Memory of George Elliot continues to serve the community
PRESCOTT - When Augusta Township's deputy mayor, George Elliott, passed away unexpectedly two years ago, it left a big hole in the community, but it also left a legacy, one that continues to inspire people to give back and to help those in need.
A few weeks ago, Elliott's daughter, Tanya Henry, hosted the second annual Friends of George Benefit Dance, and last week, she made the first of two donations made possible by the money raised from the event. Henry was joined by two of Elliott's good friends, Norman Palmer and Celine Beaudette, at King's Kitchen last Wednesday, where they donated a cheque to help support the organization's weekly community dinners.
"We are very thankful that they thought of us," said King's Kitchen co-founder Carol Casselman. "We're very appreciative."
Next week, Henry will make another donation, this time to an organization that was long close to her father's heart - the North Augusta Recreation Association.
"I like to support the community and help others just like he did," says Henry, who followed in her father's footsteps and was elected last fall to township council.
The inaugural Friends of George Benefit Dance took place in 2017. Organizers were unable to hold one in 2018, so the second event took place this year. Buoyed by the turnout and the amount of money raised, though, Henry and her fellow organizers - which includes Palmer and Beaudeatte, along with Lee and Val Armstrong, Henry's husband, Rob, and their children, nine-year-old Ella and seven-year-old Erik - are planning to make the event a yearly celebration of her father's generous life and an opportunity to give back to the community he loved.
"He was always looking for somebody he could help, and he expected nothing in return," says Palmer.
In fact, Elliott would often organize dances, barbecues or other community events to help out various charities, especially local organizations in Augusta Township and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. He did this for more than 25 years and it had become something of a tradition.
The benefit dance in his memory took place on April 13 at the Prescott Legion, where more than 120 friends and family and in some cases people who didn't know Elliott but respected the man and the life he lived, enjoyed a night of live music - provided by one of Elliott's favorite local bands, Kingston's Texas Tuxedo -good food and many warm memories of a decent man.
"He was just an all around great guy," says Beaudeatte.
Among those who stopped by the event were MP Michael Barrett and MPP Steve Clark, who made an eloquent speech in honour of his friend. Elliott's colleagues from Augusta Township council, on which he had served for three years before his passing, were also there to acknowledge their friend and fellow councillor and show their support to the family.
"It makes a difference that there's people like that you can go to," says Henry of the support the family has received from all of Elliott's political colleagues.
Elliott was a very sociable person and was well-known and well-liked in the community, which made organizing the fundraiser all the easier for Henry and her team. The event featured both a silent and a live auction, with items donated by generous individuals and businesses, and Henry didn't have to ask anyone twice.
"I just threw his name out there and we were good," she says.
The donations didn't just come from Augusta Township, either. People from Prescott, Edwardsburgh-Cardinal and the surrounding area were all happy to help.
"A huge thank you to all of them for all the support and donations," says Henry.
The King's Kitchen community dinner takes place every Wednesday during the school year in the cafeteria at South Grenville District High School in Prescott. The meal is free of charge and is made possible entirely by donations and an annual grant from the town. Dinner is served from 4:30 p.m. -6:30 p.m. and everybody is welcome to attend.