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A man for all seasons: Volunteer of the Year Lewis MacIntosh

SHERBROOKE – If Lewis MacIntosh had a dollar for every job he’s done for free, well, he wouldn’t be the duly designated 2020 Volunteer of the Year for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, now would he?

The 60-something lifelong resident of Argyle received the news last week and he’s as grateful as he’s thoughtful about the whole affair. Quoting one of the world’s great pioneers of good works – the late, great American youth advocate Ivan Scheier – MacIntosh says, “The broadest and maybe the most meaningful definition of volunteering is doing more than you have to because you want to, in a cause you consider good.”

Speaking for himself, he adds, “I have been richly blessed to have worked with many fine people and share some of my talents and skills. Volunteering is very rewarding as you learn and gain valuable insight about the people and organization you are helping. It has been my honor and privilege to have devoted many hours in serving on many organizations over the past number of years.”

Indeed, the list of accomplishments, nearly four decades long, is impressive: Elder at King’s United Church, Loch Katrine; clerk of Session at King’s United Church; secretary of King’s United Church; choir member of King’s United Church; and member of the planning committee for the 150th Anniversary of King’s United Church in 2019.

MacIntosh – who performs lay pastoral duties, such as planning and leading services along with visiting those at home, in hospital and nursing homes – has also been the chairperson of Forbes Memorial Pastoral Charge Official Board; chairperson of Goshen Community Centre board of directors; and chairperson of Goshen & District Fire Department, for which he’s served as a financial advisor.

He’s been emcee at a number of community events, including: variety concerts, Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas tree lightings, clan activities, St. Mary’s River Days, Old Fashioned Christmas, Sherbrooke Village Story, and St. Martha’s Hospital Help Day. He’s even served as an auctioneer for local charities. 

Somehow, through it all, he’s managed to hold down real jobs. A graduate of St. Francis Xavier University, with a BBA in accounting, he was employed straight out of college in 1982 as the first accounting control officer of the former Guysborough Co. District School Board. In 1984, he moved on to Canada Post’s National Philatelic Centre in Antigonish, where he worked as a financial analyst until 2011.

Since 2012, he’s been employed full time at G.W. Giffin Funeral Home in Country Harbour and Sherbrooke, performing many duties and responsibilities. (He received his funeral director’s license in 1992 and his Certified Funeral Service Practitioners designation in 2013 from the Academ6y of Professional Funeral Service Practice Inc.). Between 2013 and 2019, he served as Secretary Treasurer for the Funeral Service Association of Nova Scotia.

“Lewis is a very community minded person,” said Kerri Penney, St. Mary’s District Director of Community Development & Recreation. “He’s always willing to lend a hand in any community activity, organization or function.”

If there’s any doubt about this, consider MacIntosh’s star turn opposite Stephen Flemming, Executive Director of Sherbrooke Village Museum, at last year’s Old-Fashioned Christmas dinner theatre event. 

“It was called ‘Christmas with Joseph Howe at Sherbrooke Village’,” MacIntosh vividly recalls. “I played Sir Charles Tupper to Stephen’s Joseph Howe. We had a script, but there was a little bit of ad lib, too, once you got into it. I don’t single out one volunteer activity over any other, but that that was pretty fun.” 

MacIntosh will be officially recognized at a luncheon of the Nova Scotia Volunteer Awards in Halifax on April 27.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal