Mary and Phil Williston and family receive the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

In 1954 Chatham Goodfellows embarked on its campaign which had a simple motto, “No Child Without a Christ­mas”. Through donations and volunteer ef­forts, the Chatham Goodfellows have helped to brighten Christmas morning forthousands of people ensuring there are toys for children and food for a holiday meal.

During the 1950’s Chatham Goodfellows modest budget of a few thousand dollars provided boxes of food and toys to approximately 200 families in Chatham.  This year, the 63rd year of operation,  the Chatham Goodfellows budget of well over $150,000 will provide boxes of food and toys for over 1400 families in Chatham, the former townships Dover, Chatham Harwich, and Raleigh as well as Merlin in partnership with Merlin Legion.

Since 1954 Chatham Goodfellows has seen the need rise along with the budget.  One constant that remains, Chatham Goodfellows is a volunteer  organization that depends totally on volunteers to sit on the Board of Directors, purchasing goods, organize events,  raise funds, collect, pack, and deliver toys and food.

Volunteers are vital to Chatham Goodfellows success.  In recognition for their work, volunteers are rewarded with a hot bowl of soup, sandwich, hot drink and a sweet treat.  In addition, the Chatham Goodfellows Board of Directors recognizes volunteers with Certificates of Appreciation, volunteer businesses with President’s Award, and the coveted Mrs. /Mr. Goodfellow Award.

In 2016 the Chatham Goodfellows Board of Directors introduced the “Lifetime Achievement Award” to recognized individuals or organizations who;

  • Provide no less than 25 years of continuous service
  • Extraordinary philanthropy by an individual or organization
  • Continues to encouraged the development of leadership among staff, colleagues or family
  • Is an inspiration to others, displaying professionalism, a consistently positive and motivating attitude, and demonstrating ongoing respect for others
  • Has inspired, shared and developed a vision for the future for development of philanthropy
  • Is a good citizen that contributes to the well-being of the Community

Each year Chatham Goodfellows Board is tasked to determine if there is a worthy recipient.  Chatham Goodfelllows are blessed with dedicated long-term volunteers.   We are grateful.   After long deliberation, the recipient of this years’Chatham Goodfellows Lifetime Achievement Award is the Williston Family.

In 58 years, the Williston family has fundraised, collected, packed and delivered food and toys for the less fortunate in Chatham-Kent.

Phil’s tireless work and dedication was recognized in 1988 when the Board of Chatham Goodfellows bestowed Phil with the prestigious “Mr. Goodfellow” award.  Phil provided leadership to the Chatham Goodfellows Board of Directors for over 5 decades, and he served as President 1998-2000.

Mary Williston recalled her first date with Phil in 1959 before Christmas. Phil invited Mary to #1 Scout hut in Chatham to paint a red wagon so the wagon could be delivered to a child at Christmas.   As Mary said, this is when the Williston legacy began with Chatham Goodfellows.  In 2004 Mary was the recipient of the Ms. Goodfellow Award.

Mary and Phil’s active involvement with Chatham Goodfellows while impressive and compelling is not their only remarkable achievement.  Mary and Phil along with other early Chatham Goodfellow Board members encouraged a community of practice by giving back through volunteering.

This community of practice carried through to Mary and Phil’s children, Cynthia, Scott, Craig and their extended family.  The extended Williston family and all three children were active with Chatham Goodfellows through the years.

While Cynthia no longer lives in Chatham-Kent, Scott and Craig along with their 7 children and 8 grandchildren carry on the Williston legacy.  The children and grandchildren are the stalwart members of the Williston porchlight, street sales teams.  The Williston family fill vital roles in toy and food packing as well as deliveries.   Williston Family members have received over 15 Chatham Goodfellows certificates of achievement over the past 39 years.

Scott replaced Phil as a member of the Board in 2003, and from 2011-2016 Scott was the President of Chatham Goodfellows and in 2015 was the recipient of the Mr. Goodfellow Award.  Scott remains an active Board member managing food packing and delivery.

Craig was the recipient of the 2011 Mr. Goodfellow Award and in 2013 Craig was invited to join the Board.  Craig manages the Porchlight Campaign.

Mary and Phil now take on an advisory role with Chatham Goodfellows, but their garage is still used at Christmas time to store and organize non-perishable food.

The influence of the Williston family is compelling; combined the family has over 450 years of service to Chatham Goodfellows.   The Williston Family is a worthy recipient of the Chatham Goodfellows Lifetime Achievement Award.