2011 Winners

Nipigon | Private Sector

Levina Collins

Levina Collins

When Levina Collins retired from Nipigon District Memorial Hospital, her employer didn't give her a gold watch; instead she was presented with a pair of sparkly shoes to match her sparkling personality.

She didn't retire though. She started Collins Consulting Services, a business and tourism consulting company that offers project co-ordination and fundraising expertise, and was elected to Township of Nipigon council.

"I don't know if I'll ever retire. What am I going to do, lie down and die? Life's purpose is to make things happen. I can't lie on the couch (unless curling is on). I've got to be out there."

Her first retirement project was to wrap up her multi-million dollar fundraising efforts for the hospital.

"The highlight for me was big bucks bingo. The idea was originally turned down by the board because we weren't prepared enough. We went back prepared, it was approved, and we made $400,000 in two years. Bingo was fun. You can't take the 'fun' out of fundraising."

Within six months of starting at the hospital cleaning toilet bowls, Collins was promoted to supervisor, and then ran housekeeping, laundry and maintenance for 15 years.

"I got to do jobs I never thought I could because good bosses saw that potential in me."

Collins learned on the job. "I've been going to school forever. It's just all handson learning. The only certification I have is as a certified executive housekeeper. I took that through a correspondence course."

The key to her success, she said, is planning. "If you don't have it written down on paper, it will never happen."

She's helped to write many grant proposals and business plans.

She is passionate about the work she did to see the Paddle to the Sea Park project completed.

Collins finds serving as a town councillor rewarding. She is also program associate for the Deanery of Thunder Bay through the Diocese of Algoma, and she sits on a number of boards, including North of Superior Tourism, and Lake Superior Discovery Place.

"Some people wonder how I do all that I get done. But it's amazing what you can do when you're organized. It's all about passion, planning, persistence...and attitude."

She learned from her mother, who was also active in the community, and she credits her husband for allowing her to follow her passions.

"If I didn't have him, I wouldn't be able to do what I do. He doesn't ever complain about my work, other than about the amount of gas I spend travelling back and forth. I never give him enough credit."

Collins was honoured in her community as the 2009 Volunteer of the Year, and the 2010 Citizen of the Year. When this Influential Woman of 2011 was asked what she has planned for 2012, Collins said with a hearty laugh, "I think I'll retire."