very important” or “somewhat important” for candidates to address issues affecting animals during this election campaign.

So in August, the Montreal SPCA sent out a questionnaire to the main political parties to learn more about their positions on several animal welfare issues.

“All the parties to which the Montreal SPCA sent its questionnaire — apart from the Quebec Liberal Party, which refused to participate — seem to recognize the importance of animal welfare issues in the eyes of voters, as all of them state that this is an issue of great importance,” Sophie Gaillard, director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCA, notes in her analysis.

“Yet only two parties suggest concrete measures to improve animal protection in Quebec. The Coalition Avenir Québec and the Parti Québécois both responded to only a small number of the questions submitted. Only Québec solidaire and the Green Party of Quebec took the time to answer the questionnaire in its entirety and seem to have given these issues serious thought.”

Québec solidaire wants the Montreal model — requiring pet stores to source animals for sale from shelters — to be expanded throughout the province. As well, it’s against the permanent chaining of dogs and no-pet clauses in residential leases.

Green Party concurs on the latter two issues but would also like to ban the sale of all cats and dogs in pet stores and on the internet, and to impose mandatory sterilization on pets with the exception of small, family-scale breeders.

Cohen isn’t surprised by this seeming lack of interest on the part of three of the major provincial parties and suggests that the situation will only change when pet owners and other concerned citizens speak up and force politicians to address animal welfare issues.

“Animal advocates have been shunted to the side, but the time will come when the situation with homeless cats and dangerous dogs will reach epidemic proportions here and something will have to be done,” Cohen says. “There are so many municipalities with different laws on pets, but the provincial government needs to take leadership and have laws that bring all the municipalities together.”

He concedes his passion for pets hasn’t been a lifelong affair.

“I honestly didn’t like cats 23 years ago, but they came as part of my marriage,” he says. “I’ve since had four cats and they’ve been like humans to me.

“How many other voters out there feel the same way? Yet we have no idea how the provincial party leaders feel about pets — if they even have them. We haven’t heard them bring this up during the campaign. So I’m calling for the next Quebec premier to appoint a minister of animal welfare. Time has come for an animal program with some teeth.”

Maybe claws, too.

AT A GLANCE

The annual Côte-St-Luc Cats Concert, featuring the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, takes place Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Syd Wise Auditorium, 5785 Parkhaven Ave. Tickets: $15. Reservations: http://bit.ly/catsconcert.

bbrownstein@postmedia.com

Florida moves to stop time shift, should Canada follow?

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Florida has moved a step closer to making Daylight Saving Time permanent and end the dreaded and dreary semi-annual ritual of moving clocks back and forth. I have called upon our Members of Parliament to do the same for the last several years right here on my blog. Put an end to this archaic time-waster and let us have more sunlight all winter long.

I hope thew Florida Governor signs the Bill and that the US Congress follows suit. The chain reaction will surely push our parliamentarians to finally end moving our clocks back and forth.

Barry Wislon picked up on this movement in his recent Postscript vlog.

So let’s keep the momentum going. Blog it, shout it and call out your MP. The sunshine is back and we should keep it that way, all year long.

N

More:

Daylight Saving Time: Let there be light

Are you ready for clock confusion?

This time I’m voting to scrap time change

I’m tired of falling back!

Giving thanks in CSL

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Sure there’s always something to complain about. Life is so unpredictable and things go wrong all the time. Small irritants fester, emotions get the best of us, anger fills the void, we point and lay blame. It happens.
Today, I prefer to focus on the positive, to offer a word of thanks. And appreciation.
Our community is made up of diverse people, who don’t always agree and may not even be on best terms with one another. But one thing everyone can find consensus on is in expressing thanks to our amazing volunteers throughout Cote saint-Luc. They are the backbone of our civic organization and the driving force of our city.
Thank you so much to our star power volunteers at EMS. For your dedication, your heroic efforts and your sense of duty and caring for all of us.
Thank you to our committed and generous volunteers at vCOP for your time and perseverance in patrolling our city again and again, keeping us safe.
Thank you to our local Public Security agents, police officers at station 9 and firefighters at station 78. You are all the front-line resources keeping us safe and sound.
Thank you to all CSL residents for whatever efforts you make for our community, and the special place it has been and will continue to be.
Let’s agree to be helpful and hopeful but not unrealistic, to be polite and neighbourly rather than heaping scorn and above all, thankful for whatever we have, as a community.
Happy Thanksgiving.

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