2018 Award Winners
Award winners were honoured at the City of Hamilton’s 2018 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.
Betty Kobayashi - 2018 Senior of theYear
Betty, or “Mrs. K” to many students in Ancaster, has been described as a quiet and unassuming citizen warrior who’s compassion, respectfulness, strength and conviction has benefited our community for 40 years. A founding member of the Ancaster Food Drive, over their 26-year history Betty has helped raise 1,647,500lbs of food. She is a 40-year volunteer at Marshall Memorial Church, taking on leadership roles where she organized dinners and a variety of fundraisers for Wesley Centre, Micah House and Choices. Betty also engaged in Pastoral visiting and conversation opportunities after church services. Recently receiving her 30-year volunteer pin from the Canadian Cancer Society, Betty is also a unit captain and canvasser for agencies such as Heart & Stroke, Salvation Army and Canadian Diabetes Association. Thanks to her tireless work ethic and caring demeanour, Betty was able to bridge the generation gap with at-risk youth in the GET Program at Ancaster High School, successfully connecting students to their community and vice versa. The impact of her dedication has a ripple effect that spans years. Betty was also a founding member of the Art in the Workplace program at McMaster Innovation Park, promoting local art and offering exposure to emerging artists.
Betty has been the recipient of a number of awards including Ancaster Citizen of the Year, Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Forever Ancaster citizen and the David Sweet Medal. Betty has also been a volunteer and contributing member of agencies such as Worker’s Art & Heritage, Canadian Japanese Culture Centre, National Association of Japanese Canadians, Status of Women, Brownies, Guides and various peace groups. Her tremendous energy and equally generous heart has allowed the City of Hamilton, and in particular the Town of Ancaster, to be a recipient of Betty’s lifetime of love and dedicated service to community.
Sylvia Parr - Lifetime Achievement Award
Sylvia’s dedication to volunteering in her community began at an early age as a “Candy Striper”. In her early years of marriage, Sylvia’s commitment to volunteerism became more focused on the rural community and the Ancaster Agricultural Society (Ancaster Fair). After several decades she was elected as President of the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies. In an effort to best support small community groups, Sylvia completed both the Volunteer Management and Fundraising programs at Mohawk College. Sylvia is also an active volunteer at Fieldcote Museum and a lead volunteer for Heritage Days in Ancaster.
Sylvia’s involvement at Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre (ASAC) is endless from the Centre Kitchen, ASAC Café, member’s Travel & Trips activities, and recently as an Advisory Board member responsible for special events/fundraising initiatives. In addition, Sylvia is a member of ASAC’s Fun Chorus, an upbeat choir who performs at local retirement and long term care homes. More recently, Sylvia took the lead role collaborating with Citizenship and Immigration Canada staff to host a citizenship ceremony at ASAC. Sylvia’s goal was to bring together older adult members with new immigrants from the community.
Carolann Fernandes - Leadership Award
Carolann has been volunteering and supporting her community three to four days a week for the past twenty years. As a member of the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens’ Organization (OCSCO) for six years, Carolann served as both chair and co-chair and represented the organization as a lead negotiator and advocate of senior’s welfare with the Ontario Seniors Secretariat. She also served six years as a member with the Ontario Senior’s Liaison Committee, where she advised various deputy ministers on senior’s issues. For several years, Carolann contributed her expertise as a board member for DARTS ensuring that services provided promote equitable access. In addition, she has also served as a board member for Wellwood Juravinski Centre, where she was responsible for service provision for a support group for cancer survivors. Carolann served on the Police Advisory Committee for six years as an advocate for public complaints regarding discrimination issues, as well as served on the interview panel for Citizen’s Police Advisory in 2004.
Since 2003, she has been an active volunteer of the Seniors Advisory Committee for the City of Hamilton, where she took the lead in developing the Housing Guide for Older Adults. Carolann previously served as president and vice-president of the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton (SPRC), where she addressed issues of poverty, affordable housing, and newcomer integration, and was also a board member for the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI). For eight years as a committee member for Public Health Services (Healthy Living Hamilton), Carolann proposed and developed the New Horizons Project for isolated seniors, and through this project she encouraged seniors to participate in physical and social activities. Carolann has also been a member of the United Nations Association of Hamilton and Region for nine years and served as vice-president for eight. She has created a peace garden at City Hall and has contributed her time and skills towards the Citizen’s Protection Project to help racialized, LGBTQ, and other self-identified vulnerable persons in Hamilton.
Gary Gibson- Economic Leadership Award
A strong-held belief in social justice and fundraising lead Gary to volunteer his time as Chair of Neighbour to Neighbour’s used book store. A social enterprise that generates revenue for N2N’s emergency food services program, Gary’s leadership helped produce a 90% increase in revenue by focussing on planning and promotion. Gary is also responsible for 20 volunteers including scheduling, training and chairing meetings. His volunteers appreciate how he recognizes and appreciates their performance and dedication to N2N’s book store, and how their work positively impacts the larger community.
