Annual event recognizes those who serve community
BY VOICE STAFF
Throughout the year, an army of volunteers give their time, effort, and expertise to help various groups in Pelham provide services to the public.
Last Tuesday, Nov. 26, at the community centre, the Town gave them some recognition—and food and drink—in return.
Some 150 invited guests were invited to hear Mayor Marvin Junkin and Ward 1 Councillor Mike Ciolfi speak about some award-winning efforts by Pelham volunteers. CAO David Cribbs was on hand, as were all Pelham Town councillors—with the exception of Ward 2 Councillor Ron Kore, who does not routinely attend either public or Town staff social functions.
After proceedings were briefly delayed while waiting for a late-arriving MPP Sam Oosterhoff, delayed by GTA traffic, Junkin began by praising those in the room.
“When I took this job, someone asked me what’s the best thing about [it],” said Junkin. “It’s meeting the great people of this town, and it blows me away how many people we have in town who are so committed.”
Oosterhoff and MP Dean Allison echoed these sentiments, noting how volunteering can help make a town a community and a community a home.
In total, 22 recipients were acknowledged—both peer and corporate— spanning community clubs to town committees and groups in between. Winners were not informed beforehand, their selection having been made by their nominating organizations. This led to a few no-shows, with awards being accepted instead on their behalf. Only two or three winners were game for making an acceptance speech, most notably Gordon Marasco, who threatened at one point to pull out a list “that would take a half-hour to read” of others he wanted to ensure were also recognized for their efforts related to Pelham’s Utility Sustainability Committee. In the end, he asked two such individuals, present in the room, to stand for applause, and the awards moved on.
The most touching remarks came not from a recipient, in fact, but from Director of Recreation, Culture, and Wellness, Vickie vanRavenswaay, whose emotional expression of appreciation for the efforts of volunteers—many of whom, she noted, she encountered on a daily basis—left barely a dry eye in the house.
The following descriptions were provided to the Town by each nominee’s respective organization, and were read by Councillor Ciolfi.
Peer Award Winners
Gregory Charles Dyson – 613 Lincoln and Welland Regiment Army Cadets
Greg has been a dedicated volunteer and officer with 613 for the last eight years. Greg finds himself volunteering three nights a week with the cadets, coaching our Biathlon team, Drill team and assisting cadets preparing to try out for the Canadian Forces Parachute course in the summer. This past year Greg’s coaching efforts succeeded with two cadets winning at the area Biathlon Competition before moving on to the regional competition. As well, his efforts assisted in one cadet being accepted to the Parachute course and completing it successfully. His commitment to the cadets in Fonthill has gone a long way. From the 613 Lincoln and Welland Regiment Army Cadets, congratulations Gregory Charles Dyson!
Fred Arbour – Canada Day Planning Group
Fred has been a great supporter of the Town’s annual Canada Day celebrations for over 20 years. His input and guidance, particularly with respect to the provision of food at the event, is much appreciated. His humour and calm demeanor in the face of challenges is always wonderful. We are pleased to honour Fred with this Peer award in recognition of his contributions to our community’s annual celebration of our nation’s birthday. From the Canada Day Planning Group, congratulations Fred Arbour!
Paul Slattery – Fabulous Fenwick Lions Club
Paul has been a member of the Fabulous Fenwick Lions for three years but has another nine years’ experience with another Lions Club. Paul has been a very active member since joining the Club, volunteering to help with many of our committees. One of his first undertakings was organizing and running a draw for a “Smoker/BBQ” which was quite successful. Paul has co-chaired or chaired our bi-weekly Fish Fry that runs from Good Friday till late October. Paul also assists with the Food Booth when it is open for Pelham Minor Ball and Soccer events as well as during our Carnival and Car Show. Paul has recently become Chairperson of our Building Committee seeking ways to fund a renovation or new building. The Fabulous Fenwick Lions Club is honoured to nominate Lion Paul for the Clubs 2019 Peer Award. From the Fabulous Fenwick Lions Club, congratulations Paul Slattery!
