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Legacy Awards - 2016 Recipients
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Announcing
the recipients of the 2016 Legacy Awards!

 

 

 

After receiving more than 100 nominations, we are delighted to announce the recipients of the 2016 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 11th 2016, during National Volunteer Week, a private ceremony took place with the winners, nominators and special guests to celebrate their achievements. 

For more information on the Legacy Award recipients, contact Ainsley Kendrick, Marketing and Communications Manager. 


 View photos from the 2016 Legacy Awards Ceremony


View photos from the 2015 Legacy Awards Ceremony

 


 

This Year's Awards Host 

 

 

Ingrid has been with CHUMFM as midday host for many years and is one of the best known radio personalities in Toronto.

Ingrid has participated in numerous charitable events, both as a spokesperson or on behalf of CHUMFM and on her own. 

Ingrid is the stage announcer each year for the Gilda’s Club Toronto fundraiser, the variety show It’s Always Something.  She has bowled (albeit not well!) several times for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kid Sake event. She has led Scrabble teams in the yearly fundraiser for the Performers Arts Lodge in Toronto (PAL) during Scrabble with the Stars. She dressed as a turkey in a grocery store for Second Harvest’s Thanksgiving fundraiser, gathering donations as well as stares.  Other organizations she has been involved with over the years include Covenant House, Toronto Animal Services, SickKids and Princess Margaret Hospital, having walked 40 km for their Walk for Cancer.

Ingrid  lives in Toronto, and in her spare time loves to garden, paint and sing with a ladies musical theatre group.  

 

 

 



Selection Committee
  

 

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

Alicia Rose, Managing Director of Framework

Alicia Rose heads up Framework, a dynamic organization that has worked to expand the tech capacity of thousands of nonprofit organizations, raise over 150,000 hours of volunteer time for the nonprofit sector, and invest $1M+ in the careers of up and coming Canadian artists. Before joining Framework, she was the National Program Development Director at Business for the Arts and previously co-founded a not-for-profit organizations

Barbara Powell, Manager of the City of Toronto’s Community Funding Programs Unit

Barbara Powell recently became the Manager of Community Funding at the City of Toronto. She brings 21+ years of experience in local government focused on community investment, neighbourhood development and youth, seniors and immigrant strategies.  She currently serves on the Board of Hospice Wellington.

David Allen, Executive Director of
Volunteer Toronto


David joined Volunteer Toronto in January 2014 and has over 25 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector at the executive level. His previous positions include the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, Variety – The Children’s Charity and the Canadian Hearing Society. David has been a committed volunteer for his entire adult life, having served on such boards as the Mississauga-Halton Community Care Access Centre (Chair), Islington United Church (Chair), Applewood Centre for Adult Learning, Canadian Society of Association Executives – Trillium Chapter, and ARCH Legal Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities. David is a professional engineer (P. Eng.) and a certified healthcare executive (CHE).

Maryann Istiloglu, Board Director at
Volunteer Toronto

Maryann joined Volunteer Toronto’s Board as a way of supporting the efforts of local initiatives that keep these neighbourhoods going. She has been a lifelong volunteer within her neighbourhood community, local sports teams, school councils and community fundraising events. As the Executive Director of OACCPP, an association for mental health professionals, Maryann has experience with all aspects of governance and management of non-profit organizations. Maryann has a certificate in Non-profit and Arts Sector management from York University and is currently completing courses towards her Certificate in Association Management. 

Randy Phipps, 2015 Legacy Award Winner,
Board Member at MJKO

Randy Phipps volunteers 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. 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, his work has helped serve over 5,000 youth.

Reesee, 2015 Legacy Award Winner,
Founder of Abuse: Survival Stores

In 2012, Reesee 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. Funding it out of her own pocket, Reesee 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. 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.