Gary is also involved with the Education Archives & Heritage Centre, maintaining and collecting HWDSB historic memorabilia and records. Currently Gary is assisting with re-organizing the data collection and digital record storage system.
Patricia Smith - Healthy & Active Living Award
For nearly 30 years, Pat has contributed her time, hard work and resources to improving the lives of those living with diabetes. She began her volunteer work with the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) in Hamilton, where she soon recognized that many gaps existed for those with diabetes. Pat established a support and information store to directly provide education and support to those newly diagnosed with diabetes. Pat spear headed the expansion of the store to a larger location where a multitude of diabetic supplies, hands-on training, and financial coverage information was made available which became a valuable resource for Hamiltonians living with diabetes. Pat soon began promoting the CDA’s services across Southern Ontario by delivering educational presentations at retirement and long term care homes and to family physicians and pharmacists. In 1993, Pat began and co-ordinated the Hamilton Adult Diabetes Support Group, which soon expanded throughout Southern Ontario. Pat has also volunteered with the Diabetes Advisory Committee advocating for those living with diabetes.
Pat also finds time to volunteer at Idlewyld Manor, a long term care home where she helps with fundraising events and advocates for residents. Other past volunteer contributions include the Lung Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, CNIB Hamilton and the Canadian Diabetes Association Clothes Line Program. When asked why she continues to be a devoted mentor and leader Pat replies, “I do it with love and passion...trying to make a difference in the lives of people with this incurable disease”.
Leo Dunn - Behind the Scenes Award
Leo comes from a long-line of volunteers, so it is no surprise that he has amassed thousands of volunteer hours himself. A loyal volunteer at Wellwood for 11 years, Leo has done everything from refinishing and building furniture to hanging art. Seen as the “go-to” guy, he quickly deals with unforeseen issues that require urgent attention. He has also been Wellwood’s concierge, supporting after-hours programs by setting up, greeting participants and then securing the building when all is done. Leo has also been a volunteer driver delivering supplies to/from Burlington, and has been the 10K bike marshal at the annual Walk/Run/Wheel fundraiser. Not content to just support Wellwood, Leo is a committed volunteer at Most Blessed Sacrament, actively involved in a variety of capacities including building support and maintenance, scheduling Sunday ministers and reading scripture, supporting funerals, the Parish Council and the Bazaar Committee.
Ronald McDonald House is also a beneficiary of Leo’s volunteerism, as he picks up and delivers food products to support the families of sick children staying there. Reflecting on Leo’s emphasis on fitness, he also supports the Around the Bay Race, registering participants to ensure a successful Run day. Leo is seen as a quiet, unassuming and gentle man who shies away from accolades or recognition but is proud to support his community.
Molly Chang - Diversity & Culture Award
As an immigrant to Canada, Molly experienced first-hand how difficult the language barrier is for newcomers to assimilate into Canadian life. As a Senior Peer Volunteer with Catholic Family Services, Molly uses her Chinese interpretation and translation skills to support seniors trying to access services and social supports for issues ranging from loneliness and isolation to bereavement and crisis management.
Drawing upon a nursing background, Molly provided compassionate support via phone and in-person visits. Somehow Molly also found time to volunteer with Meals on Wheels, Senior Tai Chi Club, Hamilton Council on Aging (HCoA), Ontario Trillium Foundation, City of Hamilton’s Engagement Committee and the Community Food Advisory. Her monthly cooking workshops are well attended and a wonderful respite for isolated seniors. For her remarkable contributions, Molly was honoured with an Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award from the HCoA in 2014. Molly takes a holistic approach to volunteerism supporting the physical, mental and social well-being of seniors in Hamilton’s Chinese and diverse communities.
Karina Kane - Compassion & Companionship
Karina’s sincerity, humility, compassion and caring nature is a natural fit with the programs she volunteers with. Coupled with a background in social work, Karina is able to connect with isolated seniors making them feel valued and cared for, especially under stressful times like intensive medical appointments.
Karina’s volunteer work includes the Hamilton Council on Aging’s Older Adult Peer Connector program, assisting with special events and client support at the Children’s Aid Society, the YWCA Seniors Peer Connector Program, the Visiting Library Service and Dundas Community Services’ Friendly Visiting Program – all of which shows her passion for supporting some of Hamilton’s most at-risk and isolated seniors. Older isolated adults are not the only beneficiaries of Karina’s caring nature – rescue dogs are too! Karina fosters dogs through the Speaking of Dogs program while they are awaiting their new forever homes.
Chris Kruter - Innovation Award
A long-standing volunteer for over 45 years, Chris has done it all – from supporting seniors and veterans to vulnerable individuals and young athletes. For the past five years, Chris has been a devoted driver in the VON Meals on Wheels program, delivering hot and frozen meals to shut-in seniors and individuals who are at nutritional risk.
