Senior of the Year Awards

Senior of the Year Awards Recipients

2019 Award Winners

Award winners were honoured at the City of Hamilton’s 2019 Senior of the Year Awards gala event.

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

Group of 2019 Award Winners

Standing (from left): Rick James, Gunther Kraft, Roy Jones, Shuja Qureshi, Ken Dolbear, Albert Graham.
Seated (from left): Florence Binkley, Walter Decker, Mary Butrus, Allison Simpson (accepting on behalf of Pat Simpson).

Roy Jones, 2019 Senior of the Year Award Winner

Roy Jones - 2019 Senior of the Year

For the past five years, this volunteer has become a permanent fixture in the café at the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre, volunteering all day, every day, to serve coffee and sandwiches with a smile on his face. He will frequently stay late on Wednesdays to serve the evening crowd, even going so far as to walk seniors back to their cars at the end of the day. His volunteerism has led the Advisory Board to unanimously vote to change the name of the café to “Roy’s Café”. 

Even before his time at ASAC, he was known as someone who was always willing to lend a hand and had the uncanny ability to make everyone feel welcome. Drawing from his experiences as a veteran and pilot instructor, he made sure to use his involvement in the 6th Ancaster Scout Troops and Ancaster Baseball League to teach youth the value of responsibility, humility and life lessons. Even when he lived outside of Ancaster, Roy still represented his community through the Ancaster Snow Birds group in Clearwater, Florida, where he strategically resolved many technical challenges to the main meeting area. Even today, he is the epitome of a gentleman and has been described as the “guardian of good manners and polite conversation.”

Florence Mary Binkley, 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Florence Binkley - Bernie Morelli Lifetime Achievement Award

A lifelong volunteer, she has been volunteering for over 70 years. This volunteer is heavily involved in the Millgrove United Church and as part of the Women’s Auxiliary has baked, cooked, sewed, made crafts, knitted and organized church fundraisers. For over 55 years, she has volunteered at Joseph Brant Hospital compassionately escorting patients, providing information to visitors and even helping out volunteers at neighbouring hospitals.

For 20 years she has volunteered with the Red Cross’ Meals on Wheels program, providing a nice meal and companionship to isolated seniors. In recognition of her long-term volunteerism, Florence was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Provincial Life Membership from the Hospital Auxiliaries Association in 2006.

Ken Dolbear, 2019 Senior of the Year Leadership Award

Ken Dolbear - Ron Smithson Leadership Award

This volunteer has been a busy volunteer for over 50 years, starting with Westside Baptist as Music Program Coordinator before moving on to Philpott Memorial Church. For many years he was a friendly visitor at Henderson (Juravinksi) Hospital and then volunteered with Meals on Wheels, delivering meals to isolated seniors and offering companionship.

Most recently, this volunteer has been spending his time with the residents at Queens Garden Long Term Care residence, leading interactive music programs and spending time engaging lonely residents. He understands how music can be used as a tool to decrease social isolation and ignite fond memories that increases feelings of wellness.


Gunther Kraft, 2019 Senior of the Year Economic Leadership Award

Gunther Kraft - Economic Leadership Award

Considered a hardworking, easygoing and tremendous team leader, this volunteer shares his passion for supporting Hamilton’s vulnerable populations by drawing attention to the issues surrounding food insecurity. Spending over 2100 volunteer hours in the Emergency Food Services section of Neighbour to Neighbour, this volunteer is known for always being the last to leave his shift.

He loves getting involved in a number of special events such as Stuff the Bus, We Scare Hunger, Ancaster community food drives and the Coldest Night of the Year. This volunteer has also been recognized for his contributions to the Stewards of Cootes Watershed, including his mentorship of youth volunteers, sharing the value and importance of hard work.


Albert Graham, 2018 Senior of the Year Innovation Award Winner

Albert Graham - Innovation Award

This volunteer is a committed volunteer concierge for Wellwood supporting after-hours programming, calling upon personal experience when offering words of encouragement and hope. He sings to and with residents of Extendicare and volunteers at Stewart Memorial Church where he has been a Trustee and co-treasurer, actively engaging in fundraising, maintenance and renovations, youth mentorship and leadership development.

