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Legacy Awards - 2015 Recipients
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Announcing
the Recipients of 2015 Legacy Awards!

 

After receiving close to 100 nominations, we are delighted to announce the recipients of the 2015 Legacy Awards!

Volunteer Toronto’s Legacy Awards celebrates 25 Toronto volunteers for their outstanding contributions to the community. From mentors to fundraisers to educators, the Awards shine a light on the secret superheroes whose efforts are often unknown outside their local community.

On April 13th, during National Volunteer Week, a private ceremony will take place with the winners, nominators and special guests to celebrate their achievements. 

Media are invited and press passes should be arranged in advance through Ainsley Kendrick.

 

View photos from the 2015 Legacy Awards Ceremony

 


Selection Committee  

A special thank you to our selection committee who voluntarily spent hours going over the nominations.  

David Allen - Executive Director, Volunteer Toronto
Mack Rogers - Board Secretary, Volunteer Toronto
Mazlin Darsi - Manager, Voluntary Sector Relations Unit, Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade
George Kopulos - 2011 Award Winner and Aphasia Institute Volunteer
Bhavik Mistry - 2011 Award Winner
Leilani Morales - 2011 Award Winner

 


 

 

 

 

Award Recipients

Click on their name to view their biographies

Khadija Aziz
Murray Bender
Kathy Bodnar
Yves Boucher
Crystal Castelino
Paul Chamberlain 

Simon Chamberlain
Edward Chin
Deborah Crane
J. Francis Cooke
Sheilah Currie
John Davis

Carol Deighton
Susan Dentelbeck
Tamara Doerksen
Leslie Ferguson
Audrey Guth
Colleen Kenny

Alan Miller
Randy Phipps
Lauren Rudolph
Cleo Simmonds
Margaret Smuk
Evan Tapper
Kevin Vuong


 
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Khadija Aziz, Youth Arts Advocate

Khadija Aziz

Khadija is an 18-year old youth leader and arts advocate in her community of Thorncliffe Park as well as in other communities. Her belief that all youth should be encouraged to explore arts and take on leadership roles has resulted in several successful community events and the growth of youth leaders in her community. She co-founded, curated, and was the Art Director of her community's first youth-led art show called Thorncliffe Artscape. This event offered volunteer opportunities, leadership roles and a platform for students from neighbouring schools to exhibit their artwork for the first time in a public setting. When Khadija became the President of her school’s Art Council in Grade 11, she created new policies that opened the Council’s doors to students of all levels of artistic talents. Her passion and advocacy for the arts influenced an increase in student participation and engagement at her school. Recently, Khadija facilitated the creation of two live murals in downtown Toronto where twenty-four students put their artistic skills to use by painting two 5ft by 5ft canvasses that would be displayed at a youth shelter in Etobicoke. She is currently working on an independent project that will introduce Grade 10 students from her former high school to public art, offer them a first-hand experience painting a mural in the community’s local mall. Go to www.khadijaaziz.ca to view her work. 

Afsheen Aziz, who nominated Khadija says, 

“I think the unique and extraordinary thing about what she did for her community was that she did it self-willingly with a deep passion to enhance the experiences of youth in her community. Her leadership and initiative to bring our community together is very inspirational to her peers and it also influences other youth to be leaders as well.”

Find out what Khadija has to say about her volunteering experience!

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Murray Bender, YMCA GTA Volunteer

Murray Bender

Shortly after arriving in Toronto nearly 30 years ago, Murray joined the Central YMCA and registered for the Volunteer Leadership Course. His primary goal was to meet people of diverse backgrounds and cultures, improve his wellness level and give back to his community. Murray’s longtime dream of helping others came to fruition as he was entrusted to lead not one but four classes per week as a volunteer. In spite of being new to the city, and having a full time job at RBC, he enthusiastically accepted the challenge. For the past 28 years, he has committed his time with discipline and perseverance. He has never missed a class in 25 years! He practices remarkable relationship building, has made very close friends with members in his class, including his partner whom he met in the early RunFit “hey days.” At the conclusion of his RunFit classes, Murray always stays behind and recommends ways to improve fitness, injuries to avoid and specialists to be consulted by those who need closer attention and help. He is one of a kind.  

 

His nominator, Faiza Venzant says,  

“He recruits and trains Runfit volunteers to face future challenges. He gives his time to those members who need close attention due to personal or health problems. He exemplifies the quality of an outstanding, dedicated volunteer, who possess personal integrity and a thoughtful communicative style.”

Find out what Murray has to say about his volunteering experience!

