Suzanne and Walter Ball-YMCA Peace Medallion Recipients
Suzanne and Walter Ball believe diversity is what strengthens community. That’s just one of the reasons Walter decided to get involved with YMCA Newcomer Connections more than 20 years ago.
At the time, Walter was on city council in Saint John. He grew up in Toronto and saw how culture and diversity make a community strong. He felt the work the Y was doing was important, and today with his wife Suzanne by his side, they continue to help newcomers feel welcome in Saint John.
“Suzanne and Walter Ball have been helping to develop a welcoming and integrated community in Saint John,” Rhonda Kelly, Settlement Trainer at Y Newcomer Connections said. “They create a community for newcomers that have lost their community. Their influence has also been taught to their granddaughter, who has travelled to Greece to volunteer at the refugee camps.”
For the Balls it’s about more than getting newcomers settled, or welcoming people to a new place for the first time. It’s about forming lasting relationships.
“Years ago we were billets for students from China, who were studying at UNBSJ,” Suzanne said. “It was such an enriching experience to help them improve their English.” “We recently met up with the former students in New York to reconnect.”
Throughout this year, Suzanne and Walter have worked with others to welcome 4 Syrian families. Whether they have assisted in finding them a place to live, helped to navigate the grocery store or given a driving lesson, they feel lucky to have been able to make newcomers feel comfortable in their new home.
“It’s a whole new life for them and although it may be scary, it’s exciting,” Suzanne said. “A 15 year old is enjoying school and planning for her future. She’s getting opportunities in Canada that she never dreamed she would receive.”
To Suzanne and Walter, peace means the absence of fear and threat. And they make every effort to make sure people in their community have a feeling of peace.
“I have been inspired by their kindness, care and commitment,” Kelly said.
The Balls will receive the YMCA Peace Medallion Award on November 24th at the YMCA Millidgeville Community Centre. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at any Y location or online here: ymcapeacemedallionceremony.eventbrite.ca