CONCHE AND RODDICKTON-BIDE ARM, NL - Whether living in Conche or Roddickton, Nellie Fitzpatrick has always found a way to contribute to her community.
Nellie was born in Goose Cove. While she’s been living in Roddickton for almost 20 years, she considers Conche home. It’s where she and her husband Leo Fitzpatrick raised their seven children. Leo passed away 21 years ago.
Nellie served as councillor and/or mayor in the Town of Conche for over two decades.
When contacted by phone about her volunteer work, she recalled her early years of helping to set up a council on Conche.
Nellie asked a friend in the community if she could use the back porch of a family home as an office. The woman agreed, Nellie said.
Council eventually found a more permanent home and, over the next two decades, Nellie served on numerous committees and did whatever it took to get programs and services for her community.
Nellie’s volunteer efforts didn’t stop when she moved to Roddickton. She continues to help people of all ages and, among her other commitments, she oversees a youth linkage program in the area.
Although she has often thought of giving up volunteer work, this friendly senior doesn’t have any intentions of doing that anytime soon.
“I had a good run at volunteering and I’m still at it. I love it,” she said.
Whether helping in their local church (something Nellie did for years), taking a meal to a shut-in, making cookies for a school bake sale, serving on a local committee, or offering their time and talent in some other way, volunteers do what they do because they want to help others.
To recognize the valuable contribution volunteers make to their communities, Canadians set aside a special week every year to honour people like Nellie.
In a news release dated April 17, finance minister and treasury board president Tom Osborne recognized the tireless work undertaken by the province’s volunteers.
“From the dedicated people who help our seniors to those working to welcome newcomers from other countries, volunteers are essential to the province’s continued social, cultural and economic development,” Osborne said.
Nellie’s daughter Pat Fitzpatrick said her mother fought for the people of Conche with passion – both as a councillor and the town’s mayor.
“She was and is one outspoken lady especially when she wants something for her community. I daresay there were some in government that were happy to see her go as she was not shy in lobbying for their support for whatever plan her and the other councillors had for Conche,” Pat said via e-mail.
Nellie never shied away from confrontation.
“She would often, as they say, fight tooth and nail with whomever she could find or get on the telephone. The memories now only increase my admiration for her,” Pat said.
After moving to Roddickton in 1999, Pat said, her mother continued to fight not only for Conche but also for several other communities as a member of the White Bay Central Development Association and other regional committees.
It’s not always a “bed of roses,” she said when you deal with the public.
“At age 75, (Mom) trudges on and takes it as it comes. Maybe it keeps her young. In any event, I have given up trying to get her to quit because I believe that she will continue to help the area as long as she has her health and strength.”