 

 

 

 

Award Recipients

Click on their names to view their biographies

Miguel Abascal
Michael Ain
Mohammed-Reza Akbari
Glenn Betteridge
Kerri Brock
Daryn Caister

Larry Chan
Isabella Fiorillo
Charles Grimbleby
Palvinder Kaur
Kelly Korkola
Leslie Lam

Peter Leslie
Murelda Levy-Curtis
Katelyn Luciani
Amanda MacEwan
Michael Mandarello
Candace McCool

Anthony Morgan
Gerry O'Connor
Tirthesha Pandya
Prasad Rao
Jim Sugiyama
Jane Thorson
Henry Wong

 
Miguel Abascal
Miguel Abascal, volunteer with
TRIEC/Founder of UnstoppableMe

Miguel Abascal

When Miguel came to Canada in 2010 he had difficulty finding meaningful employment and was forced to work numerous part-time jobs to support his family. Staying focused and positive, he completed several English and technical certification courses and spent a year volunteering. Miguel’s positive attitude paid off and in February 2015, he was hired as a Project Analyst in the financial industry. A month later, he shared his experience at a conference for newcomers. The success of his talk inspired him and his wife Doris to form UnstoppableMe, a professional immigrant association dedicated to helping skilled immigrants find meaningful employment and advance their careers. The group holds regular meetings, primarily focusing on career mentoring, PMP exam preparation, financial literacy, and finding volunteering and networking opportunities for their members. Last year, UnstoppableMe delivered almost 750 hours of support to its 77 members. Members reported that the activities helped them improve their self-confidence, along with their professional and soft skills. His nominator, Rohit Singh says “Miguel loves volunteering and considers it an opportunity and privilege to be part of his members’ growth and journey towards achieving their goals. Following his example, many of his members have taken up the mantle and volunteer themselves in helping others.” 

 

His nominator, Rohit Singh, says Miguel is inspiring others to volunteer:  

“Miguel loves volunteering and considers it an opportunity and privilege to be part of his members’ growth and journey towards achieving their goals. Following his example, many of his members have taken up the mantle and volunteer themselves in helping others.”

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Michael Ain
Michael Ain, volunteer with Toronto Pflag

Michael Ain

Michael has volunteered in the LGBTQ community for 20 years, starting as a student speaker at TEACH (Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia) and moving on to volunteer with the North York Board of Education and Toronto Pride. For the last six years, he has been serving on the Board of Toronto Pflag, a completely volunteer-run charity that promotes the health and well-being of LGBTQ people, their families and friends. Understanding how meaningful it was when his own parents accepted him, he wanted to help Toronto Pflag thrive and reach a wider audience. Realizing the organization was in financial difficulties, Michael came on board and launched an extremely successful awareness and fundraising campaign. Since then he has been an invaluable link between the LGBTQ community and the group, which consists mainly of parents of LGBTQ kids. In addition, Michael has voluntarily launched many projects to benefit the community including booking and stage managing up-and-coming musicians and drag performers, writing in community media publications, and putting together a team of videographers to record Halloween in the gay village to help the local BIA promote it as a community event. 

 

Anne Creighton, his nominator, says Michael always steps up to help:  

“What is extraordinary about Michael is his humility and his insistence that he not be paid for any of his work for others. His generosity and compassion led him to a hapless group of parents who couldn't pay their phone bill or rent and instead of running the other way he stepped up, introduced himself to us and said "I can help.”

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Mohammed-Reza Akbari
Mohamma-Reza Akbari, volunteer with
Habitat for Humanity GTA

Mohammad-Reza Akbari

Mohammad-Reza Akbari volunteers in Habitat for Humanity GTA's which is responsible for soliciting in-kind donations so that they can be resold in any of the organizations’ 10 “ReStores.” Reza’s hard work and commitment to Habitat for Humanity’s mission of mobilizing volunteers and community partners to build affordable housing and promote homeownership as a means to break the cycle of poverty contributed greatly to the success of the department's volunteer program. He developed a training plan for incoming volunteers and also personally trains and coaches new volunteers, co-op students, and interns. Reza’s help with donor processing makes it easier and faster to accept new donations and in turn, help those in need build homes faster. Reza’s fresh perspective and positive attitude inspire those around him and it’s what makes him a very valuable member of the team.  