As the longest standing Lions Club member and current President, Chris supports people with disabilities in obtaining much-needed assistive devices. A 20-year soccer coach with Ancaster Youth Soccer, Chris is seen as a dedicated and engaging coach, leading teams to championships and promoting respectful play. He also connects these young athletes with civic engagement opportunities and public speaking competitions. As president of the Dutch Veterans Association for 30 years, Chris recognizes and supports veterans through commemorative events and social activities. For this, Chris was awarded the Cross of Merit by the Netherlands in 2003 and was knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands in 2004. Because Chris isn’t busy enough, he also volunteers at The Carpenter Hospice, lovingly preparing specialty soups for residents who are at the end-stage of life.
Ben Weingartner - Youth Award
Since 2013, and after completing a high school Co-op placement at Wentworth Lodge, Ben has dedicated over 25 hours a week to the residents of the Lodge. Ben goes above and beyond to assist where needed, including resident shopping trips, recreational programs and events, friendly visiting, pastoral support, mail delivery, laundry services, and customer service in the Tuck Shop. Ben also finds time to volunteer at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, where he has been a valuable asset to the senior women’s group.
Ben is also an active youth group member, where he participated in planting 8,000 trees, helped to organize a clean-up day for Stewarts of Cootes Watershed, and helped with a fundraiser at the Ancaster Fair.
2017 Award Winners
2017 Award Winners
Award winners were honoured at the City of Hamilton’s 2017 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.
Lillian Wherry - 2017 Senior of theYear
Shortly after settling as a resident of First Place Hamilton 34 years ago, Lillian began her volunteer activities. She has served many roles with the Christian Fellowship at First Place, but for the last 10 years has been President. Lilian takes the lead on raising funds for various local non-profit organizations. She also directs the First Place Choir and plays the piano for church services, memorial services, and bible study classes. She is instrumental in organizing fun projects, such as Christmas skits, Men’s Night and poetry readings. Through the Christian Fellowship, one of Lillian’s main focuses is spearheading the large sock and towel drives, and collecting food and toiletries for Wesley Urban Ministries.
In 2014, Lillian established the Robert P. Wherry Scholarship through Mohawk College. This scholarship is awarded annually in memory of Lillian’s late husband to a student who excels in the Welding Fabrication or Apprenticeship program. More recently, Lillian is leading a fundraiser to help give a child with facial deformities a life changing operation. In 2016, Lillian was awarded the Volunteer of the Year at First Place.
Jake van Mil - Lifetime Achievement Award
Jake has been an active volunteer of Wesley Urban Ministries for over 40 years. He contributes his time every day and is the resident expert in the food check-out area. He serves meals at the Wesley Centre and is a lead volunteer at the no charge Christmas store. Each year this store is set-up in a new location. Jake never complains and will take an hour bus ride to reach the location. Jake helped create the points based system, which has benefitted the most vulnerable citizens in the community. He also spends many hours training and mentoring other volunteers.
For over 20 years, Jake has also contributed his time to the Mount Hamilton Horticulture Society as a gardener for the March of Dimes Jason’s House. Jake has also been a member and volunteer at Binkley United Church for over 60 years, where he supports events and fundraising initiatives. For many years, he raised geraniums and sold these as a congregational fundraiser. As stated by the Worship Leader of the church, “Jake loves growing beautiful things. In his garden he realizes the blessings that has been given and in that way, he becomes a blessing to others.”
Ruby Sarmiento Amog - Leadership Award
Ruby is an advocate locally, nationally and internationally. As President of the Immigrant Culture & Art Association of Hamilton, Ruby has led both the Artist Mentorship Program and artist profiling. As President of the United Filipino Association of Hamilton, she established the Scholarship Award Program which is the first of its kind in the Filipino community. Ruby is also a member of the Zonta Foundation District 17 International, where she created her own personal legacy educational scholarship.
As past President of the Canadian Club of Hamilton, Ruby worked diligently to maintain the Student Initiative Program. Ruby is also a member of the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice Board and past President of the Board for the YWCA Non-Profit Housing Corporation of Hamilton. Ruby has received many awards, including the 2012 Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, Founders Award of Excellence of the Zonta Club of Hamilton, Zonta International, and the YWCA Hamilton Women of Distinction for Volunteerism Award.
Wilfred Arndt - Economic Leadership Award
Through a great deal of ingenuity, Wilfred has introduced innovative and prosperous initiatives that have enriched the lives of Waterdown residents, as well as enhanced the City of Hamilton as a whole. In the 1990’s he was appointed to the Flamborough Heritage Committee, and in 2010 to the Hamilton Municipal Heritage Committee. Wilfred currently sits as Chair for the Heritage Permit Review subcommittee.
