Senior of the Year Awards

Senior of the Year Awards Recipients

2021 Award Winners

The Senior of the Year Awards recognizes seniors in Hamilton who have made outstanding voluntary contributions to enriching the social, cultural or civic life of our community.

This year’s virtual event celebrated seniors in our community today, and every day.

Jeanne Mayo - 2021 Senior of the Year

Jeanne Mayo

Jeanne Mayo began volunteering shortly after moving to Hamilton 10-15 years ago and became involved with the Seniors Advisory Committee (SAC) and Hamilton Council on Aging (HCoA). Her commitment to public transportation is evident as chair for SAC’s Getting Around Hamilton Work Group and goal champion for “Transportation” with Hamilton’s Age-Friendly Collaborative Committee.

A strong believer in collaboration, Jeanne worked with CityLAB on the "Transit Options in Rural Hamilton" report for City Council. In partnership with Hamilton Public Health Services, McMaster University and HCoA, she developed and facilitated workshops on pedestrian safety for older adults.   Her work with Hamilton Public Health Services and McMaster University also includes developing pamphlets for renters, property managers and home owners on ways to support seniors aging in place.  As a member of SAC's Housing Work Group, she is currently exploring housing options for older adults in Hamilton.

As a member of HCoA's Education and Advocacy Committee Jeanne has written three op-ed articles on issues important to seniors, which were published in the Hamilton Spectator.  More recently, she     partnered with Cable 14 to create, produce and host a four-part series, “Aging in Hamilton” covering various topics relevant to seniors.

Dr. Bill Evans - Innovation Award

Dr. Bill Evans

When Dr. Bill Evans joined the Juravinski Cancer Centre (JCC) in 2005 as President, he quickly realized that despite the centre’s renowned care, Hamilton’s cancer survival outcomes lagged in comparison to other provincial cancer centres. Too many patients were presenting at late-stage cancer because they were unable to access care services, largely because of a lack of appropriate education. Dr. Evans turned his focus to addressing this deficit, firmly believing that when cancer patients and their families have the information and awareness, it is easier to make important treatment decisions. Amongst many of his initiatives was the Mobile Breast Screening Coach, bringing cancer care to the community.

After joining the Cancer Assistance Program (CAP) Volunteer Board 7 years ago, Dr. Evans offered his knowledge and platform to bring education to the public. He launched the Cancer Assist Radio Show in partnership with CORUS Radio to bring broadcast monthly cancer education programs covering a range of cancer topics. The Show transitioned to a podcast format to extend its reach, now streamed in over 200 cities throughout Canada and the United States. It continues to be an invaluable tool to cancer patients and their families, creating equitable access to education and reducing late-stage cancer diagnosis and mortality. Dr. Evans continually seeks new and innovative ways to share these learnings with his fellow board members, clients and CAP funders in a way that is easy to understand and access. He is truly making a difference in the lives of seniors and their families.

Gene Fama - Behind the Scenes Award

For more than two decades, Gene Fama has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in the Hamilton ReStore, is a social enterprise with a mission to support the work of Habitat for Humanity in our community. 100% of donated funds directly support the Home Build Program for local families in need. The Hamilton ReStore accepts donations of home improvement materials, windows, doors, flooring, paint, household appliances, home and outdoor décor, cabinets, furniture and fixtures, and diverts several tons of household and construction materials from landfills each year. 

Gene is an extremely dedicated volunteer whose technical abilities to test, repair and repurpose donated items goes above and beyond. He also sorts the components deemed “unsalvageable” and selects items that can be recycled to help keep even more materials out of the landfill and save valuable resources.

Dr. Al Fernandez - Compassion and Companionship Award

Dr. Al Fernandez

Throughout his career as a family physician Dr. Al Fernandez, has gone above and beyond to visit ill patients in their homes. After retiring in 2016, he has continued to support those less fortunate and ill, particularly seniors. Every week Dr. Fernandez visits long-term care residents in three Hamilton homes:  Heritage Green, Clarion and Ridgeview. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Fernandez has continued visiting residents in long-term care to ensure they did not feel isolated or lonely, and has provided support and health advice to the families and staff of long-term care residents. Dr. Fernandez always puts the needs of others before his own.