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Kathy Bodnar, Mentor with The Peer Project

Kathy Bodnar

Kathy has always encompassed a passion for volunteering, exemplified by her 12-year commitment to The Peer Project (TPP), which has provided peer mentoring services to over 30,000 at-risk children in Toronto. Kathy was drawn to TPP after growing up under the care of a single mother and experiencing first-hand the impact that one positive role model can create. At 16, she became a mentor and was matched with her mentee, Tara. Spending more than 3 hours per week together for 12 years, Kathy has been a constant, positive influence in Tara’s life. In 2011, she joined the Board of Directors as their youngest member. She was then nominated to Board Treasurer in 2014, devoting time and resources to improving TPP’s strategy, operations and fundraising. Kathy also plans one of TPP’s largest events, a 24-hour-Spinathon, where she devotes 26 straight hours to fundraising for the program. The Spinathon raised over $100,000, with Kathy raising $11,000 on her own. Through her work, Kathy also volunteered with Junior Achievement and in 2012, she joined Endeavour Volunteer Consulting for Non-Profits, where she worked with a charity to create their strategic and sustainability plans over a 6-month period. 

Mona Dogen, who nominated Kathy, says  

“Kathy is incredibly talented and committed, both civically and philanthropically, and she is without question one of the most outstanding and dedicated volunteers that TPP has known in its 38 year existence. She is the epitome of volunteerism and commitment, and we are very fortunate to have her on our team.”

Find out what Kathy has to say about her volunteering experience!

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Yves with his dog, Betty - Volunteers with Gilda's Club

Yves Boucher

Yves, with every fiber of his being is a shining example of someone who goes above and beyond in the best of times and also in the most difficult of times. A City of Toronto Fire Fighter, in 2008 he was diagnosed with a stage 3-4 brain tumor and was told he could expect to live at best another 5 years. Despite the side effects of the surgery and the radiation/chemotherapy, he was still driven to help others. Aided by his mentor, the late Dr. Robert Buckman, he embraced his new twist in life through great conversations about mortality. At Gilda's Club of Greater Toronto, Yves quickly went from being a member to volunteering his time to encourage others to heal. His positive attitude resulted in him being invited to join the 20/30’s group as a volunteer, as well as becoming a peer facilitator for the Men's Network Group. He is a constant fixture in the clubhouse helping build fences, shovel snow and doing anything else that is needed. In the summer, through his work with the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, Yves and his dog Betty volunteered weekly at Bridgepoint Hospital, visiting patients and providing inspiration for their rehabilitative therapy. When asked by patients and visitors to the hospital about the surgery scar on his head, he replies “Don’t worry it’s just cancer!” He has helped raise over $25,000 for the Pencer Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital where he continues to receive his treatment. Yves has also worked with the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer serving as a patient representative at physician conferences to present his perspective, so physicians can understand what it must be like to be given the diagnosis of cancer.              

His nominator, Nicki Gallo says,  

“He inspires those around him just by being who he is. Despite his prognosis, Yves has managed to prove the doctors wrong and has passed the 5-year life expectancy he was given. He believes this is due to a combination of his treatments and his positive attitude towards life. He is a man that is defined by his deeds and contributions, not by his diagnosis.”

Find out what Yves has to say about his volunteering experience!

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Crystal, Founder of Abuse:Survival Stories

Crystal Castelino

In 2012, a few years after leaving an abusive relationship, Crystal founded Abuse: Survival Stories, an event series that creates a platform for survivors and those going through abuse to experience the power of sharing their stories. For many survivors of abuse, it stands as a place of solace and understanding for anyone looking to take an important step in the healing process by speaking out. Funding it out of her own pocket, Crystal saw the event as her own gift to the world, a place for peace and healing for all. She continually educates herself on abuse and psychology, and attends leadership development workshops so that she can provide the type of space survivors are looking for. Those who attend the event do so regularly and often bring along family and friends to help in their healing process. The event is open to men, women, survivors and supporters alike with the purpose of restoring survivors' faith in the opposite sex, and in those who haven't experienced abuse by emphasizing the compassion that exists within us all.  

 

Her nominator, Cheryl Fernandez says,  

“Being a survivor myself, these events have greatly impacted my life in a very positive way. Abuse: Survival Stories has provided me with the confidence and self-esteem that I needed to continue to thrive and share my story.”

Find out what Crystal has to say about her volunteering experience!

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Paul Chamberlain, volunteer with Amici Charity and Camp Awakening

Paul Chamberlain

Paul has been involved with registered charities Amici Camping Charity and Camp Awakening since their founding, in 1966 and 1982 respectively. He has volunteered for almost every role at Amici from special events to programs to fundraising. During a difficult period at Camp Awakening, he stepped up and served as Interim Executive Director during an18 month period of transition and now volunteers on the Board of Directors where he helps with staff training, finance and fundraising. As a retired school teacher he has a sincere investment in youth development and is dedicated to providing safe, fun and active experiences for youth in Ontario, especially those facing barriers to participation such as kids from low income families and youth with physical disabilities. He also serves as registrar and house league co-ordinator for the North York Baseball Association; volunteer canoeing & water safety instructor at Kilcoo Camp in Minden as well as volunteer editor of the alumni newsletter; and he has served as president of the Board of his Concorde Park condo complex for the past 6 years.              

His nominator, Tracy Morley says,  

“Paul is selfless, kind, funny, patient, dedicated, focused and genuine. He has a huge heart and a passion for his community and deserves to be recognized for his decades of exemplary volunteer service.”

Find out what Paul has to say about his volunteering experience!

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Simon Chamberlain, Lead Organizer of the Pearen Park Skating Rink

Simon Chamberlain

10 years ago, in an effort to resuscitate the Mount Dennis community association, Simon became a strong voice actively leading community clean-ups and projects to bring people together. Over the past three winters, Simon has been the driving force behind the creation, organization and supervision of one of the best resident driven projects in Mount Dennis - An Outdoor Community Skating rink in Pearen Park. Simon spends 30-50 hours a week volunteering at the outdoor rink organizing one of Toronto's few "Learn to Skate Programs." Having partnered with the city, he now voluntarily manages a small "Skate Hut" where he and other volunteers spend hours tying up the skates of hundreds of people each week, introducing them to the sport. He keeps meticulous care of the over 60 + pairs of donated skates as well as stores and records the names of hundreds of new skaters who started learning to skate on the rink - enjoying an outdoor sport they would not normally be exposed to.  

 

His nominator, Jean-Marie Boutot says,  

“Mount Dennis lacks resources. No community centres, no gathering places and is in one of the most economically depressed ridings in Ontario. We have next to nothing as far as 'Community Assets" of any kind. That’s why Simon and the Pearen Park St Community Skating rink means so much to so many. Our very diverse community is made up of many newcomers to Canada and this rink is fast becoming a winter welcoming centre to the children and parents who are struggling to settle in Canada and don't have these winter traditions or customs. His time and focus has been extraordinary and the community would like to recognize him.”

Find out what Simon has to say about his volunteering experience!

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Edward Chin, Founder of Gloves For Guns

Edward Chin

Edward has been an extraordinary “behind the scenes” force in his North York community by volunteering his time and services to many organizations and programs. He has fed the hungry through the Meals on Wheels program; walked tirelessly for campaigns such as Dad’s Walk, Walk for AIDS Cure, and most recently the Leukemia Walk For A Cure. As a single father, he knows the importance of a solid education and as a member of the Parent Counsel and the Program Advocacy Group of the CUPE 4400, has volunteered time to ensure African History programs remain in the Toronto school curriculum. He joined forces with a community church and put together a “Back to School Drive” to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary school supplies needed to do well in school. In 2013, Mr. Chin became a Reverend and founded "Gloves 4 Guns," a non-profit organization that gives young people a ray of hope by using sports and mentoring as a community support system. The project operates in both Canada and Jamaica and aims to give a brighter future to youth who feel that a life of violence, crime and despair are their only options.

Before Edward was introduced to softball, he was headed down a vicious path living his life in Jamaica. Many of his friends were on Jamaica's top 10 most wanted list and his lifestyle was full of violence, devastation and uncertainty. Guns were a routine part of his life; he was in and out of jail and had the horrific experience of being shot in the shoulder. One day he was invited by a friend to play in a softball game happening that afternoon. That was the day he replaced his life of guns with a softball glove by joining the Invaders Softball Club. This experience inspired him to give back to young people who are at risk of falling into a life of hopelessness through the same game that changed his life.  

His nominator, Hope Reader says,  

“The extraordinary thing about what Edward is doing is how much genuine love and passion he puts into what he does. He himself had a very bad start in life and through community programs he was able to overcome and the fact that he put his pride aside and gave back is so amazing. He gives of himself without thought of his own personal needs and he never does anything for recognition or praise.”

Find out what Edward has to say about his volunteering experience!

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Deborah Crane, Community Organizer

Deborah Crane

Deborah Crane is an active community organizer. She saw a need to connect the youth in her St. Lawrence community with programs and services to help better their lives and improve their chances at staying out of trouble, finishing high school and finding employment. She volunteers on the Community Police Liaison Committee, a group that has partnered with the Toronto Police Service – 51 Division, to organize an annual basketball tournament, which is now going into its 6th year. She also organizes “Know Your Rights” and “Know Your Police” workshops to educate the community on their rights and connect youth to local police in a safe and non-threatening space. She spends countless hours organizing food and clothing drives as well toy drives during the Christmas season. She also spends time helping youth with their resumes and interview skills to prepare them for school or employment. She has significantly impacted the lives of seven youth from her community who, 3 years ago, were involved in illegal activities that could have resulted in jail time. Now, these youth are enrolled at George Brown College and working part-time. Five of them volunteer to coach basketball in the community.  

Her nominator and son, Kurtis Crane says,  

“My mom lives for this and her passion comes out in everything she does. Not only does she organize these events but she will let the youth take over. They are learning so many skills by doing this; budgeting skills, communication skills, organizing, event promotion, mathematical skills and it gives them something to do and to look forward to. She is known as “mom” to many youths and kids in our community and will help anyone in need.”

Find out what Deborah has to say about her volunteering experience!

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J. Francis, President of the Parkwoods Minor Hockey League

J. Francis Cooke

Francis has been volunteering for the Parkwoods Minor Hockey League for six years. Married with 4 young children, Francis still finds time to devote countless hours as a coach and league President. He tirelessly promotes the league and maintains Parkwoods’ philosophy as a true “community” hockey league. Under Francis’ leadership, Parkwoods has had enviable success with consistently full-capacity enrollment, tremendous community support, balanced finances, and an exceptional participation rate (40-45%) in Select hockey. In addition to his leadership role at the league, Francis is a committed volunteer coach who has inspired and motivated both players and parents as well as encouraging girls and children from immigrant families to participate in the sport. Over the past five years, Francis has often coached not just one team, but multiple teams at the same time. Kids love to play hockey at Parkwoods because it is fun regardless of gender, skill and financial capacity. Francis’ philosophy on sportsmanship, character and friendship building will have a lasting impact on the lives of boys and girls in the league making their Parkwoods days some of their fondest memories.  


 

His nominator, Jennifer Zhang says,  

“As captain of the ship, Francis leads by example through hard work, dedication, respect, collaboration, service and generosity. Not only has he taught the kids hockey skills but he has also taught them life lessons that will help them develop into responsible and successful young adults. He goes above and beyond his bench duty to build character and teach life lessons. He is a mentor and educator that parents trust to guide and influence their kids.”

Find out what J. Francis has to say about his volunteering experience!


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Sheilah Currie
Sheilah Currie, Founder of ReadUP!

Sheilah Currie

In 2005, in response to a need identified by newcomer clients at Eastview Community Centre, Sheilah Currie started a free, weekly reading club for children. Using her experience as a children’s book author and former Reading Recovery teacher in Toronto schools, she developed a program where the reading skills of each child attending a reading club were carefully assessed, then matched each week with a “book bag” of materials which the child reads with a volunteer, and takes home to practice. Aptly named “ReadUP,” the program now provides free reading support for 286 children at six (6) Toronto locations including: Eastview, Parent Resources Drop-In Centre, two Red Door Family Shelters, Duke of Connaught Public School, and a club serving both the Roden Junior Public School and Equinox Holistic Alternative School. With the support of 65 active volunteers, ReadUP has helped hundreds of children, many of whom are from newcomer families, as they acquire the skills they need to become confident readers who will enjoy reading and the academic success good reading skills can bring.              

 
Her nominator, Maureen Kenny says,    


“Throughout the 10 years since Sheilah first started her “Book Bag and Reading Club” at Eastview, she has worked tirelessly on a volunteer basis. She has personally chosen and purchased the reading books for the “book bags,” has done the assessments of reading skill levels for each child in every reading club, has organized and trained the volunteers, advised parents, interacted with and monitored each child’s progress, and has developed a computer record system to support the program.”

Find out what Sheilah has to say about her volunteering experience!

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John Davis, Past Board President
Ronald McDonald House Toronto

John Davis

For over 15 years, John Davis has held a senior position at Ronald McDonald House Toronto moving from President of the Board (2003-2011) to serving on the Board as the Chairman of the Family Room Committee (2011-Present). He has played a key role in the expansion of the organization by leading the construction of the new Ronald McDonald House Charities Toronto. The new house can now support 780 families, roughly 580 more families than the previous house. He developed the transition plan, helped in the recruitment of senior staff for the organization and brought financial stability through the recruitment of expert, active and experienced Board members. He also played a major role in the expansion of the House’s Family Rooms by helping in the development of the strategic plan by plotting the growth of the new spaces within hospital walls. He is now a member of their Mission Committee and continues to support through active input into the management and support of their rapidly expanding organization.  