As a volunteer with the Flamborough BIA, he established the Hanging Basket Program and Replanting of the Floral Containers. Wilfred’s dedication to the BIA led to his role as Chair then Executive Director. In this position, he established Movie in the Park, the annual Christmas Carol and Candle Walk, and reinvigorated the Christmas Tree Lighting Festival. Wilfred’s ideas continued to evolve with the Waterdown Blooms Project, Waterdown Farmers Market, and the Memorial Hall renovation project. In 2013, the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce awarded Wilfrid with the Town of Flamborough Award.
Mary Lou Collett - Healthy & Active Living Award
It has been 45 years since Mary Lou began volunteering at St. Joseph’s Villa as a water-fit instructor for frail seniors. For the last 16 years, Mary Lou has provided Therapeutic Touch for Shalom Village residents, and to Wellwood clients living with cancer. She has recently taken on the role of group leader for a new program teaching self-therapeutic touch.
Mary Lou has also spent many years nurturing a potential donor for Wellwood. The amount of close to $80,000 for Wellwood will be invested, and the revenue generated will be directed to volunteer training.
Mary Lou also takes the time to drive seniors to and from church at First Pilgrim United, and for 20 years has volunteered in various roles at St. Mark’s United Church.
Bob Harris - Behind the Scenes Award
For close to 15 years, Bob has been a member and volunteer of Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre (ASAC), and is known as “Mr. Fix It”! He is the go to person for all events and program set-up and tear down. Bob has made many remarkable contributions to ASAC, including the expansion of the centre in 2013-2014 where he took on a daily leadership and advisory role.
Bob has also served as Chair of the Building Committee, member of the Finance Committee, and has sat on the Advisory Board for over a decade. Bob is a member of three choirs: The Canadian Male Orpheous Choir, The Albertones Mens’ Choir, and the ASAC Fun Choir. Participation in these choirs gives Bob the opportunity to perform at community events, seniors’ centres, and long term care homes.
Mohammad Heidary - Diversity & Cultural Award
Mohammad contributes a great amount of time to the Afghan community, especially with seniors. Through the Afghan Association of Hamilton, he established and facilitates a weekly seniors program where isolated seniors participate by socializing, learning about healthy eating, and gaining knowledge about programs available to them in Hamilton.
Mohammad also dedicates his time to driving many seniors, many of which have low incomes to appointments. Many seniors have been actively participating in other community programs because of Mohammad’s outreach activities.
Myrtle Inwood - Compassion & Companionship
Myrtle has been an active volunteer at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton for over 20 years, and has accumulated 3,900 hours. She provides compassionate support to families who spend many hours in the surgical waiting room.
Myrtle has also spent 20+ years volunteering for the MacNab Street Presbyterian Church. In recognition of her capacity for empathy, she was appointed as a Deacon, and provides support to members of the church who are shut-ins.
For the past seven years, Myrtle has contributed her time to the Out of the Cold Program and has accumulated an impressive 400+ hours.
Shirley Kitchener - Innovation Award
Shirley is a true leader by establishing and facilitating three innovative and highly successful food access initiatives for seniors through City Housing Hamilton. Twice per week she leads a group of volunteers in the preparation of 100+ meals, some of which are delivered to residents unable to leave their residence. This program offers healthy meals, and reaches isolated seniors. Shirley also coordinates her building’s community garden, which is home to 20 gardeners. She ensures the garden is physically accessible for seniors. She also organizes fundraisers and social activities to ensure the garden is affordable and sustainable.
More recently, Shirley led a Mobile Market at her building in partnership with Neighbour to Neighbour. On a bi-weekly basis Shirley coordinates a volunteer team to sell affordable produce to residents.
June Pearce - Compassion & Companionship
June is the longest serving volunteer at Neighbour to Neighbour Centre, and this year marks her 26th serving the most vulnerable in the community. She is involved in so many areas, such as the food bank, Christmas programs, fundraisers and as a literacy tutor. For over 40 years, June has dedicated her time to Girl Guides of Canada where she promotes fellowship and leadership. She has been involved in training and leadership roles, as well as Division Commissioner.
Over the past 15 years, June has been involved with two churches within the Anglican Diocese. As Chair of the Hospital Visiting Committee, she trains volunteers to provide support to fellow parishioners during their hospital stays.She also took the lead on the Diocesan Youth Committee where she organized summer camps for youth, and designed and facilitated training for weekend leadership conferences.
2016 Award Winners
Edward Dunn - 2016 Senior of the Year
As Chair of Administration for the 2000 Millennium International Children’s Games, this volunteer was a key leader in hosting over 2000 youth, ages 12-15 from over 50 countries while they stayed and competed in Hamilton. He continued his commitment to the Games by becoming President of the Hamilton organizing committee, where he continues to ensure that local youth have the opportunity to compete internationally for our city.
For over 30 years, this volunteer and his spouse have facilitated marriage preparation courses for hundreds of couples at St. Margaret Mary Parish. He has chaired the Good Shepherd’s Harvest Dinner Committee for close to 20 years, and has been an integral part of this fundraiser raising thousands for those less fortunate.