A religious man, Dr. Fernandez has dedicated nearly 40 years to St. Francis Xavier Parish in Stoney Creek serving as a Eucharistic Minister. During the pandemic, he visited Amica Retirement Residence to offer communion to residents and deliver a short mass and hymn sing with the support of his wife. Dr. Fernandez has also assisted the parish priest baptizing children for the last 15 years and has volunteered with many St. Francis Knights of Columbus initiatives for close to two decades.

Patti Idenouye - Healthy and Active Living Award

Patti Idenouye

For nearly two decades Patti Idenouye has held at least 13 volunteer roles with six organizations. For the past 10 years, her time has been spent as a Neighbour to Neighbour (N2N) literacy tutor for approximately 40 children.  She took on the role of team lead, providing coordination for eight senior tutors. She has been instrumental in updating the tutoring manual and creating efficiencies in the program to benefit 120 volunteers and 2,380 students. Patti was quick to pivot to the online platform during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patti has been a great asset to N2N’s Community Food Program over the past two years. She works with the age-diverse meal prep team talking about food traditions and healthy eating. Patti also held various volunteer roles with the De Dwa Da Dehs Nye (Aboriginal Health Centre) and the North Hamilton Community Health Centre, as well as supporting women facing appearance-related challenges of cancer treatment with Look Good Feel Better. Patti’s efforts also include time with the Friends of Kurdistan and the Junior Achievement.

Mathew Kavanakudy - Economic Leadership Award

Mathew Kavanakudy

Mathew Kavanakudy has volunteered countless hours over the last decade for the Hamilton Malayalee Samajam in several capacities, including Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer for the Executive Committee, Treasurer and Secretary of the Building Committee, and member of the Fundraising and Cricket Field Committees.  He has also been instrumental in securing government and future grant funding for the organization, which over the course of 10 years amounts to more than $700,000. Some of the projects that have benefited from Mathew’s work include a computer lab and community kitchen for seniors, community yoga and dance studio, accessibility grant for community space, Indian Arts Centre for seniors and more recently, a City of Hamilton Future Fund Grant to build of a cricket field.

Dr. Kanwal Shankardass - Leadership Award

Dr. Kanwal Shankardass

When he’s not working as a family physician, Dr. Kanwal Shankardass volunteers his time enhancing to the medical care and well-being of seniors. He is committed to advancing geriatric medicine through his many voluntary initiatives with both professional and international organizations. Dr. Shankardass has made a positive impact on so many, particularly through his medical resident mentoring opportunities, as a member of the Ontario and Canadian Long-Term Care Physicians, voluntary preceptor for medical residents completing long-term care rotations, the volunteer committee in long-term care to support dementia care, and Rotarian funding projects to support medical equipment and start-up clinics in third world countries. 

More recently, Dr. Shankardass voluntarily led the development of the LTC-CARES (Long Term Care – Consults and Recommendations for Emergency and Support Services) program in Hamilton, a virtual care program linking residents/staff in long-term care with emergency room services virtually. This new program was formed in direct response to the pandemic and has helped many seniors avoid unnecessary trips to emergency rooms.

Helena Streun - Lifetime Achievement Award

Helena Streun

Helena Streun was a driving force in helping to establish the Cancer Assistance Program (CAP) on the Hamilton mountain. For 27 years, Helena’s dedication to volunteerism with cancer patients in the community has helped ensure cancer education and free supports were available to any and everyone. In working alongside the small staff team, her dedication and support to cancer patients and the program have been key in nurturing CAP’s growth. 

As a young breast cancer patient (a 45-year survivor), Helena volunteered for the Canadian Cancer Society, as well as a palliative care volunteer for Henderson Hospital, the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital and St. Joseph’s Villa. She a founding member of the Corpus Christie C.W.L. and canvasser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The CAP and every cancer patient past and present in our community have been touched by Helena’s life purpose of “selfless giving to living fully.”

Kiara Mech - Youth Supporting Seniors Award

Kiara Mech

For the past five years, Kiara Mech has been an outstanding youth volunteer dedicated to the YWCA Hamilton.  She understands the importance of meeting community members with a human-centred approach and practices empathy when engaging with others. She assists with warm conversations, accessibility needs, education, organizing, greeting and so much more.

