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Five Tips For Nominating A Volunteer For A Legacy Award

Posted By Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement, January 5, 2017
Updated: January 3, 2017
 Five Tips For Nominating A Volunteer For A Legacy Award

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Each April, Volunteer Toronto presents 25 exceptional volunteers with a Legacy Award to recognize the amazing volunteering they have done for their community. This year, we will be accepting nominations from January 3rd to January 31st and nominations can be submitted here.

The application form asks you three questions about the individual’s volunteering and you only have 200 words to answer each:

  1. How has the nominee contributed to the community?
  2. What difference or impact has their contribution made?
  3. What is unique or extraordinary about what they have done for their community?

If you’re thinking of nominating one of your volunteers, read these tips to ensure you know how best to describe why your volunteer should be one of the few chosen to receive an award!


1.   Be clear about why your volunteer stands out above the crowd

There are fewer awards than the number of people who deserve them and each year with over 100 nominations to choose from, it’s always incredibly challenging for our judging panel to decide which 25 nominees should receive an award.

With so many giving people in the city doing great things, you’ll need to be explicitly clear about what is exceptional about your nominee. In the past, people have been chosen for all kinds of reasons – for the much needed role they play in the community, for the commitment they’ve shown, for their admirable leadership skills, for their courage to overcome personal challenges, or any other reasons that stand out to the judging panel. So don’t be shy! This is the time to express what makes your nominee exceptional and how they have gone above and beyond.

Simon Chamberlain

2015 Recipient 
Simon Chamberlain

Simon Chamberlain received a Legacy Award in 2015 for his work in the Mount Dennis Community. 10 years ago, 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.


2.   Consider nominating someone who has not been recognized before

With so many great volunteers to choose from, if your nominee has won numerous awards for their volunteer work, it’s likely they will already feel appreciated and have had the experience of being publicly recognized for their contributions. When choosing who to award, we encourage you to look to volunteers who haven’t had the wonderful experience of receiving an award for their efforts and who would truly appreciate being celebrated for the first time in their life. 

Amanda MacEwan

2016 Recipient
Amanda MacEwan

A dedicated volunteer who has made giving back a way of life, 2016 Legacy Award Recipient Amanda MacEwan, was an inspiration to her fellow volunteers and the employees at Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. 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.


3.   Tell a story

Setting the scene and providing some background on the volunteer is a great way of helping the judging panel better understand the nominee and their volunteering. For example, mentioning that Sarah is a newcomer from Dublin and has only been in Toronto for a year but has made a lot of impact in a short amount of time, or that Bryan became involved in volunteering for an animal shelter after rescuing a stray cat one winter, or that Danielle works 50 hours a week as a nurse at a local hospital but still manages to find the time to volunteer weekly, will help the panel create a picture of the volunteer in their mind and understand the story of their volunteering. 

Charles Brimbleby

2016 Recipient
Charles Grimbleby

2016 Legacy Award recipient Charles Grimbleby was a volunteer driver for the Toronto Christian Resource Centre (CRC) for 22 years. 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. 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.


4.  Crunch the numbers

When reading about what a volunteer has done and why they are so unique, often it’s helpful to have a statistic to help frame the story. For example, if you have a volunteer who has delivered meals to seniors for the past 15 years, you could mention approximately how many meals she has delivered or how many hours she’s volunteered over the years. Or if you have a youth volunteer who’s raised money for your organization, you could mention how much he’s donated through his fundraising efforts. These figures help to create a picture of the impact the volunteer has had and how hard they have worked.


Palvinder Kaur

2016 Recipient
Palvinder Kaur

When 2016 Legacy Award Recipient 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. 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.


5.   Explain the ripple effect of the volunteer’s work

You’ll be asked about the impact of the volunteer’s contribution, so be sure to not only mention the immediate effects but also the wider impact. What were things like before the volunteer joined? How has your organization or the community improved since the volunteer’s involvement? What positive things happened to the clients since your volunteer helped them? It’s one thing to say that Ali’s role as a fantastic Support Group Facilitator led to more people attending the group, but it’s quite another to say that one of the attendees went on to secure her first job in five years because of the self confidence he instilled in her and that another was able to rebuild his troubled relationships with his family because of Ali’s support. 

Miguel Abascal

2016 Recipient
Miguel Abascal 

When 2016 Legacy Award Recipient Miguel Abascal 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, spent a year volunteering and was eventually 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. 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.


We hope you found these tips useful! To find out more about the Legacy Awards, visit our Legacy Awards page, or click here to read about the 2016 recipients. 


Camara Chambers manages Volunteer Toronto's public engagement strategy and team. This includes working with community partners, leading large-scale events and overseeing various programs that aim to encourage Torontonians to volunteer. In 2014, the community engagement team helped connect 550,000 people to volunteer positions in Toronto!

Tags:  Legacy award Nominations  Legacy Awards  National Volunteer Week 2017  Volunteer Recognition  Volunteer Service Awards 

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