By MorinvilleNews.com Staff
Morinville – Two Morinville area women are set to be honoured as unsung heroines Saturday night. Sheila Chisholm and Therese Gervais are two of five women to be honoured as part of an International Women’s Day event sponsored by the St. Albert Bahá’í community. The annual event recognizes the contributions women make to society through their generosity of spirit, courage, creativity, determination, steadfastness, leadership, enthusiasm, love, caring, and other attributes that enrich the communities in which they live.
Chisholm was singled out for her special gifts that allow her to reach and help children with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s syndrome, Tourettes, ADHD, social delays and behavioural rigidities. Gervais is being singled out for her volunteerism, organizing skills and her work with pregnant teens.
The honouree’s interest in special needs began when she was in junior high school when she volunteered at lunch hours to help a teacher supervise a class of students in a segregated learning program. Later, Chisholm joined Transitions doing community aid work, opening her home to special needs children in need of respite care. Chisholm developed a great desire to change the way society interacts with those in the disabled community.
Organizers of the event said Chisholm was able to forge special connections and relationships with autistic children and increased her ability to do so by taking training in natural teaching strategies, eventually becoming a behavioural interventionist.
Chisholm is currently employed by the Protestant School division in St. Albert and in her free time continues to create supportive environments for individuals who require behavioural, educational and social understanding through her company Infinite Resources.
Gervais, well known in Morinville for her work with the Seniors’ Rendez-Vous Centre, has – in addition to raising a family of four and working 30 years as a teacher – always contributed a plenty of her spare time volunteering in the community, responding to needs and creating opportunities to make the world a better place.
For many years, Gervais worked to help pregnant teens deal with the problems associated with having a baby when young and unmarried. She helped train new volunteers, organized workshops to equip staff and volunteers in crisis counselling, diversity training and making appropriate referrals to other community agencies.
In the late 1970s Gervais sponsored three Vietnamese families, travelling with them as they learned English, found jobs and housing. They remain her close friends to this day.
The two area woman will be honoured in a special ceremony Mar. 5 along with St. Albert area residents Elke Blogett, Pauline M. Vaugeois and Lenora Marie LeMay.