Parksville council turns tables on volunteer

City fêtes Joan Lemoine with 87th birthday party

For years, volunteer Joan Lemoine has served as “the hostess with the mostest” for Parksville’s weekly Coffee with Council gatherings at city hall.

Last Thursday, June 6, Mayor Marc Lefebvre and city councillors turned the tables by making Lemoine the guest of honour for her 87th birthday.

“I’m stunned,” said Lemoine, who described it as the ultimate surprise party. “I had no idea.”

After blowing out the candles, Lemoine sat with a wedge of birthday cake while wearing the name tag she dons each week to register Coffee with Council guests at a small table in the lobby of the Civic and Technology Centre.

“I came here just like I do every Thursday, to sit with council and help out,” said Lemoine, who Coun. Mary Beil described as Parksville’s “volunteer par excellence.”

“I’ve been doing this for years,” said Lemoine, leaning forward conspiratorially to add, “I’m on my third mayor.”

Lemoine has volunteered in the community for decades, with service to the Arrowsmith Legion Branch 49, to the Society of Organized Services (SOS) and other organizations, as well as the city. In recent years, she has become something of a celebrity for her annual money-raising head shaves for the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, a role she took on six years ago.

“I saw a video of Camp Goodtimes,” she said of the getaway camp for pediatric cancer victims. “Every child there was bald; some were missing arms, or legs. I started crying, and I’ve been volunteering ever since.

“I don’t do it for the (cancer) research; I do it to send kids to camp.”

Five days before council threw the surprise party, Lemoine rode as a guest of Coun. Sue Powell in Parksville’s annual Canada Day parade. But even then, council was planning the special birthday event.

“It’s a great chance to celebrate Joan — and have cake,” said Beil. “She’s the hostess with the mostest.”