For the past decade, Jacinto (Jake) Apacible has been stopping traffic at a busy East York intersection to allow Northlea Elementary and Middle School students to get to and from school safely.
The 78-year-old was rewarded for his service with a special award at the School Crossing Guard Long Service Awards on April 16 at Toronto City Hall.
Inspector Suzanne Walsh and Staff Sergeant Matt Moyer made the presentation on behalf of 53 Division, where Apacible is assigned.
Last December, he was one of four crossing guards across Canada who won the national crossing guard contest organized by Parachute – a national organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives – and FedEx Express.
Students, teachers and parents submitted hundreds of nominations praising their crossing guards’ abilities to go above and beyond the call duty.
“Jake is affectionately known, very well received and loved by his community,” Moyer said.
A member of the Philippine Armed Forces for 17 years prior to migrating to Canada in 1994, Apacible said he relishes going to work every day to take care of the students’ safety.
The Markham resident takes a bus to Finch Station and gets on the subway to Eglinton station, where he hops on another bus going eastbound to his crossing at Rumsey Rd. and Broadway Ave. The one-way journey to work takes approximately 80 minutes.
“Back in the Philippines, I had a lot of respect for the guards who helped my grandchildren to get to school,” he said. “That’s why I love doing this job which is interesting and challenging.”
Antonio DeMare and Roslyn Wharton were the 25-year award recipients.
“I was going to Victoria Park station when a police officer approached me and politely asked if I would be interested in becoming a crossing guard,” recalled Wharton. “I took up the offer because I was unemployed at the time.”
Giovanni Mancuso, the school crossing guard of the year winner, was unable to attend the ceremony because of illness.
The 73-year-old has been performing his duties for the past six years at Lawrence Ave. W. and Bathurst St.
“This is a four-way intersection controlled by traffic lights and he has to be extremely alert,” said Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee. “He crosses children from both Catholic and Jewish schools and anyone else requiring his assistance.”
Since Jewish schools follow a different schedule, Mancuso works six days weekly, including Sundays and most statutory holidays. He’s also trains new crossing guards.
“Giovanni displays a commendable work ethic and commitment to duty and he’s a true inspiration,” Mukherjee added.
Mukherjee said Mancuso and other crossing guards are Toronto’s unsung heroes.
“Keeping neighbourhoods and communities safe is one of our main priorities and your work is without question absolutely essential for achieving this priority,” noted Mukherjee. “This annual event is for us a moment – though a modest one – when we say thank-you for what you do and of recognizing significant milestones.
“Your role extends beyond our children getting to school safely. You also provide a friendly smile and helping hand day in and day out. You know the names, you greet them warmly and, as a result, you are loved and respected by children in your communities.”
Deputy Chief Mark Saunders represented Chief Bill Blair at the annual ceremony at Toronto City Hall.
“You not only do the right thing with pride and passion, but you also do it with a smile on your faces,” he said. “When I am driving to work daily, there is no greater joy than when I have the opportunity of seeing school guards at intersections. It tells me that those boys and girls in that area are going to make it safely to and from school.”
Lucille Nadon and Darlene Pratt were recognized for 40 and 30 years’ service, respectively, while Swaran Singh, Brandon Pilch and Baldev Singh-Rakhra were the 20-year service winners.
Samuel Reid, Vasco Azevedo, Patrick Gonsalves, Michelle Schinzano, Sandra Wheatley, Paraskevi Roats, Steve Kampilis, Nellie Gilbert, Marianne Griffiths, Brian Weatherbed, Sandra Knight, Pedro Atienza, Pacifico Legaspi, Syvia Flight and Florencio Salvador were honoured for 15 years of service.
The 10-year award recipients were Kapur Sahota, Kathleen Byers, Pauline Parsons, Paul Novisediak, Anastasia Maltezos, Martin Diaz, Mukesh Patel, Mary Petrou, Ronald Quintilian, Luciano Dolz, Sherry Crewe, Myrna Shaw, Angel Guzman, Jacinto Apacible, David Bussey, Jagdish Mehra and Frank Carney.
Roseallie Francois, Joseph Mendonca, Stephen Haines, Robert Buchan, Jamil Ahmed, Vivette Panton, Ripu Sharma, Bebe Yusaf, Bogoja Malakovski, Gheorghe Moraru, Geoffrey Schofield, Jayasoorian Gasperon, Thomas Walsh, Gurmeet Bhumbia, Andre Gray, Janice Hally, Ramji Bhumbia, Joseph Cernyakovich, John Hayes, Fred Parchment, Matilda Zadra, Kuldip Shergill, James Dunn, Kashmir Rupalon, Jean Cummins, Maria Sousa, Woo-Suk Kang, Cathy Millar, Tesfu Habtemariam, Arpita Mukherjee, Monique Dawes, Giovanni Mancuso, Francesco DiLollo, Patricia Tonner, Leslie Malcolm, Licinia DaSilva, Teresa Pye, Rita Slapsys, Elfenesh Tekabo, Christina Kampili, Hemakumary Visvanathan, Bonipatrio Camaya, Raymond Monckton, Julija Papic, Mariquena Datu, Ernesto Grimaldo, Grace Xie, John O’Brien and Elena Oliva were the five-year honourees.
Co-ordinated by Traffic Services, the school crossing guard program has 598 full-time and 100-part-time employees.