Senior of the year

Suburbs

Congratulations to Randy Farrell - 2019 Kitchener Senior of the Year Award Recipient!

Nominations for next year's Kitchener Senior of the Year Award will open in February 2020. Subscribe to this page below for updates. 

The provincial Senior of the Year Award gives each municipality in Ontario the opportunity to honour one outstanding citizen who over the age of 65 has enriched the social, cultural or civic life of their community.

Criteria for nomination

Nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • 65 years of age or older
  • Current resident of Kitchener
  • Not a previous recipient of award or current member of the Mayor's Advisory Council for Kitchener Seniors (MACKS)
  • Individuals may be nominated (couples or groups are not eligible)
  • Candidate must be notified of the nomination and information being submitted
Nomination Process

Nominations will open in February 2020. Subscribe to this page for updates or contact carolyn.cormier@kitchener.ca 519-741-2200 x 5345.

The following items must accompany nominations:

  1. A least one (1) letter of support from an organization of individual that speaks to the value or impact of the nominee's contributions.
  2. Up to two (2) pages describing:
    • Your nominee's local contributions and how they make a difference for others.
    • Anything else you'd like us to know about your nominee's accomplishments, contributions, advocacy, or impact in the community.

Submit online, or pick up a nomination form at any City of Kitchener Community Centre starting in February 2020.

Selection Process
Nominations will be reviewed by a selection panel, which is comprised of volunteers from the Mayor's Advisory Council for Kitchener Seniors (MACKS), City of Kitchener Council members and staff, and a representative from the Volunteer Action Centre of K-W.
Award Ceremony
The recipient of Kitchener's Senior of the Year Award will be announced by Mayor Vrbanovic during a special ceremony in June. All candidates and their guests will be invited to attend the ceremony featuring light refreshments, entertainment and award presentation. Each nominee will be honoured and presented with a recognition certificate by Mayor Vrbanovic at this special event. 
Contact Us

For additional information on Kitchener's Senior of the Year Award, please contact:

Carolyn Cormier 519-741-2200 x 5345 or carolyn.cormier@kitchener.ca

 2019 Award Nominees & Recipient

2019 Kitchener Senior of the Year Award Recipient: Randy Farrell - Nominated by Brenda Wiles

As a young person growing up in Shakespeare, Randy was taught the values of helping neighbours and being active in the community. Shortly after finishing high school, Randy’s family moved to Kitchener. The first volunteer role in his new community was as a tutor for Core Literacy. He helped new Canadians learn English and helped them navigate the city and the new culture in which they found themselves. This was an early stepping stone to Randy’s life long passion for helping others to imagine and reach their goals. 

Soon after, Randy began volunteering on the Board for the Social Planning Council of Kitchener. Next, was volunteering with National Service Dogs where Randy assisted as a kennel worker and eventually as a Director of the Board.

Over the years Randy has worked with many local groups and agencies, building safe and welcoming environments for all. He was a volunteer and Director for tri-Pride for many years. This was as a profound, sometimes difficulty but extremely rewarding experience. It was at tri-Pride that Randy discovered his core love for building community in a safe, rewarding and exhilarating way. This work led Randy to continue his passion for community building with several community organizations such as the Aids Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Area (ACCWA), the Region of Waterloo, the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, Community Justice Initiatives (CJI), Waterloo Region Hospice, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Society, to name a few.

At a meeting of the Waterloo Region Rainbow Community Council, the creation for a bricks and mortar community space was a top wish for the Rainbow Community in Waterloo region. During this time, Randy reconnected with an old friend, Jim Parrott and the two went to work to turn this wish into a reality. Today, the Community Centre is known as SPECTRUM: Waterloo Region’s Rainbow Centre is located in the former Boehmer Box factory. SPECTRUM is an accredited charitable organization supporting rainbow folks and their allies in Waterloo Region. SPECTRUM has formed strong alliances in Waterloo Region and works regularly alongside other social agencies in the Region to accomplish the common goals of inclusion, safety and wellbeing for all citizens.

In addition to Randy’s work supporting and advocating for the region’s Rainbow Community, he has touched countless lives through his volunteer work with: the Canadian Hearing Society, Freeport ‘Dog Visitor” program, Care-Ring (visitor for shut-ins), Waterloo Region Public School Board, Crime Prevention Council—Breaking the Silence Program, Aging with Pride, Beyond the Rainbow, Hospice Waterloo Region, and the Downtown Community Health Centre.

Randy is described as a warm and welcoming presence. He has contributed greatly to the LGBTQ and broader community. Randy is a shining example for others and exemplifies the adage “BE the change you want to see!” 