Following the tragic loss of his son in the Afghanistan war, this volunteer worked to establish the Mark Anthony Graham Memorial Bursary for students pursuing post-secondary education. He also supports the Mark Graham Memorial track meet which honours his son and provides funding for an annual scholarship for students of Jamaican heritage. This volunteer and his wife also represent parents of fallen soldiers at memorial events and Remembrance Day ceremonies, honouring their son Mark.

Shuja Qureshi, 2019 Senior of the Year Diversity and Cultural Award Winner

Shuja Qureshi - Diversity and Cultural Award

Since arriving in Hamilton in January 1970, this volunteer has been a hardworking and dedicated leader within the Muslim community. He has been the Director, Secretary and President of the Muslim Association of Hamilton and has helped many grieving families in his position as Chairman of Funeral Services.

This volunteer has helped organize many activities including seniors’ road trips and special events. He has helped Syrian refugees find housing and other basic needs, and he’s supported inmates at the Hamilton Detention Centre. He reaches out beyond the Muslim community to promote harmony among different faith groups. This volunteer is a champion of human rights who has dedicated countless hours to supporting vulnerable populations not only in Hamilton but around the world.


Rick James, 2019 Senior of the Year Behind the Scenes Award Winner

Rick James - Behind the Scenes Award

Humble, generous, committed and a loyal Hamiltonian – that’s how people describe this volunteer. He dedicated 17 years to the Berrisfield Community Council and spent many years coaching basketball and hockey. With his passion for woodworking, this volunteer has lead creative arts programs for residents of Grace Villa and Cama Woodlands.

The Cancer Assistance Program has also benefited from his many talents, where he has committed almost full-time volunteer hours making sure all their essential equipment is in working order to allow cancer patients to safely stay at home.


Walter Decker, 2019 Senior of the Year Healthy and Active Living Award Winner

Walter Decker - Healthy and Active Living Award

This volunteer is a strong advocate for healthy and active living with his daily routine of morning push-ups followed by a healthy breakfast before heading out to climb the escarpment stairs. He’s an absolute inspiration to those he meets along the way and his words of encouragement keep people moving. He also supports his mental health by participating in social activities and special events, travelling and playing euchre.

This volunteer has become an ambassador for The Lung Association’s annual Steeltown Stair Climb event. With his encouragement, this event has seen an increase in participation for those over the age of 55.


Allison Simpson accepting the 2019 Senior of the Year Award on behalf of winner Pat Simpson

Pat Simpson - Mary Smithson Compassion and Companionship Award

This volunteer is known as a creative, giving and incredibly smart individual, working in the healthcare field as a Registered nurse and volunteer extraordinaire for many years. She taught Red Cross’ babysitting course and volunteered at Information Flamborough, working with existing programs and creating new programs too. This volunteer developed a workshop and accompanying resource kit, “Safety and the Preschooler – A Resource Kit for Daycare” which has been heavily used throughout the region.

She volunteered at the YWCA Good Beginnings Program, has lead sewing instruction at elementary schools and supports community outreach programs at St. James Messy Church. Whenever possible, she volunteer cooks for Wesley Center and migrant workers’ dinners. More recently, this volunteer has been involved in seniors’ programming and working on innovative ways to approach the arising social issues in Flamborough. She coordinated a study that highlighted the issues of loneliness and isolation for seniors living in rural homes and new developments. She continues to be heavily involved in McMaster’s “Studies on Aging” in order to help further meet the needs of seniors living in Canada.

Maryam Butrus, 2019 Senior of the Year Youth Supporting Seniors Award Winner

Maryam Butrus - Youth Supporting Seniors Award

This nominee has been an active youth volunteer at Macassa Lodge, contributing over 500 hours of service to the seniors there since 2016. She volunteers in the Gift Shop as well as helping with recreational therapy and bus trips. She is also active on the Chaplaincy team and assumes a leadership role on the Health Action Team at her school.

One summer she worked as part of an outreach program feeding the elderly homeless population in Hamilton. In addition, this volunteer assists her elderly, non-English speaking grandmother every week, by taking her to appointments and providing translation. She is a wonderful example of the role young people can have in serving and giving back to the community.


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