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Jack Ross Memorial Award presented to Dr. Maria Odumodu at Children's Aid annual general meeting

By Jennifer Vandermeer, Norwich Gazette/IngersollTimes

Dr. Maria Odumodu, centre, of Woodstock was presented with the Jack Ross Memorial Award Tuesday, June 13 at the annual general meeting of the Children's Aid Society of Oxford County held in Tillsonburg. The award is given annual to an individual who has performed outstanding service beyond the call of duty to children and/or families of Oxford County. Dr. Odumodu has served many years on the Children's Aid board and contributes at both a local and provincial level. From left are CAS Oxford Executive Director Bruce Burbank, Odumodu and board president Bill Taplay.

Dr. Maria Odumodu, centre, of Woodstock was presented with the Jack Ross Memorial Award Tuesday, June 13 at the annual general meeting of the Children's Aid Society of Oxford County held in Tillsonburg. The award is given annual to an individual who has performed outstanding service beyond the call of duty to children and/or families of Oxford County. Dr. Odumodu has served many years on the Children's Aid board and contributes at both a local and provincial level. From left are CAS Oxford Executive Director Bruce Burbank, Odumodu and board president Bill Taplay.

Everyone can be a hero just by doing what they can to help.

That was the message Dr. Maria Odumodu shared when she received the 33rd annual Jack Ross Memorial Award from the Children's Aid Society of Oxford County. The presentation was part of the Society's annual general meeting held in Tillsonburg Tuesday, June 13.

Odumodu said she remembers when Const. Jack Ross was killed. It was 1984 and Ross was an officer with the OPP who was killed during a stand-off. The Children's Aid board of directors established the award in 1985 in recognition of the commitment and contribution Ross made to the community.

“Jack was what I would call a hero who acted heroically,” said Odumodu.

“While we cannot all be heroes in the media sense, we can be everyday heroes, reflecting the power of one. One person or two or three can be heroes by combining instant action and long-term approaches in dealing with issues of safety for children and permanency planning. I refer to these heroes as the village that it takes to raise a child.”

In presenting the award, CAS Oxford Executive Director Bruce Burbank described some of the works that led to Odumodu's nomination for this year's award.

“I can assure you that there is a long list of achievements and contributions made by this outstanding citizen of our community, probably too lengthy to list this evening, so we will focus on children and families, which I know Maria has told me is the cause that is nearest and dearest to her heart,” said Burbank.

Odumodu was a member of the CAS board of directors from 1997 to 2006 and returned in 2010, last year completing a two-year term as president. During both periods, she was also a member of the board of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies working on a provincial level to advocate for vulnerable children and families in Ontario.

She and husband Joe have been residents of Woodstock since 1971 during which time they raised four children, became adoptive parents, and built a successful business. They also have five grandchildren.

Odumodu's other involvements including being an active member of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Catholic Women’s League, South Western Ontario YMCA, board of the Woodstock Public Library, Woodstock BIA, the local Oxford County school boards committee, the IODE, the Zonta Club, the Woodstock Senior Citizens Drop-In Center, fundraising committee for the community complex, Woodstock Little Theatre and a canvasser for various groups.