Elaine Bellefontaine (nominee) - nominated by Rita Nolan

Elaine is described as being the best senior sister, mother, and wife anyone could ever have. She is recognized as someone who is always there to help others.

In July of 2018, Elaine’s husband had hip surgery and required care in Freeport hospital for a while. She was with him daily at the hospital, assisting with his care and always taking her knitting projects with her. 

Later the same month, Elaine’s sister had open heart surgery. Elaine remained at the hospital throughout her sister’s three hour procedure from 6 a.m. onwards, keeping occupied with her knitting. Throughout their recoveries, Elaine split her time caring for both her husband and sister, all while continuing to maintain her household on her own. 

In April of this year, Elaine’s daughter required surgery. Elaine once again took special care of her daughter in the days that followed. 

In addition to being a caregiver for loved ones, Elaine always finds time for the knitting and crocheting projects she does for groups she belongs to, and also to donate for those in need. Even while managing some of her own health issues, Elaine always puts others first. 

Elaine is tremendously appreciated by her family!

Carol Buchanan (nominee) - nominated by Michelle Gamauf & Brenda van De Keere, Rockway Community Centre

Carol has been actively giving back to her community for many years. Currently as a snack bar volunteer at Rockway Community Centre, Carol prepares and services food and beverages once a week. Carol is described as always approachable, kind and welcoming; and as a calming influence for others. She has successfully mentored many new volunteers as well. Her positive attitude and caring demeanour are described as a real joy to have in Rockway Centre.

In addition to her dedication to Rockway Centre, Carol volunteers her time with a number of other community partners including volunteer driving with Meals on Wheels and More for almost 18 years. While she was still working, Carol did volunteer driving and shopping two days a week and continued delivering meals into retirement. 

She continues to visit an elderly lady she met through meals on wheels 1-2 hours a week and regularly takes another elderly lady shopping, to appointments and on outings. 

Carol has also spent time volunteering at Grand River Hospital has knitted throws and blankets at various times and donated them to the House of Friendship. 

Currently, Carol volunteers in the Sunnyside Home snack bar and The Perfect Find Thrift Store. She volunteers on an ongoing basis with her lawn bowling club (Heritage Greens), to organize and execute fundraising events.

For Carol being a volunteer is more than fulfilling tasks of a job, she selflessly gives back to her community by building friendships for herself and others. Carol does this in a humble manner without even realizing the value she is adding to the daily lives of others!

Joan Driver - nominate by Liz Jones-Twomey and Wilson Avenue School 

 

Commonly referred to as “Gramma Driver,” Joan is the epitome of an exceptional school volunteer. She is a remarkably spirited 86 year old who has dedicated her time and passion to the elementary students in Waterloo region over the past 49 years.

Joan began volunteering in 1970 at Prueter school when her first child started grade one. In 1972, she moved and began volunteering at Wilson Avenue School. Here she spent the next 27 years helping in the grade one, three, and kindergarten programs. Over these years she has contributed endless hours helping teachers prepare material and execute lesson plans, both inside and outside the classroom.

When the teachers Joan was initially volunteering with retired, she immediately offered her services to Liz Jones-Twomey, a grade two teacher at Wilson Avenue. For the next 22 years, Joan volunteered with Liz, moving from school to school: Breslau, Lester B Pearson, Elgin, Southridge, and finally full circle back to Wilson Avenue.

The only requirement to having Joan volunteer in your classroom was you had to pick her up, get her a Tim Horton’s coffee, and make sure she was home in time for the Blue Jays game. 

Gramma Driver is so vital to Wilson Avenue School that she has an office on each floor. She is truly a celebrity as she pushes her walker down the halls—even former students seek her out as they know she will always make time to hear their stories.

Joan also frequently works with children with behaviour challenges. She is firm, but gentle. These children know that Joan believes in them, and for many, that is an invaluable support. Additionally for many of the students, Joan is truly viewed as an additional grandmother in their lives—a role that both her and the students hold in the highest regard. As she often shares with her colleagues, “They keep me young.”

Outside of school, Joan was also a Brownie and Girl Guide Leaders for 6 years. Most notably, Joan took it upon herself to start the very first Beaver colony in the tri-city region with the Boy Scouts of Canada. For the next 17 years, she continued her dedication to both roles; school volunteer by day and Boy Scout leader by night.

Joan’s dedication is unmatched. There is no slowing her down. Even when Joan suffered a serious stroke in 1999, she only took a small amount of time off of school while rehabilitating in order to “get back to my kids!” She is an irreplaceable presence in each life she enters—students and colleagues alike. 

