Bloor West Villager
Her joy is her family; her passion is her community.
Mae Couzen-Duffy credits son Steven, daughter Lisa, grandson Kellan and particularly her husband for enabling her to lend her support and advocacy to fellow seniors not only in her neighbourhood, but across the city.
“Here I am retired and I’m living on fast-forward. I’m one of those high-energy people,” said the 77-year-old Couzen-Duffy. “It’s an amazing thing. If I didn’t have the husband I do, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. He’s a gentle soul.”
Content with TV dinners and sandwiches waiting in the fridge for him, Couzen-Duffy’s husband is more than happy to see his wife immersed in her community, notably at the City of Toronto, with the Local Health Integration Network and St. Joseph’s Health Centre, which nominated her for an Ontario Senior Achievement Award. Couzen-Duffy was one of 20 seniors awarded for their outstanding contributions to their community through voluntary or professional activities. It’s the provinces highest recognition for seniors over 65 for their involvement in the arts, community service, volunteerism, education and fitness.
“I was absolutely pleasantly surprised. It was an amazing day. The award is absolutely lovely, a beautiful award,” she said.
She recalled the reception, “a lovely and quite formal day.”
“It was nice to be at Queen’s Park in the Lieutenant Governor’s dining room,” Couzen-Duffy said.
At St. Joe’s, Couzen-Duffy wears many hats. For four years, she served as chair of its seniors population panel and then had a role on the Seniors Friendly Hospital Steering Committee, which focuses on determining how the hospital can provide services in a more senior-friendly way.
“Our focus on seniors’ care at St. Joseph’s is a priority in our strategy to put patients first and enhance the health of the communities we serve, with seniors being one of the largest populations for whom we provide care,” said Catherine Cotton, the hospital’s administrative program director of medicine, ambulatory and seniors’ health. “Mae Couzen-Duffy has been a strong and passionate advocate for seniors within our hospital community... We are both pleased and honoured to have successfully nominated her for this award.”
Couzen-Duffy’s post-retirement resume includes 4CATS, the Four Villages and Committed Action Team for Seniors, which has been advocating for an elevator at Keele subway station.
“Many seniors are not vocal or mobile like I am. My goal is to fight the fight to affect change,” said Couzen-Duffy, who had just returned from a City of Toronto seniors’ forum.
“I’m happy, I’m fortunate to be in good health. I have a very positive attitude,” she said. “I’m blessed not to be bored any day of my life.”