Story by Chad Ingram, Minden Times

She’s an educator, choir director and multi-faceted volunteer from one of Kinmount’s founding families. And as of last Friday, she’s also the community’s 2015 Citizen of the Year.

The Kinmount Lions Club presented Jane Austin with the prestigious local award during the opening day of the 144th annual Kinmount Fair on Sept. 4.

“This year’s winner of the Kinmount Citizen of the Year award is someone who in their professional life has demonstrated abilities in motivating and leading others, while remaining an active and hands-on team player,” Lions Club president J.C. Lagrange told a crowd assembled at the fair’s exhibition tent. “That person has set goals for themselves that celebrate the strength and accomplishments of their colleagues, but also patiently works in advocating for less advantaged and who are coping with challenges in their daily lives.” The identity of the award recipient is always kept secret until the announcement.
“This year’s winner is the current principal of Bobcaygeon Public School,” Lagrange said. “She willingly shares her talents and personal strengths in her many volunteer roles in the community. She volunteers on the Kinmount bursary committee, the St. Patrick’s church advisory board (while acting as organist and choir leader) and is an active member of the Kinmount Committee for Planning and Economic Development, where she lends her organizational and technological skills. As part of this community, she willingly gives much of her time and energy to many of its activities, notably her role as publisher of the Kinmount Gazette and chief organizer of the first-ever edition of Kinmount Highland Games, held this past July. This event was an unqualified success and has put our community on the map, province-wide. As a caring, lifelong member of this community, she often exclaims, ‘Yes, I live in Kinmount, the centre of the universe!’”

Austin, batting away a few joyful tears and admitting she’d been somewhat tipped off when she arrived to the tent and saw many people she knew, re-iterated that, to her, Kinmount is indeed the centre of the universe.

“It represents a place of tolerance and natural beauty and heritage and culture . . . and respect for one another,” Austin said. “It’s so important to give back to our community.”
Austin said she was grateful to have been born into her family. “They are part of my story, my quilt, my fabric,” she said.
She congratulated previous winners of the award – “I honour you for the wonderful job you have done” – and said it didn’t matter whether one was an educator, doctor, or stay-at-home mom.
“As long as we’re making a difference as we move forward, then there’s value to our lives and our being,” Austin said.