18th Community Spirit Awards Recipients

Spirit Awards

Oakville’s best and brightest volunteers were celebrated for their exemplary contributions to the community at the 18th Community Spirit Awards held last night at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre.

18th Community Spirit Awards recipients:

Judith Elaine Hung and Patrick Lee

Access Award

Sponsored by Access Abilities

Judith and Patrick run a hugely successful parent-run group called Project Autism.

The amazing part of this group is that it welcomes more than kids with autism, but every child, youth and adult with a disability is welcome. They have offered more than 700 programs for free to parents, without a dollar of support from registering as a not-for-profit organization.


To stay pure to the mission of helping the community and being community-based. The couple’s efforts are tireless. In addition to running the program, they also manage many calls a week from parents who have received new diagnoses.

They spend mornings, nights and weekends without pay or credit, to support this community. Their passion, drive, and never give up attitude is beyond impressive. It’s an honour to know them, and an honour to serve and help the community with them.

Amy McKenzie

Arts Award

Sponsored by the Oakville Beaver

Oakville Improv Theatre Company (OITC) is more than entertainment, it is a community. The driving force behind this organization of friends, family, students, volunteers, teachers and community partners is Amy. She has worked tirelessly to build awareness, gain support from town arts groups and local businesses, and engage Oakville residents.

OITC was established to promote improvisation as an art form and provide high quality improvisation performances for the Oakville community.

Amy’s work to develop OITC into a regular educational and entertainment entity is unique, as there are no other theatres in Halton that use improvisational theatre as an artistic practice.

With Amy’s vision, OITC’s volunteer leadership team organizes regular training and workshop opportunities for the community, and has built a strong team of 33 local volunteer performers who entertain audiences through three key programs: a weekly evening drop-in workshop and show at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre (QEPCCC); monthly family-oriented TheatreSportsTM shows at QEPCCC and monthly shows at the Moonshine Café.

Amy has placed Oakville’s improv scene on the world stage by collaborating with neighbouring communities, bringing talented professionals in from Toronto to further educate in this art form, and sending students to participate in Canadian and international festivals.

Food for Life Volunteer Group at 271 Kerr Street

Group Volunteer Award

Sponsored by FirstOntario Credit Union

Food brings people together and the Food for Life (FFL) Volunteer Group at the John Rhodes Senior Residence is dedicated to supporting residents in need.

Each week, this group made up of volunteers from St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church in Oakville, give their time to deliver fresh and healthy food options to seniors that live at 271 Kerr Street. This program, running for the last five years, is integral to improving the quality of life for residents, many who live in isolation, or do not have the income or ability to get out and purchase fresh food.

For a few hours each week, volunteers gather in the community room where all residents are welcome to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat.

Special food packages are also delivered to those unable to come to the community room due to health concerns.

FFL also offer events for the seniors in this building to encourage social connections, and to foster a sense of inclusion and belonging.

Thanks to their compassion, initiative and dedication, the FFL Volunteer Group is helping to break down barriers of health inequities and bring people together to support an inclusive community for all.

Friendship Luncheon Volunteer Team

Group Volunteer Award

Sponsored by FirstOntario Credit Union

The Colborne Friendship Luncheon team are an inspiring group of individuals who tirelessly provide weekly social opportunities, nutritious meals, physical fitness, safe transportation and most importantly, an emotional connection for Oakville’s isolated and lonely seniors.

This very special program takes an army of volunteers to make it work. Each week one volunteer calls each client and has a visit, and another volunteer then coordinates drivers to shuttle participants to and from their home to the Centre.

These drivers are diligently available every week, throughout the year, visiting and talking with clients who they truly consider friends. Clients feel comfortable sharing special moments, health concerns and family celebrations, and feel heard and cared about.

A team of hostesses and café volunteers plan and offer a wonderful luncheon every Wednesday at the Centre that includes welcome hugs at the front door, piano playing and sing-alongs, and a hot delicious meal served to clients. There is fitness, card games, lots of laughter and beautiful friendships fostered.

A program participant says, “I love it here! The friendship luncheon program makes me feel like Queen Elizabeth. I couldn’t be treated any better…even if I was the Queen. It is so nice and welcoming at the Centre. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know what I would do without my Wednesday luncheon.”

Marianne Hawthorne

Heritage Award

Sponsored by Genworth Financial Canada

Marianne’s infectious enthusiasm inspires us to help create her magic. Marianne, with her great organizational skills and engaging personality, heads up the Events Committee and has done so for the past 25 years. Whether the Oakville Historical Society Mayor’s Picnic, the annual potluck dinner for the AGM, yard sale or Christmas party, Marianne and her team spring into action.

