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Perseverance • Hard Work • Love of Learning

Her Story

Marilyn May

VON - Peterborough - Victoria - Haliburton

Marilyn's Story :

My parents were sharecroppers, and I grew up on many farms, until I was ten.  Lots of hard work and from the age of four, we were expected to help.  At that time, I had two younger sisters and a brother, we were all one year apart.  We accompanied my parents to the barns and fields, everyday, summer and winter.  I have vivid memories of my parents loading up playpens and toys to keep us occupied while they worked. On Saturday nights, parents would play cards outside the church, while the teenagers kept
the younger kids entertained.  Sunday was church and picnics by Lake Ontario.

At ten, my life changed, as my parents gave up farming.  We moved to Oshawa and my father started working at General Motors.  Mom stayed home and had three more boys.  It was like two families, four older kids and three younger ones.

I attended public school in Oshawa and high school in Port Perry.  I was an average student.  All extra curriculum activities were within school hours. There was always lots of chores after school.  I spent most of my free time doing domestic jobs or working at other people’s farms, so I could buy books and clothes for school.  Thanks to my mother’s encouragement, I was able to complete grade 12.

At age seventeen, I was unable to find work.  I moved to Toronto and after a couple years was hired by Bell Canada.  I was very young, but had great mentors at Bell and was quickly promoted thru the ranks.  I was given many opportunities to grow and work at different challenging jobs.  This all came with long work hours, constantly being on call, and attending outside courses to keep up on my education.

I loved my job but needed to recharge my batteries every few weeks. A no frills cottage was purchased on Glanmire Lake.  It was remote and took one hour to drive the last ten kilometers, over bumpy, rocky roads.  A lovely lake with a beautiful wade in beach, where you could fish, canoe, or use a small motorboat.  No electricity. No phone.  Only a propane cookstove and an old oil stove for heat.  The perfect place that family, friends, and myself could enjoy.  No one could reach me, except by special courier service, in an emergency. This was tranquility.

In 1989, I asked Bell if I could move to Peterborough, so I could put down roots.  Bell granted this request.  In 1994 Bell started downsizing and I was asked to move to another city.  I made a major decision, that no one had foreseen, not even myself.  I decided to leave a very rewarding job, as I wanted to stay in Peterborough.

In Peterborough, I set down roots and focused on the three other loves in my life.  My volunteer work at Five Counties Children Centre.  My recreational club, Mapleridge Centre for Seniors and my other love, bridge.  Any spare time was spent learning and playing this game. I tried a few different jobs but couldn’t find anything to my liking, so I decided to return to school at Sir
Sanford Fleming College, where I enrolled in the P.S.W. and Activationist course.

In 1997, I was hired by VON and eventually began working in the Adult Day Program, as an activationist.  I was much older than my co-workers but my manager offered lots of encouragement. In time, I began to adjust, as I enjoyed this type of work.  In 2013, I joined the In-Home Respite Program and after a few weeks realized this is what I was looking for.  I find working one on one with clients, rewarding.  I like being able to help make a difference, for families.  I enjoy having fun with the clients.  But best of all, I look forward to going to work each day.