A popular Toronto crossing guard who has served her community for over four decades says she has appreciated every moment of her career after being forced to retire due to health issues.
“I’ve done 43 years. I’ve seen generations go through,” Mona Piper told Global News from hospital where she is recovering.
“I have children that are going to school, who their parents went to school that I’ve crossed — and children of children.”
Piper, who worked as a crossing guard at Cleveland Street and Millwood Road near Bayview and Davisville avenues, recently had a serious fall that caused her leg to be shattered. She is also recovering from a stroke that has affected her eyesight.
As Piper undergoes rehabilitation, she said being a crossing guard was more than a job for her.
“Well, it gets me up in the morning. I’m not laying around in bed,” Piper said.
“I get out and I see the kids and I enjoy them. I really enjoy their conversations and they look forward to seeing me on the corner.”
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In Piper’s 43 years, she said thankfully there have been no collisions involving children at her corner. However, Piper said she wasn’t so lucky one day.
‘After I had crossed the children and I was walking back to the sidewalk … this car made a left turn around and caught my leg. Like I saw him coming, so I jumped to get out of the way but actually my leg didn’t make it,” she said.
“I would have stood there if the kids had been there. I would have stood in front of them. wouldn’t have got hit. I would make sure they didn’t get hit.”
It’s that commitment to safety that got her recognized by the Ontario government Tuesday.
“Thank you Mona for all your many, many years of service,” Education Minister Mitzie Hunter said.
Meanwhile, in Piper’s community, many said her friendly presence is missed.
“Well I’m really sorry for her and I hope she could come back and help us again,” Peter Belolipov, a young student on his way to school, told Global News.
“She’s really nice and I really like her. She helps us, she protects us — she stops cars when we’re trying to cross.”
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Parent Brendan O’Malley said the community was saddened to hear about Piper’s health troubles.
“Mona’s been a fixture in our neighbourhood for a long time. We see her every day. She’s great with the kids, the kids love her,” he said.
“We hope she heals quickly and we wish her the best. We love seeing Mona in the mornings,” Alana Bell, another parent in the neighbourhood, said.
Although Piper won’t be on duty anymore, she won’t be saying goodbye since she lives beside her former crosswalk.
“I’ll be sitting on the veranda and the kids will be going by (saying), ‘Hi Mona,’ and I’ll say hi to them,” Piper said.
With files from Oriena Vuong and Tom Hayes
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.