Jessie Paterson – Fonthill Lioness
Lioness Jessie has been a very active member of the Fonthill Lioness for 26 years. She was the creator of our Teddy Bears Picnic that we hold every February and it has turned out to be one of our major fundraisers. She is very creative and has had many great projects over the years. In the days before we had a dishwasher at the Lions Hall, Jessie was our chief dishwasher. That seemed to be her job when we served a meal. She and her sidekick Margie made many good batches of baked beans for the Lions Agriculture Night. She spent many hours in the kitchen making sandwiches when we used to feed the seniors once month. Lioness Jessie is now one of our chief ticket sellers. She is always at the door selling 1/2 and 1/2 tickets. Jessie it has been a pleasure working with you for 26 years, you never liked the limelight and preferred to be in the background quietly doing your job (but we do remember the days when you could be mischievous). Lioness Jessie it is an honour to nominate you for this year’s Peer Award. From the Fonthill Lioness, congratulations Jessie Paterson!
Ric Gretsinger – Fonthill Lions
Lion Ric has been a member of the Fonthill Lions Club since 2013. Uncle Ric, as he likes to be called, is an energetic Lion always ready to help out where needed, such as the canteen, Suppermarket, Canada Day, Summerfest and Sliderfest. He is a great Lion and we look forward to many more years of volunteering from Ric. He also volunteers for numerous other organizations in Pelham as you will always find him working at McDonalds on McHappy Day. The Fonthill Lions Club is proud to nominate you for this year’s Peer Award. From the Fonthill Lions, congratulations Ric Gretsinger!
Dave Kuckyt – Kinsmen Club of Fonthill and District
The Fonthill and District Kinsmen have nominated Dave Kuckyt for the 2019 Pelham Volunteer Recognition Peer Award. Dave has been a member of our club for 14 years. During this time, he has actively participated in many of our club projects. He has held various positions on our club Executive and was elected President for 2008/2009. In the spring of 2010, we learned that Women’s Place of South Niagara was willing to relinquish the operation of their annual Craft Show in Welland. Dave played a significant role in arranging for our club to take over the reins of this event and in getting permission to use Centennial High School as its venue. Our Craft Show celebrated its 10th year in 2019 with Dave at its helm throughout the entire time span. We congratulate Dave on all of his accomplishments in Kinsmen. From the Kinsmen Club of Fonthill and District, congratulations Dave Kuckyt!
Emily Bonisteel – Mayors Youth Advisory Committee
Emily has always been a main contributor to the change and initiatives the Mayors Youth Advisory Council has achieved over her five years on Council. She was always actively involved in all MYAC run events and acted as a positive role model for youth in the community to look up to. She was always willing to help in every way she could, offering advice or support on how MYAC could make the largest impact within Pelham. Her community involvement exceeded her commitment to MYAC as she also sat on the Summerfest Committee providing insight on how to ensure the event appealed to all ages and was youth friendly. We thank Emily for all of her work on MYAC over the years! From the Mayors Youth Advisory Committee, congratulations Emily Bonisteel!
Brian Baty – Pelham Active Transportation Committee
Brian is an active, contributing member of the Pelham Active Transportation Committee. In addition to participating in PATC meetings and events in the community, Brian has been instrumental in developing the “Cycling in Pelham” map which was published last year. By working with other committee members, Town staff and local cycling clubs, Brian developed a useful map for all levels and types of cyclists. Brian is taking a lead role in assessing the progress made in implementing the Town’s Active Transportation Master Plan and establishing well marked cycling routes in Pelham. From the Pelham Active Transportation Committee, congratulations Brian Baty!
Sonja Kovacev – Pelham Art Festival
We are so pleased to have the competent assistance of Sonja Kovacev as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Pelham Art Festival. This annual event hosts about 75 to 80 juried fine artists from all over Ontario. This very large art show and sale, now in its 34th year, is also a fundraising event for the Pelham Library system, and funds art scholarships and community art projects and as such attracts between 2000 and 2500 people to attend the three-day event which takes place annually on Mother’s Day weekend. As a volunteer and as part of the Pelham Art Festival Committee for the past year, Sonya participated in planning for the upcoming show and brought forward her ideas. In her role as Volunteer Coordinator, she took on the busy task of contacting the many volunteers who were needed to host the 2019 Pelham Art Festival, over 70 in total. She worked to find volunteers for every job and time slot and made sure that every volunteer knew what was expected of them. She added her own ideas to make this process run smoothly and stepped in with hands on assistance as needed. Her calm, pleasant and efficient manner in working with volunteers, committee members, artists and the public were much appreciated. She is now helping to plan for the 2020 event which will take place on Mother’s Day weekend from May 12 to 14, 2020. We are so pleased to have Sonja’s assistance and you may hear from her when she is looking for weekend volunteers! From the Pelham Art Festival, congratulations Sonja Kovacev!