 

His nominator, Deborah Holmes says,  

“He has the ability to bring the best out of everyone, creating teams who are driven to fulfill the mission and the vision of the organization.”

Find out what John has to say about his volunteer experience!

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Carol, volunteer with the Adoption Council of Ontario

Carol Deighton

Carol has been a champion volunteer at the Adoption Council of Ontario (ACO) for more than 10 years. After adopting two boys from foster care, she immediately got involved with ACO in a number of ways. She became a Parent Educator at their monthly “How to Adopt Sessions,” became the Education Committee Coordinator involved in planning education days for parents and professionals, has been the FunWalk Games Coordinator for 6 years and is also part of the Youth Network Parent support group. Quite simply, Carol is willing to help in any way she can at any time. Her house and garage are filled to the rafters with supplies and prizes. She gathers her friends together regularly to get things done and donates her time and money to cover the cost of the items she purchases. As an event, FunWalk raises $30,000 for ACO and is enjoyed by 250-300 people each year. Carol works about 1,000 hours on each event, including the time she brings friends and colleagues together for 'work” parties.  

 

Her nominator, Pat Convery says  

“Carol is the most energetic and positive person I have ever known. Carol is always willing to help with any task asked of her. I cannot count how often we say ' Can Carol do this?' The answer is always - yes!"

Find out what Carol has to say about her volunteer experience!

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Susan Dentelbeck, Volunteer Referral Counselor at Volunteer Toronto

Susan Dentelbeck

Susan joined Volunteer Toronto as a volunteer Interviewer 11 years ago and has given over 1000 hours of her time each year until the fall of 2014. In her role, Susan was responsible for conducting interviews with a variety of individuals and attempting to secure suitable volunteer positions for them. During her time at Volunteer Toronto, Susan helped at least 7,000 people find volunteer opportunities. Whether it was a young person trying volunteering for the first time, a newcomer who had just arrived in the country,  a person ordered by the court to volunteer or an elderly person looking for something gratifying to do in their retirement, she was a fountain of knowledge and was an instrumental part of their volunteer journey. Susan is a pleasant and humorous person who brought liveliness to the organization. Her feedback and suggestions were helpful in revamping our website and making it more user-friendly. She improved internal procedures for interviewing potential volunteers. and teamed up with staff members to brainstorm ideas to help them overcome various obstacles regarding the interview process. Ultimately, her understanding of the public helped the organization become more accessible to the community.  

Her nominator, Niranjala Mariathas says,  

“Susan was always so patient. She took her time with clients, helping them feel comfortable and at ease with her sense of humour. Many people come in without any idea of what they’re looking for, but by the end of the interview they were aware of all the possibilities in store for them – and it’s all thanks to Susan’s ability to understand and delve into a person’s interests and personality.”

Find out what Susan has to say about her volunteering experience!

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Tamara Doerksen, Founder of Lonny's Smile

Tamara Doerksen

Tamara is the Founder and CEO of Lonny’s Smile Foundation, a children's initiative launched in 2010 to honour the memory of Tamara’s brother, Lonny Brent Doerksen. Lonny passed away in 1971 at the age of five after surgery to correct a congenital heart defect. Lonny’s Smile Foundation helps children with medical challenges to experience the typical elements of childhood such as play, friendship, laughter and adventure. Under Tamara’s leadership, Lonny’s Smile has raised over $100,000 to send more than 100 kids to Camp Oki, Canada’s first Summer Camp for children with congenital heart disease. At Camp Oki, campers realize that they are not alone and meet other kids their age who have gone through similar experiences. Tamara is a powerful and passionate advocate for Lonny and kids like him. She shares Lonny’s story and the vision of the organization whenever she can and inspires others to join the cause and advance the Lonny’s Smile mandate. She works continuously to build and sustain strong relationships with like-minded organizations and individuals and to fill gaps through unique ventures and partnerships.  

Her nominator, Robin McLaughlin says,  

“Tamara does not "volunteer" with Lonny’s Smile, she is the driving force behind the Foundation. It is who she is, what she stands for, and above all it is in her heart. Lonny’s Smile was inspired by an event that occurred almost forty years after Lonny passed away – the sale of his little red tricycle at the family’s auction in Saskatchewan in 2010. The sale of the trike (and getting it back!) was Tamara’s catalyst for starting Lonny’s Smile. She has demonstrated that sometimes it just takes the right moment in time, something as small as a trike, a vision and a very special little boy to make a powerful change in the community.”

Find out what Tamara has to say about her volunteering experience!

