A lifetime of community service was honored last week when grandfather, husband, volunteer role model Joseph Quinn stepped up on stage to accept a National Assembly medal. Witnessed by family, colleagues and fellow residents, he accepted his award with modesty and grace, and passed on his father’s wisdom.
There are some words that echo through time and stay with us for our entire lives. When Joseph Quinn closes his eyes, he can see his father plain as day speaking to the boy he used to be.
« Remember to always give back to where you come from ».
The 75 year-young retired fireman has used his father’s words as a personal mantra in everything he has ever done.
Early in his career as a Verdun fire-fighter, he became a charter member of the Dawson Boys & Girls Club (now Dawson Community Centre) when it opened in 1959 and has been associated with it ever since. The urge to help others grew and over the years he has volunteered as a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy and Epilepsy Canada and was the 1996-97 President of the United Irish Societies of Montreal who organize the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
« I started volunteering at Manna Verdun Food Bank when I retired, » he explains, » I commenced by offering one hour a week and within a short period of time I was volunteering full time, and I still do today. »
Though the evening highlight of August 30 was to be the jazz concert in Saint-Thomas-More church, the true star of the evening was Verdun resident Quinn.
With many local councilors and residents in attendance, MNA Isabelle Melançon spoke about the extensive accomplishments he has achieved in Verdun before awarding the medal.
She noted the beaming faces of his family members and spoke of his inspiring drive. From firefighter to a model volunteer, his exemplary public service record continues to grow.
Upon acceptance of the medal in typical fashion for those who know him, humbled Quinn took the time to call his fellow volunteers to stand and share the spotlight.
For 32 years he served in the Verdun fire department and when he finally retired, he did so as Fire Chief. He is often found in schools, where he tries to pass on his passion for volunteering to the young people he speaks with.
« A lot of schools have programs for community service, but there are not many who apply to them, » he says. « There is value to service that today’s children don’t seem to understand. Even small things like reading to a senior, helping at a food bank. I try and tell them to do what they can to appease their fellow citizens. »
He worries sometimes as he sees more grey haired volunteers than young ones, and hopes that his story will inspire a new generation of volunteers.