Patty Heighton is making history.
A first for Nova Scotian women, the Lyons Brook resident has been appointed the international president for North America for the International Association of Rebekah Assemblies (IARA).
Heighton travelled to Baltimore last month to take part in the 102nd annual session and was promoted from vice-president to president. With delegates from all over the world attending, Heighton has reached about as high as she can go in the association and is very happy to represent Canada and Nova Scotia.
“I’m probably one of the youngest presidents for the order,” said Heighton who is 45 years old. The ceremony to induct Heighton as president was held in Baltimore to recognize it as the place where the International Order of Odd Fellows was founded. For 25 years, Heighton has been a part of the Princess Rebekah Lodge #4 in Pictou, and has gone from being a regular member to working her way up within the area, province and three years ago she officially put her name in for international warden.
“It was just something I always wanted to do,” she said. “This is the first time anybody from Nova Scotia has been international president.”
The position was something Heighton wanted to take part in to offer her time and services to the order for the volunteer position. She was thrilled to be able to take the position and noted that the ceremony was slightly overwhelming thinking that out of so many people, they chose her.
“It’s overwhelming because there’s probably 700 people sitting there watching you,” she said about the ceremony. “It’s pride, it’s honour, you want to do your best.”
Over the next year, while holding the position, Heighton will visit lodges all over the world and present medals and other designations to members.
Heighton enjoys being part of the organization and seeing all the work it does around the world, from helping a village in Cambodia, to scholarships and grants that are given out and helping those with vision problems.
The year-long position already has Heighton busy as she plans to make her way around North America and beyond representing the organization. Heighton is also encouraging younger members to be a part of the organization that accepts members ages 18 years and older. As a non-profit and volunteer organization that looks to help the community and the world, Heighton had one piece of advice for those wanting to join.
“You’re going to get out of it what you put into it,” she said.
Patty Heighton celebrates being named president with her niece Janel Heighton who came along to celebrate. (Submitted photo)
INSET: From left, Douglas Pittman, Sovereign Grand Master, Lady Michelle Jones, President I.A.L.A.P.M., Patty Heighton, President International Association of Rebekah Assemblies, General Ray Johnson, General Commanding at the International Assembly in Baltimore. (Submitted photo)