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Leslie Ferguson, Founder of Martingrove CI Nutrition Program

Leslie Ferguson

Leslie Ferguson is passionate about healthy eating, especially as it relates to teens. This passion began with her own kids and has expanded to include all students at Martingrove Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke. She knows that it is impossible to learn while you are hungry and has established a program that ensures all students have equal opportunity to learn. In 2013, Leslie spearheaded a Nutrition Program at Martingrove C.I. that runs Monday to Friday for much of the day, Saturdays for the weekly tutorial, and serves upward of 800 students each day. The program involves coordinating parents, students, community donations, grants and staff. More than 60 students, 8 staff and 15 parents contribute to the program: families collect and bag the Friday night donation and students, parents and staff begin food preparation and distribution well before and after the school day. Leslie coordinates all of these efforts with a positive and friendly attitude. The program is now fully entrenched in the school culture and has created a common cause bringing students, teachers and parents together to make the program successful. It has also created excellent volunteer opportunities for students giving them a meaningful way to take on leadership roles and to give back to their community. Most importantly, the program has contributed to increased attendance, better academic performance and enhanced positive social interaction  

Her nominator, Carolyn Vranesic says,  

“Leslie brought the idea of a nutrition program to MCI, but she did not stop there - she made it happen. She single handedly secured a donation from Cobs bakery that is worth approximately $3500/week. She has been involved in helping administration write successful grant proposals to secure a $40,000 donation for the 2014-15 school year, and has effectively liaised with the TDSB, The Toronto Foundation for Student Success and FoodShare to obtain our fridge, freezer, and equipment to support the program. Once the program was up and running, Leslie made sure to expand community involvement so that the program remains sustainable, including recently coordinating a requisite City of Toronto food safety workshop for students, parents and staff. Hardly a day goes by when Leslie is not in the school on some business, sharing her energy and enthusiasm.”

Find out what Leslie has to say about her volunteering experience!

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Audrey Guth, Founder of Nanny Angel Network

Audrey Guth

After being diagnosed with breast cancer and having to spend many hours at the cancer treatment centre, Audrey noticed many young mothers who did not have access to childcare and were struggling while they went to treatment sessions, doctors’ appointments and tried to get the rest they needed. She quickly realized that there was a significant gap between health care and social services that simply wasn’t being met. So, in 2008, around the kitchen table with her daughter and a few close friends, she created the Nanny Angel Network with the goal of providing FREE, in-home, carefully educated and screened childcare professionals for moms on their cancer journey.

Since its inception, the Nanny Angel Network has helped over 1,000 families from across the GTA, and is poised to do much, much more. The requests for this incredible free service are now coming in from across Canada and internationally as well. NAN helps mothers feel assured that their children are in safe, caring hands. That confidence gives them the chance to focus on their medical treatments, doctors’ visit, and taking the time they need to rest and recover. For a minimum of five hours per week, Nanny Angels volunteer their time so mothers can get much needed rest, go to appointments or run errands or simply have time for themselves. Delivering these services in the family’s own home reduces stress and allows women to focus on their own well-being. NAN has expanded it’s scope to provide childcare during the bereavement period, a most difficult time for families adjusting to the loss of their mother.  

Her nominator, Heidi Floyd says,  

“The lives of children across the GTA have been made infinitely better because of this work, this passion, this drive. Few people are able to say that, fewer still are worthy of such recognition. Audrey, without question, is most worthy.”

Find out what Audrey has to say about her volunteering experience!

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Colleen Kenny, volunteer with the
 Children's Aid Society of Toronto

Colleen Kenny

For over 35 years, Colleen has given back to her community both socially and financially through her various volunteer roles at over 20 nonprofit organizations across Toronto. Colleen volunteers with organizations that have a personal impact for her, where she knows she can make a difference and can share her skills and talents. Colleen’s interests of motor biking, blues music and tai chi have also led her to many volunteer roles where she contributes as a teacher, helps raise money, or provides outreach for the organization.

After Colleen’s young nephew battled cancer from 1995 until his passing in 2002, she raised awareness of issues faced by children with cancer and volunteered helping at camps, fundraising and working with children during hospitalization. As she cares for her mother now, Alzheimer’s is a cause where she wants to help make a difference.

For the last 10 years, she has been a volunteer at the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. Colleen can been seen in multiple roles and has directly impacted the lives of three children she has mentored into young adulthood as a “Special Friend.” She has also indirectly affected many more youth through her trips as a chaperone on the Society’s Soul Journey trips out of town, attending special event outings, and observing youth in visits with their parents when they were in care. She currently co-facilitates volunteer orientation night where she shares her passion of volunteering.

