On Friday, September 8th – I had the privilege of joining a small group of folks gathered at the corner of McHugh & Cypress – just a stone’s throw from the Village of Aspen Lake Nursing Home – to honour the life and work of the late Rev. Charles Payne who was a tireless and fearless advocate for the inclusion and empowerment of all people with disabilities and a champion for the removal of barriers in the City of Windsor and beyond.
A plaque was unveiled in Rev. Payne’s honour at the foot of a newly planted tulip tree – made possible by the generous contribution of Windsor residents through the Ward 7 Fund.
Special thanks go out to the people who were part of our little planning committee who made this day possible: MPP Percy Hatfield, Pat Delmore & Steve Habrun from Transit Windsor, City Forrester Paul Giroux, Accessibility & Diversity Officer Gayle Jones of the City of Windsor, the Windsor Accessibility Advisory Committee, Councillor Ed Sleiman, as well as Joanne Potts and the amazing staff of the Villages of Aspen Lake Nursing Home.
Beautiful memories and words were shared by many – including a moving tribute by Rev. Payne’s daughter that left not a dry eye among the gathered.
The text of the short speech I shared can be found after the photos by clicking the hyperlink.
Thank you all for gathering here today.
I want to start off by thanking Pat Delmore and Steve Habrun, from Transit Windsor, Gayle Jones of the City of Windsor, City Forrester Paul Giroux, MPP Percy Hatfield, Councillor Ed Sleiman and the Windsor Accessibility Advisory Committee for helping us bring forward the idea of honouring the contribution of a remarkable resident of our City.
Reverend Charles Payne passed away five years ago.
He left us with a legacy – the legacy of a life dedicated to the service of people with disabilities.
In fact, we are standing next to two examples of the fruits of his labour – these two bus shelters which he advocated for in front of Aspen Lake Nursing Home where he spent the last chapters of his life.
As a member and Chair of the Windsor Accessibility Advisory Committee, Reverend Payne was a tireless advocate for removing barriers to people across the City. For example, ten years ago, Reverend Payne was calling on Transit Windsor bus drivers to verbally announce the next stop – so that residents who are visually impaired know when to get off the bus.
Today – Transit Windsor has adopted a state-of-the-art smart bus system that automatically announces bus stops and destinations ahead of time.
I can’t help but feel Reverend Payne’s influence and advocacy even on this smart bus initiative today.
It is appropriate that we are here – unveiling this plaque next to this tree.
A tree is a colourful symbol of wisdom and strength, and it will provide shade and shelter for those who use the bus shelters or come visit family and friends in Aspen Lake Nursing Home.
The tree will also stand as a testament to the work of Reverend Charles Payne in this little corner of God’s Garden called Windsor.