In her own quiet way, Aileen Scott has been volunteering tirelessly in her Markham neighbourhood for the last two decades.
When her three children were enrolled in the Markham African Caribbean Canadian Upliftment Program (MACCUP), she rose early on Saturday mornings to prepare snacks for them and other students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12.
Scott did that long after her kids graduated from the program and assumed other volunteer roles with the Markham African Caribbean Canadian Association, established in 1987 to promote interracial and inter-cultural harmony and provide young people with scholarships to pursue post-secondary education.
She was recognized for her volunteerism with an Unsung Hero Award at the Herbert Carnegie Future Aces Foundation annual fundraiser last week.
Scott credits her late mother – Cecilia Scott – for her passion to give back.
“We lived in the city and the majority of our relatives resided in rural areas,” recalled Scott, who migrated from Guyana as a teenager 45 years ago. “Whenever a relative came to the city to attend school they would stay at our place where our mom would provide for them. There were times where there were at least 14 people living in our small home for a period of time. She also provided meals for those in the neighbourhood who were in need. No one was turned away.”
A Markham resident for the last three decades, Scott spent 20 years with TD Bank before retiring.
Her eldest child, Leesel Smith, is a communicative disorders assistant at York-Durham Aphasia Centre and her son, Leemon, is a mechanic. The youngest, Leenel, is an administrative assistant.
“It’s because of them that I really embarked on volunteering steadily,” said Scott. “They received a lot of assistance through the MACCUP and I felt compelled to do whatever I could to assist others. I enjoy giving freely.”
Unsung Hero Awards were presented to 10 individuals, including Toronto Police Constable Martin Douglas who is the Toronto Crime Stoppers youth & social media officer.
In September 2008, when Douglas reported for duty as the new school resource officer at Sir Robert Borden Business & Technical Institute, he was greeted with a sign on the front lawn that read, “Welcome Police Officer Douglas.”
Touched by the gesture, he took time out of his busy personal and professional schedule to volunteer his service as coach of the Scarborough school’s new football team. It was another opportunity to work closely with young people which he relishes.
“I think I am very fortunate because my job as a police officer provides me with so many opportunities to interact with young people,” said Douglas. “I don’t do this work for recognition, but this award says to me that there are people out there observing what I am doing to make a difference.”
A graduate of Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute where he played football, Douglas became a cop 15 years ago.
Tropicana Community Services Organization Jobs for Youth (JOY) program and Investors Group vice-president, Richard Irish, were recognized with Amazing Aces Awards.
Carnegie, who passed away two years ago, was an outstanding hockey player who was denied the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League because of his skin colour. He created the Future Aces creed to instil self-esteem and mutual respect and to enhance the overall development of participants in the Future Aces Hockey School he set up in 1975.
He demonstrated the same zeal he had for sport in business when he joined the Investors Group as their first Black employee in the summer of 1964. In his inaugural year, he set a company sales record of $1,400,000 and qualified for the “Millionaire Club”, reserved for elite representatives who exceeded the company’s target. He remained in the exclusive club for two decades and was inducted into the organization’s provincial Hall of Fame in 1997.
Investors made a $10,000 donation to Carnegie’s foundation at the awards ceremony.