His volunteer commitments do not stop there. His generosity, commitment and compassion has extended to St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation golf tournament, St. Margaret Mary Parish fundraiser for Haiti, Participation House, Hamilton Hurricane Football Alumni and St. Elizabeth’s Visiting Nurses Association.
Anne Washington - Mary Smithson Compassion and Companionship Award
This volunteer provides motivation and sustainability to many committees, such as the Ellen Osler Community Council, Window on Justice Project, St. James Anglican Church Outreach Committee and Association of Dundas Churches. Her direction has helped these groups work together to make the Dundas community a better place.
This volunteer’s commitment and passion has helped Ellen Osler Home become an active part of the community. She has helped open doors by raising awareness around the barriers that women face when transiting back into the community. As stated by a woman who was supported by this volunteer, “Through this volunteer I have been able to build a support system of strong women who are willing to help me through my transition into the community. There is no other woman sweeter and more supportive than this woman.”
Mary Kiss - Economic Leadership Award
This volunteer has spent most of her life in a leadership position even into her retirement years as a senior volunteer. Since 2014 she has chaired the Ainslie Wood Community Association; and prior to this, and for over 20 years as chair of the Westdale Community Association. This volunteer is a strong advocate for environmental protection in the McMaster neighbourhoods, and for good relations between McMaster, the student community and non-students.
This volunteer speaks regularly to Council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee, as a delegate on West Hamilton development files. In 2013, this volunteer led the broad community fight against the closure of Prince Phillip School. Even though the school closed, this anti-closure movement gave birth to Ainslie Wood Community Association, which one of Hamilton’s most active neighbourhood advocacy groups.
Marg Cheyne - Behind the Scene Award
For over 25 years this volunteer has dedicated close to 13,000 hours to programs and services that have helped to enhance the quality of life of the 270 residents who reside at Macassa Lodge. Her contributions are endless: Current treasurer and past secretary for the Volunteer Association of Macassa Lodge, Tuck Shop volunteer, memorial services, recreation assistant, bus trips, special events and fundraising initiatives. In 2015, this volunteer took a lead role “behind the scene” in a Macassa Lodge Alzheimer’s fundraiser, which raised over $8,000.
Andrew Tallach - Healthy and Active Living Award
For close to 60 years this volunteer has been a member of the Hamilton Veterans Dart League, and has held various positions on the executive committee, including President for 20 years. This volunteer has also been a member of the National Steel Car War Veterans Association since the early 1960’s. As sports and social chairman, this volunteer arranged sports and social activities for members and their families.
For the last 20 years, this volunteer has been a very active choir singer, soloist and dancer with the Geritol Follies. He has also served as president, and currently as treasurer for the Geritol Follies. In his spare time, this volunteer coordinates a group with Warden Park Seniors. Most evenings this group plays cards and socializes, and this group has grown from 4 to 19 members.
Claudette Joseph - Diversity and Cultural Award
This volunteer immigrated to Canada in 1966 from Trinidad. For the past 27 years, this volunteer has been a member of, but also founded the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Hamilton. For close to 10 years she has been involved with the Hamilton Council on Aging’s Improving Access Program. This programs aims at helping seniors from diverse communities access information about community support programs and services. More specifically, organizing Chinese community kitchens, information sessions and classes for those learning English as a second language.
This volunteer is also a 20 year member and volunteer with Northern Stars, a local fraternity group dedicated to the community. Additional volunteer roles are with St. Joseph’s Home Care, North Hamilton Community Health Centre and Welcome Inn.
Gerry Polmanter - Leadership Award
This volunteer has been a leader in promoting community engagement and contributing to the social and culture of life in our city. His leadership and commitment to the Keith Community Hub as both Chair and Vice-Chair has led to many projects and initiatives. This volunteer was integral in building a community garden for both the Keith community and St. David’s Presbyterian Church to enjoy. He has also been involved in involving other hubs, such as “Building Momentum” events.
This volunteer’s dedication to St. David’s Presbyterian church is evident in his leadership with events and charity fundraisers. In various leadership roles this volunteer has spent close to 40 years with the North Central Community Association, which services the Keith community. He has also dedicated over 25 years in a leadership role on the Hamilton Winterfest Committee, and the last 5 years with the Santa Clause Parade Committee.
Dr. Lester Krames - Innovation Award
For over 5 years now this volunteer has dedicated much of his time to the John Howard Society of Hamilton. His involvement is extensive, from the Seniors Restorative Justice Committee, Crisis Intervention and Reintegration Services, Community Anger Management Program to a new initiative named Bridging the Gap. This volunteer was integral in developing this new program, which serves families and children of incarcerated individuals. As a retired professor of Psychology, he also conducts research and shares tools and materials to ensure clients have access to information and resources and referrals that are current, evidence-based and founded in best practices. This volunteer also contributes to continual training for staff.