 

Her nominator, Lori Gibbard says,  

“Colleen is a volunteer extraordinaire. She is an energetic and enthusiastic volunteer who is able to share her passion for volunteering with all those with whom she comes in contact and acts as an ambassador for all her causes in an extremely positive way.”

Find out what Colleen has to say about her volunteering experience!

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Alan, volunteer with the
Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives

Alan Miller

Having volunteered since 1977, Alan is the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archive’s longest running volunteer. In that time he has been involved in many projects, but in particular he has supported the Operations Committee as the Chair helping with the cataloguing, arranging and archiving of materials. He also takes a role in mentoring new volunteers at the CLGA in training and working with the materials. One of his other major roles has been doing public service for community researchers. Whether they are academics, community organizers, librarians or curators from other institutions he is always there to help with a friendly face and a wealth of knowledgeable to provide. Last year, Alan volunteered with Rhubarb Festival helping on both days of performances at the CLGA as well as spent countless hours in supporting the performers in their research. He was the main point of contact for the Archives partnership with the Canadian Museum of History to help bring LGBTQ+ histories in their new Canadian History Hall and he also helped with the Textile Museum’s Pride Exhibit in 2014.

 

His nominator, Jade Pichette says,  

“Alan's dedication to the CLGA and to preserving LGBTQ+ history is paramount. Even if he hadn't served at the CLGA for almost 40 years I would still nominate him for his work just in the past year. Many people when they come into the CLGA one of the first people they meet will be Alan as he volunteers at least 40 hours a week (and certain weeks even more). He is as much a keystone to the CLGA as the brick and mortar holding up the building.”

Find out what Alan has to say about his volunteering experience!

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Randy Phipps, Board Member MJKO

Randy Phipps

Despite a jam packed schedule, Randy Phipps still manages to volunteer his time consistently to support the fight against human trafficking and help at risk youth learn valuable life skills through fitness programming. He goes above and beyond helping [free-them], a group of individuals who have come together to work collectively with government, law enforcement and victim service partners to help combat human trafficking. He helps educate students, organizations, faith communities’ business professionals and corporate groups that slavery still exists today in our country. When he’s not raising awareness about human trafficking he is advocating for free, high quality sports and recreation programs for Toronto's youth as a board member of Mentoring Juniors Kids Organization. MJKO is a not-profit charity with the goal of creating Community Champions. For the past 5 years, he has helped MJKO deal with kids being deported, families struggling with illness or kids just trying to navigate being a teen. In this time, his work has helped serve over 5000 youth.

 

His nominator, Miranda Kamal says,  

“He works hard behind the scenes doing Public Relations and nominating others for awards. He always takes a step back and allows others to shine. I believe that it's his time to shine. He is a selfless human who would do anything to help a friend, colleague or stranger.”

Find out what Randy has to say about his volunteering experience!

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Lauren Rudolph, volunteer with REENA

Lauren Rudolph

Lauren began volunteering with Reena, a non-profit social service agency committed to bringing people with a developmental disability into the community, in January of 2010 when she was 14 years old. She first started working with children in the “Bowling Buddies” program, and now works with adults in the “Special Olympics Bowling” program. Her primary role is to be a friend – to socialize with the athletes, encourage and help them to participate and cheer them on. In 2011, 16 year-old Lauren then took on the additional role of head volunteer which she quickly embraced and came to excel in. As such, she supports other volunteers and helps staff to keep the program organized and running smoothly, always making sure that everyone has the information they need, is comfortable and enjoying themselves.

While Lauren’s contribution has, in itself, been extraordinary, what makes it even more unique is that 3 years ago, she got very sick with Lyme disease, ending up home-bound. Despite these major challenges, Lauren was determined to continue volunteering every single week.

Lauren is a warm and caring person with a wonderful attitude. Her passion for helping people with special needs is evident. Her patience has helped the individuals she supports to achieve goals that were previously thought impossible, like tying their own shoes! Lauren’s contribution not only reflects Reena’s goals and objectives, but her dedication to inclusion for people with disabilities reflects positively on the community as a whole.

 

Her nominator, Mille Chadwick says,  

“I speak for everyone at Reena when I say how very much we admire this exceptional young lady, and how very much we appreciate her, as a person, a role model and an amazing volunteer!”

Find out what Lauren has to say about her volunteering experience!