 

 

Menaka Kulendran, his nominator, has these kind words to say about Reza’s contributions:  

“Reza's kind-heartedness and joyful nature are contagious and volunteers love to be around him. The staff depend heavily on him, to the point where the smooth running of our department depends a lot on Reza being a member of it.”

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Glenn Betteridge, 2016 Volunteer Toronto Legacy Award Recipient
Glenn Betteridge, volunteer with
The 519 Church Street Community Centre

Glenn Betteridge

Glenn has been volunteering in Toronto since moving here in 1995, including for over 10 years at The 519 Community Centre. As a long-time ticket seller, bartender, and Team Lead for The 519's Green Space Festival, he has contributed his enthusiasm, knowledge, sense of fun, and leadership to teams of staff and volunteers. As a tax clinic host, Glenn works to ensure that volunteer tax preparers and clinic clients share a respectful, friendly and productive environment. Lately, he has contributed to strategic program and policy development, researched a historical timeline for The 519's new website and created training materials for a database that will allow The 519 to better serve the 200-plus community groups and programs that share the Centre's space. Glenn feels grateful to be part of, and contribute to, The 519's inclusive community-building among Toronto's diverse LGBT and local communities, and beyond. 

 

 
His nominator, Amber Moyle, says Glenn makes a positive difference in many ways:  


“Glenn is comfortable leading entire initiatives and always follows through with his goals for a project. His ability to be flexible when leading a team of volunteers is superb and allows him to easily gain the respect and trust of others. His willingness to assist by lending his truly remarkable capabilities in a variety of areas is quite astounding and I am constantly in his debt as a Volunteer Supervisor.”

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Kerri Brock
Kerri Brock, community volunteer

Kerri Brock

Kerri has been an active and passionate volunteer for over 20 years. Her unique ability to bring together diverse backgrounds, skills and opinions to explore actionable ideas around complex social and environmental issues makes her a valuable and sought after member of our society. Over the years, she has helped raise over $85,000 combined for various community and school fundraisers and more strategically for the Women’s Healthy Environments Network (WHEN) and Trails Youth Initiatives through events, donor campaigns, and grant writing. Her field work with youth emerged through Trails Youth Initiative, where she worked for 4 years with twenty teens in an outdoor experiential youth leadership program. The phenomenal growth she witnessed made a life-long impact on both herself and the teens. As a result of Kerri’s openness and enthusiasm, there are hundreds of people who now embrace volunteerism, have adopted healthier and more sustainable lifestyles, who draw on programs and services that benefited from Kerri’s fundraising efforts, and who call Kerri their inspiration.  

 

Her nominator, Natasha Giannopoulos, says Kerri is all about saying yes:  

“What one does is just as important as how one does it. What is striking and extraordinary about Kerri is how unconditionally she gives of her time and support. Whether it’s getting an idea off the ground, advancing the causes that are dear to her, imparting knowledge, helping a friend or a stranger in need, you get an instant YES from Kerri.” ”

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Daryn Caister
Daryn Caister, volunteer host on
CIUT's "Green Majority"

Daryn Caister

Daryn Caister has been a volunteer host on CIUT’s 'The Green Majority,' a volunteer community radio show, for more than seven years. They work tirelessly to educate the public on environmental issues and advocate for a sustainable world. Over the years, they have interviewed members of the countless community-based groups all the way up to the renowned astronaut James Hansen. Daryn’s work provides an outlet for all amazing volunteers across the city of Toronto and our country to talk about the issues affecting the world we live in and have their actions recognized. Daryn’s commitment and contributions have helped The Green Majority become a launch pad for environmental grassroots initiatives, including Our Horizon, Transition Toronto, and the People’s Climate March.  

 

 

Stephan Hostetter nominated Daryn and had this to say about them: 

“What is unique about the work Daryn has done is quite simply the dedication required to put The Green Majority above everything else. It’s not easy to produce a live hour of radio every week of the year, year after year. Most people see their volunteer work as a way to give back while supplementing their ‘career.’ Daryn continues to treat their volunteer work as a vocation, which is remarkable.”

