It’s a busy Monday at the Cummings Centre Boutique on Westbury Avenue, and hard at work is long-time volunteer Fanny Leffell who greets everyone with a warm smile.
Leffell turned 100 years old that day. But it doesn’t seem to be a big deal to her. Just another day, she shrugs.
Still, Lefell credits working at the Boutique with helping her reach the centenary milestone. She has worked at the Boutique for some 20 years, coming in faithfully each and every Monday to help customers with their purchases.
“Customers come in and often ask me my opinion on what’s good,” she said. “On one occasion they told me they were going to England for a visit and I suggested Canadian maple syrup. The bottle has the maple leaf on it.”
Of course, they left with the bottle, which she gift-wrapped.
“Everybody likes to give and receive presents and we have the merchandise to suit the occasion,” she says, interrupting the conversation to greet another customer. “My passion is working at the Boutique.”
Over the years, she has seen happy customers develop into friendships. “That’s why I like coming here, meeting people,” added Lefell, a lifelong Montrealer. “I’m a people person.”
Over her years of volunteering, Lefell has seen the changes – all for the better. The Boutique has grown bigger, from its original location in the front entrance hallway to a more recognizable retail store that raises important funds for the centre. That means more items to choose from. “First-timers are surprised by the selection,” she said.
“Fanny is one of the best sales persons and gift wrappers, an incredible lady, always smiling and happy,” says co-worker Barbara Mintzberg, “A hard worker, a gem and full of life.”