Frank Sullivan - Bernie Morelli Lifetime Achievement Award
Throughout most of his life this volunteer has been dedicated to volunteerism. His commitment has crossed all ages and abilities from those with special needs, elite and amateur athletes, children and seniors. For over 20 years this volunteer has held various roles for Dofasco baseball and minor hockey, from coach to league President. He also dedicated over 20 years as an ambassador for Hamilton by welcoming and assisting athletes and officials to major sporting events.
However, this volunteer’s greatest achievement was establishing and coordinating the Special Olympics skating program, which has evolved and is still in existence today resulting in hundreds of participants over the years with some achieving national and international success! He has led and assisted committees organizing regional, national and international skating events hosted locally. This volunteer also gives his time to Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice, McDonald’s Foundation and Dofasco Retirees.
Remembering 2015 Senior of the Year Award Winner Fred Miscio
2015 Award Winners
Twenty-five nominees and nine award winners were honoured at the City of Hamilton’s 20th Annual 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.
The 2015 Senior of the Year Awards winners are:
Fred Miscio - Senior of the Year Award
Mr. Miscio has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for over 40 years and has served in every possible capacity. His ability to empower his peers to give back is evident in his commitment to L’Arche Homes, where he has spent over 25 years helping with programming and fundraising. Mr. Miscio’s strong leadership ability is highlighted with the Annual Bishop’s Dinner, which he started over 30 years ago. Since that time, the event has raised $1.2 million. For the last four years, he has been a true advocate and fundraiser for breast cancer research by participating as a family team in the Run for Cancer. He has also spent twelve years as a coach and manager for the Steel City Minor Hockey Association, and seven years with the Slow Pitch Knights of Columbus for seniors and pastors. Mr. Miscio has also dedicated over 10 years to the Catholic Youth Organization, where he has helped with fundraising initiatives to assist children in need.
Jan Lukas - Bernie Morelli Lifetime Achievement Award
As a high school guidance counsellor in the early 1980s, Ms. Lukas joined the newly formed Suicide Prevention Council of Hamilton, and co-wrote “The Suicide Handbook”. In the early 1990s, she organized a full-day violence prevention workshop for 1,500 students and wrote an anti-violence plan titled, “Break the Silence”, published by CAVEAT (Canadians Against Violence Everywhere Advocating its Termination). Ms. Lukas also helped to establish the CAVEAT Youth Council and social justice groups for grade nine and 10 students such as HOPE (High Schoolers Opening People’s Eyes). She founded the Ancaster Community Food Drive, led over 400 volunteers, and collected over 1,357,500 pounds of food. Ms. Lukas has also been involved in helping women’s movements, such as Take Back the Night and The Beautiful Women Project with the YWCA. She is also a member of the Status of Women Council. She has also been a member of the Ancaster Community Council for 13 years, where her focus is supporting our youth. Ms. Lukas was instrumental in establishing the Ancaster Youth Council and “Teen Centre” at Morgan Firestone Arena. For over 30 years she has also dedicated her time to the Hamilton Poverty Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. She has been bestowed many awards, including the Diamond Jubilee Medal and YWCA Women of Distinction and Ancaster Citizen of the Year.
Jean McEachern - Mary Smithson Compassion and Companionship Award
The Compassion and Companionship Award was dedicated posthumously to Mary Smithson, who dedicated countless hours to supporting the city’s more vulnerable populations and championing accessibility for all Hamiltonians. Mrs. Smithson passed away in May 2014.
Award winner Ms. McEachern began her volunteer path at St. Peter’s Hospital over 34 years ago as a Tuck Shop volunteer and hospital auxiliary fundraiser. Soon after, she took on the roles of medical appointment escort, special event volunteer and palliative care volunteer, and has mentored other volunteers in the Palliative Care unit.
Lou DeStephanis -Healthy and Active Living Award
Mr. DeStephanis has been a volunteer of the YWCA Seniors Active Living Centre since 2005. In addition to his positions as previous Vice-Chair and currently as Chair of the Seniors Advisory Board, Lou is a true entertainer. For the past 10 years, Lou has been a volunteer performer for the Golden Age of Variety through Theatre Aquarius, and with a local Hawaiian dance group. More recently, Lou has been performing with the Hamilton Geritol Follies. For 25 years, Lou has been a church choir leader at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, and has contributed much of his time to the Knights of Columbus for various charities. Lou has also volunteered with the Burlington Gymnastics Club, Mount Hamilton Soccer Club, Canadian Red Cross and Canadian Cancer Society.
