Community Spotlight: Jason Gingrich

5 12 2008

Volunteering is his favourite thing to do

Kara Bertrand
Staff Reporter, Community News South
Published: July 2, 2008

Jason Gingrich, 29, has been volunteering for 14 years. He’s built homes with Habitat for Humanity in Jamaica and Kansas, and been involved in the Mennonite Relief Sale and ‘Rock Revival Air Band Lip Sync.’ Most notably, Gingrich has dedicated countless hours to the J. Steckle Heritage Homestead and its haunted barn over the past 14 years.

On June 12, Gingrich was honoured with the Helping Hands award at the 2008 Volunteer Impact Awards. He said he was surprised at winning.

“I thought I might have a chance, but seeing the other nominees and the age of everybody else, I thought, ‘I won’t come anywhere close to that,’” he said. “They’ve had so many more years to volunteer.”
An electrician by trade, Gingrich uses his expertise to make the haunted barn ‘high-tech.’

“I love the final product of the people that are going through it and how much they love it,” said Gingrich. “That’s what makes the whole year of working on it worth it.”

All the money raised at the haunted barn goes to help out the Steckle family.

“I think it’s important that it goes to them because they’ve been hosting it for so long,” he said. “It’s a great property in what they do with the kids.”

Gingrich went to Jamaica twice and said he would love to go back to build another house with Habitat for Humanity, but can’t afford the expense for the trip.

“It’s important for the habitat build for the families,” he said. “It’s a great thing to help them out – even if it’s far away like Jamaica.”

Gingrich now does the Mennonite Relief Sale mostly as a memorial to his father. There, he helps out making over 2,000 pancakes.

“That’s always fun because we just get family and friends to help out with it,” he said.

Gingrich said the biggest problem with committing so much of his time to volunteering in the community is “lack of pay and not being at work when doing the event.” With the haunted barn, he said he sometimes has problems making sure volunteers can commit to the event. He sometimes has to put in his own money into fundraising in order to make ends meet.

“I wish I had the money where I could do this all the time,” he said. “I would volunteer constantly.”

It’s clear that volunteering is Gingrich’s favourite thing to do and something he doesn’t see himself stopping anytime soon.

For more information on the J. Steckle Heritage Homestead haunted barn happening again this upcoming fall, see their website at

Community Spotlight: Tanner Pearson

5 12 2008

Forest Heights student drafted by Barrie Colts

Kara Bertrand
Staff Reporter, Community News West
Published: June 4, 2008

Every young hockey player wishes to play in the NHL one day and for Ontario players, the OHL is the first big step. For Forest Heights resident, 15-year-old Tanner Pearson, the dream is inches away. At the beginning of May, he was drafted to the Barrie Colts. The draft was posted online and players and parents across Ontario waited anxiously to see their name on the screen.

“The day was pretty long, just sitting there waiting for my name to come up,” Pearson said. “I got pretty anxious and then it came up and the phone wouldn’t stop ringing.” He said he didn’t even see his name in the first place and was scared by his parents’ reaction on a different computer.

Pearson’s OHL dreams were in jeopardy this year after breaking his wrist right before playoffs on his Minor Midget AAA team, the Kitchener Junior Rangers.

“I think the broken wrist was a concern of his; would it affect his draft year or not,” said Pearson’s mother, Kim. “So when he got the letter that was he on the draft list, I think he was very happy just to be sure that he was that far.”

Pearson started playing organized hockey at the age of four and his first memories of playing were from the time he was six.

“I played a year up and I was in a tournament in New Hamburg and I was sick with pneumonia,” he said. “I didn’t want to stay home, I wanted to play.”

“He was fighting us tooth and nail,” said Kim.

She and Pearson’s father, Tim, said he never had to be forced to play, and always put 110 per cent into every game and practice.

“He’s been fortunate enough throughout his hockey here in Kitchener to be called up quite often to play with the older kids and it’s something that continued and helped his game, also pushed him a bit harder,” she said.

Pearson wasn’t the only player from his team who was drafted. His teammate, Derek Schoenmakers, was drafted to the St. Michaels Majors.

“Seeing one of Tanner’s team-mates that he’s played hockey with in Kitchener for nine years also be selected, I thought was great,” said Tim. “We counted up this morning and there were 16 kids that Tanner’s been on a team with throughout his time playing AAA hockey that were selected in the draft.”

Both boys will join their teams for rookie camp, from which up to four players from their age group will be chosen to play with the team next year. Both boys were chosen in the 14th round of picks.
Schoenmakers was drafted about 5 minutes after Pearson. The Schoenmakers’ power went out during the draft and had no way of knowing of the results. They were literally in the dark until a family friend called to tell Derek he was picked. The two friends text messaged back and forth when each was drafted and as Derek said, “it was a unique way to find out” about his draft.

Pearson said his father has been instrumental in his hockey journey.

“He always made me push hard to be the best player I can be,” he said. “He always says I’m going to the gym, working on my shot. Sometimes I complain but it’s all for the better.”