Marty Kicul – Pelham Cares
Marty has been a dedicated volunteer with Pelham Cares since 2011. From grocery pickups and shopping, assisting at our annual food drive, assisting at our fundraising events, and recently signing on as a volunteer driver, Marty is an important contributor to the work of Pelham Cares. He is known for his quiet demeanor, greeting everyone with a smile, and helping out whenever needed. Pelham Cares is just one of the organizations that Marty assists, he is truly a community-minded individual. We greatly value his contribution and are proud to have him on our volunteer team! Congratulations Marty, and thank you! From Pelham Cares, congratulations Marty Kicul!
Bev Yungblut – Pelham Farmer’s Market
Bev has been a part of the Pelham Farmer’s Market Committee for the last eight years. She is the Market Treasurer and this year she has once again been the primary organizer for all Market events. She has overseen the creation of all flyers, advertising and promotional items for the Market. She has been instrumental in organizing this year’s “Kids Can Grow” and responsible for bringing the “Bad Seed Gang” to this year’s Market where a collection of handmade market-themed characters were randomly hidden in vendor’s booths. Kids had to find and report their whereabouts to collect a reward! She has shown us all once again a commitment to keeping the Pelham Farmer’s Market an important part of our community. From the Pelham Farmer’s Market, congratulations Bev Yungblut!
Sandra Cruzo – Pelham Garden Club
From the time Sandra joined the Pelham Garden Club, she has been an involved and enthusiastic member. Sandra has contributed her time, ideas and skills to ensure that our club is a welcoming and enjoyable environment in which to volunteer. Over the years, she has served on our Board as Vice President and also as a Director. Her most outstanding achievements have included opening her home and gardens for the Garden Walk after party for the last eight years, raising the bar by incorporating a fund-raising element. In addition, for the last three years she has helped to spearhead the annual Flower and Vegetable Show. As a Pelham Garden Club member, Sandra is recognized, not only for her volunteer work, but for the creativity, energy and generosity she brings to the club. We are happy to honour her with this award. From the Pelham Garden Club, congratulations Sandra Cruzo!
Sandra Gibson – Pelham Minor Baseball Association
Sandy has worked tirelessly as a volunteer for Pelham Minor Baseball in the roles of coach (from T-ball through Mosquito Rep), Vice President, President, uniform director and tournament convener. She started the annual Peewee Rep Showcase tournament that brings in teams from throughout Southern Ontario. Sandy would go above and beyond to make sure that our youngsters have a positive outlet for athletic and personal development. She would even go so far as to go to the fields two hours early to pull weeds and make sure the diamonds were in top shape for play. From the Pelham Minor Baseball Association, congratulations Sandra Gibson!
Sharon Cook – Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee
Sharon’s work with and for the Town of Pelham spans many years. As the current Chair of the Seniors Advisory Committee, she works tirelessly and devotes many hours advocating for our seniors in areas such as suitable housing, transportation and accessibility. Her work includes increasing communication of seniors programs and services through our Seniors Fairs and forums, promotion of the newly formed 55+ Active Living Lounge and the Seniors Volunteer in Pelham program. Sharon was instrumental in securing a top notch keynote speaker for our recent fair (William Thomas) and even went so far as to offer accommodation in her home to our upcoming speaker (Brock Godfrey) who will be travelling in from out of town. Sharon is truly deserving of this award and a respected member of this committee. Congratulations Sharon and thank you for your continued outstanding contributions! From the Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee, congratulations Sharon Cook!
Bill Sheldon – Pelham Summerfest Committee
Bill Sheldon has been a long time resident of Pelham and a consistent and active volunteer within the community. He joined the Pelham Summerfest Committee two years ago and brought with him a robust sense of humour and his life skills that he amassed over 40 years as a public sector planner, property developer and in construction co-ordination. Bill is always providing concepts to the committee to improve the committees business processes – reduce costs – improve revenue – and most importantly – contribute to a positive environment that attends to the festival experience. The reason that the festival committee is awarding Bill our Peer Award is – including the aforementioned – this year Bill – completely on his own – took over the planning, organizing, seeking sponsorship support and delivery of the Sunday morning breakfast in the park – forging new partnerships with local business, creating efficiencies and “the best pancakes we’ve had yet” – it was a huge success! Congratulations Bill – we wish you the very best and greatly appreciate your sense of humour, friendship and personal contributions to the success of Summerfest. From the Pelham Summerfest Committee, congratulations Bill Sheldon!
