Every community needs a Kent Corbett, a professional volunteer who is never afraid to carry the heaviest of loads in the biggest of projects.
And for those communities — the ones not only lucky enough to have a Kent Corbett but to know what they have — his trials and tribulations are their moment to give back.
Recently, Corbett’s life changed when he was faced with the option of losing his leg to diabetes, or losing his life to it. While his sister, Tanya, said he accepted this predicament, the flow of support and aid in his direction has left him a bit baffled.
“He’s overwhelmed with the amazing community support that rallied behind him,” she said.
Corbett is facing a lot of physiotherapy, medical bills and related expenses, and the need for a ramp into his home, and a revamped bathroom.
A number of fundraising campaigns are planned in his favour, from a $5 Lucky Duck Draw at the Shiretown Discount Emporium, an Easter Egg sale at Sharon’s Place, donations raised during an unrelated fundraising breakfast in Scotsburn, a successful GoFundMe campaign, and a benefit with a silent auction.
Angie Scanlan organized Corbett’s GoFundMe campaign and set a goal of $5,000. That amount was raised within the span of two and a half weeks, while the total sits near $5,500 as of press time.
Scanlan said she has worked the Lobster Carnival with Corbett for around eight years and has seen his level of dedication up close.
“I saw first hand how much he put into it,” Scanlan said. “I sat through countless meetings with him. I knew the time and effort that he’s put into that, selflessly, for umpteen number of years. Not only in the Carnival — he’s also involved in the Exhibition … He’s just given so much to his community, it’s only right to do this for him.”
Scanlan opted to use a GoFundMe project as it would open up the cause to people outside of Pictou County.
“It actually overwhelmed me because it came together so well,” she said. “We reached people in the States, across Canada … And that was what I hoped would happen, that it would take on a life of its own and really take off for him. And it did.”
“He was kind of overwhelmed (about the upcoming benefit),” his sister said. “He doesn’t think it needs to be to the extent that it is. When I mentioned the benefit, he figured just a dance with a donation box.”
The silent auction and the scope of the items included is large. Companies, stores, local artists, hotels, theatres and restaurants — even ones Corbett hasn’t visited — have all lined up to donate — from Jubilee and deCoste passes, to hotel stays, tattooing sessions, meals and pizzas, and from all corners of the county as well.
Alta Munroe, who serves on the board of the Fisheries Museum with Corbett, has been collecting donations for the auction and said this generosity comes down to a return on Corbett’s legendary goodwill.
“No matter what’s going on he’s volunteering,” Munroe said. “I think that’s why everybody’s been so good when you ask them for donations for stuff, because everyone knows him.”
The silent auction is just part of the Kitchen Party for Kent, which will be held April 29. Albert Dunnewold is overseeing entertainment and still has room for additional acts. Persons looking to volunteer in other ways can email KitchenPartyForKent@gmail.com.
For Kitchen Party team member Debbie Weatherbee, who has not only worked alongside Corbett at the Lobster Carnival but has known him his whole life, it didn’t take long to decide to help.
“It was a no-brainer to jump in and do it for Kent because he’d be the first one to do it for anyone else,” she said. “Kent has given so much in the community, whether it be in the Exhibition, the Lobster Carnival … I’m not even sure all that he’s on!”
Mary K. Tooke heard Corbett’s news on a Wednesday, and by Thursday had rounded the troops and booked the Legion hall. For her, the deciding factor was how much time Corbett has given local youth.
“Kent is very driven to help the kids in the community,” Tooke said. “When minor hockey was over, he put on ball hockey for the kids so that they still had something to do on the weekend. He was the only one there, did it all by himself, organized it, made sure there were people there with the kids to oversee everything. It’s incredible.”
“He is one hundred percent motivated by his community,” she said.
Tooke also credits Corbett with being instrumental in finding a place for Lobster Carnival derby racers in the parade. She also reports that businesses outside of Central Caribou have been eager to support Corbett, despite having never met him. “Donations are coming in from all over the county,” Tooke said.
Organizers were left in tears, however, by one item sent Corbett’s way — a new mobility scooter purchased for and donated by way of late firefighter Wally Daley who, like Corbett, lived with diabetes complications and was known to be generous with his time and energy.
“Just like Kent,” Tooke said, “Wally never wanted recognition for anything, never wanted anything to be done for him. It’s almost like he has a guardian angel who is a giver looking after another giver.”