Nouvelles d’Overbrook News
March/Mars 2014

Sheila Perry stepped up to the plate in November 2009 and has been running the bases and hitting home runs ever since.

At that time, the Overbrook Community Association (OCA) – known then as the Community Council of Overbrook – was facing the prospect of folding, so Sheila went to bat by taking on the presidency. Since then, Overbrook and the OCA have faced numerous challenges, from lobbying for baseball to continue at the stadium, to replacing our dying ash trees, to plans for large scale developments, to the threat that Rideau High School might close, to issues surrounding the City-owned network of back lanes, to name only a few. Sheila has worked tirelessly, addressing all issues head on, organizing special meetings and encouraging residents to get involved.

Building relationships and forging partnerships was at the top of Sheila’s "to-do" list. Under her leadership, the Neighbourhood Watch program was expanded; the Community Development Framework (a result of the City’s "No Community Left Behind" program) was supported; relationships were established and strengthened with local police, politicians, neighbouring communities and social service agencies; and membership begun in the Federation of Citizens’ Associations of Ottawa-Carleton.

Sheila has taken the lead on development issues, attending countless Committee of Adjustment meetings to negotiate infill housing that blends with the character of Overbrook. The association has been strengthened by the move to incorporate, and residents’ involvement has increased under her care. But Sheila's legacy will perhaps be the project dearest to her heart – the Overbrook Community Gardens. The whole project brought talented people together – young children, families, high school students and their teachers – all resulting in a bountiful harvest!

When asked in a recent interview what motivates her to do this work, two themes emerged: a deep passion for the work and a love for meeting and connecting with people. The desire for community involvement runs in her blood. A retired school principal, Sheila comes from a civic-minded family. In fact, Port Perry is named after her great-great-uncle Peter Perry who was the MLA of Upper Canada. Her grandparents were involved in municipal leadership roles, while her mother was chair of a school board. She grew up with a strong belief in community work. "I feel it is our civic duty to give back," claimed Perry, "There's lots of work to be done."

With her boundless energy, her ability to engage and connect with people, it seems Sheila will always find work to do, even after she has passed on the OCA leadership bat!