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.

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 2025 senior of the year award will open in January! Subscribe to this page to be notified when nominations open.


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

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. 


2024 Senior of the Year nominees

Congratulations to our 2024 Senior of the Year, Donna Dubie!

In 2024, 17 outstanding older adults were nominated for this award. Open the accordions below to learn about each nominee.

Donna Dubie - 2024 Senior of the Year recipient

Nominated by Maedith Radlein

Donna’s community impact is far-reaching and extends throughout organizations such as the K-W Urban Native Wigwam project, Grand Valley Institution for Women, Unified Family Court, Waterloo-Wellington Reintegration Planning Table, Family & Children’s Services, and the Region of Waterloo Anti-Racism Working Group. Many know Donna as the founder of the Healing of the Seven Generations whose mission it is to help First Peoples heal from the abusive and racist systems of the past and present. Where there is a need for Indigenous knowledge and lived experience, Donna is a sought-after resource to school boards, municipalities, and community agencies. As an inspiring teacher and speaker, and as an insightful and generous participant in regional governance, Donna is an exemplary of loving community. Thank you Donna for creating spaces for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to grieve, connect and learn together towards shaping a different future for the next seven generations!

Donna Archibald

Nominated by Tavenna Kum – Fierce N Fit Special Needs Charitable Organization

Donna has proven to be a valuable asset to the Fierce N Fit Special Needs Charitable Organization since recently joining as a volunteer coach. With a background as an Educational Assistant, Donna’s expertise and experience have been invaluable in tailoring coaching methods which emphasize teamwork, perseverance, and the importance of embracing diversity to meet the unique needs of each participant on the boxing team. The transition from educational assistant to coach is a testament to Donna’s deep commitment to creating a sense of belonging and accomplishment through physical fitness. Donna’s efforts to promote inclusivity and understanding extend beyond the gym, creating a ripple effect within the community. Thank you Donna for being a source of inspiration to both participants and fellow volunteers through your passion for embracing diversity and inclusion for all!

Esseleyne Bell

Nominated by Eunice Ramsay – KW Black Women’s League & Anne Woolner

Esseleyne has owned the Caribbean Kitchen for 17 years and shares her wonderful cooking talents by voluntarily supporting hundreds of people in the community. For example, Esseleyne has been cooking free meals for 60-80 students each week at Wilfrid Laurier University for several years. The meals not only provide a source of fellowship for the students, but also help to extend their budgets. Esseleyne has also volunteered with the KW Black Women’s League for 13 years, and supports the Multicultural Festival, Blues Festival and many other events which bring the community together. She has volunteered at the Soup kitchen, has prepared huge Christmas dinners, and has provided meal delivery to seniors during the pandemic. Thank you Esseleyne for putting so much love into the meals you provide and for sharing your warmth, kindness, and generosity with so many in our community!

Liz Burke

Nominated by Taveena Kum – Fierce N Fit Special Needs Charitable Organization

Since joining the Fit N Fierce organization in 2021, Liz has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to supporting individuals with special needs, particularly those affected by cerebral palsy. Liz brings a personal connection that goes beyond mere volunteerism, demonstrating a level of empathy and understanding that has profoundly impacted others. She ensures that each boxing team participant feels empowered, fostering a sense of belonging and confidence through physical fitness. Liz’s accomplishments extend beyond the gym program to both fundraising and advocacy work. Her unwavering dedication to challenging stereotypes, coupled with her inclusive approach, have inspired fellow volunteers and community members alike. Thank you Liz for making a positive impact in the broader community by raising awareness and empowering those living with special needs!

Kenneth Campbell

Nominated by Anne Cameron – Waterloo Region Nordic Sports Club

For 17 years, Ken has been a member and volunteer of the Waterloo Region Nordic Sports Club, based at Rockway Golf Course. As an instructor, Ken has taught countless youth and adults. He has also coached competitively, including Para Nordic skiers. As the Club’s President, Ken is devoted to growing many initiatives; from: co-writing grants, to purchasing and maintaining equipment, to liaising with the governing body on new policies, to creating a field trip program for grades 4-7, to scouting out snow conditions at other facilities. One of Ken’s most impactful initiatives has been the development of the youth equipment rental program. Ken leads a committee in purchasing equipment and ensures that over 180 youth with skis are personally fitted with skis, boots, and poles, providing affordable access to the sport. Thank you Ken for your vision, leadership, and dedication in growing Nordic skiing in our community!

