Outstanding Volunteers honoured at 15th Annual Community Spirit Awards

Record-breaking 38 individuals, groups and organizations nominated

Top Row (l-r) Kim Aspinall, RBC, Colleen Bell, Town of Oakville, Janice Jacobs and Rod Dodorico, Oakville Beaver, Mayor Rob Burton, Kristin Courtney and Melody Courtney, Access Abilities, Artist Joe Bauman Bottom Row (l-r) Matteo Esposito, Dawne Rudman, Greg Munz, James Montague, Karen Baring, Fred Drews, Nicky Lawson and Ted the guide dog
Outstanding Volunteers honoured at 15th Annual Community Spirit Awards
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Oakville’s most inspiring volunteers were celebrated for their exemplary contributions to the community at the 15th Annual Community Spirit Awards held last night at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre.

2016 Community Spirit Award recipients:

Nicky Lawson, Access Abilities Access Award
For more than eight years, Nicky Lawson has been a dedicated volunteer with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides where she partners people with special needs with trained guide dogs. She is enthusiastic, caring and selflessly assists with this important program to ensure its success.

Nicky is always encouraging others to volunteer and works hard to educate the community about the benefits of this program. She is also credited for fostering puppies that grow to be competent and well-matched guide dogs. In addition to this volunteer work, she is the fundraising chair for the Halton K9 Lions Club, a position requiring innovation and skillful leadership.

With Nicky’s dedication and vision, available program funds have soared from $5,000 to $40,000 to assist even more clients with the Halton K9 Lions Club. The funds also supports Oakville residents with their emergency veterinarian expenses.

Dawne Rudman, Arts Award
Creative fibre artist and exhibition curator Dawne Rudman is the driving force behind Oakville’s unique World of Threads Festival which features works from hundreds of artists from around the world.

Since 1998, Dawne has played a vital role in preparing festival exhibitions that showcase both traditional and contemporary fibre arts. Planned over the course of two years, she dedicates thousands of volunteer hours and works tirelessly to secure grant funding, coordinate volunteers, assist with marketing, and organize the event receptions to make this event a success.

Dawne continues to make a significant impact expanding the arts to the local community and beyond. She is patient, hardworking and passionate about the arts industry and embraces opportunities to work with hundreds of artists, store owners, colleges, art galleries and Queen Elizabeth Park Cultural and Community Centre.

BusiWomen, Town of Oakville Group Volunteer Award
BusiWomen is an organization that works to empower women in the community through business, marketing and networking opportunities. Founded by Karen Baring in 2008 as a group of 12 women, BusiWomen has impressively grown to more than 15,000 members across the Greater Toronto Area.

With her strong leadership skills, Karen inspires members to embrace individuality and collaboration for the common good of the community. BusiWomen’s mandate states that “when values are clear, decisions are easy,” and uses that mantra to guide the business strategies and connections among the group. BusiWomen helps build stronger communities by offering residents and organizations of Oakville access to their diverse services. They are proud to partner with various charitable organizations including Safety Net, Halton Multicultural Councils, Food4Kids, and United Way of Oakville.

Greg Munz, Genworth Financial Canada Heritage Award
Greg Munz naturally demonstrates what it means to be a dedicated and innovative volunteer. With more than eight years with the Oakville Historical Society and Board, Greg is dedicated to the creation of historical exhibits, the digitization of records and archives, and managing an array of tasks including yard sales and renovations.

Given Greg’s passion for art, he formed the Exhibit Planning Committee which has led to a long-term plan for showcasing the society’s exhibits. He also plans to build partnerships for future initiatives that showcase the history of Oakville via different platforms (paint, drama or printed story).

Greg continues to lead by example and exceeds expectations in helping with the preservation and celebration of Oakville’s heritage. His comprehensive knowledge and willingness to persevere have effectively enabled the community to have a richer understanding of history and art.

James Montague, Paradiso Restaurant Individual Volunteer Award
James Montague exemplifies the qualities of leadership, equality, community and compassion. He has been recognized for excellence in volunteering as a Lead Marshall for the Oakville Santa Claus Parade; an organizer for Special Olympics Bowling fundraisers; and event planner of the All Star Awards, an annual gala held to recognize the talents and contributions of Community Living members, where Oakville residents with special needs enjoy a well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

As an active member of the Rotary Club of Oakville West, James’ outstanding efforts and passion helped raise $2,000 for the Club in just one evening. He also served as a member of the 2014 Golf to Give Charity Tournament to raise funds for the Oakville Hospital Foundation’s Navigator Program which helps families struggling with mental health issues navigate the healthcare system. James maintains a genuine passion for helping others while always recognizing those who help him along the way.

Fred Drews, Town of Oakville Senior Award
Fred Drews has contributed over 3,000 volunteer hours since 2010 as a patient transport volunteer at the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH). He dedicates two full days a week (doing double shifts) as part of a team moving patients throughout the hospital.

Fred naturally puts patients at ease and his friendly manner has endeared him to everyone at OTMH. He personally takes care of dialysis patients when they come for their recurring appointments.

Fred’s vast experience with OTMH proved invaluable as the patient transport team prepared for the dramatic changes created with the opening of the new, larger hospital site. Fred took it upon himself to learn the building layout and commit it to memory so that he could continue to provide the highest quality assistance to patients. He is respected role model and mentor, and an invaluable part of the OTMH team.

Matteo Esposito, RBC Royal Bank Youth Award
True passion, leadership, a vision for the future, and dedication are characteristics that describe Matteo Esposito. The 18-year-old theatre lover is a devoted volunteer with the West End Studio Theatre and Oakville Centre for Performing Arts. His drive, ambition and imagination encourage people of every age and ability to engage with theatre.

Matteo, who also has autism, is a client of Community Living Oakville where he has been instrumental in creating the Take Flight Theatre Group. As part of this group, people with special needs have an opportunity to participate in theatrical performances in various establishments throughout Oakville. Under Matteo’s mentorship and coaching, participants are experiencing new opportunities to engage in meaningful activities that inspire joy and creativity. None of this would be possible without Matteo. He is truly a remarkable force.

“On behalf of Council, I congratulate both the nominees and recipients of the Community Spirit Awards,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “Oakville’s volunteer participation rate is consistently above the provincial and national averages. Our town is a better, more livable place for their commitment and dedication.”

Chris Mei, television host of the Weather Network, was the emcee for the evening, entertaining the audience while sponsors handed out the awards. Each recipient received a one-of-a-kind award designed by local furniture and wood-working artists Joseph Bauman and Dayna Gedney.

Since 2002, Oakville’s Community Spirit Awards have recognized individuals and groups for their outstanding contributions to the community. Visit oakville.ca for more information about the Oakville Community Spirit Awards.

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