Gail Hechter

My Story...

I was born and raised in Winnipeg's north end, and grew up in homes on College, Matheson and Smithfield Avenues. I attended Machray and Luxton schools for my elementary education and St. John's for high school. I then attended United College (University of Winnipeg) and the University of Manitoba where I obtained degrees in Arts and Social Work.

My maternal grandparents, Clara and Jacob Margolis, and my paternal grandparents, Rachel and Moses Margolis, all emigrated from Lithuania and settled in Transcona and Winnipeg. My mother Ida was born in Zurich and moved to Winnipeg at the age of two. She married my father Max in 1937. They had three children, my twin brother Gary and I, and my younger brother, Sheldon. In the 1920's, Max and his two brothers, Hymie and Major, founded the Transcona Fruit Home in Transcona, and the Portage Fruit Home and Portage Florists in Winnipeg. In the late 1940's they purchased Dominion Lumber, with yards in Winnipeg and Transcona.

When I was a child we had large extended family gatherings during all of the Jewish Yom Tovim. Both my grandmothers were excellent cooks and we always had delicious food and great fun during these get-togethers. "Big Baba" and "Big Zaida" were the heads of the family, while "Little Baba" and "Little Zaida" were the persons in whom I confided. My family was very active in the Rosh Pina Synagogue, and I had the privilege of having the second Bat Mitzvah to be held there. I also sang in the synagogue choir from the age of 13 to 23. I was a member of B'nai B'rith Girls, and the Council of Christians and Jews as a teenager.

In 1963 I married Ted Hechter and we have three children, a daughter Cheryl born in 1965 and twin sons Benjamin and Joel who were born in 1971. Cheryl now lives in Israel with her husband Doron and two children, Mor and Eden. Joel, an actor, lives in Toronto. Ben, a chef and restaurant manager is currently in Australia.

For a few years I worked as a social worker for the City of Winnipeg Department of Welfare. I was also active as a community volunteer. I served on the boards of Shalom Residences, the Winnipeg chapter of the Hebrew University, Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, Rosh Pina Synagogue and the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre. I am extensively involved with the Kosher Meals on Wheels program and was employed by Meals on Wheels of Winnipeg as a volunteer coordinator for eight years. I feel that this is an extremely important community program, both for the nourishment it provides the body and for the socialization and security it offers the receipient.

I believe that everyone has an obligation to help those in need. In particular I think it is the responsibility of those who have led privileged lives to help those who have not. Then they in turn are more likely to help others and thus make a better life for succeeding generations.