Another Chance to Serve
"The value of learning from our elders, from those people who forged ahead of us must never be underestimated. There is wisdom that can only come with age and experience. Dorothy French is an amazing resource for not only our current elected officials but for the people of the community as well." - Mandy Bailey
This quote was respectfully offered by Mandy Bailey, a 34 year old resident of Wetaskiwin, Alberta after she learned Dorothy French had been awarded the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) Distinguished Service Award. Mandy is a celebrity in her own right. She was one of five finalists chosen from thousands of competitors from all across Canada to participate in the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign. She was flown to Toronto, did a photo session and was featured in a centre full-page photograph in the number one fashion magazine for women, ELLE magazine. Note: Several years ago the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was launched. It is a marketing campaign with a focus on the celebration of the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspires them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves and feel positive about her looks, no matter what they are.
Dorothy French awarded the Distinguished Service Award
On September 28th, 2011 it was formally announced at the Association’s President’s Dinner during the AMUA convention in the TELUS Convention Centre in Calgary that the AMUA, “is pleased to announce the winner of the Distinguished Service Award 2011 is (former) Mayor Dorothy French, City of Wetaskiwin”. The announcement goes on to say, “As the first and only Lady Mayor of Wetaskiwin – and longest serving member of Council – Dorothy French’s foresight and perseverance helped to bring significant development to the city. Her contributions and accomplishments throughout her 20 years of service have touched the lives of many, if not all the citizens of her community.”
The award recognizes Elected Officials of Alberta urban municipalities who have served 20 or more years on Municipal Council.
Dorothy French serves her community in many ways
In the late 1800’s an immigrant family, Rosie and William (Wasil) Lewicki undertook a difficult and challenging journey from Czernowitz, Bukovina and settled in Coaldale, Alberta. In later years their youngest daughter, Dorothy Lewicki ventured out into the world to begin a career in teaching. She made her first and last stop in Wetaskiwin.
Dorothy is modest about disclosing her age but a quick exercise in math from the information she provided has her arriving in Wetaskiwin from Coaldale, AB 34 years before 1990 as a young teacher. Or, as she describes, “we have been married for 54 years and I was here two years before that.” She became an alderman in 1972 and served in Municipal government for the next 20 years before stepping down in 1992. She was Mayor from 1989-92.
During those 20 years Dorothy was witness to seeing many changes in Wetaskiwin. “The population of Wetaskiwin doubled while I was in office. With that growth also came challenges. We had to endure a financial crunch following the free spending in the ‘80s as a result of severe cutbacks to Provincial and Federal grants and cutbacks in the ‘90’s.” But Dorothy was a visionary.
In 1977 Dorothy was quoted (source – Wetaskiwin Archives) as stating her projections for the future of Wetaskiwin should include:
1. Orderly growth with more parks and green areas,
2. Increased industrial and commercial growth,
3. Recreation facilities and programs increased,
4. Good hospital and health care,
5. Home care and extended care.
“It was my belief that we needed to establish (a community organization) Healthy Citizens –or Healthy Communities and I headed that up. You don’t have a healthy community if you don’t have things like housing, employment, healthcare services and care for elderly.”
Most of Dorothy’s projections came about. When she left Municipal politics in 1992 she had left her thumbprint on many positive changes that had, or would be happening in Wetaskiwin. Today, Wetaskiwin can boast many amenities. We can enjoy the beautiful By-the-Lake Park, proudly state we have one of the best health care facilities and offer some of the best healthcare services of a community of this size in the province. We have attracted many new stores and businesses including some very large industrial operations (Manluk Enterprises, Broere Electric, Supreme, Home Hardware Distribution Centre, and Speth Drilling to name a few). Recreation fa-
Dorothy French shares wisdom with up-and-coming resident of Wetaskiwin, Mandy Bailey
cilities and programs are readily available. For the elderly, quality homecare and extended care facilities and services are located throughout the City.
Dorothy is adamant success was achieved by the efforts of the community. She describes herself as a “we person, not I person”. None-the-less, she actively contributed throughout the years:
- Alderman for 17 years
- Mayor of Wetaskiwin for 3 years
- Founding member of Wetaskiwin Ashoro Friendship Society
- Board member during planning and establishment of Reynolds Alberta Museum
- Chair, Wetoka Health Unit Board
- Chair, Health Unit Association of Alberta
- Alberta Hospital Association Board of Directors
- Wetaskiwin Hospital Board during planning and building of Hospital
- Regent, Peace Hills Chapter, IODE
- Camrose Womens’ Shelter
- Social Services and Community Health Family Planning Advisory Committee
- Social Services Appeal Board
- Library Board
- Recreation Board
- Girl Guides
- Teacher for seven years
Dorothy’s hard work, her foresight and yes perhaps even being demanding or pushy when needed, has benefited this community in many ways. Mandy Bailey describes it best as she describes her feelings after being away (to many locations throughout the world) and her thoughts when returning home. “There are so many things Wetaskiwin has to offer.” We can all thank Dorothy for her years of dedicated service that helped make this possible.
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