(Scott Phelan, the recipient of the 2022 Roger Griffiths Memorial Citizen of the Year is joined by Mayor Jim Watson, Lynn Griffiths and Councillor Glen Gower at the Stittsville Volunteer Awards that took place at the Johnny Leroux Community Centre in Stittsville on June 6th. The event recognizes our dedicated community volunteers. Photos: Stittsville Central)
Stittsville has been recognizing the contribution of our community volunteers since 1990 when at that time they were introduced as the ‘Goulbourn Appreciation Awards’. This year’s event, the ‘Stittsville Volunteer Awards’ was no different with nominees being recognized through six categories: Roger Griffiths Memorial Citizen of the Year; Senior Citizen of the Year; John Curry Memorial Youth of the Year; Teacher of the Year; Business of the Year; and, Volunteer Group of the Year.
Councillor Glen Gower opened the June 6 ceremony, held at the Johnny Leroux Community Centre, welcoming and thanking the special guests, nominees, friends, family and former awardees. He noted, “These awards are a very special tradition in the Stittsville community. The tradition started way back in 1990 – nearly 30 years ago – when they were known as the “Goulbourn Appreciation Awards.” “Since then, the awards have highlighted the contributions of so many outstanding Stittsville volunteers – and we’re fortunate to be joined tonight by several winners from previous years”.
Roxanne Olivier-Fortier, a music student at West End Music School and student at Paul Desmarais Catholic High School, was invited to sing ‘O Canada’.
Mayor Jim Watson began by, “I congratulate all of the nominees and eventual winners. I want to thank Glen for keeping this tradition alive. I always enjoy the many times that Glen has invited me to Stittsville. It it also nice to know that you have a youth award in honour of John Curry. It is nice to see the daughter of Roger Griffiths here to present that award. I’ll just conclude by saying we wouldn’t know where we would be as a community without volunteers especially during these past few weeks and Stittsville being hit hard by the May 21 storm. Neighbours helping neighbours, businesses offering their services, a community coming together”.
It was a special evening when the audience was introduced to guest speaker, Stittsville’s Collinda Joseph, who has competed at three World Championships representing Canada on the National Wheelchair Curling team. The 2022 Beijing Paralympics saw Collinda and her team mates bringing home a Bronze Medal for Canada.
Collinda took the attendees through her personal story and how she arrived at the sport of curling. She emphasized the importance and need for volunteers to work daily with the team in order for the members to be successful in their sport. Collinda shared, “volunteers are consistently relied upon to ensure the ice surface is clean for the stones to move smoothly, each wheelchair is carefully wiped to ensure fairness in the game, and, importantly, the stones require wiping before each each athlete handles them”. Imagine, there is an eight-game match with each game having 16 stones – those stones are wiped by volunteers over 100 times! The referees are also assisted by the volunteers to collect the invalid stones at the end of the rink. “Our dedicated volunteers are an integral part of our curling team and we are all indebted to each one of them”. She proudly displayed her Bronze Medal and Team Canada jacket with the audience.
The Roger Griffiths Memorial Citizen of the Year – The 2022 recipient was Scott Phelan, with the award being presented by Lynn Griffiths.
Scott has made significant contributions to the Stittsville community, including the large Stittsville hockey community. He is serving his second term as the President of the Stittsville Minor Hockey Association, in addition to several years of volunteering his time as coach and on-ice helper for various teams. That’s no small task in a normal year, but all the more challenging during the ups and downs of the pandemic. Co-ordinating and leading the efforts of a large number of volunteers, Scott has been able to stick-handle through the various challenges for the organization to keep our kids on the ice at the same time as keeping them safe.
Scott is also actively contributing to the Stittsville community at-large, through efforts such as food drives to support the Stittsville Food Bank, and as a key organizer in establishing the outdoor rink at Village Square to allow access to ice for all when indoor ice was inaccessible. He is quick to respond to requests for assistance and need, and routinely goes above and beyond to contribute to causes in the community and is often first to raise his hand when something needs to be done.
Upon winning this award, Scott shared with Stittsville Central, “I’m very humbled that I was nominated. We have such amazing people who continue to give back their time that I was completely overwhelmed when I won the award. I’m so privileged and honoured to be part of an amazing community. Volunteering feels great and give us all a sense of pride and accomplishment. I share this award with all of our Stittsville Minor Hockey Volunteers and our community members within Stittsville who continue to give back. You really are making a difference in peoples lives!”
