When the formalities were over – the speeches, the ribbon cutting etc. – Don McCumber walked over to Miff O’Connell and handed him the key to the new Veterans Place van.
Not that O’Connell will drive the vehicle, of course, but it was a fitting symbolic gesture, given that O’Connell – a veteran of the Second World War and one of the residents at Veterans Place in Yarmouth – was a member of the fundraising committee for the van and helped kickstart the campaign early last year by donating $1,000 to the cause.
So on the afternoon of July 16, after the ceremonial ribbon was cut at an event celebrating the van’s arrival, Don McCumber, chairman of the van fundraising committee and MC for Tuesday’s event, gave the vehicle’s key to O’Connell, whose face lit up with a smile to match the day's sunshine.
Prior to moving outside for the ribbon-cutting, everyone was in Veterans Place – the long-term care facility that is part of the Yarmouth Regional Hospital complex – where McCumber talked a bit about the campaign and invited a few guests to share their thoughts.
McCumber described the campaign as “one of the most rewarding projects I’ve been involved with.”
The campaign was initiated by the Royal Canadian Legion branches in Zone 12. Contributions came from various sources, including local municipal units, businesses and the general public. Some people made donations in memory of loved ones. There were a number of fundraising activities over the course of the campaign as well.
Speakers for Tuesday’s ceremony included Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood, who said the van project is a great example of the community coming together to help others.
“It doesn’t get better than that,” she said.
She also brought greetings and congratulations on behalf of Zach Churchill, the Yarmouth MLA and provincial cabinet minister.
Danny Muise, warden of the Municipality of Argyle, echoed the mayor’s remarks, saying the local community always is prepared to step up when it comes to supporting a worthy cause.
André Boudreau, the zone commander for the legion’s Zone 12 (which consists of the legion branches in Yarmouth, Wedgeport, West Pubnico, Cape Sable and Lockeport), expressed thanks to McCumber for chairing the campaign and to everyone who contributed to it.
McCumber said the project, in one way or another, involved many people, including staff of the Nova Scotia Health Authority and Veterans Place.
Referring to the residents of Veterans Place – for whom the van project was launched – McCumber said a new vehicle is great, but it is nowhere near the thanks the veterans deserve, given what they did for their country.
“We owe them so much,” he said. “We can never repay them.”