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Dec. 7, 2019 | Saturday
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Town celebrates volunteers who strive to make NOTL 'special'
NOTL's community volunteers were honoured by the town. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

Volunteers make Niagara-on-the-Lake special, Lord Mayor Betty Disero says.

More than a dozen devoted NOTL volunteers were honoured Monday night as friends and family packed the council chambers for the presentation of the Lord Mayor’s Volunteer Awards.

For the past 23 years, the awards were given in collaboration with the Niagara Advance newspaper. WIth the closure of that publication, the town has taken over the annual event.

Town councillors presented the awards to winners in seven categories and highlighted each recipient's achievements.

And the winners are:

Working with youth/education:  Linda Murray and Gord Harris.

The two were honoured for volunteering with Red Roof Retreat and for their contributions to the youth and education sector.

Harris has been volunteering with Red Roof Retreat for 15 years. First known as the “grass-cutting guy,” Harris has been taking care of the 11-acre property and is “a very worthy recipient who represented quiet giving and the value of volunteer time to make the place a little brighter,” said Disero.

As for Murray, she has been helping to feed and care for the animals at the farm through “wind, sleet and snow” and “generously comes in for extra shifts when needed,” Disero told the crowd.

Working with the senior community: Helga Rahn, Joyce Loewen and Sylvia Eady.

Rahn volunteers with the Niagara United Mennonite Church, Pleasant Manor Retirement Village, Christian Thrift Benefit Shop, Niagara Warehouse of Hope and the Virgil Women’s Institute. She has been helping out at the thrift shop once a week since 1975.

With her nursing skills and palliative care training, Loewen has volunteered for more than 20 years in palliative care and is always willing to help those in need, said Coun. John Wiens.

Eady is a longtime employee of the NOTL Public Library, who “quietly and clandestinely” volunteered her time to get to know the seniors and drive them to various appointments.

Volunteers under 21: Kaitlyn Lambert and Elena Berardocco.

These two 13-year-old girls organized a climate change strike in front of NOTL’s town hall on March 15. The worldwide movement, named Fridays for Future, was started by 15-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg. Lambert and Berardocco, who were inspired by Thunberg, decided to organize their own strike in NOTL as the closest protests were taking place in Hamilton and Buffalo. The girls are leading their peers and are taking time to educate the public about climate change, said Coun. Norm Arsenault. Both girls were unable to attend the ceremony, but their younger sisters, Morgan Lambert and Simona Berardocco, were on hand to accept the awards on their sisters’ behalf.

Culture (arts, music, heritage): Lise Andreana and Cheryl Morris.

Andreana has been recognized for her role as a chair of the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre board of directors. She volunteered 1,617 hours over the past year alone and, since her election to the board in 2016, she has been working to engage, enrich and celebrate NOTL’s diverse and growing population through the visual arts.

Morris was honoured for her contributions to the Shaw Guild. She has been overseeing the scheduling process for the guild’s volunteers, developed training materials, conducted a pilot program and trained over 200 members. Morris is also a member of the town’s heritage trail committee, a marketing lead for the 2019 Canadian Snowbirds event and is on the board of the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre.

Sports and recreation: Karen Wright.

Wright started a tennis program called “Tennis 4 Kids,” for children aged 6 and up. The program runs at the NOTL Community Centre and Wright provides the equipment. She has coached more than 100 tennis players in NOTL and her commitment is “unwavering,” said Coun. Gary Burroughs.

Environment: Sandra O’Connor and Finn Madsen.

O’Connor, who was chair of the urban tree bylaw initiative on a private property, worked “tirelessly” to seek public input and develop the documents. As a board member of the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, she helped the organization update information on Niagara’s fruit farming history dating back to 1792.

Madsen, who was chair of Harmony Residents group, is also a member of the UNESCO Committee and the town’s Communities in Bloom committee. Madsen has been advocating for the preservation of Parks Canada-owned property on Lakeshore Road and believes it will not only create a legacy for NOTL residents and visitors but will also be a place for young children, said Coun. Allan Bisback.

Community/civic engagement: Sheila Tierney, and Michel and Marie Lapointe.

Tierney has been working with the Canadian Cancer Society for more than 50 years. She has organized door-to-door canvassing in April and daffodil pin sales in March. The money raised was used for Wheels of Hope program which supports people dealing with cancer.

Michael and Marie Lapointe received a joint award. Marie Lapointe is a longtime volunteer at Parliament Oak School and Crossroads Public School. She also helps migrant workers with Spanish translations, campaigns for the Canadian Cancer Society and has supported the Terry Fox run for several years.

Michael Lapointe has helped with the Terry Fox Run and has campaigned for local charities such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation. He also used to volunteer for search and rescue operations and repairs bikes for migrant workers.

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