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Cleo Simmons, volunteer at Ernestine's

Cleo Simmonds

Cleo has been volunteering in the Rexdale area for over 20 years. Having lived and raised her family in the community, she understands and sympathizes with the difficulties many women and children face when fleeing violence. Eight year’s ago, Cleo started to volunteer with Ernestine's Women's Shelter where she helped in the donation area as well as the food and clothing bank. At any given time, there are on average 14 women and 18 children that reside at Ernestine's while they are fleeing from violence and abusive situations. Ernestine's supports these families and over 100 families across the GTA, Orillia as well as the Aboriginal women on Georgina Island with programs and supports like Cleo’s emergency food and clothing bank. She is a strong support for the families moving out of the shelter, working hand in hand with the outreach staff to continue their important work. She also contributes her time and energy to prepare for events such as the Back to School backpack event and the shelter’s annual Winterfest.

 

Her nominator, Khadija Kathy says,  

“Cleo's strength, compassion and understanding for the human condition is simply incredible. When the women and children return to the shelter to visit they always ask for Miss Cleo.”

Find out what Cleo has to say about her volunteer experience!

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Margaret Smuk, President of Volunteers at Kipling Acres

Margaret Smuk

Margaret Smuk is a long standing volunteer at Kipling Acres, she began volunteering there in 1978 and has been actively involved as the President of Volunteers and as a member of the Advisory Committee on Long-Term Care Homes and Services. She has actively advocated for and worked towards positive changes in long-term care over the years. This interaction promotes many opportunities to enrich the lives and strengthen the connection between residents and their community at large. Margaret assists at many events at the home - Just Desserts, Ice Cream Socials, Mother's day, Father's day, birthday parties, craft group, Bazaars, distribution of seasonal cards, Christmas visits and Celebration of Life. Margaret has also volunteered in the past as a Canvasser for Heart and Stroke, Canadian Cancer Society, Salvation Army and the United Way. Margaret currently sits on the board for Etobicoke Services for Seniors. She has been volunteering for over 60 years.

 

Her nominator, Moshsha Charles says,  

“She has actively advocated for and worked towards positive changes in long-term care over the years that I have known her. She is dedicated to community development. In addition, she brings a vast pool of knowledge, skills and experience to her volunteer work and has extended offers of assistance to many other long-term care homes, when they have expressed an interest in making improvements in their volunteer organizations.”

Find out what Margaret has to say about her volunteering experience!

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Evan Tapper, Volunteer at the Redwood

Evan Tapper

Having joined the volunteer program back in 2005, Evan Tapper is one of The Redwood’s longest serving male volunteers. The Redwood is a safe haven in Toronto for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. It provides the emotional, practical and social support that families need to get their lives back on track. Evan is an award-winning visual artist and art educator. He is the Director of Continuing Studies at OCAD University and a Lecturer at the University of Toronto. Evan facilitates the art program, using art to heal lives of children and youth between 8-17 years. Despite his busy schedule, Evan always creates time to volunteer at The Redwood and at community events organized by The Redwood helping women and children to explore and express their experiences using art. During the December holidays, Evan volunteers to draw caricatures of mothers and their children, giving them something to remind them of the key milestones in their journey of life free from abuse.

 

His nominator, Evelynn Ogwang says,  

“Evan Tapper and the other volunteers at The Redwood are remarkable, making change in the lives of women and children fleeing abuse one day at a time in a safe and non-judgmental manner.”

Find out what Evan has to say about his volunteering experience!

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Kevin Vuong, Youth Advocate

Kevin Vuong

As a youth champion and advocate, Kevin has worked hard to advance youth issues to ensure all young people have a seat at the table when it comes to municipal politics. A Council Engagement Lead, with the Toronto Youth Cabinet, he brings the voice of youth to our city’s decision-makers and political leaders  At the systemic level, as a member of the expert panel for the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy, he is working to build resiliency and supportive systems for youth most vulnerable to serious crime and violence. He also serves on the Ports Toronto’s (formerly the Toronto Port Authority) on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport expansion as the sole youth representative. Most recently, he took the community message of the need for greater youth representation to the Toronto Police Services Board. Kevin is also active at the community-level, serving on the advisory board for Success Beyond Limits, an agency working with at-risk youth in the Toronto Jane-Finch community. He is impacting the lives of youth by building innovative cross-sectorial partnerships between the private, public, and non-profit sectors and is at the forefront of reversing the negative stereotype of youth – that youth are immature, naïve, and inexperienced.

 

His nominator, Paul Martin says,  

“More than just a youth of action, Kevin is a role model inspiring other youth to get more involved. He shows youth that they do have a voice, that their voice does matter, and is providing them with the forums with which to express that voice.”

Find out what Kevin has to say about his volunteer experience!

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For Media Inquiries, please contact:

Ainsley Kendrick
Marketing and Communications Manager
akendrick@volunteertoronto.ca
416-961-6888 ext 231

 

Winner photos taken by Jeff Kirk Photography  




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