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Larry Chan
Larry Chan, volunteer with
Junior Achievement of Central Toronto

Larry Chan

Larry Chan has been a dedicated volunteer with Junior Achievement Central Ontario for 20 years. Larry has devoted countless hours to students taking part in the after-school entrepreneurship program, Company Program. He has been instrumental in recruiting many of the organization’s most valued volunteers to ensure a legacy of excellence for JA mentors. Larry makes sure all of the new volunteer advisors under his leadership are prepared and ready to give students in the program the best experience possibly. Larry has also been on the Board of Directors for 12 years, and during this time, he has been a Vice-Chair of the Board, Chair of the Board and Past Chair of the Board, as well as the Chair of the Governance & Nominations Committee. Over the past five years, Larry has spent over 2000 hours mentoring and guiding young people in the ways of business and entrepreneurship, and by supporting them as they transition into post-secondary education. While the issue of youth unemployment and increasing student debt are a global concern, Larry’s work helps address this at a local, grassroots level, by providing hands-on experiences and good role models for students to look up to and learn from.  

 

Larry was nominated by Britton Nicol who has these great things to say about his community service: 

“Over the last 10 years JA has been able to reach over 600,000 students. Larry has been a direct contributor to that impact: through his mentorship, his financial support, and his valuable oversight as a Board Director. Larry has impacted hundreds of students’ lives, sending them on the right trajectory for success. JA is grateful for his knowledge, expertise, and dedication to our mission, values, and the future leaders of our country.”

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Isabella Fiorillo
Isabella Fiorillo, volunteer with t
he Toronto Youth Justice Committee

Isabella Fiorillo

For the past four years, Isabella Fiorillo has been volunteering with the Toronto Youth Justice Committee as a Restorative Justice Facilitator. She is part of a committee that meets with young people in conflict with the law, their family and the person(s) harmed in the offence. Empowering youth to be accountable for their actions, Isabella encourages them to repair the harm caused to others and to the community. She connects youth to valuable resources and guides them to make better choices for themselves and her work builds up their confidence allowing them to see the value they can provide to society. Isabella takes someone who was once broken and helps them become whole again.

 

 

 

 Isabella’s nominator, Karina Garcia, had these great things to say about her:  


“Isabella is always willing to help out when more volunteers/coverage is needed. She attends her shifts with a smile on her face and is a positive force for her fellow committee members. Isabella has positively impacted the entire committee ensuring they all work cohesively and support the youth in our community.”

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Charles Grimbleby
Charles Grimbleby, volunteer with
the Toronto Christian Resource Centre

Charles Grimbleby

Charles Grimbleby was a volunteer driver for the Toronto Christian Resource Centre (CRC) for 22 years. An embodiment of their belief that “we can create community when people help themselves while helping others,” Chuck’s role varied from collecting food, clothing and furniture to helping people move into new housing, and rushing important documents and applications to City Hall. As a volunteer, Chuck demonstrated a dedication, interest, and care for his community that went above and beyond what was expected of a volunteer. He’d arrived bright and early every morning, ready to help with a smile on his face. If needed for urgent situations or events after hours he would be there, no questions asked. Before taking on his volunteer role, Chuck needed a place to live and CRC assisted him with moving into a rooming house where he stayed for seven years. He now has his own place, but will never forget how CRC helped him get back on his feet. Chuck started volunteering because of his appreciation for the support he received and it was through serving and supporting others in similar circumstances that he was able to forge a new path in his own life.  

 

Sonya Silva is proud of Chuck’s contributions and she says: 

“CRC also ran a Workers Coop which enabled participants to do odd jobs to supplement their income. Chuck joined participants in doing paint jobs, cleaning units and moving in low-income tenants. But he did this as a volunteer, expecting nothing in return and simply wanting to give back to the agency that had supported him when he was in similar circumstances.”