The Pearsons said they have been fortunate to have made so many connections and friends within the hockey community and they look forward to watching Tanner’s friends progress in their hockey careers.

It’s clear just how proud his parents are of Tanner.

“It’s been his dream, so we’re just really excited for him,” said Kim. “It’s the next level he’s been working towards. I think what’s gotten him this far is his passion for the game.”

Hairdressing the Stars: Regan Noble

4 12 2008

A look inside the life of a Toronto-based film, TV and theatre hair stylist

By Kara Bertrand
Fine Cut Magazine
Spring 2007

In a small two room apartment near the heart of the theatre district, lives a woman who is modest about her many accomplishments, including her Emmy. Scattered around her home workshop are hair extensions, wigs, curlers and an assortment of braids. The room isn’t very messy and most items are in drawers, but she worries of the impression it makes. She’s lived in the apartment since she was in her twenties, and the apartment showcases her art, accomplishments, and her past.

“I never got the bug to do this until I was probably 20,” Regan Noble says. “I was always very embarrassed by it because wherever we lived, we were the only ones who did this kind of work. Everyone else were doctors and lawyers and graphic artists.”

Noble was born to theatre parents in Florida and because her father was a theatre professor, he uprooted the family numerous times for work. Noble has lived in Florida, Colorado and Manitoba before settling down in Toronto.

Being a hair stylist was not even on the radar for Noble at a young age, when ‘K-Mart check-out girl’ was the number one dream profession. “They had this smart little uniform on and this big fluffy handkerchief with their name on it, and it was all very glamourous,” she says, miming the handkerchief around her neck. Her face falls a bit. “My mother said no to that.” Noble’s K-Mart life ambitions didn’t last past the age of eight and she decided to go into hair-dressing after a friend suggested it.

Because of Noble’s previous theatre experience, when she first entered the film and television industry, her union initially categorized her as head of department. She says this is one of her biggest regrets and would have liked to understand the industry beyond her department.

“Looking back on it, I wish I had been an assistant to a lot more heads of department, so I could get to see how they handled difficult actors, difficult producers or difficult situations,” she says.

Dawn Rivard first met Noble 20 years ago when she started working at the Canadian Opera Company and still remembers the impression Noble made. “She was straight-forward and honest and it was always in a work environment, so she was always very professional,” she says. Today, Rivard and Noble maintain a strong business relationship. “We work in the same industry, so we overlap a lot,” she says. “We bail each other out.”

Vincent Sullivan, who has worked as a hair dresser in feature films for the past 10 years, met Noble in hair dressing school at Marvel over 20 years ago. “She was older and had picked a new career. She just seemed secure and self-confident,” he says. While he thinks her honesty is one of her greatest strengths, he also thinks it is one of her biggest weaknesses. “If she likes you, then she likes you, and if she doesn’t like you, she doesn’t like you,” says Sullivan. “She has no problem showing it. If you’re on the wrong end of that, it could be bad.”

With the window open, garbage trucks and cars drive by on the street below, hurling slush and water onto the sidewalks on this mild but rainy day. In a tour of the apartment, she showcases her wigs with pride, giving tiny synopses of where each was used. She shows the one she designed for Trump Unauthorized, a biographical tale of Donald Trump, and begins to brush the hair. “It’s a bit messy and dusty,” she says, frowning.

She doesn’t watch award shows, and isn’t interested by the glamour of the industry, nor of the Emmys. “I see it as the business in which it is,” she says. “Everyone has a contribution, no one is more important than anyone else. Without all of us, nothing would be put up there and no one should use anyone else as a crutch.”

Her Emmy is on her mantle. She won it in 2002 for Feast of All Saints, a TV mini-series on Showtime based on an Anne Rice novel of the same name. The statue looks to have been recently polished. Beside it sits her award from the Hollywood Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild, which she won for the same film. She apologizes because it needs to be buffed and dusted. She explains that appearances can be deceiving, as she believes it to be more of an honour to have won the Guild award since it was given to her by her peers.

She says winning her Emmy did not change her life in any way and she continues to jump through hoops at every job interview. “One person that I worked with years ago won an Emmy and she said, ‘It’s the kiss of death.’ “Maybe with you, sweetheart!” Noble laughs and then becomes serious quite fast. “I wouldn’t say it’s the kiss of death for me, but it really hasn’t helped at all. To me, it says, ‘Okay, Regan, you’re on the right track, you haven’t screwed up. At least you still know what you’re doing.’”

Noble has encountered all sorts of people, and communication breakdowns on set are what she sources as her worst experience in the industry.

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned in film is that no one’s looking after you but you,” she says. “If you don’t like the food they’re serving, bring your own. If you don’t like having to wait for anything, then bring your own car. Go around everything.”

When Noble was asked how long she will be in the industry, she says without hesitation, “Until I retire, absolutely. I start to think, ‘what else do I want to do?’ Nothing.”

And besides, Noble says, “There’s nothing like a seat in the wings.”

Click for a condensed version of the article, which appeared in the magazine: Hair Tales.