Eric Van De VeireWhere did you grow up?

Born in and resided in Wallaceburg Ontario until age 12. Moved to Chatham to complete grade 8 and high school. Starting at a new school and having to make a new group of friends was a daunting obstacle at that age. To make things even more difficult, all the numerous sports that I was enrolled in had to switch to Chatham as well. While this was another difficult stumbling block, looking back I think that this was my greatest advantage. Being part of the Chatham flag football league, Chatham Kent cougars football and Chatham-Kent minor hockey and ball hockey in the summer helped me to make connections in the community prior to completing my last year of elementary school. This aided in my assimilation into high school by already having friends and peers to look to at CKSS. This also encouraged me to join high school sports, further widening my social circle. All the while still having a major passion for the game of lacrosse. Which I grew up playing and continued to play in Wallaceburg, maintaining my social relationships in my home town as well. In retrospect, if the move had to be made, it was made at the right time. Even if it took a longer then ideal time to realize it. This allowed me to think of Chatham not as a strange new set of barriers, but as a new home.

What was your first job? 

Working for my father at his self built family business Van De Veire Recycling. This was another blessing in disguise in ways I wouldn't realize until much later in life. My father worked for himself and by himself almost all his life. While he was fair and understanding he was also a very hard worker. This is something he instilled in me sort of indirectly. It was never stated what his expectations were but rather a "learn by example" type of environment. He would not directly tell me I was slacking by comparison, rather gently assure me to work safe and then proceed to show me the expectations he had for himself. This in turn showed me the ideal of doing something is only really worth doing if it is done to 100 percent of your ability and that anything less then is a waste of a gift. I like to think the lessons I learned back then, that maybe didn't sink in as quickly as they should have, prepared me for the future. A silent lesson of sorts, that when finally coming to light, hits home in a more meaningful way. He always said a life worth living involves hard work and family. An ideal that rings true to me more and more with every passing year.

What is your favourite Chatham-Kent pastime? 

It is hard to pin point a single worth while pastime available to local Chathamites. Being centralized around so many outlying attractions makes it an easy place to live and enjoy yourself. It remains difficult to settle on what I enjoy most depending on the time of year. In the summer months, whether its going for a trip to Erieau beach for a day in the sun, or spending a weekend off grid in the nature filled sites of Rondeau to testing your patience on one of the several excellent golf courses surrounding Chatham Kent (one of my personal favorites). There are many group activities that draw a lot of attention as well. If you have never been out to Chatham Kent's own corn maze I highly recommend it. Something as easy as taking a drive out to Parks Blueberries to pick a pint of the best fruit around... all while maybe eating a few along the way. In the middle of winter, if there is a winter at all, Chatham is loaded with what seems to be a never ending amount of secret frozen ponds or rivers if a family skate on the ice interests you. If the outdoors frightens you more then you care to admit all 3 of Chatham's local arenas have open skates all winter long. If we are lucky enough get snow and you're looking for a "put the kids to bed" activity Kingston hill has an adequate tobogganing terrain that has given me many memories over the years. On the other hand, if some solitude is more your cup of tea, I recommend (only to the brave) testing your luck with a rod and reel either on the ice out at Mitchell's Bay or in the summer at one of the hundreds of secret or not so secret fishing spots scattered around Chatham Kent. Even if you're looking for something a tad more simple on a lazy Sunday or Monday or Tuesday etc. Chatham has some of the best variety of local restaurants all that seem to still believe in giving you a good hearty meal for a fair price. While i don't know if this could be classified as a pastime, it is one of my all time favorite things to do. Whether its famous slice of pizza from the original 241 pizza for a mid day snack or that worry free comfort food style fish and chips from the Grand Castle Cafe. Even if your looking to jazz it up for a night on the town, Rozzini's Italian restaurant is an excellent place to start and finishing a Frendz for a tall glass of whatever suits your fancy. No matter what your vice. This is the place to be.

Name an experience that has positively motivated you.

As much as it may seem counter relative to this article, the one experience that positively motivated me was actually moving away from the Chatham-Kent area. Around the start of 2015 I had this sensation of stagnation. I had started work directly out of high school and there I was 4 years later looking around at the place I worked and the people I worked with and saw that nothing had changed and that the prospect of change was not as much in my favour as I would have liked it to be. After some serious deliberation with some very important people in my life, I packed my bags and headed for Toronto. My girlfriend was enrolled in school at the time at Glendon College, the French campus of York University. You could say she had a "minor" impact in the decision to move up there with her. Nevertheless, I found myself making the trip east with only a place to live and no job leads or prospects, just a underlying sensation that if I didn't make a change soon I would miss the window to do so. I had only brought a bag full of clothes and some other minor conveniences I owned because I was unsure if this drastic life change was going to stick or if it was only a sad attempt and I'd end up back where I started. Little did I know going back was never going to be an option, at least not in the foreseeable future. So, I hit the pavement for the next month or so looking for anyone who would give me a chance to make the changes I was trying to make. On April 1 st of that year, after making many trips to and from Toronto, I landed my first gig in the big city. This was a beginning of sorts and in the following weeks I made 2 more trips down the 401 to finalize the move that I was later told was "happening no matter what". This was the catalyst in a series of opportunities that set in motion the life I never knew I could have. After progressing from one job to the next gaining more life experiences and maturity, my future was being solidified despite where I was or what I was doing. I have my family and friends, but most of all my girlfriend to thank for the love and support I received while entertaining this venture. After almost two years of living in Toronto and finally getting settled and comfortable with the big city life style, our thoughts migrated to settling down or at least beginning the process. This provoked ideas of where would be the ideal place to do so. While I had now assimilated into a big city life and mentality I knew deep down that I was a small town kind of guy and That if I was blessed enough to raise a family I would want to do it in a way that I was raised. In a smaller town where my family is and people are genuine. This was a consensus between me and my partner and was the seed in the decision we made to move back to the town we grew up in. This entire experience and the depth and growth I acquired not only positively motivated me, but secured my future.

What are you doing now? 

I am currently working as a Sales Associate at Van Kesteren Hyundai. This only adds to the depth of my experience because of the over whelming reputation of this establishment. Van Kesteren's has the highest regard for customer service and maintaining a family oriented style of business. This really spoke to me coming from a large family and an ideal that family is above all. This left me with an overwhelming draw to this place of business. Before even walking through the door I had learned about how top notch this company is in regards to their customers. I've found that it is a common belief that every customer that enters our store is family and should be treated as such. In a world where business and businesses are surrounded by the greed of money, it is a breath of fresh air and an honour to work for a company that is still doing it the right way.