The provincial Senior of the Year Award gives us the opportunity to honour one outstanding citizen who over the age of 65 has enriched the social, cultural or civic life of their community. You can find more criteria below.

If the senior you know lives in Waterloo, visit the City of Waterloo website.

Nominate a senior

On this page:

  1. Nominate a senior
  2. Nomination criteria
  3. Recognition activities
  4. 2023 Senior of the Year nominees

Nominate a senior

Nominations for the 2024 senior of the year award are now open! Nominate a senior online or pick up a nomination form at a community centre starting in January.

Nominate a senior

Nominations are open until March 31, 2024.

Nomination criteria

Nominees must:

  • be 65 years of age or older
  • be a current resident of Kitchener
  • not be a current member of the Mayor's Advisory Council for Kitchener Seniors (MACKS)
  • be an individual (you cannot nominate couples or groups)
  • give permission to be nominated and agree to submission information

Selection process

Nominations will be reviewed by a panel made up of:

  • volunteers from the Mayor's Advisory Council for Kitchener Seniors (MACKS)
  • members of council
  • staff members
  • a representative from Volunteer Waterloo Region

Recognition activities

Mayor Berry Vrbanovic will announce the recipient of our Senior of the Year Award at a ceremony on Tuesday, May 28 at 7 p.m. All candidates and their guests will be invited to attend the ceremony featuring light refreshments, entertainment and announcement of award recipient. At this event, all nominees will be recognized and will receive a certificate signed by the mayor.

Subscribe to this page to get an email when we share more details about the award ceremony. 

2023 Senior of the Year nominees

Congratulations to our 2023 Senior of the Year, Sultanali Hudda!

In 2023, 18 outstanding older adults were nominated for this award. Open the accordions below to learn about each nominee.

Sultanali Hudda - 2023 Senior of the Year

Nominated by Mehdiya Walji – House of Friendship (Onesight) & Hussein Walji – Islamic Humanitarian Service

Sultanali has volunteered his time to a wide range of organizations that address issues of social justice, Islamophobia, and anti-racism. In addition to his advocacy work with organizations such as Muslim Social Services and Islamic Humanitarian Services, Sultanali also volunteers with the House of Friendship’s Onesight program, providing free glasses for seniors living with low income. Sultanali provides appliance repair at low or no cost for clients of this program, often making multiple visits to a home, and covering the cost of parts himself. He also provides rides to the mosque for those without transportation and helps to organize food and clothing donations in support of global emergencies. Thank you Sultanali for generously sharing your expertise and amplifying the voices of those who are often marginalized or silenced.

Kuldip Bachher

Nominated by Suren Dave – South Asian Seniors Association of Waterloo

As an active member of the South Asian Seniors Association of Waterloo Region, Kuldip enhances the lives of older adults by applying for grants from the Federal government to organize seniors programs such as computer literacy, English as a second language, health workshops, picnics, day trips and weekly lunches including entertainment. Recognizing the need for senior members of the Association to receive support with Indian Pension claims, Kuldip went about the challenging tasks of organizing for the Indian Consulate to come to Kitchener to sign pension certificates, so members did not need to drive to Toronto. In 2022, nearly 350 seniors benefitted from this service. Kuldip is described as humble, charismatic, well respected, and approachable. Thank you Kuldip for your leadership and dedication to improving the lives of seniors from the South Asian community!

Mary Dooley

Nominated by Jennifer Costello – Stanley Park Neighbourhood Association

Mary has dedicated much of her retirement to providing food security for those in need. For over 10 years she volunteered with the House of Friendship’s Food Hamper Program by packing hampers and assisting with administrative work in the office. Throughout 2010-2019 Mary volunteered with St. Luke’s Church serving breakfast for up to 50 Franklin Public School students five days a week, ensuring they received a healthy breakfast before school. In 2019 Mary helped to start the Stanley Park Eats Program with the Stanley Park Neighbourhood Association which serves over 150 meals each week to community members in need. As the program lead, Mary does everything from recipe planning, grocery shopping, training volunteers, cooking, and serving meals. Mary is described as an inspiration to others. Thank you Mary for your commitment to feeding those in need in our community.

Sharon Gowland

Nominated by Rick Chambers

For 19 years, Sharon has coordinated the free Tuesday Noon-hour Concerts at First United Church, providing musical entertainment to over 150-300 listeners each week. Sharon plans each series of 20+ concerts by lining up choirs, inviting musicians from the Region and Stratford, and collaborating with the Local Musician’s Union regarding co-sponsorship. Sharon also collaborates with the church to confirm volunteers, arrange lunches, and promote the concerts. The music series appears to run effortlessly, due to Sharon’s ability to manage details so expertly. Sharon also belongs to and volunteers with the Probus Waterloo Women’s club, sings with several choirs and is an exceptionally talented watercolour painter. Sharon is described as charming, witty, intelligent, talented and a very giving soul. Thank you Sharon for building bridges in the music community and bringing the joy of music to so many!