Joan unknowingly chose to be a guiding light for many of these students, and a supportive pillar to staff. Gramma Driver is dedication, commitment and a volunteer legend at Wilson Avenue School and across the Waterloo Region District School Board! 

Jane Koebel (nominee) — nominated by Michelle Gamauf & Julie Laderoute, Rockway Community Centre

Jane is a valued Snack Bar volunteer at the Rockway Community Centre. Every Thursday morning Jane prepares and serves food and beverages to Rockway participants and members of the public.

Jane goes above and beyond to support the Rockway Community Centre and never thinks twice when asked to help for an extra shift or in the Meal Program for a special holiday event. 

Jane often shares her expertise when helping to train new volunteers in the Snack Bar and is always willing to help out other volunteers that may be struggling.

She promotes the Snack Bar and programs at Rockway Community Centre whenever she can by standing up a dances, taking the microphone and encouraging others to come out to the Centre to experience the great activities and services available, and how much fun they would have volunteering.

Jane also helps other older adults that are unable to drive by taking them to and from appointments. Jane does not hesitate when asked to volunteer her time in any community initiative that requires older adult participation, such as a dance program demonstration. Throughout her work life, Jane received a number of employee awards for going above and beyond with various positions in her career.

Jane’s carefree nature and infectious laugh are a real joy to have at Rockway Community Centre. She is a true ambassador, champion volunteer, and great supporter of connecting people at Rockway Community Centre!

 

David Krupp (nominee) — nominated by Kathleen MacLeod, Community Support Connections—Meals on Wheels and More

Dave has volunteered with Community Support Connections—Meals on Wheels and More numerous hours with the transportation and shopping program since 2004. In 2018 alone, Dave provided almost 450 rides and drove over 3470 kilometres. To date, Dave has volunteered over 1625 hours and driven over 60,000 kilometres—the equivalents of driving across Canada 12 times!

Not only does Dave ensure clients get to appointments in a timely and safe manner, he provides an enjoyable social interaction. He is always smiling and willing to engage in a pleasant conversation with any client he spends time with. Community Support Connections frequently hears from clients how much they enjoy getting a ride from Dave and that they appreciate his pleasant demeanor and patience.

Dave will take on the task of driving multiple clients throughout the day, ensuring as many people as possible are able to get to where they need to go. This includes taking people to medical appointments, to the bank, and to the grocery store. 

Dave also happily helps with the shopping program and is a great asset in the Escorted Shopping program which allows clients to maintain their independence with a little extra assistance while at the grocery store. He takes his responsibility as our eyes and ears to heart, making sure he reports back any concerns immediately to staff who can support clients to ensure they have the resources they need.

Dave is also a devoted member of his church and regularly volunteers wherever needed, and has been a member of the church choir since he was 18 years old. He has been also been a member of the Schneider Male Chorus since 1993. Dave is also a devoted member of his church and regularly volunteers his time 1993. Dave also organizes a men’s group called ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out), and is a member of the American Society for Quality.

Dave is an outstanding volunteer. His selfless contributions enable seniors and adults living with disabilities to live at home with independence and dignity. He embodies all the qualities of an exceptional volunteer and leader who gives his time to serve and care for this community. Dave exemplifies the difference that one person can make to better the lives of others! 

Rita Loeb (nominee) — nominated by Barbara Moore, March of Dimes Canada (Waterloo Wellington)

Rita has been a volunteer with March of Dimes Canada—Stroke Recovery Chapter for over 10 years. Since her husband’s stroke, she has been an advocate to support other caregivers in Kitchener to learn and identify services that are available for both respite and recovery.

Rita has an uncanny ability to find and locate guest speakers based on the 7 Steps to Stroke Recovery to speak at the monthly caregiver and peer meetings. She used her networking skills to find a free location for meetings, understanding that caregivers often struggle financially to participate in community activities. Each month she spends numerous volunteer hours researching, locating and providing opportunities for caregivers to learn about educational and health care focus resources which build independence and confident in what is an uncomfortable, lonely, and isolating time.

Rita joined the executive as Caregiver Facilitator and offered her time and knowledge when there was an increased need for community support services specific to caregivers. Rita works alongside the Linking Survivors with Survivors program identifying and talking with caregivers as their stroke survivor is discharged from hospital. Rita has represented the KW Chapter identifying and talking with caregivers at various community events that require a “voice” or advocacy in the areas of health care and system navigation.

