Ten outstanding representatives of Surrey’s vibrant community took home trophies Tuesday night in recognition of their respective contributions to the people of this city, while 10 others received honourable mentions in each category during the Surrey Now-Leader’s 17th Annual Community Leader Awards.
The awards ceremony was staged at the Eaglequest Golf banquet hall in Surrey.
“The CLA nominees are the backbone of Surrey,” said Publisher Dwayne Weidendorf. “They are the individuals who constantly make a positive difference in our community and it’s important for all of us to celebrate these achievements with them tonight.”
Now-Leader publisher Dwayne Weidendorf welcomes guests to the 2019 Community Leader Awards held at the Eaglequest golf course clubhouse. The awards are given to those in the community who help make a difference in the lives of others.#SurreyCLA #SurreyBC pic.twitter.com/9vPDXdNIzi— Surrey Now-Leader (@SurreyNowLeader) November 13, 2019
And the winners are:
Emergency Services Leader Award
Top honour: Todd Schierling. Honourable Mention: Nancy Innes.
Schierling, a 49-year-old Surrey fire captain, has devoted his life to helping other, serving with numerous charitable societies. Nancy Innes, is a retired Surrey fire captain.
“I’m very humbled and very honoured to be part of an organization that gives back,” Schierling said.
The recipients of the Emergency Services Award have made a positive contribution to the community by going the extra mile – over and above the call of duty. They are exemplary in the area of emergency services and unselfishly shoulder enormous responsibility while accepting the potential risks and challenges of the job.
Service Organization Volunteer Award
Shara Nixon received top honour in the Service Organization Volunteer of the Year Award. She has been the president of DIVERSEcity for five years. Nixon has lead various community events and workshops to engage the community and build an inclusive and welcoming community. Manny Kang, creator of the Semo Foundation, received honourable mention.
“Wow, I was just happy to have my name near these other people,” Nixon said.
The recipients of the Service Organization Volunteer Award make a positive contribution to the community by volunteering their time to a community service organization. This person is well thought of and is significantly relied upon by others in the organization.
Environmental Leader Award
Bob Gardner, founder of Friends of McNally Creek, received top honour in the Environmental Leader Award. Deb Jack, president of Surrey Environmental Partners, received honourable mention.
“If we all did a little bit, we’d have a better place to live,” Gardner said.
The recipients of the Environmental Leader Award make a positive contribution to the community by championing environmentally friendly initiatives. Someone who inspires others to be “green” by being a leader in ecologically sound practices.
Teacher of the Year Award
Annie Ohana received top honour in the Teacher of the Year Award category. Through her Social Justice Youth Leadership program, Mustang Justice, she has empowered Surrey students by giving them a voice to change their communities for the better. Mike Hicks, who for the past 27 years has been teaching at the Guildford Learning Centre, received honourable mention.
“A teacher never stands alone,” Ohana said. “I believe there are no walls to a classroom.”
The recipients of the Teacher of the Year Award make a positive contribution by being a true leader and example to students. They demonstrate a high level of ethics and professional standards, are inspirational motivators, excellent communicators, good listeners and reliable resources to the students and the community.
Coach of the Year
Debora Mackenzie received top honour in the Coach of the Year Award, for her unconditional, unrivaled and unlimited commitment to coaching hundreds of young Surrey athletes. Fitness trainer Chris Galbraith received honourable mention.
“Thank you for this recognition,” Mackenzie said.
The recipients of the Coach of the Year Award make a positive contribution to their sport and are exemplary in developing skills and confidence in participants. A role model who inspires and encourages a high level of athletic achievement.
Community Builder Award
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, received top honour in the Community Builder Award category. She has spent more than a quarter century working to build up Surrey in a wide variety of ways. Rochelle Prasad, co-founder of the Camp We Empower Foundation, received honourable mention.
“Thank you to the Surrey Now-Leader for this tremendous honour,” Huberman said.
The recipients of the Community Builder Award have taken the initiative to engage a variety of Surrey residents in an innovative or new community project or event. The initiative may assist different groups to work together, address a gap in community participation, or result in a more inclusive, engaged community.
Youth Volunteer of the Year Award
Shawna Narayan received top honour in the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award category. Founder and executive director of Empower the Future, she has helped more than 1,000 students through mentorship. Fawzan Hussain, who runs a number of initiatives that serve the greater community in Surrey, received honourable mention.
“Volunteering is such a great way to give back to the community,” Narayan said.
The recipients of the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award is someone who is 25 years old or younger and have made a positive contribution to the community through their various efforts.
Above and Beyond Award
Laurae McNally received top honour in the Above and Beyond Award category. To describe her as a tireless volunteer would be an understatement. Rana Singh Sethi, who has worked with the Mankind Society to help thousands of people get medical aid, received honourable mention.
“I just prefer to do my own thing quietly in the background,” McNally said.
The recipients of the Above and Beyond Award have made a positive contribution to their community through their work. They go beyond the requirements of their job to support the community and make it a better place.
Volunteer of the Year Award
Atish Ram received top honour in the Volunteer of the Year Award category. He and Shaw TV created, produced and hosted the “A Night of Miracles” live telethon that would later be called “World of Smiles Telethon” and run for 15 years, raising more than $2.5 million. Mikaela Basile received honourable mention for her advocacy work in mental health issues, chronic illnesses and disabilities.
“I’ve met some incredible people,” Ram said.
The recipients of the Volunteer of the Year Award have made a positive contribution to the community by volunteering their time to a variety of causes. They are dedicated to making a difference in several initiatives.
Leader of the Year Award
Laurae McNally received top honour in the 2019 Leader of the Year category. She has served more than 38 years on the Surrey Board of Education as a school trustee and is currently in her final term. Anita Huberman, an instigator of change at different levels of government on broad-based issues related to transportation, education, child care, taxation, international trade, youth and women, received honourable mention.
“Thank you very much for the recognition,” McNally said, after receiving a standing ovation.
The nominees and recipients of the Leader of the Year Award rise above the rest by demonstrating long term leadership in all that he or she does. They make a positive contribution to the community and are role models to look up to.
“The Community Leader Awards recognize the selfless, dedicated and courageous people who perform the exceptional acts of service that make our community such a vibrant and rewarding place to live and work,” said Editor Beau Simpson. “These awards are given to those who are committed to making a difference in other people’s lives.”
A big thank you to this year’s judges – Dave Hayer, Marlyn Graziano, Ryan Dance, Kevin De Boice, and Chris Thornly.
Finally, a big thank you to our sponsors: Surrey Firefighters, Zeera Currency Exchange, Simon Fraser University, Western Community College, Live Well Medical Centre, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Guildford Orthodontic Centre, Sameer Kaushal & Ankur Kaushal Century 21, IHOP Restaurant - Surrey, and Community Savings Credit Union.
Surrey MLAs Stephanie Cadieux, Garry Begg and Marvin Hunt, and Surrey City Councillor Steven Pettigrew also attended the ceremony.