Fadumo Aden

Nominated by Mona Loffelmann – African Family Revival Organization

Fadumo has been a valued member of the African Family Revival Organization (AFRO) for over 8 years, leading seniors events, cooking meals and promoting the group’s services. She was one of the leading members of AFRO’s Support Through the Generations program to welcome the Honourable Minister of Seniors, Kamal Khera, to the group, inviting her to join in for music and dancing. Fadumo is described as a conscientious person who helps ensure that transportation is available for participants to arrive safely, and frequently checks in on the health and wellbeing of others. Because of Fadumo’s outgoing nature and positive attitude, many participants who were once reserved have come out of their shells. She acts as an example of what can be done when you persevere and support one another, despite obstacles. Thank you Fadumo for your dedication to AFRO and for being a positive role model for others!

Marguarite Knechtel

Nominated by Ruth Coelho

Marguarite has volunteered with Meals on Wheels for 2 years, ensuring hot meals are delivered weekly to clients. She has also volunteered on several committees with the Stanley Park Neighbourhood Association, improving opportunities for residents to get involved in their neighbourhood. Marguarite has also supported several newcomers to Canada. Recently she hosted a couple from Ukraine. In addition to sharing her home, Marguarite has organized translation services and other supports to help newcomers transition to their new surroundings. Marguarite always takes the time to welcome new neighbours to her community. She is described as someone who is always supporting organizations and people in her neighbourhood. Thank you Marguarite for your many acts of kindness and for being a warm, supportive presence for so many newcomers to the community.

Marcela Kupfer

Nominated by Josi Pape – COMPASS Refugee Centre

Marcela has been an active volunteer in the community for the past 20 years, including several years with the Mission Thrift Store. For the past year she has provided Spanish/English interpretation for COMPASS Refugee Centre, assisting Spanish-speaking refugees. Because of the help Marcela provides, clients feel more confident and secure in navigating the complex refugee claim process. Marcela is described as a leader, showing kindness and respect to everyone she encounters, especially young people. She has helped train new volunteers and gives extra time outside of regular shifts to serve clients with urgent needs and deadlines. Marcela also helps in the donation room, organizing the space and distributing items to clients. Thank you Marcela for ensuring Spanish newcomers are able to overcome language barriers so immediate needs are met, and new networks of support are formed.

Don O'Bright

Nominated by Brittany Kovacs – House of Friendship

Don has been a volunteer with the House of Friendship for over 5 years. On weekly basis, Don assists with the Emergency Food Hamper Program, ensuring those experiencing food insecurity have access to a monthly food hamper. Don has contributed a remarkable one thousand hours to this program alone. He also assists with the annual Christmas Food Program and Food Bank of Waterloo Region as a volunteer driver. Outside of these regular volunteer roles, Don accommodates special one-time requests such as the ShelterCare Open House, Staff Retreat and many other last-minute asks. Don approaches each individual and family with kindness, care, empathy and without judgment, creating a safe space for some of the most marginalized members of our community to access services. Thank you Don for donating your time so generously to provide food security and support to those in need.

Chaitanya Jyoti Parivrajika

Nominated by Suren Dave and Mohan Kendall

Chaitanya Jyoti has been serving as head preacher of the Brahmrishi Mission of Canada Hindu Temple for over 40 years, actively providing guidance and counselling to local families, including seniors, international students, and new immigrants. In 1997, she established the Brahmrishi Mission Yoga and Meditation Center, improving both the physical and mental health of countless individuals. Chaitanya’s volunteer work extends to organizing food drives to support the Food Bank and Soup Kitchen, conducting special prayers for hospital patients, cooking, and distributing food to students, providing moral support to isolated seniors, as well as working with the Ministry of Correctional Services to provide counselling for inmates. Thank you Chaitanya for providing spiritual leadership and for being a tireless role model of service to others.

Dan Purcell

Nominated by Kendra Forrest – March of Dimes Canada

Dan has been an integral member of the March of Dimes After Stroke Program for over 25 years. He is the founding member and co-lead of the local Stroke Recovery Chapter which connects those impacted by stroke with a personal contact within the community to provide tools and introductions to programs. As a stroke survivor, Dan has been a positive role model to other peer mentors by encouraging them to volunteer in spite of limitations, providing a sense of purpose and value. Through his participation on various committees including the Regional Stoke Network Committee, Waterloo Wellington Stroke Advisory Committee and Hospital Advisory Committee, Dan engages with outside resources to empower survivors. Thank you Dan for being a positive role model and providing hope and inspiration to hundreds of stroke survivors on their continuum of recovery.

Evelyn Richter

Nominated by Jan Baker

When Evelyn moved back to Kitchener in 2014, she looked for an older lesbian community to find and make friends. Not finding the community she was seeking, Evelyn decided to build it. She started by hosting dances for lesbians 50+ in her building and activities soon expanded to monthly gatherings at restaurants, potlucks, and game nights. When covid curtailed events, Evelyn kept everyone connected through social media. While older lesbians often feel isolated, hidden, and fearful, Evelyn filled a need in the community by creating a safe social space for laughter, conversation, and friendship. As a Minister, Evelyn appreciates the value of community and has been described as a catalyst for bringing people together, and the conduit who keeps friendship ties strong throughout life’s journey. Thank you Evelyn for creating a much needed and valued safe space for lesbians to share friendship and support.

