Mayor Cam Guthrie will recognize five Guelphites for their volunteerism and community service, as he presents the 21st annual Mayor’s Awards at the Guelph Awards of Excellence gala on June 22.
The 2017 honourees are:
Jaya James, who founded the Guelph Refugee Sponsorship Forum to coordinate the many local efforts to sponsor and support Syrian refugee families in Guelph. Jaya took a six-month leave of absence from work to run the Forum full-time as a volunteer. She set up systems for the recruitment, training, and police screening of more than 800 volunteers; offered information sessions; and served as a community voice and “go-to” person on refugee sponsorship. She has been called one of the unsung heroes of Guelph’s headline-making response to the Syrian refugee crisis.
Patricia Godin, who was inspired by the loss of her father to establish a fund to support Hospice Wellington and palliative care in our community. With her friend Amanda Bridge who had also lost her father, Patricia established Fathers Remembered by Daughters – the Gerald J. Prentice and Thomas G. Bridge Memorial Fund through the Guelph Community Foundation. Over the past 11 years, through an annual golf tournament, the fund has allocated $120,000 to the capital campaign and ongoing operations at Hospice Wellington. Patricia is also a longstanding Hospice volunteer. She says the palliative care her father received gave her “the gift of time” with him, a gift she is now helping to give to other families.
Iman Aziz, a grade 11 student who volunteers as a math tutor; a mentor for grade 9 and exchange students; a warehouse helper for the Guelph Refugee Sponsorship Forum; a recreation volunteer at the Village of Arbour Trails retirement community; a volunteer for the National Board and the Waterloo-Wellington Chapter of the Canadian Council or Muslim Women; and has served as an Internet instructor for seniors at Immigrant Services of Guelph Wellington. In 2016, Iman was the only student to participate in both the Guelph Police Service Youth in Policing Initiative and its Youth Engagement Program, helping to build positive relationships between the police and the community.
Emma Rogers, who co-founded Guelph Gives, a project that encourages charitable giving and volunteerism during the holiday season, and heads up GenNext, a movement that inspires young professionals to bring about change in their community. Emma served on a number of local boards and committees, including the board of the Young Professionals Network; the Bracelet of Hope fundraising committee; Big Brothers Big Sisters; the Rotary Club of Guelph Trillium; Habitat for Humanity; and the KidsAbility Super Hero Run committee. In her day job, Emma is Campaign Manager for the United Way of Guelph Wellington Dufferin.
A special posthumous award will be presented in memory of Dr. Fred Hoffman, a 63-year member of the Guelph Kiwanis Club. More than 30 years ago, Fred began the annual Kiwanis Christmas Luncheon, which brings together 450 students who attend special classes for developmental disabilities in schools across the Upper Grand District School Board. One student described it as “the most awesome day of the year,” and Fred organized it and personally helped fund it every year. Fred was also a steadfast supporter of the Kiwanis Club’s Belwood Lodge and Camp – a non-profit overnight camp dedicated to meeting the summer recreational needs of children, youth, and adults who are intellectually challenged.
“As we celebrate Canada’s 150th and Guelph’s 190th birthdays, I am thrilled to recognize these community champions who are making Guelph a better place – not for money or fame, but simply because they care,” said Mayor Guthrie. “Every year it is very difficult to choose the winners from the many excellent nominations I receive – and this year was no exception. It’s also a great privilege to learn about the many citizens doing great things for our city.”
Guelph’s Mayor has presented Mayor’s Awards each year since 1997. The awards are presented at the Awards of Excellence gala, Guelph’s premier appreciation event where the community’s exceptional individuals and businesses are celebrated.
“Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you for making a difference in Guelph,” added Mayor Guthrie.
More information about the Mayor’s Awards can be found at guelph.ca/mayorsawards.