Heart of Wood Buffalo finalists announced

By Lindsay Ducharme

In celebration of our region’s giving nature, the Heart of Wood Buffalo Leadership Awards were created in 2011 as a means to recognize the individuals and organizations who make a difference within the community, the true heart of the region.

The awards feature six distinct awards, which acknowledge the achievement of individuals within the social profit sector, with each award recognizing a specific aspect of work in social profit organizations. While the awards themselves are right around the corner on April 23, this year’s finalists have just been announced.

“Being nominated for a Heart of Wood Buffalo Leadership Award is a really nice way to acknowledge the work a person does. It’s a moment for us to say thanks to those who are selfless and the organizations that do tremendous work in the community,” said Trevor Sheppard, communication coordinator for the event and past nominee.

This year’s nominees include the Sno-Drifters Association, Santa’s Anonymous and Girls Inc. for the Community Impact Award; Randy Sloan, Rolando Inzunza and C. J. Phillips for the Volunteer Recognition Award; Ed Kamps, the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Youth (MACOY) and Tervita for the Social Prosperity Leadership Award; Jennifer Best, Ed Kamps and Maria Dorin for the Board Leadership Award; Arianna Johnson, Lynn Rhoddy and Angeline Gionet for the Executive Leadership Award; and Bianca Malouf, Youri Levasseur and Kevin Garbuio for the Newcomer Engagement Award.

Sheppard explained that a selection committee chose the finalists from the nominations received in February. “There is a basic criterion for each award. The newcomer award is based on how recent they moved to the area, what they’ve gotten involved in since then. For the board leadership they look at different criteria, such as at how long they’ve been a member of service and what they’ve done for the organization they’ve been involved in. Each application comes with reference letters written by the nominees and letters written in support of the nomination as well. “

No matter who the winner turns out to be, the finalists for the executive leadership award each recognize the achievement of simply being nominated.

“I’m honoured and humbled. It means that my community recognized me as being a leader for my creative way of operating my program and for being able to think outside the box,” said Rhoddy of her nomination.

Echoed Gionet “It touched me a lot because it’s my first time being recognized as a person that did something that people appreciate in the community. You go every day and you give and you are happy because you see the results, but to be recognized like that, it touched me very deeply.”

For her part, Johnson feels the nomination is confirmation the Food Bank is doing good work. “I’m very honoured to have been nominated and I’m very grateful to my nominator. I think that it’s validation that myself, and my team because I certainly don’t do it alone, are on the right track and providing a vital service to our community in a responsible way.”

Award winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on April 23rd at the Suncor Centre for the Performing Arts at Holy Trinity High School. In addition to receiving recognition, winners will also receive $5,000 to be donated to the charity of their choice, an aspect of the event Sheppard describes as a highlight. Tickets for the Heart of Wood Buffalo Leadership Awards are on sale now at www.heartofwoodbuffalo.ca, for a cost of $30.