On June 8, Council will be hosting the Civic Awards and a reception. Among the recipients will be Mary-Anne Leang, someone I have been aware of for years. She first came to my attention when she would submit articles to the Times for the Girl Guides and Kemptville Wildcats. It is another one of those fascinating stories. At the age of 14, she was basically raising herself on the streets of Ottawa as her biological parents struggled with mental health issues. After 7 years of back-and-forth placements between foster homes and back home, she was finally sent to a foster home in Kars where a family decided to take a chance on her and her brother. Her foster parents, Gerry & Joyce Begley, fostered close to 50 children over the years. Mary-Anne says that after receiving structure, love, support and encouragement, she considered them her parents from that day forward. They must have had an impact on Mary-Anne, because at the age of 18, she graduated from Algonquin College as a legal assistant, soon after became a law clerk, bought her first home in Kemptville at 21, married at 30, and also went on to foster 18 children and have one child of her own. She has been involved in many things in our community including Girl Guides, Kemptville Wildcats, Kemptville Players Kids, was one of the founders of Kemptville Legends, a ladies softball league, and then, even with all this on her plate, took over Kemptville Infinity (formerly known as Precision Dance) in 2019, after the former owners had health issues. Recognizing the need for kids’ recreational programming in our community, she and a few parents took over the running of it, and at the end of the season, she and another partner bought out the owners. Taking on a GCFDC loan, they were able to buy badly needed equipment to make the program a success. Mary-Anne is driven by her heart more than by any thoughts of being an entrepreneur, not something she had envisioned. She is moved more by her passion for our community and the children and teenagers in the area. She sits on many boards, Buskerfest being one of them, and can be found at most events around town, along with her daughter Amanda. I would also like to mention that Amanda will also be receiving a Civic Award for her exemplary work in the community under the youth category on the same night. Congratulations to both of you and also to the many others receiving an award. It is my hope to be able to interview each one of them over the coming months.
Mary-Anne says she could not do what she does for the community without the support of an understanding and supportive husband and a flexible and accommodating employer, Jansen Law.