Kiara has supported the YWCA Hamilton Women of Distinction Awards since 2017. In other volunteer capacities at YWCA Hamilton, Kiara has spent time delivering care packages, treat bags and various mail-outs to isolated seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also been a strong supporter of ywcaENCORE, a program for breast cancer survivors. Kiara can be spotted dressed in pink power ribbons and feathers to cheer on participants, survivors and supporters that are walking and running annually at the Road2Hope marathon and Move More for Encore fundraising events. Prior to the pandemic, Kiara helped plan a Hearty Soups and Laughs Luncheon on Valentine’s Day for the program participants at the YWCA Hamilton 55+ Active Living Centre.


Previous Winners

The 2020 Senior of the Year Awards winners are:

  • Ica Smith - 2020 Senior of the Year
  • Dave Davey - Behind the Scenes Award
  • David Dedrick - Innovation Award
  • Margaret Harris - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Jean Lethbridge - Economic Leadership Award
  • Lee McKay - Compassion and Companionship Award
  • Archie McQueen - Healthy and Active Living Award
  • Dr. Sri Gopal Mohanty - Diversity and Cultural Award
  • Penelope Petrie - Leadership Award

2020 Senior Award Winners

The 2019 Senior of the Year Awards winners are:

  • Roy Jones - 2019 Senior of the Year
  • Florence Binkley - Bernie Morelli Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Ken Dolbear - Ron Smithson Leadership Award
  • Gunther Kraft - Economic Leadership Award
  • Albert Graham  - Innovation Award
  • Shuja Qureshi - Diversity and Cultural Award
  • Rick James - Behind the Scenes Award
  • Walter Decker - Healthy and Active Living Award
  • Pat Simpson - Mary Smithson Compassion and Companionship Award
  • Maryam Butrus - Youth Supporting Seniors Award

Group of 2019 Award Winners

The 2018 Senior of the Year Awards winners are:

  • Betty Kobayashi - 2018 Senior of theYear
  • Sylvia Parr - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Carolann Fernandes - Leadership Award
  • Gary Gibson - Economic Leadership Award
  • Patricia Smith - Healthy & Active Living Award
  • Leo Dunn - Behind the Scenes Award
  • Molly Chang - Diversity & Culture Award
  • Karina Kane - Compassion & Companionship
  • Chris Kruter - Innovation Award
  • Ben Weingartner - Youth Award

Group photo of the 2018 Senior of the Year Award Winners

The 2017 Senior of the Year Awards winners are:

  • Lillian Wherry - Senior of the Year
  • Jake van Mil - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Ruby Sarmiento Amog - Leadership Award
  • Wilfred Arndt - Economic Leadership Award
  • Mary Lou Collett - Healthy & Active Living Award
  • Bob Harris - Behind the Scenes Award
  • Mohammad Heidary - Diversity & Cultural Award
  • Myrtle Inwood - Compassion & Companionship
  • Shirley Kitchener - Innovation Award
  • June Pearce - Compassion & Companionship

Group picture of the 2017 Senior of the Year Awards

The 2016 Senior of the Year Awards winners are:

  • Edward Dunn - Senior of the Year Award
  • Anne Washington - Mary Smithson Compassion and Companionship Award
  • Mary Kiss - Economic Leadership Award
  • Marg Cheyne - Behind the Scene Award
  • Andrew Tallach - Healthy and Active Living Award
  • Claudette Joseph - Diversity and Cultural Award
  • Gerry Polmanter - Leadership Award
  • Dr. Lester Krames - Innovation Award
  • Frank Sullivan - Bernie Morelli Lifetime Achievement Award

The 2015 Senior of the Year Awards winners are:

  • Fred Miscio - Senior of the Year Award
  • Jan Lukas - Bernie Morelli Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Jean McEachern - Mary Smithson Compassion and Companionship Award
  • Lou DeStephanis - Healthy and Active Living Award
  • Chester Faulknor - Leadership Award
  • Dave Watts - Behind the Scenes Award
  • Michael Edward Grant - Diversity and Cultural Award
  • Bob Thomson - Economic Leadership Award
  • Emmy Weisz - Innovation Award

  • Patricia Saunders - Senior of the Year Award
  • Lois Goodale - Bernie Morelli Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Julian D’Angela - Innovation Award
  • William Grahlman - Behind the Scene Award
  • Gail Rappolt - Diversity and Cultural Award
  • Al Gordon - Leadership Award
  • Frank Ernest - Compassion and Companionship Award
  • Margaret Robertson - Economic Leadership Award
  • George Wallace - Healthy and Active Living Award