Planning the annual Mayor’s Picnic takes place over the course of a year and includes musical performances, involvement from Police and Fire departments,Scottish Country Dancers and other entertainers. Marianne and her crew of two, Donna and Carroll, perform small miracles every year to ensure the success of this event. The Annual Yard Sale Fundraiser is another major undertaking.

Somehow what seems impossible is accomplished and everything miraculously has been sold or distributed to various charities around town.

Marianne is an enthusiastic, dedicated and long-time supporter of heritage in Oakville, and is a long-time member of the Oakville Historical Society and former President of the Friends of the Society, where she has spearheaded many programs. Her tireless efforts, enthusiasm and energy is incredible!

Roger Balech

Individual Volunteer Award

Sponsored by the Oakville Community Foundation

Roger Balech has been an Oakville resident for over 20 years. During this time he has had a profound impact on hundreds of youth in the community.

Roger has been teaching physics and mathematics with the Halton Catholic District School Board for 16 years at Holy Trinity. He has given countless volunteer hours serving as a mentor for the First Robotics Team, Tronic Titans and running programs and other workshops at the Oakville Public Library to support the STEAM and Robotics interests for youth and teens in the community.

His enthusiasm is palatable— if you didn’t have an interest in robotics, science, or technology before, you will after talking with him. The student mentors he works with to bring robotics to the community are able to guide and empower program participants.

Roger’s commitment to being involved in the community and volunteering his time is extraordinary, inspiring, and has a lasting ripple effect that will continue introducing kids to STEAM concepts now and down the road.

Janet Bedford

Senior Award

Sponsored by Chartwell Waterford Retirement Residence

On February 27, 2019, Oakville lost a shining community champion. Janet Bedford was an active volunteer in Oakville and Bronte for more than 25 years.

She has supported and volunteered for countless community events including:

  1. Canada Day
  2. Bronte Christmas Tree Lighting
  3. Oakville Santa Claus Parade
  4. Salmon Run
  5. Polar Bear Dip
  6. Remembrance Day
  7. Small business awards
  8. Blakelock High School events
  9. Bronte BIA
  10. Chamber of Commerce
  11. Canadian Club
  12. May Court

She was a photographer for snapd and Oakvillenews.org.

Her two biggest contributions were connecting people in the community and photographing and recording events.

Janet lit up a room, not just with the flash of her camera, but with her smile and warmth. She knew everyone and loved each community member and would go out of her way to meet people at each event. She had a knack for getting people together and she would often connect people to businesses, groups or agencies with a “tell them I sent you,” because that meant something.

Janet was an abundance of energy. She was unstoppable. Her passion was her community and her people. Very few people in this world gave as selflessly as Janet did. She had so much love and is greatly missed.

Youssef Gendy

Youth Award

Sponsored by RBC Royal Bank

At the age of 10, Youssef began offering landscaping services to help seniors and busy couples maintain their yards.

At St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church, he’s been volunteering for more than four years to help with annual events, summer camps for kids and children’s weekly services.

Propelling his leadership skills, he succeeded in a rigorous election and is now a youth board representative, who is involved in the future direction of the youth at church.

Youssef is a member of the Oakville Youth Action Committee, where youth regularly gather at Town Hall to plan the future for his peers and be their voice.

For the past two years, Youssef has been a volunteer with Food for Life, the largest food recovery program in Halton Region.

He is also a welcome team volunteer at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, warmly directing patients to where they need to get to in the hospital.

At school, Youssef is an active member of numerous clubs and teams, helps operate the school store and tutors fellow students through the License to Learn Tutoring Program.

Youssef has positively impacted the community, fulfilling his dream of making a difference in the lives of others.

17th Annual Community Spirit Awards celebrates outstanding volunteers

“I am always inspired by the passion of our volunteers and the great work being done throughout the community,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “Congratulations to our award nominees and recipients for their ongoing dedication to lifting Oakville to new heights. We applaud you.”

Chris Mei, television host of the Weather Network, was the emcee for the 19th Annual Spirit Awards evening, entertaining the audience while sponsors handed out the Spirit Awards. Each recipient received a one-of-a-kind award created by artist Aiden Lee.

Since 2002, Oakville’s Community Spirit Awards have recognized individuals and groups for their outstanding contributions to the community.

For a more information about the winners and a full list of the nominees, open the 2019 Community Spirit Awards program


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