Approximately 210 people gathered at the Giggle Dam Theatre Wednesday night to celebrate Port Coquitlam’s volunteers, laugh and mingle at the City’s annual volunteer awards night.
Eight awards were handed out at the Port Coquitlam Volunteer Recognition Awards & Tribute evening, which also featured prizes, a four-course dinner, and sketch comedy and music by the Giggle Dam crew. The evening was emceed by award-winning radio host Kevin Lim.
A total of 41 people were nominated this year in six award categories, and all were invited to Tuesday’s celebration along with other community volunteers. Fortis BC sponsored the event for the 18th year.
Honours individuals who have dedicated many years to improving the community of Port Coquitlam through their volunteer efforts.
Award Recipient – James Dawson
Dawson moved to Port Coquitlam 38 years ago and has volunteered for more than 30 of them. A long-standing active volunteer with the Royal Canadian Legion, Dawson has served as the Sergeant-at-Arms during the city’s Canada Day celebrations, Remembrance Day services and other events.
Over the years he has supported many local services and programs devoted to helping seniors and veterans, including those at Hawthorne Lodge and other long-term care centres. As one example, he regularly provides rides to seniors with medical and other appointments.
Dawson is also a mentor to the younger generation, sharing his knowledge and experience with the local cadets.
Arts, Heritage & Cultural Awareness
Preserves and celebrates Port Coquitlam’s past and shares our community heritage with others; promotes the arts and cultural development of our community.
Nominees –Bill Atfield, Beth David, Ron Goyette, Alexine Law, Christine Malone, Linda Sliworsky, Rae Yano
Award Recipient – Linda Sliworsky
Born and raised in Port Coquitlam, Sliworsky started volunteering at an early age and dedicates many hours to her volunteer work despite a full-time job and lengthy commute.
Her spare time is consumed by committee meetings, events and other activities to support her volunteer work, which includes serving on the board of the Port Coquitlam Heritage and Cultural Society, co-chairing its Display and Events Committee, taking on new tasks for the Christmas Tree Festival and fundraising chair, and representing the society at events such as the Hyde Creek Salmon Festival, Canada Day, the Downtown Car Show and the PoCo Grand Prix.
Past volunteer work has included serving on the Spirit Committee and the May Day Task Force.
“This long-time volunteer has made many sacrifices and has gone out of her way to preserve and protect the history, culture and stories of Port Coquitlam for future generations,” one nominator wrote. “Her enthusiasm and dedication is unwavering.”
Caring & Safety
Enhances and promotes the community through caring actions and outstanding acts of humanitarianism; contributes towards making Port Coquitlam a safer place for residents of all ages.
Nominees – Sharon Badowski, Katie Furness-Moore, Sally Hurst, Nancy McCurrach, Mary Ness, Greg Trudeau
Award Recipient – Nancy McCurrach
A long-time resident, McCurrach has dedicated more than a decade to helping others. She is a long-time supporter of the Amanda Todd Legacy Fund and a past executive board member of the I AM SOMEONE Campaign to End Bullying.
In recent years, she founded the Tri-Cities Refugee Welcome Wagon and has provided extraordinary care and help to new Syrian families in the community, often collaborating with social workers, SUCCESS and others to support them. Through her work with Soroptomist International of the Tri-Cities, she helps provide food and support to impoverished women and children.
She has also served as a citizen advisor for the City of Port Coquitlam and volunteered for various arts, cultural and civic events including: Sunday Coffee Concerts, Cinema Under the Stars, 12 Days of Christmas, Canada Day, Winter Artisan Market, Summer in the City, Music in the Park and the PoCo Grand Prix.
Environmental Protection & Enchancement
Demonstrates an outstanding commitment to the promotion and preservation of Port Coquitlam’s natural environment for present and future generations.
Nominees – Kristine Deda, Linda Dore and Christina Saremba
Award Recipient – Christina Saremba
Saremba began volunteering in Port Coquitlam in the 1980s with groups such as the Burke Mountain Naturalists (BMN), Friends of Deboville Slough and the Colony Farm Park Association. She has demonstrated tremendous strength in organizing and planning, and has been the driving force behind a variety of projects, including various manuals and how-to nature booklets for adults and children.
Most recently she served a two-year term as vice-president of BMN, and is now the volunteer coordinator. As one nominator wrote, “I can’t say enough about how valued a volunteer she is, she always is willing to help out… whatever needs to be done, you can look to her to be there helping.”
Sports & Recreation
Enhances the quality of physical activity in Port Coquitlam; contributes to the management and/or operations of a sports or recreation activity; demonstrates outstanding dedication to Port Coquitlam’s sports and recreation community.
Nominees – Robert Birungi, Mike Carkner, Joe Collins, Richard Evans, Jennifer Godin, Darcy Jago, Darcy MacKenzie, Heather Poussard, Darrell Vinnick, Craig Widmer
Award Recipient – Craig Widmer
A coach and coordinator with PoCo Euro-Rite Soccer, Widmer has become known for his ability to encourage others, get the best out of his players and build a team community among players and parents.
As well as coaching his own children’s soccer teams, he has also taken on the role of the girls’ mini coordinator and mini-jamboree committee member. His volunteer commitments also include three practices or games per week for each of his two teams, and organizing various team-building events.
As one nominator wrote: “Win or lose, his words of support go a long way to helping these kids realize their self-worth and walk away knowing they tried their best.”
An individual who supports Port Coquitlam’s youth through the development, provision and/or participation in youth programs and activities (excluding amateur athletics).
Nominees – Ashley Campbell, Dave Lee, Laion Lee, Dylann Turner, Cassidy Unrau
Award Recipient (tie)– Dave Lee and Laion Lee
Both Dave and Laion Lee both dedicated about a hundred hours a year to Wilson Centre’s Youth & Senior Dinner Nights from 2008 to 2016. The program brought together youth and seniors each week to create a meal together and share food, cultures and experiences.
The Lees were dedicated to making sure the program was a success, providing both culinary skills and a positive and fun space for youth of all cultures, abilities and backgrounds to engage with their community, seniors and each other. Always ready with a helping hand and friendly smile, they also served as role models to youth, demonstrating the benefits of volunteering and giving back.
U21 (Youth Under 21)
Reserved for the recognition of a Port Coquitlam youth, under the age of 21, who has demonstrated a commitment to our community and has made extraordinary volunteer contributions in any of the categories above.
Nominees – Ashley Aujla, Candace Chau, Alison Mangaya, Riley McDonnell, Shereen Seblani, Neela Trotter
Award Recipient – Candace Chau
Chau, 18, has volunteered more than 250 hours in the past year for a wide variety of causes. In addition to her involvement in her school’s volunteer leadership program, she is a leader in the BC Children’s Hospital Club, an active member in the Green Shirts Volunteer Club, a youth facilitator for the Red Cross anti-bullying program, and an active Best Buddy to a student with skills development challenges.
Goal-oriented, honest, sincere and thoughtful, she has become recognized by her peers and teachers as the “go-to” person.
As one nominator said, she "possesses strong leadership abilities, and effectively communicates with those around her. One of her strongest qualities is that she is sincere, and has an innate ability to develop healthy relationships with her peers.”