By Barbi Lazarus, Donor and Volunteer Resources Coordinator
When I started working at the Toronto Vegetarian Association, it didn’t take long for me to meet Sally Grande. I quickly learned that she had been one of the rocks and foundations of the TVA for decades. She and Anne Dozell were instrumental in starting TVA’s social groups, which now number more than a dozen. They pioneered most of TVA’s early publications and resources such as Vegetarians Taste of the World, a fantastic Getting Started booklet, and Sally was also co-editor of TVA’s newsletter Lifelines for many years.
While working full time as a librarian, she managed to continue into her 50s to be an extremely active volunteer, and so I got to know her quickly. During my time here, I’ve seen her lead one of TVA’s most active social groups, the Durham Veg Group (you can see photos and details of past events here for proof of just how active they are!). With help from a few, but doing an incredible amount of the work on her own, she piloted the Durham Vegetarian Festival in 2009, which in it’s first year had over 5000 attendees!
It was Sally who contacted me with the idea to create a series of Travel Translation Cards, and helped so much with getting the translations and designs done so that now we have a full set available on veg.ca and in the TVA Resource Centre to help people maintain their plant-based diet while traveling.
In Sally’s retirement she did not slow down, but initiated yet another annual festival called Hot Roots Soups Festival in the City of Oshawa. This festival serves up plant-based soups that celebrate and honour Black History Month and is actively promoted by the City of Oshawa itself, attracting a typically non-veg audience to try plant-based soups and see how delicious vegetarian food is!
Although Sally was many years ago diagnosed with a terminal disease and received worrying news last year about its progression, you would have been floored to witness her ongoing energy, enthusiasm and vibrance. Just this past September she was flying around the Veg Food Fest as a dancing carrot, taking photos with attendees and bringing smiles to people’s faces. Because of her incredible non-wavering devotion to TVA’s mission and cause, she was given an Ontario Volunteer Service Award last year for an amazing 25 years of service. I feel honoured to have been able to be there at the ceremony to see her receive her much deserved award.
With so much creativity, wisdom and energy, you won’t be surprised to learn that Sally was active in many ways outside of the Toronto Vegetarian Association, one such way being an amazing artist. I will never forget the day I received an email from Sally saying “I’ve been painting pictures of carrots and I’d like to sell them at the Vegetarian Food Festival.” I have to admit, I chuckled a bit, because for whatever reason, I was envisioning cartoon drawings of carrots, and was absolutely awe-struck when I visited her booth at the Veg Food Fest and saw her incredible works of art. I’m fortunate to have a beautiful painting of carrots & hot peppers hanging in my kitchen, and hope to add more to the mix. If you were unfortunate enough not to visit her booth a few years back, you can see photos of some of her works on her website, Creative Carrot.
It is with immense sadness that I must end this post with the news that Sally is no longer with us. Most of us would be thrilled to be able to say we accomplished only a tenth of what Sally did in her lifetime. But it is not only the work she accomplished while living, but the work she will continue to accomplish moving forward that we can admire. She leaves behind an enormous legacy – through the continuing activities of the Durham Veg Group (and all TVA social groups), through the seeds she has planted to attendees of the Hot Roots Soups Festival, through the people who will continue to be served by the Travel Translation Cards she created, and so many other programs she has contributed to at TVA that will continue to flourish thanks to the foundation she built.