Chester Faulknor - Leadership Award
For over 23 years, Mr. Faulkner has served and been President of the Ancaster Village Non-Profit Homes and was instrumental in the design-build of 79 geared-to-income residences. For over 30 years, he coached Ancaster High School’s girls track and cross country teams. He was Chair of the Ontario High School Cross Country Championships in Ancaster in 1994 and was the lead organizer for the event, involving 1700 athletes and 100 volunteers. For over 10 years, Mr. Faulknor was President of Ancaster Minor Soccer League, where he established a beginner’s program for four- to six-year-olds. He has been involved with the teacher’s federation for over 40 years, and as Vice-President of District 36 Wentworth, he was instrumental in creating the Excellence in Education Award in all schools. For eight years, he was a member of the OSSTF Educational Finance Committee, where he co-wrote an alternative budget submission for educational grants. For the past 15 years, he has been a member and Chair of the Active Retired Members of Hamilton and has been honoured with several awards, including the Government of Canada Gold Medal for coaching and community work.
Dave Watts - Behind the Scenes Award
Mr. Watts is one of Neighbour to Neighbour’s longest serving volunteers. For over 23 years, he contributed 2-4 days per week receiving, sorting and picking up food donations. His efforts have helped to serve 1,200 families (5,000 individuals) each month. Over the past 20 years, He has also given his time to the Ancaster Community Food Drive, which serves eight agencies in Hamilton. On October 31 each year for the past 10 years, Mr. Watts works alongside high school students sorting food donations for Halloween for Hunger. Throughout the years and over three generations, he has influenced family and friends to join his volunteer commitment to the Neighbour to Neighbour Centre.
Michael Edward Grant - Diversity and Cultural Award
Since immigrating to Canada in 1964, Mr. Grant has made significant volunteer contributions to children’s and senior’s choirs in Hamilton. As an elementary school teacher he taught children to sing at many events in Hamilton, including Remembrance Day at City Hall. He has also served as conductor for the Harvester Male Chorus for over 25 years with performances in Canada and the U.S., 12 years at First Place Seniors residence, 15 years as piano player for the residents of Blackadar Seniors residence, and over 10 years as Music Director at Glenwood Special Day School for children with special needs. Today, he continues to volunteer directing the Sackville Hill Seniors Choir, is the Music Director for Black History month celebrations and performs at private and special events.
Bob Thomson - Economic Leadership Award
Mr. Thomson has held the position of President of the Kinsmen Club in Streetsville where he was an integral part of the development of a community swimming pool. He continued on his volunteer path when he moved to Ancaster over 16 years ago and has held various positions on the Board of Directors at Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre, including over seven years as Chair. Mr. Thomson was also instrumental in enabling a partnership between the City of Hamilton and provincial and federal governments for an expansion of the centre. He implemented technology for credit and debit card payments, and redeveloped and maintains the centre’s website. He also developed a website for Sackville Hill Senior’s Centre. He is a member of the City of Hamilton’s Seniors Advisory committee and has held roles with the Hamilton Council on Aging and Ancaster Community Council.
Emmy Weisz - Innovation Award
In the late 1970s, Ms. Weisz helped to implement gerontology subjects in the curriculums at McMaster University and Mohawk College. Since the 1980s, she has been a member of various City of Hamilton committees, such as the Seniors Advisory, Housing Sub-Committee and Access and Equity Committee. In 1981, she founded the Alzheimer’s Society of Hamilton-Halton, and for over 10 years helped educate the community about Alzheimer’s disease. For over 15 years, she was a volunteer consultant in establishing housing for seniors and those with special needs. She has spent over 20 years as a member of the Hamilton Jewish Federation Holocaust’s Education Committee (Speaker’s Bureau), and as a volunteer consultant with the Ontario Association of Professional Social Workers. Ms. Weisz's contributions also extend to promoting children's access to classical music through the Hamilton Philharmonic Symphony. More recently is her contribution to civic life as President of the Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association.
2014 Award winners
Patricia Saunders - Senior of the Year Award
The Senior of the Year Award is awarded by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, and gives each municipality in Ontario the opportunity to honour one outstanding local Ontarian who, at 65 years of age or beyond, has voluntarily contributed to their community, perhaps in one, or a number of areas, including the arts, literature, community service, education, fitness and sport and humanitarian activities. Patricia Saunders, who lives on the mountain, began volunteering in the 1950’s as a Sunday school teacher at St. John’s Anglican Church. She later became a charter and founding member of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Hamilton Branch, the Hamilton Chapter of the Friends of Schizophrenics, and Hamilton Women’s Centre. While raising four children, she obtained her BA/BSW from McMaster University, and became the President of McMaster University Alumni, School of Social Work. She was the first woman to become Chair of the then Hamilton-Wentworth Police Services Board, and later became Volunteer Coordinator for the Community Policing Centre. Saunders has also supported a number of other community organizations and committees including the Hamilton Mountain Heritage Society, the City of Hamilton’s Status of Women Committee, the Hamilton Historical Board, the Community Advisory Committee/Claremont House (Alcohol Treatment Program), YWCA Beautiful Women Project and the Hamilton-Wentworth Heritage Society.