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Palvinder Kaur
Palvinder Kaur, Founder of
Langar Seva Meal & Support Services

Palvinder Kaur

When Palvinder Kaur uncovered the depth of need in the community for services to those who are hampered by age, illness or disability and are unable to cook meals for themselves, she knew had to do something. This is what led to a volunteer-driven charitable organization called Langar Seva Meal & Support Services (Langar Seva). The organization provides people in the GTA with healthy, fresh food at no charge, and while it’s only been in operation for 3 years, it’s delivered over 10,000 meals. Palvinder and her team of 40 volunteers operate on the philosophy that everyone has the right to live with respect and dignity. In such a short amount of time, Palvinder’s commitment and efforts have positively impacted the lives of many people in many communities across our city.  

 

 

Tejinder Kaur points out it’s Palvinder’s determination that helped build a community:   


“In her determination to respond to an unmet need, Palvinder Kaur went beyond “contributing to a community” to building a community of service users, volunteers and donors from the ground up. It is said that a society is judged by how it treats its least fortunate members. Palvinder Kaur has shown that all of us should be treated, with respect, dignity and care. Through her inspirational work she has herself become a role model.”


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Kelly Korkola
Kelly Korkola, volunteer with
Mentoring Junior Kids Organization (MJKO)

Kelly Korkola

A coach and mentor with Mentoring Junior Kids Organization (MJKO), Kelly Korkola “Coach Kelly” has been an inspiration to both the youth and volunteers who participate in the organization’s programming. A boxing prodigy, Kelly was inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame at the age of 14. When life took a turn for the worse and two people Kelly was close with passed away, he turned to drugs to cope with his loss. Kelly spent years struggling with sobriety; however, he found a way to refocus his energy by returning to the sport he loved. He reached out to MJKO to become a volunteer, knowing that sports and a new social network could not only help him overcome his addictions but also broaden the opportunities for kids in his community. Since joining MJKO three years ago, Kelly has been coaching youth 20-25 hours per week, helping with public events, mentoring youth one-on-one and has personally helped the organization raise $6000 through their 50/50 ticket offer through the Maple Leaf Sports Foundation.  

 
Miranda Kamal nominated Kelly and says this about his volunteering:


“Kelly has a unique ability to build trust with our most vulnerable youth. I believe this is because he truly understands what it’s like to walk a day in their shoes. He provides a daily dose of laugher, humility and guidance for all of us at the MJKO family. He has helped our team understand that change is always possible, embodying this motto through his own achievement of over 5 years sober.”

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Leslie Lam
Leslie Lam, volunteer with
Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Leslie Lam 

Leslie Lam has been a peer support volunteer for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) for more than 20 years. He has dedicated his life to helping others overcome the fear and anxiety of living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Leslie, a pharmacist, and a manual wheelchair user sustained spinal cord injury in 1965. Given the barriers Leslie faced, he used his personal experiences to demonstrate to others that life after a spinal cord injury does not equate to living in a hospital, institution, nor does it mean complete dependency on others to achieve one’s life goals. Rather, Leslie’s life summarizes his belief in full community participation, independence, and self –reliance. These core beliefs fill the discussions Leslie has with the individuals and families he supports to encourage community participation through work, play and giving back. Leslie believes that building the self-esteem of individuals who sustain a spinal cord injury empowers and provides them with the skills they need to positively impact their lives. This strengthens their capacity to affect positive change in their own communities and contribute to the building of stronger, more inclusive, and more liveable communities for everyone.

 
Donna Mullings nominated Leslie and says he’s changing one life at a time:


“Although Leslie can share many life changing stories, he speaks of a client who contacted him months after she was discharged from the rehabilitation centre. After a few phone conversations, Leslie met the client at her home. Once there, he discovered that she was still in bed in the middle of the day. Finding out that she was neither ill nor tired, but rather, her bed stay was a result of the dismal outlook she held for her life as a person with a disability, Leslie immediately acted and took steps to encourage community participation and socialization by accompanying her and her friends to a small restaurant. His actions proved effective; overtime she was able to go to bigger restaurants with more people, and she no longer spent her days in bed. Changing one life at a time, changes the type of beliefs and attitudes we have and the type of community we create.”

