For twenty-three years Dennis Laite and the Ladysmith Resources Centre have celebrated anniversaries together.
He signed on as volunteer Treasurer of the newly formed LRC when it first opened its doors; then in 1995 – when he retired from the RCMP – he was hired as ED, saying it would only be a short time until the board found someone else for the job.
Now, as the last original member of LRC’s board and staff still reporting for duty, Laite is saying goodbye. “Here we are today, 23 years later, seeing Dennis retiring from his second career, one very dear to his heart,” said Sharon Hamilton in a retirement tribute.
The Ladysmith Resources Centre started out in a space at 225 High Street, where Dr. Marshall Butcher’s practice is located now. Laite built partitions, installed phones and moved in furniture.
Then the centre moved to 112 French Street, where Telford’s Burial & Cremation Centre is located. “That space we hugely renovated as well, and it housed us for several years until we were bursting at the seams,” Hamilton recollected.
Back then the Centre provided office space for probation services, the Canadian Cancer Society, its first youth worker, a home support worker and the Chamber of Commerce. “It’s where Dennis began his career as Executive Director,” Hamilton said.
From there the Centre moved to the First Avenue location currently housing the Museum. Then in 2011, it moved to its brand new Second Avenue site at Spirit Square.
In 1997 the Town approached the LRC to take over the Christmas Cheer program. “It was certainly a good thing Dennis had a truck, because he was kept very busy that first year picking up food supplies and gifts for the hampers,” Hamilton said.
“On Christmas Eve, he was called from a family dinner to deliver a hamper to a family who had not received theirs. He made it happen, delivering a box with food and gifts to the family.”
Wednesday nights have usually found Laite volunteering to help run a community bingo that was turned over to the LRC in 1995 – he routinely puts in six hour stints for an event that raises funds to keep the LRC going.
Said Hamilton, “Looking back over the years, a portrait of Dennis would show a diligent, very caring, optimistic, hard working and honest man, always willing to volunteer his time in whichever way was needed to help someone else.”
“He never complained, just got on with it,” she said. “His values and hard work have brought the Centre to the place it is today. Dennis could look at a problem and come up with a solution to make it happen or make it right.”