Frank Adamson – Rotary Club of Fonthill
Frank has been with the Rotary Club of Fonthill for seven years now and has been a significantly instrumental part of our fundraising initiatives development. He was the original champion of the Fonthill Mudfest. He has also has been an integral community champion fostering outstanding collaborative initiatives including the annual Tour De Lac bicycle fundraiser in support of Wellspring Niagara, the community garden project supporting Pelham Cares in partnership with Youth Resources Niagara and most recently spear-heading the “Raise the Arches” campaign seeking to replace the wind-damaged arches in downtown Fonthill. Frank works tirelessly for the benefit of the citizens of Pelham and his community and has established a significant track record of successful initiatives benefitting our community! From the Rotary Club of Fonthill, congratulations Frank Adamson!
Patricia Shannon – Town of Pelham’s MCC Hospitality Advisory Committee
Patricia exemplifies dedication and commitment as the Chair of the newly established MCC Hospitality Advisory Committee. Her leadership is undeniable as she steers the Committee to attain their agreed upon goals. She is articulate and shares her expertise in the hospitality industry freely. She works with Town of Pelham staff to understand current procedures and suggests new ones. She is resourceful and has incredible drive and passion for hospitality in the Meridian Community Centre. Her contributions have not gone unnoticed. From the MCC Hospitality Advisory Committee, congratulations Patricia Shannon!
Colleen Kenyon – Town of Pelham’s Community Volunteer Group – Arts and Culture Division
Colleen is the leader, creator, and active volunteer for the SAY IT! On Stage Program. She initially contacted the recreation department with an idea and a plan. Together with Town staff, she received a Niagara Community Foundation Grant of $5000 and Colleen was able to bring this project to life. She has worked with Town staff, the community foundation and passionate local residents to make this project an outstanding success. She has cultivated relationships between seniors and youth from E. L. Crossley drama class using a creative process. The production which is called “The Homecoming” will be showcased here at the Meridian Community Centre on Friday and Saturday, December 13 and 14. Make sure to get your tickets before they run out, you won’t want to miss this performance From the Town of Pelham’s Community Volunteer Group – Arts and Culture Division, congratulations Colleen Kenyon!
Tim Toffolo – Town of Pelham’s MCC User Group Committee
Tim has shown exceptional leadership in his role as Chair of the Meridian Community Centre User Group Roundtable Committee over the past year. He has shown commitment and dedication in leading the Committee to attain their agreed upon goals. He has encouraged the Committee to think and act in a pro-active manner and always has the best intentions of the Community and the MCC at heart. He strives to be fair in all circumstances. His contributions are appreciated and recognized. From the MCC User Group Committee, congratulations Tim Toffolo!
Ron Hall – Town of Pelham’s Community Volunteer Group – Recreation and Wellness Division
Ron is a dedicated volunteer at the Meridian Community Centre’s pickleball program. Since the program started in Fall 2018, Ron has been at the MCC six days a week, rain or shine, to provide guidance and instruction to beginner players. He’s always willing to step in as a fourth player to make a group of four when they are a player short. He is always pleasant, and works well with Town of Pelham staff. Ron’s skills, knowledge and commitment are very valuable. From the Town of Pelham’s Community Volunteer Group – Recreation and Wellness Division, congratulations Ron Hall!
Gordon Marasco – Utility Sustainability Committee
Gord graduated from the University of Waterloo in 1964 in Electrical Engineering. His professional engineering career started at Dofasco, where he quickly became Manager of Electrical Engineering. He has served as Engineering Manager, Vice President, President, and Chairman of the Board of Directors, for these companies respectively: Atlas Steels, Mixus Technologies, ES Fox, Phillips Barrel Kaiser, Niagara Economic and Tourism, and Niagara Regional Broadband. His vast experience together with enthusiasm and hours of hard work as Chair of the Utility Sustainability Committee has translated into the savings the Committee has achieved. He is confident that this is just the start of the good news at Pelham from this committee. Gord has demonstrated what can be achieved by being a servant leader. From the Utility Sustainability Committee, congratulations Gordon Marasco!
Giant FM, The Corporate Recognition Award
All of the volunteer groups and organizations here nominated businesses that have helped to support their efforts throughout the year. This year, the winner with the most nominations and recipient of the Corporate Recognition Award goes to Giant FM. Congratulations!