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Peter Leslie
Peter Leslie, volunteer with the Canadian Harm Reduction Network

Peter Leslie

Peter Leslie’s commitment to volunteering goes back to his discovery of harm reduction at the Toronto Harm Reduction Task Force some ten years ago. A former paramedic whose career fell apart after nearly 20 years; alcohol and drugs were Peter’s salvation, rendering him homeless and unemployable. Harm reduction gave Peter a way to address his drug use that didn’t require abstinence, allowing him to regain his confidence and meet his need to serve. Peter is dedicated to improving the well-being of his community through both peer work and volunteering. Because of his unique experiences, Peter has become the go-to person for information, ideas, encouragement and support in developing programs and services to address the needs of people who use drugs. Whenever there are problems or issues - be they health, rights, or safety-related, many turn to Peter who freely gives his time and expertise to help. Peter is also co-founder of the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance and the Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union, and a board member of the Queen West Community Health Centre.  

 

Walter Cavalieri nominated Peter and says this about his important contributions:  

“His forthrightness, knowledge, sensitivity to contrary opinions, and use of self as an example in speaking out on issues of drugs and drug use has not only helped influence decision makers and members of the general public but has also helped a number of his peers to mitigate their fear about being open about their own drug use, how they use drugs, and why they use them.”

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IMurelda Levy-Curtis
Murelda Levy-Curtis, volunteer with
the Warden Woods Community Centre

Murelda Levy-Curtis

Murelda Levy-Curtis has been actively involved with the Warden Woods Community Centre Meals on Wheels program for 18 years. The program delivers hot and frozen meals to home-bound seniors and adults with disabilities. Murelda works as part of a two-person team with a driver, delivering door-to-door lunches to clients as well as checking in on their overall health and well-being. She has delivered as many as 10,000 lunches during her many years of community service. It’s because of volunteers like Murelda that the Meals on Wheels program is able to keep its costs at an accessible $6 per meal and ensure food security for senior and vulnerable people in Scarborough. Murelda always goes above what’s expected, so that everyone receives a fresh, hot meal regardless of their personal circumstances. At 78 years young, Murelda is one of the programs most dedicated volunteers.  

 

 

Karen Lahura, her nominator, says it’s the little extras that make Murelda such a special volunteer:  

“Murelda often aids seniors through little favors such as storing their meals or arranging their stationary to write a letter. In the past, she has also given extra meals to those clients who needed it most due to their economic situation or acute disability. Murelda will rarely leave a meal at a client’s doorstep, taking great responsibility that it gets on time to those who need it the most.”

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Katelyn Luciani
Katelyn Luciani, volunteer with
the Endometriosis Network of Canada

Katelyn Luciani

Katelyn Luciani started volunteering with The Endometriosis Network Canada (TENC) in January 2015. Katelyn has made significant contributions to the organization and the many women who benefit from its programs. After attending an awareness event in March 2014, Katelyn became a regular fixture at the monthly support groups and soon after expressed interest in volunteering. A professional performer and storyteller, Katelyn felt compelled to speak about the challenges she has faced living with chronic pain. She first shared her personal story at TENC’s Endo Awareness event at Queen’s Park in November 2015. Since then, Katelyn has volunteered in an outreach capacity at the Women’s Health and the Whole Life Expositions. Most notably, Katelyn has planned two large-scale educational events for patients on the emotional impact of endometriosis and endometriosis and Fertility. These events have created spaces for the flourishing of supportive friendships and provided patients with important information to manage their illness.  

 

Katie McLeod, her nominator, highlights Katelyn’s unique ability to inspire others:  

“Katelyn’s unwavering commitment to TENC and to fellow sufferers of endometriosis is what makes her both an extraordinary volunteer and exceptional community member. I believe that Katelyn’s commitment has inspired others to stand up and talk about endometriosis to their friends, family and health care providers in order to raise awareness about the illness and push for better understanding and supports for endometriosis patients”

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Amanda MacEwan
Amanda MacEwan, volunteer with
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto

Amanda MacEwan

A dedicated volunteer who has made giving back a way of life, Amanda MacEwan is an inspiration to her fellow volunteers and the employees at Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. The organization is focused on providing for a life of quality, well-being, caring and healing for children and families in the Toronto Native Community. Each year, Amanda leads a team of volunteers in organizing the Centre’s holiday party and hamper drive. It’s because of all the time and effort she puts into planning the event and creating fun activities for the children and families that make the event such a special experience. For more than seven years, Amanda has inspired others to look at even the smallest tasks with enthusiasm and she leads by example always encouraging everyone to do their best.  

 

 

Nominator Kelly Hashemi describes a moment where Amanda really shined:  

“One year, we were putting together numerous holiday hampers and we had no boxes to put the toys in so we thought, “lets use garbage bags and we could tie them together with a big red bow!” Well she would have nothing to do with this. She said, “They are children and its Christmas. No garbage bags! We have to put the effort into this.” So, she brought paper and other festive wrappings from home and got it together so the toys would be sent out beautifully.”

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Michael Mandarello, volunteer with the Champions Network of Young Professionals
Michael Mandarello, volunteer with
the Champions Network of Young Professionals

Michael Mandarello 

Michael Mandarello is the founder and chair of a group of young professionals in Toronto who have raised over $125,000.00 for children facing adversity. A lifelong volunteer, Michael organized the first Toronto Plays fundraising event in 2012 in support of Right to Play, a global charitable organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children and youth. Toronto Plays has become an annual tradition that continues to grow and attract young leaders with a passion for philanthropy and creating positive change in the lives of children facing challenges. In 2013, Right to Play asked Michael to chair its first ever young professional network, the Champions Network of Young Professionals (CNYP). Michael has recruited a dynamic executive committee and steward network to grow CNYP into a powerful philanthropic force in the City of Toronto that raises valuable funds through events, campaigns and personal fundraising. In 2016, Michael was asked to chair MLSE Foundation’s inaugural young professional committee, the MLSE Foundation Game Changers, where he continues to lead a motivated group of young leaders who want to change the lives of local youth through the power of sport and play.

 

His nominator, Roberto Andreacchi, says Michael is helping children here and around the world:  

“Tens of thousands of children in the city, province and around the globe have been touched by the fruits of Michael’s fundraising efforts and have had their lives improved by sports and recreational programming, coaches and mentors, research and policy developments, as well as health clinics and programs.”

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Candace McCool
Candace McCool, volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross

Candace McCool

Candace McCool joined the Canadian Red Cross in 1994 and since then has been an active volunteer in numerous programs and emergency responses. She has supported many programs including Restoring Family Links, the Humanitarian Issues Program, Disaster Management, Fund Development and the Volunteer Services Awards Program. One of the Red Cross’ ‘Seven Fundamental Principles’ is Voluntary Service and Candace epitomizes how one lives their life to this standard. Candace has contributed 22 years of service to the Canadian Red Cross and happily assists anyone in need – Red Cross clients and employees and her fellow volunteers to name a few. When approached and asked why she volunteers, Candace says with a smile: “I believe in volunteering, it’s something I was born and raised to do.”

 

 

 Nancy Tanner, shared this story about Candace  


“I remember a very tender situation we had a child under the age of 9 who were left without parents in a homicide situation. We were charged with providing clothing to the children so they could attend the funerals. Candace took the lead and handled it as the consummate professional she is. To see the look on the children’s faces during their time with Candace was heart warming. She handled the situation with humanity and dignity.”

