Now one of the stories is about Rilla McLean. Who is she?
She's a fantastic lady who was my neighbour and a friend for the last
twenty-five years. And although Rilla has had some things in her life that left her in a wheel chair, her spirit soars and
she is a real go-getter in our community and has inspired other people. Its not unusual to see her pick up garbage from her
wheel chair on a May cleaning day or be behind the Terry Fox Run or help a neighbour who has a child who may be having some
reading difficulties and shell buy a book and help the child read it. She has no children of her own but many of us have used
her as an aunt. She's just a wonderful person to know.
Besides your recognition of her efforts in this story, how good have
people been to recognize her volunteer efforts?
A little bit slow. That's why the story got out. She won a major award
from Canadian Airlines in the year 2000 for her spirit of Volunteerism and we were chatting one day and the radio hadn't picked
it up, the media hadn't picked it up and so I said, "Do you mind if I write about it?" This was twenty minutes before I was
taking off on a major trip to New Zealand. So I got as many notes as I could in twenty minutes and on the plane, on my way
there, I wrote the story and submitted it because the official deadline was already passed for stories and submitted it to
Volunteers. While I was over there, Tom notified me that my story had rated 10 with eleven pluses beside it. We were very
hopeful but we didn't know until March that the story actually made it in. That was a year and a half later.
How many stories make it in?
I was told 87 out of 6000. Only six or so Canadians.
What was it in the story of Rilla McLean that helped it make that
I think the fact that Rilla's story speaks to the ordinary person.
The person who doesn't have to be the fund- raiser, with a lot of abilities, or very attractive or all these things. It's
the ordinary person who is willing to do what they see around them and they make a difference in our communities and in our
What then is your hope for the impact of this story now that it is
coming out in this book?
I think that my hope for it would be that it would be an example for
other people. You don't have to be somebody with a big education, although Rilla has that. You don't have to be able to run
the mile, although Rilla has done the equivalent of that but you have to look around and make a small difference in somebody's
life. Really, this can be a turning point. Somebody who cares for somebody else can be the turning point of whether they experience
despair or whether they experience life.
I thank you very much for discussing your work as well as that of
your friend, Rilla McLean, with our listeners across the island this morning. Thanks very much for making the trip into our
You're welcome. Its been a pleasure.
Elaine Hogg is a writer from the Port Hawkesbury area. Her story
about Rilla McLean is included in a new book in the Chicken Soup Series, called Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul.
Here is Elaine Hogg now to read her story.
After this, I read the story, "Little Changes," accompanied to harp