By Wanda Wierzbicki
Bernice and Bill Pyke have lived on Holmcrest Trail since 1991. Bernice said she always read the CCRA Centennial News when it was delivered to her door. She remembers seeing the notices asking for volunteer distributors. “I loved to walk, so I thought that it would be a good fit for me. I started with a route on the west side of Meadowvale.”
Then one day when the residents of Holmcrest were having a street yard sale, she happened to speak with a neighbour, who told Bernice that she too delivered the CCRA Centennial News, but she was planning to retire. Bernice saw an opportunity, and asked for her route to be switched from Meadowvale to Holmcrest. She has distributed the newspaper to the homes on Holmcrest ever since.
“It used to be very handy if the newspapers arrived when some of the five grandkids were here, because they loved to come along with me and play ‘mailman,’ Alas, the grandkids grew up and I had to do them all by myself,” she said.
Bernice worked for 30 years as a teacher. The last 15 years, she was at Frenchman’s Bay in Pickering, but she actually started her career in Bridgewater, NS. The most exciting thing Bernice remembers from her teaching career was the year spent teaching in Perth, Australia. It was a “swap”– where you swap cars, houses and jobs. Teachers had to have a minimum of seven years’ experience to apply. That year, Perth had about 50 exchange teachers. “That was a wonderful experience,” Bernice recalled, adding that she is still in touch with a handful of individuals she met in 1986.
Bernice has now decided to give up the CCRA Centennial News distribution route. “I figured I should pass on the baton to someone else. Then I can focus my volunteering on the Toronto Zoo, where I have been a Monday volunteer since I retired.”
Her favourite animals at the zoo are the gorillas and she often volunteers at the station there. “We used to take our grandkids to the zoo every couple of weeks. I would always see and talk to the volunteers. I thought it would be a nice thing to do after retirement, so as soon as I retired in 2005, I signed up for the training course and I have loved it. I figured it would be like teaching, without having to write report cards,” she laughed.
When Bernice is not volunteering at the Toronto Zoo, she participates in “Probus” activities. Probus is a social group for retired people, with theatre outings, mini-putt, picnics, cards and weekly walks. “I have been on the Probus management team and I also help organize some of the social functions,” she said.
After retirement, Bernice and her husband did a LOT of travelling. They especially liked cruising. Some of their favourite places have been South America, the Panama Canal, Alaska and Italy. Although they don’t travel as much these days, they keep busy with biking around the neighbourhood on their e-bikes.
“I will continue to read the CCRA Centennial News as soon as it is delivered. I always enjoy reading about what is going on in our community.” Bernice is hoping that Mother Nature will provide some nice fall weather, which will allow her to do some biking down by the lake.
Enjoy the bike ride, Bernice! Thank you for your dedication and support over the past 30 years.