Posted on Sep 23, 2019
Elizabeth Compton (right) with President Jennifer Valliere following her classification talk to members of the Toronto Leaside Rotary Club. Liz joined the club on March 1, 2019 and is already involved in projects serving the Leaside Community.
Here are some highlights from Liz's talk. To quote:
"I was raised in Don Mills, from a family of 4 kids. It was a very noisy and for the most part fun-filled home. My parents loved jazz music and did a lot of entertaining. Our Mother was an artist in more ways than one and guided us to look at the world with an open heart and to appreciate the beauty in all of us. Our Father owned Ellis Studios, a screen printing company, but really he was an outdoors-man, who taught us how to respect and in turn love the great outdoors.
As a young family we decided to move to St. Lucia in 1987, my son Julian was 1 and my daughter Jacquie was 3 yrs old.  I was quite ill and had to be flown back to Toronto in the fall of 1988 for emergency surgery, as I recovered I vowed to get myself back in shape physically and emotionally, to spend quality time with my kids and to work in our business, a textile screen printing business, which I eventually took over and I also ran a couple of hotel shops that carried our t-shirts as well.  I was extremely busy. I remember being at a New Years Eve party and one of the guests, Anthony Bergasse asked me if I wanted to join Rotary, as a new club was being formed. My immediate reaction was, I thought women were not allowed to be members, so why then would I want to be involved. He laughed and said, that’s just the point, we have started a new club, and want you to be a member, I was invited to a lunch.  I met the president, Lisle Chase, he and I are great friends to this day. Before the lunch we discussed a number of things business and what was needed in St Lucia. When the lunch started I was asked to introduce myself, I did and then these words just flowed out of me, I would love to be a part of this club, please let me know what I can do to help. Being a part of the Gros Islet Rotary club was actually life changing for me. It was a truly a humbling experience to be able to touch people and make a difference in their lives.  It was a pivotal time in my life and Rotary taught me a lot about myself. I made wonderful friendships and I realized as a focused group you really can make a difference.
When I came up to Toronto in 1996 with my kids, I was basically starting over. I started working in the family printing business in sales. My father had retired at this time and my older brother Tom was the president and my twin Bill was vice-president. Before I came back to Toronto, my brother Tom had already decided that he wanted out of the business and they hired an experienced print sales rep to take over Toms accounts and eventually buy my brother out.  My job was to sell, but that wasn’t enough for me, I hoped that I too would be given the opportunity to become an owner…but let’s face it I had no experience selling point of sale screen printing. So, I kept my nose to the grind-stone learning about the business, the best way to sell it and really what clients would best suit me to go after.  I ended up doing a good job and selling a lot of print at a healthy profit I may add.  It became clear to me that I would never be given the opportunity to become an owner and after the initial let-down, I tried to figure out what else I could do. I decided to become a Real Estate agent, I took the courses while working at Ellis Studios and officially became a Realtor in Apr 2004 and signed up with Royal LePage Signature, I became full-time in 2005. I knew I needed my own business one that whether I fail or succeed would be on my shoulders, no one else. I gave myself 5 years and if I wasn’t where I hoped to be in the business and if it wasn’t fulfilling me, I would find something else to do. From the get-go I figured that for me to be a success, I would need to farm an area, meaning choosing a specific geographic area to market.  Having purchased a townhouse in a pocket of Don Mills, I figured this is where I would start. My goal was to build a consistent, sustainable business and I hoped that my son Julian would eventually join me, he was only 19 at the time.  He is now 33 and has worked with me for over 6 years, I’m very proud of what we have built together.
Now, what brought be back to Rotary, after only 24 years. I happened to be cleaning my office at home and I came across one of the weekly newsletters from the Gros Islet club from 1994, I have to tell you, while reading it, I was transported back in time and remembering all the fun we had and how we were able to make a difference and touch lives. I decided that what I needed was to join Rotary again, if a club would have me! We get so tied up in our day to day lives, raising families, building our careers and I thought it’s time to join again. Lisle my rotary guru in St Lucia advised me to visit 3 clubs and to take my time deciding which club would suit me best. After initially speaking to Jennifer, President of the Toronto Leaside Rotary Club, I instantly had a connection with her.  I will never forget the warm greeting I had from everyone at my first lunch, I felt I was amongst people that were down to earth and really cared about their community. I contacted Lisle afterward and I told him I didn’t need to visit other clubs and that I wanted to become a member of this club, if they would have me and so here I am.
I do have some thoughts as to what I would love to be involved in.
  • Possibly an initiative in the Thorncliffe area, meeting with schools and finding out what needs they have…maybe musical instruments or providing breakfasts to students.  I do believe this could lead to something very meaningful.
  • I love that our club is a champion of Hospice care. I didn’t realize the need for it in Toronto, I have so much to learn, I do hope that we can continue to educate other clubs to this need.
  • A project that is very near and dear to my heart is the St Lucia Knapsack project. This was started years ago by a family friend, Che Emmanuel. He lives in Toronto with his young family. Julian & I have taken part in this project for a number of years. They choose two schools every year to support.  The idea is that you are given a Childs' name and age, you then prepare a school back-pack suited just for them, so it’s not just handing over money, it’s actually packing a school back-pack for an individual child.  We typically provide 20 back packs. It’s really such an amazing feeling and these kids send you back a beautiful hand-written thank you card. I would love if we as a club could get involved in this project. I would like Che to come and speak to us one day. In fact when Beth Ellis and Don & I were visiting the Forest Hill club to talk about the need for Hospice care, I realized that the St Lucia Backpack project is one of their main projects. You know maybe if we take on one of their initiatives they might more apt to give us money for Hospice, you never know.
I really just want to be of service, I realize that as one person you can help but as a focused caring group, what a difference we can make.
Thank you everyone for your time, that’s a little bit about me."