Whitby celebrates 'Miss Maria' for 30 years as crossing guard

Maria Stasinakis immigrated to Whitby, Ont., from Greece in 1977, saying she did not speak a word of English and she didn’t have a job.

That all changed when she found out there was a need for a crossing guard in her community. She applied for the position, and the Town of Whitby hired her.

Thirty years later, Stasinakis is still helping children safely cross the street, and has become such a familiar face in her community that many people refer to her as “Miss Maria.”

“For me, that’s nice to hear that,” she says.

“I’ve walked past her every day, so I’ve known her for a very long time,” said Aunri Lounds, a 12-year-old student attending Robert Munsch Public School, which is beside Stasinakis’s current post. “She’s really nice.”

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She says meeting new people on the job throughout the years has helped her learn to speak English. “I talk with the kids, with the parents and I learned a lot of English,” said the 67-year-old.

Staskinakis says she has no plans to retire anytime soon, and many people in the Whitby community say they’re happy she’s here to stay.

“It’s so good to see a happy, smiley face in the morning,” said Ricardo Gerardi, a parent of four who lives in the neighbourhood.

Lynn Nazarko says Maria often helps her grandchildren cross the street. “Maria really makes you feel welcome,” she said.

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“She doesn’t take much time off,” said Whitby’s lead crossing guard and program facilitator, Faye Simic. “She is a very dedicated employee.”

The Town of Whitby will be honouring Stasinakis at a luncheon, celebrating its longtime crossing guards, and gifting a special pin to Stasinakis later this month to commemorate her 30-year milestone.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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