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Spaniard’s Bay volunteer earns 2018 Seniors of Distinction Award, Governor General’s medal

Cathy Kleinwort of Spaniard’s Bay was recently named a 2018 Seniors of Distinction Award recipient. She is perhaps best known locally for her long-time involvement with the stewardship committee for the Shearstown Estuary shared between Bay Roberts and Spaniard’s Bay.
Cathy Kleinwort of Spaniard’s Bay was recently named a 2018 Seniors of Distinction Award recipient. She is perhaps best known locally for her long-time involvement with the stewardship committee for the Shearstown Estuary shared between Bay Roberts and Spaniard’s Bay. - Andrew Robinson

SPANIARD’S BAY, N.L. — Even in her 70s, Cathy Kleinwort remains as busy as ever when it comes to her volunteer commitments.

“Volunteering for me is just a part of my life and my family’s life,” Kleinwort told The Compass, standing on the trestle bridge overlooking the Shearstown Estuary, a local destination she’s been heavily involved with since moving to the community from Ontario in 2001. “Lucky for me, my husband, kids and grandkids, they’re also very involved. You can’t do it without each other. I could never put the hours into my community … if you didn’t have the full support of family.”

The Spaniard’s Bay resident is receiving some formal recognition for her community involvement. Last month, the provincial government announced she would receive a Seniors of Distinction Award. One month earlier, Kleinwort learned in a letter she would also receive a Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, an honour bestowed by the Governor General of Canada.

“All the years of volunteering, you never think of any payback,” she said. “All you think of is what you’re doing for your community and for the people — kids, seniors — and the environment.”

Kleinwort is from St. John’s and spent over 40 years in Ontario, a place where she served as a school board trustee, among other volunteer commitments. When she moved with her husband to Spaniard’s Bay, Kleinwort was quick to become involved in the community.

The Shearstown Estuary is known to be an important site for waterfowl, shorebirds and gull species.
The Shearstown Estuary is known to be an important site for waterfowl, shorebirds and gull species.

She’s been the elected chairperson for the committee responsible for the estuary since 2002 and has also chaired the Town of Spaniard’s Bay’s environment committee. She recently got involved with the town’s newly formed tourism committee as a co-chair. That group is on the verge of opening a new tourist information centre. Additionally, Kleinwort has been a member of the Mariner Resource Opportunities Network and was part of the team that established a satellite office for the Baccalieu Trail Senior’s Outreach group in Spaniard’s Bay.

Out of all those endeavours, her work on behalf of the estuary is perhaps the most noteworthy. The Joint Management Committee Inc. (JMC) is a joint project between the towns of Bay Roberts and Spaniard’s Bay and was formed in 2005 with the task of restoring the Shearstown Estuary to its original healthy state.

Over the years, a lot of work has gone into the area, with culverts added to improve water flow and prevent infill from tarnishing the water. Native vegetation was replanted to improve stability on the trestle bridge. The bridge is also now strictly a walking path, with poles in place to keep ATV’s off it.

“All you’ve got to do is look around and see the birds, the wildlife, the people that are walking — especially now since we’ve got the old track done and trestle bridge done,” Kleinwort said. “It’s really an asset to both communities to have this. It really is a birders paradise. People come from all over.”

JMC is now at the end of a five-year plan. Kleinwort said the group is attempting to assess what the next steps to take are for helping the estuary.

“Hopefully the next thing would be that people would really recognize that this is really a jewel in the mist and that they can come and visit and take care of it.”

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editor@cbncompass.ca

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