Helen Cipriano

Nominated by Nancy Mohring

Helen has been volunteering with Hospice Volunteer Region since 2021. During this time she has contributed over 480 hours delivering treats to residents and assisting with the laundry program. Helen takes great care in each of her interactions and provides a warm and compassionate presence for residents and family members. Helen greets everyone warmly and often has a story to share in between doing laundry or coming around with the treat cart. Residents look forward to Helen’s visits as she shares smiles and a warm heart when needed most. She also visits people in hospital while they are waiting for long term care or hospice services. In addition, Helen supports her church by assisting with banking. Thank you Helen for sharing your time, warmth, and compassion to bring comfort to others during their most vulnerable times!

Charles Debrot

Nominated by Ashlynne Bowen – Community Support Connections

Charles has been a valued volunteer driver with Meals on Wheels since 2018. Last year alone, Charles donated over 260 hours of his time, completing 130 routes, while driving over 2,000 kilometers to deliver approximately 1,300 meals to some of our most vulnerable community members. As a regular donor, Charles also gives back his mileage reimbursement each month. His kindness and thoughtfulness set him apart in the organization. Charles gets to know clients and has personal conversations with each of them during deliveries. He is extremely reliable, and even helps to secure coverage for shifts if planning to be away. Charles is also one of the Meals on Wheels training mentors. Last year he trained 5 new volunteers by taking them out on a route, reviewing procedures, and providing guidance for scenarios which may arise. Thank you Charles for being a highly dedicated and valued champion of the Meals on Wheels program!

Ron Dowhaniuk

Nominated by Dawn Gill – Kitchener Centre MP Mike Morrice

Ron has volunteered with the King Edward School’s lunch program for 20 years. Additionally he is an active participant and current Board President for the Cambridge Rowing Club. Since 2023, Ron has also served as a weekly Reception and Administrative volunteer for the office of MP Mike Morrice. As a former Executive Director of the United Way Cambridge and North Dumfires, Ron is attuned to many of the complex needs and challenges community members encounter and is diligent in ensuring each person is served with care and kindness in a timely manner. From answering the phone, to preparing intake documents, to comforting people who are experiencing challenges, Ron’s gifts of time and knowledge are invaluable resources. Thank you Ron for providing friendly, knowledgeable, and caring assistance to those seeking support with federal services!

Louise Gardiner

Nominated by Michelle Burke

Louise is dedicated to her family and leads by example. Her volunteer contributions in the community and extensive. Some of the roles she has served in include: 30-year member and twice-serving President of the Rotary Club of Kitchener; mentor with the Women in Communications & Technology program, Waterloo Region steering committee member for International Women’s Day; and Grand River Hospital Foundation member. Additionally, Louise has served as a fundraiser and advocate for organizations such as: A Better Tent City, Ray of Hope, Kidsability and Nutrition for Learning. Louise’s community connections enable her to rally support and inspire others to engage in advancing the mission of the countless organizations she supports. Louise has done all this while raising a family and tackling a successful career in the travel industry. Thank you Louise for your tireless energy and far-reaching commitment to improving the lives of others in our community!

Patricia Grundy

Nominated by Fiona Cross – Stanley Park Community Association

Patricia has been a member of St. Anthony Daniel parish since 1974. She has served in many areas of ministry, most notably as Chair of the Rite of Adult Catholic Initiations for 40 years. Additionally, Patricia has been a long-time activist for environmental sustainability, dedicated to education and implementing systems to reduce waste. In 2022, Patricia initiated the Recycling Beyond the Blue Box program at the Stanley Park Community Centre. Patricia coordinates a volunteer team that sorts and transports recyclable materials to companies that transform them into usable items. Patricia has led workshops on the program at local churches, schools, and community events. Patricia has connected her passion for sustainability with charitable fundraisers so that recycled items also contribute to causes such as TABS 4 Wheels and Canadian Food for Children. Thank you Patricia t for demonstrating a profound commitment to the environment and for inspiring others to walk in your footsteps!

Dorina Idvorian

Nominated by Paulina Popescu – ARTA Romanian Association

Dorina is known as an incredibly loyal and hardworking volunteer in the Romanian-Canadian Community. As a former 20-year instructor and coordinator of the Floral Design Certificate program at Conestoga College, Dorina lends her talents to organizations such as the St. Mary’s Hospital Foundations’ Festival of Trees, as well as several activities hosted by the ARTA Romanian Association, where she has been a long-serving member. Dorina provides traditional costumes and decorations for events, leads floral demonstrations for children and seniors, writes articles for the Romanian Newspaper, and sponsored the Muzidava musical group. Dorina also provides friendly visits to seniors living in isolation and provides them with rides to activities and event. Thank you Dorina for your endless energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to keeping up the traditions of the Romanian-Canadian community!

