Outstanding Housing Community Leader Award
Presented at the Region of Waterloo National Housing Day Celebration Nov. 16, 2017
Barry Hesson has lived at Riverview Terrace, our Housing Cambridge seniors building located at 650 Eagle Street North, Cambridge since 2011. But to simply say that he has lived there is miss the point. Since 2011 Barry has been a neighbour to everyone living at that building.
Barry is connected to his housing community. There is not one person in his building that he does not know by name. If someone is sick or going through a hard time, Barry is one of the first to offer a helping hand. He is often seen changing a neighbour’s light bulb, cleaning a furnace filter or sitting with a neighbour to re-assure them while waiting for the arrival of an ambulance. Barry is himself a survivor of prostate cancer and has become a listening ear and an encouraging supporter of others in his building going through their own battle with this dreaded disease.
He is active in other ways the life of his building. There are many flower gardens on the grounds at 650 Eagle Street North – six beds at the front of the building and five at the back and they are quite beautiful – all the result of Barry’s time volunteered – designing, planting, cultivating, fertilizing and watering. He has been an active supporter and leader in the 650 Club – the social club at the building. For many years, Barry has done the set-up and take-down of the common room for 650 Club events, attending meetings, flipping burgers at the club’s Friday barbecues and helping to apply for Sprouts grants to fund the clubs many projects. He is also known for setting up and taking down the Christmas trees in the common room and the lobby each year during the holiday season.
Barry is a charter member of the Wellness Supportive Housing Committee, a group that in partnership with Community Support Connections brought an embedded Seniors Support Worker, Gentle Exercise, Falls Prevention and a variety of other programs to the building. Now called Community Connectors, these support workers assist seniors to connect with other community services so that they can age in place and received the supports they need to live independently for as long as possible.
Barry’s commitment to seniors’ issues and affordable housing extends well beyond the building where he lives. He has been a very active member of the Housing Cambridge Board of Directors since 2011. He sits on the City of Cambridge Affordable Housing Committee and the Cambridge Council on Aging. He represents the Council on Aging on the advisory committee for the Seniors as Mentors and Leaders Project, spearheaded by the Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries. He just completed a term on the Region of Waterloo’s Community Housing Review Committee. And this is not even a complete list. Barry is one of those people who, if he believes in something, he takes action. That is what makes a great neighbour and that is what makes an outstanding citizen. Barry is both, we can’t think of anyone more deserving to receive the inaugural Outstanding Housing Community Leader Award than Barry Hesson.
Way to go Barry!