Calling all community hearts

Outstanding residents to be recognized in annual leadership awards

By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

*UPDATE: Nominations have been extended to Monday, March 21, 2016

Heart awards 1

Nominees and award winners of the 2015 Heart of Wood Buffalo Leadership Awards at last year’s event. Residents can nominate outstanding individuals from now until March 14 at Supplied photo

Nominations are open for the community to recognize individuals in the social profit sector during the upcoming 6th annual Heart of Wood Buffalo Leadership Awards.

“I would like to encourage anybody in the community who has been impacted by an outstanding organization or individual to nominate them for one of six awards,” said Amy Matthews, Creator of Possibilities at FuseSocial. “Now is the time to recognize their achievements and to show our appreciation.”

For the past six years, residents of the Wood Buffalo region have been celebrating social innovation through the awards. The award categories include: Board Leadership, Executive Leadership, Community Impact, Social Prosperity Leadership, Volunteer Recognition and Newcomer Engagement.

Matthews further explained how FuseSocial’s mandate is to “lead by example. And to elevate the sector to showcase excellence and maximize potential. However, the Heart Awards are not owned by FuseSocial, but by the sector for the sector.”

The leadership award ceremony was first initiated through a partnership project called Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo, which was adapted in 2009 by a cross-sector partnership between the Suncor Energy Foundation, the University of Waterloo, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the United Way of Fort McMurray.

Since 2011, over ten social profit organizations have come together to steer this event, which Matthews said is a “testament to the community spirit here in Wood Buffalo.”

Traditionally, the winners of the nominations are awarded a sponsor grant of $5,000 to the social profit of their choice.

Nominees and award winners of the 2015 Heart of Wood Buffalo Leadership Awards at last year’s event.

“This year’s recipients will receive a prize package, as well as a customized award. The prize package will include in-kind support provided by the award sponsor,” said Matthews. ”Not only will this benefit the organization, it will give the sponsor an opportunity to ‘hand up’ and share their expertise with the winning organization, building capacity within the sector.”

Through the years, the ceremony has honoured leadership success in 28 awards to residents and social profits throughout the region with over $140,000 donated back to the community.

“It is the social profit sector that helps make Wood Buffalo what it is,” said Matthews.

“To date, 213 social profits have been identified in the community. Every day these organizations are working to improve the quality of life in our region and make it the rich and diverse community that it is.”

The deadline for nominations is on March 14. Interested nominators can go online to

-Connect Weekly-