| Posted: Saturday, Sep 08, 2012 06:00 am
As the story goes, Patrick Morrison, a resident of Woodlands, was a smiling, helpful man whose toolbox, snow blower and even his brand new truck were available for any neighbour who needed help.
Neighbour Robert Murray tells the story of how, in the wintertime, after it snowed, Morrison would leave his home, the gas tank on his snow blower filled to the brim, to clear the sidewalks and driveways for his neighbours. When he returned home, the gas tank was empty, and his own driveway was still clogged with snow.
“From day one it was evident he was an exceptional neighbour,” Murray said, who met Morrison the day his family moved to Woodlands five years ago. “From that day onward he was always near. He spoiled us literally. All the others on the block had the same response.”
Morrison died in April of cancer, diagnosed one year previous. One week after he passed on, Murray wrote a letter to the editor in the St. Albert Gazette, to tell everyone about Morrison. That letter came to the attention of Angie Dedrick, the city’s neighbourhood development co-ordinator. At the time she was working on a project by which the city could recognize good neighbours.
“(Morrison’s) the epitome of what a great neighbour is and we thought wouldn’t it be great to start our initiative with a good story?” Dedrick said.
On Monday, shortly after council sat down to begin its meeting, Morrison’s widow Mary Jane, daughter Emma and a host of family and friends packed the gallery in council chambers as the Mayor formally launched the Celebrating Good Neighbours program. Mary Jane and Emma were presented with a piece of art as a posthumous recognition of Morrison’s good works.
“What’s the downside of nominating someone and saying thank you?” Mayor Nolan Crouse said in an interview. “In a community we should acknowledge neighbours for being good neighbours.”
Moving forward, the program offers two ways residents can thank individuals in their communities they think represent what being a good neighbour is all about.
They can visit www.stalbert.ca/goodneighbour and print off a thank-you card that can be delivered to their good neighbour, along with a homemade gift.
Residents can also formally nominate good neighbours. Each nominee will receive a personal note from the mayor and will be entered into a draw to win what Dedrick describes as a “made in St. Albert” gift.
“It’s whatever is meaningful to you as a neighbour,” Dedrick said. “If somebody has done something special or meaningful to you. Part of the reason is to share stories and inspire people to do similar acts of kindness.”
The website also has a Good Neighbour Tool Box that offers suggestions on how people can help in their neighbourhoods.
“We want people to know the reason is to try help neighbourhoods be connected, create a sense of ownership and belonging,” Dedrick said. “If we feel we know our neighbours, we’re more likely to do things to help each other.”
Even after Morrison died, his good works are still alive. Through his connections, Morrison was able to help Murray’s son find a job with CN, where he now works as a conductor. And his new blue truck still sits in the driveway of his home.
“We miss him and pray for him still and hope one day we’ll see him again,” Murray said.