Sometimes you meet someone and discover a memorable trait on your first meeting; for some it’s a strong handshake or deep eye contact, but for me, it was Mr. Crisp’s unforgettable, kind smile.
Mr. John Crisp is a retired Toronto District School Board Teacher, Guidance Counsellor, Vice Principal, and Principal. He began his teaching career in 1965 at a working class school where he spent his first 5 years in teaching. He then moved up the ladder, seeking different opportunities, new challenges and environments where he always strived to make a difference in each student’s life.
Mr. Crisp has demonstrated his skills in numerous environments and when it came time to retire, he feared he may become “a vegetable who only sat in front of the television” as he so bluntly put it.
“There’s this fear of retirement, where you think there will be nothing to do. You have to fight it. I’ll tell you, it’s important to find things to do” He said passionately as I nod in agreement. “I’ve met so many students-so many young people with a passion to do well and achieve great things. They kept me going. When I retired in 2000, I volunteered at St. Paul’s L’Amoreaux Centre as a transportation driver and let me tell you,” He looks at me with intrigue, “I meet so many-so many interesting people!”
I can’t help but admire the enthusiasm I see in Mr. Crisp.
“When you retire, you miss that daily contact and you miss being around younger people as well. Volunteering allows me to meet many different people and it keeps me mentally busy. I volunteer as a driver twice a week, get to meet fascinating people, then I go to the gym the other three days of the week, I see my family on the weekends and I enjoy travelling.”
At this point, I think to myself Mr. Crisp has volunteered at our Centre for 16 years, imagine all the lives he has the opportunity to meet and to know.
“ There’s one story I keep close to me,” He begins, “There is a senior I drive to the supermarket. She is quite old, but is she ever independent! Well one day I stopped in front of the supermarket and it was raining, so I ask her if I can help her to do the door and her response? ‘No my dear, maybe next year when I am 101 years old’ Look at the determination to keep going.”
As we wrap up our interview Mr. Crisp gives a final remark, “Sometimes in our contact with other people, we think this doesn’t matter, but you will always leave an impression. It does matter.”
With that final line, I smiled to myself and wondered if Mr. Crisp knew the impact he had on me in just those thirty minutes.