Windsor-Essex Hospice Volunteer Earns Prestigious June Callwood Award

May 2024

Millar Holmes-Hill |

No task is too large or too small for Windsor’s John Martel. 

That is why he is one of 14 people and two organizations receiving this year’s June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism. 

Martel is being honoured for his volunteer work at the Hospice of Windsor and Essex County. He’s a member of its board of directors but has also been working behind the scenes there for 25 years.

“John has been a constant at our hospice,” said Katharen Bortolin, the organization’s executive director.

“His selflessness, leadership, and tireless commitment to our community embodies the spirit of this prestigious award — we are so grateful for his unwavering dedication and support over so many years.”

Martel assumed fiduciary responsibilities serving on the board. Never working directly with individuals in end-of-life care, he said it’s important to help in any way he can.

“If I could help out, I did,” Martel said. “I guess I never asked for recognition and the reason I didn’t ask for it is because I am one of 500 volunteers at hospice. There is a huge number of people who volunteer, some of them a lot more hours than I do.”

With the help of Martel’s leadership, the local hospice now operates two residences in Windsor-Essex —  offering 23 palliative care beds with 24-hour care in a home-like environment. 

The award is in memory of the late June Callwood — a journalist, author and social activist born in Chatham-Kent and raised in Belle River.

It recognizes individuals and organizations for “exceptional contributions” to their communities and the province. 

“This award is a recognition to all the other volunteers,” Martel said. “I guess I am representing the 500 volunteers of hospice receiving this award.

“That is the way I look at it. I couldn’t have done anything I have without the other volunteers.”