Marcela Küpfer

Nominated by Josi Pape – COMPASS Refugee Centre

Marcela has volunteered as a language interpreter and translator with COMPASS Refugee Centre for over 2 years. By helping clients overcome language barriers as they work with caseworkers, Marcela helps to ensure both parties can be confident that their written and verbal communication are clear, thus enabling clients to make informed decisions for themselves and proceed to hearings with courage. Marcela embraces her role with compassion, understating and integrity. She is flexible with her time, often making herself available on short notice to help clients facing tight deadlines. Marcela also finds time to volunteer with Mission Thrift on Kent, most recently as a board member. Thank you Marcela for sharing your time, compassion, and expertise in supporting refugee claimants and protected persons as they seek safety and security for their families!

Christine McLauchlin

Nominated by Willowside Housing Co-operative

Christine has been a member at Willowside Housing Cooperative since moving from Windsor in 2013. Instantly she started volunteering, serving on the board of directors for Willowside, as well as the Central Ontario Housing Federation, and the Co-operative Housing Federation. By expanding her knowledge through these roles, Christine brought new initiatives back to her own community. Willowside members frequently comment on Christine’s kindness, work ethic and community pride. She continually initiates projects which benefit others, such as organizing community events, cleaning and beautifying common areas, gardening, and hosting crafting activities for the children. Christine leads by example, inspiring the next generation of co-op members. Despite personal challenges, she continues to prioritize the wellbeing of her community. Thank you Christine for your leadership and dedication towards creating a community that all Willowside members can be proud of!

Rukia Mohamud

Nominated by Radwan Sabriye – African Family Revival Organization

Rukia has dedicated her time and efforts to providing emotional support within her senior group and circle of friends. Despite experiencing significant personal adversity, Rukia has emerged as a beacon of resilience, strength, and compassion, serving as a role model and inspiration for others. By offering a listening ear, comforting shoulder and words of encouragement, Rukia has provided solace and strength to those facing their own hardships. Rukia’s ability to turn personal adversity into acts of kindness and compassion have not only uplifted those directly touched by her efforts but has also served as a catalyst for positive change within her community. Her actions serve as a testament to the impact of empathy, selflessness, and compassion in building resilient communities. Thank you Rukia for providing resilience and hope to those navigating hardships by demonstrating extraordinary courage and compassion!

Ken Schilling

Nominated by Tammy Cumming

As a 34-year volunteer with the Kitchener Minor Baseball Association, Ken has made a profound impact in the community. His volunteer roles have included President and Vice-President, Director at large on the board, baseball clinic and camp organizer, equipment manager, and coach. Ken has also been instrumental in improving baseball facilities by getting the new batting cages, lighting and benches built at Breithaupt Park. Ken’s collaborative spirit and ability to unite individuals toward a common goal serve as a catalyst for success. His skills in baseball, along with a focus on skill development, community building, and ensuring players have fun, have made him a beloved figure within KMBA. Ken’s positive impact on the youth he coaches is exemplified by the many young players who return to volunteer as adults. Thank you Ken for inspiring the entire baseball community to strive for success both on and off the field by exemplifying the values of leadership, teamwork, and community service!

Donna Swiech

Nominated by Taweena Kum – Fit N Fierce Special Needs Charitable Organization

Donna has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the Fit N Fierce Special Needs Charitable Organization. In her roles as a volunteer coach, event organizer and as President on the Board of Executives, Donna’s leadership has been instrumental in shaping the organization into a supportive and inclusive community for individuals living with special needs. By drawing upon her abilities to foster community connections and partnerships, Donna plays a pivotal role in coordinating the organizations’ annual fundraising auction, generating approximately $30,000 per year to sustain and expand programs. Donna’s community contributions extend to supporting local homeless shelters as well. She initiated the “Penny’s for Socks” and “Blessing Bags” programs which have helped provide those who are homeless with essentials such as socks and hygiene products. Thank you Donna for your selfless dedication, compassionate spirit, and commitment to bettering the lives of countless individuals in our community!

Ann Whittle

Nominated by City of Kitchener Councillor Member Paul Singh

For over 15 years, Anne has volunteered with the Alpine Neighbourhood Association. Her leadership and advocacy have been a driving force behind numerous neighbourhood improvement projects such as the establishment of a community garden for Alpine residents, and the installation of a new playground in Alpine Park. Ann’s passion for community is demonstrated in her commitment to events such as Earth Day clean ups and Neighbours Day. Ann has also served for 10 years on both the organizing committee, and as an event day volunteer for the Ward 6 Cinema Under the Stars outdoor movie night. As a volunteer at the forefront of these events, Ann helps to foster a sense of belonging by bringing residents together in meaningful ways. Thank you Ann for improving the quality of life for Alpine Neighbourhood residents through your leadership and commitment to serving others!