In the last few years there has been an increase in strokes and with each survivor there is a family member learning very quickly to navigate the household, find services in their neighbourhood and care for their loved one. Having someone like Rita to soften those hard edges has been invaluable to the community!

Catherine Owens (nominee) — nominated by Levi Oakey, Mount Hope Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association

Catherine has shown remarkable commitment as a neighbourhood organizer. Upon seeing issues related to intensification and new developments in her neighbourhood, Catherine took the initiative to organize and chair a neighbourhood development subcommittee.

She recruited members, wrote terms of reference, and reached out to the City to share the committee’s mandate. The Development committee has provided critical links between the City and Neighbourhood, improving communication between both. Thanks to Catherine’s leadership, the committee has helped facilitate collaborative work between the city and neighbourhood on key projects.

The success of the development committee model was quickly recognized by other neighbourhoods. Catherine provided leadership to many other neighbourhoods by assisting them in establishing their own development committees to engage with developers, mitigate conflicts and establish consensus. She has also assisted in the formation of, and serves on, a Downtown Development Committee, which serves as an overarching structure.

What is unique about Catherine’s approach is that she isn’t quick to take a position on an issue before she has learned from all sides and all perspectives. She ensures that people are informed, so that all sides are respected in the process.

Catherine also volunteered at least 1000 hours as an appellant in the Breithaupt Block 3 development. She was a central organizing force in the neighbourhood to help coordinate presentations to Council at multiple meetings, before the development was approved. She also filed part of the Local Planning and appeals Tribunal appeal, finding a pro-bono urban design expert, thus ensuring pro-bono legal support. Catherine was always there to answer questions, have discussions and navigate the challenging politics of the appeal. Catherine helped to negotiate a settlement replacing a multi-story parking garage with a more suitable office building in the neighbourhood. This win is a huge contribution to the viability of the live-work, transit-oriented development in the core, while helping to preserve the historical aspects of the neighbourhood.

Last year, Catherine applied for and received a city grant to re-envision the laneway that runs behind homes from Duke Street to Waterloo. She engaged with KCI High School for artwork, and sourced plants. The final result was a great success.

Another role Catherine has taken on is as President of the Kitchener Horticultural Society. She recently led the group in a strategic planning exercise, all as a volunteer.

Catherine’s efforts have built capacity and neighbourhood connections at a time when leadership was critically needed. She is tremendously energetic and resourceful. Never shy to voice her well-informed opinion, Catherine is diplomatic and tough, caring and generous. 

Catherine is an exemplary neighbour who truly cares about making the community a better place for all, and is willing to take the initiative to make it happen!

Lorraine Proud (nominee) — nominated by Barbara Martin

Lorraine has been involved as a participant and program convenor with the Rockway Community Centre for many years. She is an accomplished crokinole player and somewhat of a celebrity at Rockway Centre for her title as seven-time Cue Singles World Crokinole Champion, including most recently in 2019! This tournament takes place each June in Tavistock. She has also won numerous other times in Cue Doubles and Cue Singles. Lorraine continues to enjoy the game of crokinole and certainly excels at it. She is a longtime member of the Rockway Community Centre Crokinole group and often serves as a mentor for newcomers.

Lorraine is also a longtime convenor of the Rockway Community Centre shuffleboard program. She looks after the opening and closing of the Tuesday afternoon group and manages the list of participants, reminding them to update their Kitchener Group Card annually.

Always keeping fair play as a focus, Lorraine ensures all players get equal opportunity to participate in the game of shuffleboard. Nobody ever feels left out while Lorraine is overseeing play. 

In addition to programs at Rockway Centre, Lorraine has participated in lawn bowling at the Kitchener Club, and was very much involved in the running of the Club.

Lorraine is pleasant and welcoming to all and is fondly recognized as both a long time fixture at Rockway Community Centre and seven time World Crokinole Champion!

Paula Saunders (nominee) — nominated by Sue Morgan 

 In 1971, as a teenager Paula was involved in a serious accident resulting in the permanent use of a wheelchair. Soon after, Paula discovered how inaccessible society was and began advocating for herself and others in the community. 

Her passion for accessibility, barrier-free design and removing attitudinal barriers led her into the doors of the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region, a place that shared her vision for creating an inclusive community for people of all abilities. During her time at the Independent Living Centre, Paula sat on numerous committee and helped countless individuals achieve their personal goals. 

Even now after retirement, Paula continues to chair the Tournament of Hope committee, an event that raises funds to help people purchase much needed medical equipment and assistive devices.

