Shirley Hunt feels most at home surrounded by the tranquil greenery of her home garden.
But in the past four years, the mother of three has blossomed into a guardian angel for an entire community.
“My main goal really is to inspire people, to be kind, to watch out for your neighbour, to help your neighbour,” she told Global News.
That’s evident through her Community Connections Facebook page, the main purpose of which is to unite residents to help one another.
“I don’t feel I do anything special. I just take from one, give to the other. Somebody tells me they need this and I say ‘I know where it is,'” she told Global News.
“I’m just the middle person … I’m the community connection.”
Community Connections is comprised of over 6,000 off-island residents who all have one thing in common — they want to help each other.
“All I have to do is explain someone’s hardship and the community unites,” said Hunt.
“Quickly, very quickly, you see that people still do care and want to help.”
Hunt’s family has lived off the western tip of the island for five generations.
She grew up in Hudson and now lives in Les Cèdres.
Every day, she spends hours sitting in front of her computer, reading comments and finding ways to help people in her community.
“I could never ask for help for myself,” she explained.
“I’m very shy for that, but I can certainly ask for help for others.”
Each story inspires her to continue what she’s doing.
Recently, a seven-year-old and her single father needed help and reached out to her.
“I put it out on the group and within no time at all, every hot lunch was paid, every field trip was paid she had five winter outfits to choose,” Hunt told Global News.
“This little girl went from rags to riches thanks to our community.”
Hunt said she loves every minute of what she does.
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“You nurture your garden in the same way you nurture the community,” Hunt told Global News.
Her generosity recently inspired Lou-Anne Hood to open a free clothing store in her basement for those in need.
“Shirley agreed to be my partner and we put it on Community Connections,” Hood told Global News.
“It blossomed — we went from being able to help a couple of families to nine or 10 and growing.”
Hunt explained she wants to continue on her mission to encourage residents to connect and care for one another.
“This is a safe area and it’s a caring community and I try to keep it that way too, that people just look out for each other,” she said.
There are so many Great Montrealers around us. If you know someone who should be profiled as part of Global News’ Greater Montreal campaign, don’t forget to nominate them!