Lois Goodale – Bernie Morelli Lifetime Achievement Award
Presented to a senior volunteer who has demonstrated excellence in long-term service, commitment to the community and dedication to volunteerism. This award is dedicated to Councillor Bernie Morelli who was an advocate, for so many of his 22 years as Ward 3 Councillor, particularly for public safety and seniors. He spent many years as chair of the Hamilton Police Services Board and sat on various advisory committees for persons with disabilities, veterans and seniors. Lois Goodale, who lives downtown, has been volunteering in Hamilton for almost 60 years. It started at James Street Baptist Church where she taught English to new Canadians and led a program, for 37 years, for seniors living in Hamilton’s downtown and west end. She also spent 25 years as a lay assistant for the church, visiting shut-ins. Goodale was also president of the Women’s Society for Christian Service and leader for the church’s seasonal program “Servant’s Garden”.
Julian D’Angela – Innovation Award
Presented to a senior volunteer who has contributed to an organization and/or to the community with the creation of new or different programs, which are innovative in nature. In 2004, Julian D'Angela, a resident of Ancaster, launched the Ancaster Film Festival, part of the Toronto International Film Festival, and presents 12 yearly screenings at the Silver City Theatre in Ancaster. Since its inception, festival membership has grown from 200 to over 1,000, and this non-profit venture has raised $123,000 to date for local food banks and charities. D'Angela also coordinates the annual Tastes of Ancaster, through the Knights of Columbus, and dedicates his time to Lobsterfest, the Ancaster Food Drive and The Meadows long-term care home.
William Grahlman – Behind the Scene Award
Presented to a senior volunteer who is not highly visible, but is always there, willing to assist in any way possible to better their community. William Grahlman, a resident of Ancaster, has been a member of the R.C.A.F.A. 447 Wing in Mount Hope for 25 years, and is currently serving as president. He ensures the Wing is operating efficiently on a daily basis and is open for visitors, members, neighbours and local youth. Grahlman has also supported the Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation for almost 15 years, dedicating many hours a week as a courtesy bus driver for children in the community.
Gail Rappolt – Diversity and Cultural Award
Presented to a senior volunteer who has achieved excellence in diversity, positive results in making a difference within the community, and has assisted with developing effective programs to bring cultures together. This volunteer has contributed to expanding public recognitions and elevating awareness of common values, including respect for all citizens. Gail Rappolt, who resides in west Hamilton, is a founding member of the Culture of Peace Hamilton, board president and Seniors Group Leader at First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, and is chair of Blooms in Africa. Rappolt is liaison from Hamilton with the United Nations Association of Canada and is the Hamilton envoy for the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office, promoting peace initiatives and human rights.
Al Gordon – Leadership Award
Presented to a senior volunteer who consistently demonstrates dedication, motivation and a positive attitude. This volunteer acts as a role model, inspires commitment from others to reach goals and accomplishments and possesses outstanding attributes, such as a ‘can-do’ attitude, excellent communication skills, resourcefulness, creativity, reliability and overall passion within their volunteer role. Al Gordon, a resident of Ancaster, has been actively involved with Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre (ASAC) for over 20 years, is currently chair of its Advisory Board, and was instrumental in leading a fundraising effort to support its renovation and expansion. He has been a member of the City of Hamilton’s Seniors Advisory Committee for six years and is also a member of the Older Adult Centres Association of Ontario, receiving their Leadership Award in 2013.
Frank Ernest – Compassion and Companionship Award
Presented to a senior volunteer who demonstrates fellowship and friendship by actively listening to others, who demonstrates empathy and concern, and is quick to advocate for, and support, the most vulnerable within the community. Frank Ernest, who resides in Ancaster, helped establish Choices in 1982, a residential program for people living with developmental challenges. He has been involved with the Ancaster Food Drive for almost 20 years, has assisted the Heritage Village BIA with their Farmer’s Market and winter skating rink, and supports the Village Core Advisory Committee. He was a volunteer firefighter for many years and is also committed to raising funds with his church each year for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Margaret Robertson – Economic Leadership Award
Presented to a senior volunteer whose financial management/leadership and/or fundraising efforts have contributed to the livelihood of an organization, and has helped lead the way, or made great strides in, helping an organization achieve its financial goals. Margaret Robertson, a resident of Waterdown, launched her business there in 1975, is a past president of the Waterdown BIA, was the first female President of the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce and established the Business Women’s Network. She has served as a board member for various organizations including Flamborough Information Services and Flamborough Seniors Advisory, and she helped bring the Waterdown YMCA to fruition.
George Wallace – Healthy and Active Living Award
Presented to a senior volunteer who has helped an organization become and/or remain active, or has been instrumental in implementing healthy lifestyle programming. A resident of Stoney Creek, a volunteer coach with minor hockey in Stoney Creek for over 20 years, and the Stoney Creek Women’s Hockey League for another 10+ years, George Wallace has always encouraged his players on and off the ice. His nomination spoke of his “commitment to community volunteerism, random acts of kindness, support of all things and everyone, with a heart bigger than our community and a smile that lights up whatever room he is in. He has helped many people live happy and healthy lives.”
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