When plans for a new Kitchener City Hall were announced 25 years ago, Paula learned of the many accessibility barriers in the design. As a result, she contacted Mayor Cardillo and Inclusion staff. Paula became the first chairperson of the newly established Kitchener Barrier Free Advisory Committee, ensuring that plans for any new City buildings were gone over with a fine tooth comb to ensure accessibility for all was achieved. Recognizing the value of the accessibility advisory committee, representation grew to include the city of Waterloo, Region of Waterloo and each of the Townships and the Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee (GRAAC) was formed.

Since 2010, Paula has been a volunteer member of GRAAC and has served as Chairperson of the Built Environment subcommittee since 2011. In this role she always makes time to help and educate others with the goal of making the community more inclusive by removing barriers for persons with disabilities. Paula has brought tremendous knowledge to meetings and site visits. Her knowledge and perspective are extremely valued and respected by all.

As chairperson of the Built Environment subcommittee, Paula has led many projects to develop consistent accessible design standards, create accessibility recommendations for new builds and renovations, provide comments on accessibility during construction, and most recently coordinate and lead site visits with various GRAAC members to all ION stops to advise on accessibility for those with disabilities. 

Paula has also led GRAAC through the creation of several papers to educate municipal Councils and staff on the barriers faced by persons with disabilities, and the solutions needed to create a more inclusive community. She has played a vital role in raising the profile of accessibility in the community and speaking to the needs of persons with disabilities. Through Paula’s actions, she demonstrates the value of engagement, and the benefits that can be achieved from facilitating the full participation of persons of all abilities.

Paula’s positive attitude, work ethic and dedication to advocating for persons of all abilities, is truly inspirational to all who know her!

Martha Stauch (nominee) — nominated by Carli Parsons and Heather Inch, Auditorium Neighbourhood Association
Martha is a valued member of the Auditorium Neighbourhood Association and an integral part of the success of the Board. She is committed wholeheartedly to building community and is involved in almost all of the activities run by the association.

Martha helps to rally volunteers for neighbourhood events, paying special mind to reaching out to and including seniors in the area. She is committed to engaging senior neighbours who might not otherwise know of events and issues within the neighbourhood; most recently organizing a “neighbours of a certain age” event. 45 neighbourhood seniors gathered at Martha's home to share ideas and suggestions for better reaching this population, resulting in better connections and more suitable programming and services at the neighbourhood level.

Martha has recently worked on the neighbourhood “welcome package”, including information and treats delivered to new families moving to the area. This initiative has been met with great warmth and appreciation, and truly speaks to the inclusive and caring nature that Martha embodies. 

Martha is always first to offer her help and brings with her a wealth of knowledge, enthusiasm and engagement to every project she joins. As a career teacher, Martha helped to open Cameron Heights Collegiate. She worked for 30 years at has been recognized by her peers and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation locally winning several merit awards and awards of excellence.

Since her retirement, Martha has served on over 15 local committees including the K-W Oktoberfest Women of the Year, the Festival of Trees Steering Committee, the Independent Living Board and Gina’s Closet to name just a few. Martha’s commitment to the city of Kitchener is evident in the time and effort she has given to these and countless other worthy organizations.

One of Martha’s greatest contributions to the city has been her dedication to volunteerism through St. Mary’s General Hospital. She has sat on the hospital board serving as President and Director of the Volunteer Association. This has allowed Martha to appreciate the complexities of health care needs and delivery of services.

Martha is a marvellous role model of volunteerism by having a positive impact in her neighbourhood and wider community. She stands out as a shining example of deep love for and commitment to the Kitchener community and all of it’s residents.

Her outstanding resume and involvement in bettering the community, truly reflect Martha’s role as a pillar of this city!

Gordon Stemmler (nominee) — nominated by Floyd Birmingham

 Gord is much younger than the age on his birth certificate and is a great example of a senior making a difference! Gord proudly maintains his residence himself and is a dedicated family man, always speaking fondly of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

For the past 15 years, Gord has been a dedicated volunteer of the Rockway Community Centre, coordinating the summer horseshoe games twice a week. For the past 6 years during the winter months, Gord has been convenor of the ladder ball games. Participating in both activities is a great way to socialize, meet new friends, compete, and have fun. As convenor, Gord is a wonderful facilitator, making sure all are laughing and enjoying themselves.

Gord’s positive outlook improves the mindset of those around him. He dances, bowls, volunteers and coordinates activities for others. Despite eyesight challenges, Gord hasn’t slowed down on his activities and takes the bus to get around town. Thank-you Gord for bringing so much joy to the lives of others!

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