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Anthony Morgan
Anthony Morgan, volunteer with
the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals

Anthony Morgan

For more than a decade, Anthony Morgan through his tireless volunteer work and increasingly prominent public voice has been a strong advocate for the African Canadian community in Toronto. Anthony has done work around police carding, Black youth unemployment, and racial justice. Through his well-known writings in the Huffington Post, The Toronto Star and other national media publications, Anthony has spoken eloquently about racial and economic inequalities in Ontario's justice system. He has served as a Board member of the Urban Alliance of Race Relations and as the National President of the Black Law Students' Association of Canada. Over the past year, he has served as Chair of the Advisory Board for Community Empowering Enterprises (now incorporated under the name CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals), an organization that supports unemployed and economically marginalized Black youth to create a successful career and educational path for themselves, helping to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Anthony has guided the organization as it has grown into an independent non-profit and without his dedication, guidance, and vision it wouldn’t have been possible to make this successful transition.

 

His nominator, Kofi Hope has this to say about Anthony's commitment to the Black community:  

“The fact that he has been a public voice for the Black community while working full time at the African Canadian Legal clinic, while still making time to write, and simultaneously do grassroots activism and volunteer work with a variety of black-led and black-focused groups in Toronto make him unique and valuable in an era where black role models and community leaders with visions for creating a socially just society are especially needed.”

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Gerry O'Connor
Gerry O'Connor, volunteer with
the Irish Canadian Immigrant Centre

Gerry O'Connor

Gerry O’Connor emigrated from Ireland to Canada 45 years ago. Since 2012, he has supported hundreds of Irish youth at the Eamonn O’Loghlin Irish Canadian Immigration Centre through his employment preparation workshops. Come sleet or snow, or whatever Mother Nature has in store, Gerry is always willing to give his time and offer his advice and support. Gerry’s two-hour seminars offer tips on all the critical aspects of the employment-seeking process, everything from the differences between Canadian resumes and interview styles to how to dress for an interview to how to network in your new country. Beyond his group workshops, Gerry will individually mentor job seekers on their search, review resumes and even meet for coffee to offer guidance along the way. Hundreds of young people have been positively impacted by Gerry’s work and his commitment has inspired others to give back to their communities through volunteering.

 

Cathy Murphy, his nominator, has these kind words to say about Gerry:  

“Gerry’s call to service has greatly impacted volunteerism in the Irish diaspora community of Toronto. His work as a dedicated volunteer at the immigration centre has fostered an informal mentorship program, developing new, “Generation Y and Z” volunteers. I cannot tell you how many emails and phone calls we receive from those who have completed Gerry’s program, offering to volunteer for the immigration centre themselves, to give back in any way we might envision.”

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Tirthesha Pandya
Tirthesha Pandya, volunteer with
the Toronto Youth Council

Tirthesha Pandya

Tirthesha Pandya is a youth like no other. She was the Elected Vice Chair for the City Youth Council of Toronto and is now the Elected Youth Council for Ward 11 and is part of the Youth Advocacy Training Institute program, which advocates and brings awareness to Tobacco use and its negative influence on youth. On top of all this Tirthesha helped organize an assembly through her school called "One Love," which brought awareness to important issues such as discrimination, racism, and homophobia. She also plays key leadership roles for many other events and school clubs such as Future Aces, SAGE Business Club and Weston Ambassadors. Tirthesha is a bold speaker, good listener and leads by example by contributing daily to the community by doing small tasks whether picking up garbage or helping her neighbours shovel their driveways.

 

 

 

Her nominator, Kartiki Pandya, says this about Tirthesha’s ability to make others smile:  

“The most unique thing about Tirthesha is that she is always positive and optimistic about everything and has very great problem solving skills. All she desires to do is put a smile on everyone's face and be and do the best she can to help her community in any way possible. She is hardworking, dedicated and passionate about what she does.”

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Prasad Rao
Prasad Rao, volunteer with
West Neighbourhood House

Prasad Rao

Prasad Rao has been volunteering with West Neighbourhood House (formerly St. Christopher House) since 2010. He spearheaded the re-branding from “St. Christopher House” to the creation of their new name “West Neighbourhood House” (West NH). As a partner in the advertising firm, MultiCultural Partnership, Prasad has contributed expertise and skills that are uncommon in small and mid-sized non-profits organizations whose resources often focus on addressing community needs. His contributions to the

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