John Curry Memorial Youth of the Year – The 2022 recipient was Lara Sweidan. This year, the youth award was renamed in honour of John Curry, who at the age of 75 passed away in February of 2022. John was a long-time newspaper writer and editor, history keeper, school board trustee, author, playwright and volunteer. He served our community for nearly half a century with unwavering kindness and generosity. His work made a difference in the lives of many people in our community; and, he had a particular interest in celebrating the achievements of the youth in our community of Stittsville.
Lara attends South Carleton High School and has over 165 hours of community service in in our community. While working with OneProsper she connected with girls in India from low income families and helped practice English over a 6 month period. Within her own community Lara volunteered at a Languages Sunday School, she participated in local park clean ups, the Richmond fair, was a volunteer coach with Kanata Gymnosphere and helped with summer camps at Saunders farm. She also participates in numerous school clubs, sports, and other activities.
Senior of the Year – The 2022 recipient was Lesley McKay.
As a volunteer with the Goulbourn Township Historical Society, Lesley was editor of the group’s newsletter and later became a board member. She is a Director on the Board of the Stittsville Village Association, and was part of the coordinating committee for Stittsville’s Blossom Fest. She recently joined The Stittsville Lions. And as the Managing Editor of StittsvilleCentral.ca, Lesley has made it her mission to keep the community engaged and informed on current news and events. We should also mention that Lesley was born and raised in Stittsville, and her family has a long history in the village, including as volunteers. She is known to give a kind and caring hand to many community members, checking in regularly and helping in any way that she can.
Teacher of the Year – the 2022 recipient is Andrew Arcello.
Andrew is a Grade 5 teacher at Guardian Angels school and is committed to making education fun and fascinating for his students. He is passionate about inclusion and acceptance of all students and their way of learning. Almost daily, he leads his students to WJ Bell Rotary Peace Park to learn about the outdoors, using the labyrinth within the park to teach about math and other studies. He also contributes his musical talent by playing piano as part of the school musicals.
Business of the Year – the 2022 recipient is Stittsville Home Hardware
Under the ownership of Bob Bent since 2014, there has been a great deal of community involvement from Home Hardware. They play an important role in supporting events in the community. They are a proud sponsor of three charitable organizations which help people in all parts of the country, focused on children and the environment. Their national charities are the SickKids Foundation, the Special Olympics and Tree Canada Foundation. Bob’s team volunteers to help set up the holiday lights in the trees at Village Square Park. They provide sponsorship and volunteer in the Kids Come First golf. They are an important supporter of the local business association, as well as local charities such as churches and schools.
Volunteer Group of the Year – the 2022 recipient was the Stittsville Muslim Association.
The Stittsville Muslim Association was established just a couple of years ago but they have quickly become an important community group in our community, working to connect with Stittsville’s Muslims and the community at large. They are raising money to establish a physical space in the community for their programs. In 2021, they were able to open a musalla on Stittsville Main Street, providing a space for prayer and for community meetings. They have since expanded, and are currently planning for their longer-term vision of establishing a mosque to serve the growing Muslim community in Stittsville.
Councillor Gower ended the evening with thanks all around. “Tonight’s event is happening thanks in large part to volunteers. The awards are organized by my team, going above and beyond their regular responsibilities – merci à mon équipe — Isobel Aubin, Amélie Bell, Aline Leao de Rezende, Jordan Moffatt, Catherine Musgrove, and Tracy Noble-Botting. I’d like to say thank you in particular to Amélie who played a lead role in co-ordinating tonight’s event.”
“The healthiest communities around the world, are the ones where the most people are getting involved in community life. Measure health any way you want – physical health, mental health, social health, economic health – the indicators all improve when you have lots of people taking part.
“Think about that for a second – what’s something you can do on your street? In your neighbourhood? At school? At work? Can you all think of something? I challenge you to go out and make it happen. Get involved. And maybe we’ll see some of you honoured here in a future year,” ended the Councillor.
The award selections were decided upon by the Stittsville Volunteer Awards Selection Committee made up of local volunteers who assisted in the evaluation of the nominations and selected the category winners:
- Terry Christopher
- Mandy Hambly
- Jameel Lalji
- Keith Tauro
- Phil Sweetnam
Volunteers are the backbone of communities in which importance is given to formal and informal relationships that facilitate interaction and engagement to create a sense of belonging. Volunteerism is also one in which there is broad participation by all sections of residents. Communities with these characteristics do better in moving forward to meet common aspirations. Volunteers contribute to a social environment that nurtures the well-being of all.
You can watch a video of the event here.
Some further photos from the evening: