By way of her chosen profession and her volunteer pursuits, Helen Weichel committed herself long ago to making life better for countless others.
Upon graduating from St. Mary’s School of Nursing, Helen came to St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1960 before moving to what was then Civic Hospital, where she worked in many departments. Before retiring from Civic, she held a number of positions, including supervisor, and was very involved in the nurses’ association. Helen was the first recipient of the James McNabb Award, which recognized the community volunteer efforts of hospital staff.
As the leader of Cub Pack 17 based at St. Alban’s Church, Helen never missed an opportunity to involve her young charges in major events. When the Prime Minister, or Royalty visited, Peterborough Cub Pack 17 was front and centre. When medals were handed out at the Summer Games, Cub Pack 17 was involved. When Hugh Faulkner became Secretary of State, Helen brought Cub Pack 17 to Ottawa for a tour of the Parliament buildings, given personally by Faulkner. Long after her sons Greg and Tom moved on from Cub Pack 17, Helen stayed on, providing its members with unique opportunities while dedicating herself to their growth and development as good citizens.
With a passion for fostering recreational opportunities, Helen became involved with the Peterborough Recreational Association in 1970. She would play an instrumental role in the merging of the Peterborough Parks, and Recreation departments. In addition, Helen served with the Ontario Municipal Recreation Association, sitting as its chair for a period.
Helen’s guiding belief that recreational opportunities are essential for people of all ages saw her advocate relentlessly on behalf of the middle-aged, and seniors. In addition, she pushed for equality in terms of the allocation of sport facilities and resources, providing girls and women with the same opportunities to participate, as did boys and men.
An extension of that was Helen’s long tenure with ParticiPaction Peterborough, an organization dedicated to raising the level of personal fitness in Peterborough and the surrounding area. Helen was a member of the organization’s Sources and Resources Committee, charged with securing access to existing facilities, including schools, for fitness-related events. The committee also established a speakers’ bureau, produced brochures, and promoted existing and new fitness activities in local schools, including Trent University and Fleming College.
In 1977, the City of Peterborough recognized Helen’s unmatched efforts in the promotion of fitness and recreation, bestowing upon her its Award of Merit.