Debbie Rochon

Nominated by Claire Smith – Mennonite Central Committee

Debbie has volunteered with the Mennonite Central Committee's Circle of Friends for over 5 years, making a significant impact in promoting social inclusion for people experiencing homelessness and social isolation. With staff, Debbie has supported three participants to transition out of homelessness by creating a supportive environment to share experiences and connect with others. Debbie is described as extraordinary gifted at empowering others in a way that offers long-term benefits by listening with empathy and celebrating positive steps. Debbie also volunteers at her church where she developed a kids’ ministry, supports the Church’s Fun Fest and organizes participation in Operation Christmas Child. During covid, she also initiated at home programming for kids to do while parents attended services online. Thank you Debbie for walking with those on the outskirts of our community, enabling them to overcome obstacles and feel heard.

Tim Sauer

Nominated by Dawn Gill – Constituency Office of MP Mike Morrice

Tim, also known as “The Pie Man,” has been baking pies in honour of volunteers across the Region since 2006. He currently bakes several pies each week for volunteers of organizations such as Thrift on Kent, Luther Village, the Constituency Office of MP Mike Morrice, House of Friendship and many others. Tim’s pies include a personal note for the recipient, stating not only that the pie has been made in their honour, but also recognizing their role with an organization. During the pandemic, Tim sought out parents within his faith group who were home with young children, making pies for these families hoping to brighten their lives during a challenging time. Tim’s selfless and community-minded acts of kindness enable volunteers to feel seen for their work they do and remind others of the positive impact of recognizing others!

Cathie Savage

Nominated by Cathy Morris – Out of the Cold First United Church

Cathie has been supporting those experiencing homelessness for 25 years. Initially she ran “Out of the Cold” at First United Church. The program has evolved into “Fridays at First,” providing refreshments, dinner, clothing, and a warm place to socialize throughout the day and evening. Cathie partners with the Waterloo Region Foodbank for food donations to creatively prepare weekly meals with volunteers. In return, the volunteers provide Friday dinners for residents of A Better Tent City. Cathie has also prepared meals the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser and works with Supportive Housing of Waterloo to assist vulnerable people in accessing housing. Cathie also serves as a Board member and Head of Planning at First United Church, putting covid safety protocols in place for the church community. Thank you Cathie for your kindness, positivity, and unwavering support of some of our most vulnerable community members.

Andrew Teminski

Nominated by Karen Teminski

For over 42 years, Andrew has served as a volunteer and co-chair to various committees for Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, and as a member and current President of the Kitchener Musical Society Band. Spanning over 30 years, Andrew has also been an executive council member and Elder with St. Sophia Church. As a 20-year football coach with Grand River Collegiate, Andrew has helped many young people learn to work together, regardless of differences to achieve their goals. Recently Andrew has helped support the Ukrainian community by coordinating donations and helping newcomers settle in the community. Andrew sets an example for others by embracing every person’s individuality and accepting all as equal members of society. Thank you Andrew for your countless contributions towards making Kitchener a better community for all!

Dennis Watson

Nominated by Mayada Abou Warda – Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre

Dennis has been a volunteer of the Downtown Community Health Centre for over 12 years. He currently chairs the Finance and Audit Committee and serves on the Executive committee. His leadership work behind the scenes enables the Centre to make services available to some of the most vulnerable members of the community including homeless individuals, those suffering from addiction and substance abuse, people who identify as LGBTQ+, as well as over 5,000 refugees who have settled in Kitchener-Waterloo. Dennis has also served his faith community at Trinity United Church for over 30 years, most notably in the resettlement of new Canadians and in feeding and sheltering those living the experience of homelessness through the Church’s former Out of the Cold program. Thank you Dennis for generously sharing your time and expertise to help a stronger and healthier community for all.

Gavin Wilson

Nominated by Cola Henderson – City of Kitchener

Gavin has been a long-time instructor and volunteer with the Doon Pioneer Park Community Association teaching and assisting with soccer and multi-sport program for children and youth. Although Gavin is officially a paid instructor, he returns all earnings to the young people in his programs by bringing treats, celebrating milestones, assisting with transportation barriers, and hosting a year end celebration with all of his volunteers. By viewing youth as our next leaders and recognizing the value of intergenerational connections, Gavin encourages others to dream big and help others along the way. He sets an example through his kindness, understanding of needs, and mentorship. Thank you Gavin for your ongoing leadership and support of children and youth in the Doon community!

Jan Zuk

Nominated by Nicole Zuk

For over 30 years, Jan ran the Polish radio program as a volunteer with FM98.5 CKWR. During his career as a teacher with both school boards, he taught many students how to speak Polish. For more than 10 years, Jan has taught music lessons in the community, teaching students how to play instruments from accordion to guitar to piano to voice. Jan also volunteers his time with the Sacred Heart Polish Church, writing music for the church’s anniversary celebration and helping with cleaning. Jan is described as someone who shares his time generously without asking for anything in return. Thank you Jan for ensuring that Kitchener’s Polish culture and music continue to be shared and appreciated by our community!