Oakville Spirit Awards celebrate Volunteers

7bf833c846238d0ec108d6b6262eThe Oakville Spirit Awards (OSA) is held every year to celebrate the Oakville community and its volunteers. From something as simple as visiting a homebound neighbour to helping run a charity event, the OSA are focused on giving credit where credit is due.

“It’s amazing, the impact volunteers have on our community,” says Nancy Beddoe, the head of the OSA committee. “We look at the long-term effects they have on the community, their leadership and innovation. It’s really great.”

The OSA has been running for the past 12 years, and doesn’t show signs of stopping. One of last year’s winners,  Blake Poland, won for the Environmental category. A professor of community development at the University of Toronto, Poland started a small, non-government organization in 2008, called Transition Oakville. Now called Go Local Oakville, the group focuses on helping Oakville transform into a low-carbon, sustainable city.

“The way we’re treating the environment is really putting it into peril,” says Poland. “I really think that if we can all put more effort into sustainability and care for the environment, it will give us a healthier and happier home.”

Poland describes the creation of Go Local Oakville as his own ‘mid-life crisis’. He said that although he had been living in Oakville for 20 years, he really felt disconnected from the community. But that all changed after he started volunteering through his organization. As Go Local Oakville is entirely made up of volunteers, Poland knows the value of the time and effort put in by these people.

“I think it’s really important to recognize the work that volunteers put into things,” says Poland. “They put in enormous amounts of time to make that change in society, and you can really see the ripple effect that volunteers have.”

This year, the OSA’s will be held at the Queen Elizabeth Park Cultural & Community Centre on June 12, from 6:30 – 8:30. Tickets are $15.

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