(Photo: Amy Reid)

Leaders

VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

There are a large number of people in Surrey who do a great deal of important work. They strive tirelessly – through countless volunteer hours, sometimes overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles – to better the community.

And they don’t ask for anything in return.

You’ll find them in our schools, on sports fields, at the food bank and at various local events. They are truly community leaders. Many have their own families, careers and personal commitments but still find the time to make a difference by sharing their empathy, enthusiasm, energy and time.

The Community Leader Awards were established 18 years ago to recognize and honour the efforts essential to maintaining this vital and growing community.

Each recipient’s story is inspirational, and by highlighting them, we hope others will be moved to contribute in the community and share their own skills, compassion, knowledge and heart with those around them.

Thanks to our sponsors, the Community Leader Awards get bigger and better every year.

Here are the winners and honourable mentions in all nine categories, including their acceptance speeches:

Leader of the Year

Top Honour: Jane Adams – Jane Adams is a leader in every sense of the word. Adams, the President and CEO of Surrey Hospitals Foundation, has a passionate belief that Surrey deserves best-in-class health care which has fuelled her relentless pursuit of increased community and government investment in medical services. Her strong conviction that community must participate in health care has resulted in more than $150 million in investment in Surrey.

Honourable Mention: Dr. Steve Whiteside – Dr. Steve Whiteside has been educating and helping people in Surrey for more than 25 years. He is the CEO of the John Volken Academy, a long-term addiction treatment centre in Surrey.

Above & Beyond

Top Honour: Gurleen Brar – Gurleen Brar has been involved in the community for many years in a leadership capacity mentoring youth and teaching adults. Brar is the chairperson for Youth Transforming Society, a facilitator for an English Conversation program run by the City of Surrey and works as a registered nurse.

Honourable Mention: Garrison Suke – Garrison Duke is the director of employment and language services at DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society in Surrey. As a senior leader, Duke is always going the extra mile to develop impactful community programs, look for new opportunities for DIVERSEcity to serve marginalized populations, while mentoring his team to do the same.

Environmental Leader

Top Honour: Pablo Vimos – Pablo Vimos is a true environmental leader in the City of Surrey. In 2017, Vimos proposed Embark, a student-led non-profit that empowers student sustainability leadership and involved an indoor vegetable and herb garden at the Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Surrey Campus. Vimos serves as the Embark Sustainability’s Garden Co-ordinator, and in 2019 expanded the indoor garden after its pilot phase was completed.

Honourable Mention: Steve Webster – Steve Webster is described as a kind, considerate, intelligent, passionate, hard-working but extremely humble community leader. Webster has been organizing, tending, taking care and building The Plot Community Sharing Garden since its inception in or around spring of 2015.

Emergency Services

Top Honour: Wendy Mehat – From engaging with vulnerable residents to working on prevention and inspiring youth, Inspector Wendy Mehat has shown incredible leadership and commitment to public safety and the people of Surrey. Mehat began her career with the RCMP as a constable in Whalley more than 20 years ago. As Surrey RCMP’s Community Safety and Support Officer for the last three years, she was also Surrey RCMP detachment’s first visible minority female commissioned officer.

Honourable Mention: Brock Dorward – Former Surrey Fire Services batallion chief Brock Dorward may have retired from his post, but since then he’s only increased his commitment to the community in which he both lives and served as a first responder. Brock has personally donated well over $100,000 and his philanthropic nature has been contagious with many others following his lead.

Community Builder

Top Honour: Jane Adams – Jane Adams’ avid curiosity and engaged leadership style have allowed her to forge successful, often unconventional partnerships with governments, community groups and private sector to the benefit of Surrey’s medical sector. Through her work as President and CEO of Surrey Hospitals Foundation, Adams builds bridges within the community with her remarkable team. In addition to working tirelessly to help secure health infrastructure of this rapidly growing city, Adams has worked with industry to bring the best technology to Surrey.

Honourable Mention: Dennis Peterson – Longtime Surrey resident Dennis Peterson is described as an unsung hero for his work creating a music community through his open mic events, that are sadly on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Peterson volunteers his time to this effort in which he strives to find venues that youth and teens can attend to help them hone their craft.

Teacher

Top Honour: Kristin Dorey – Kristin Dorey is described as an inspiring teacher to her students at Guildford Park Secondary. Passionate about poverty reduction and making the lives of some of the more vulnerable families better, Dorey has organized the school’s Christmas hamper program for a number of years, spending hours co-ordinating the food items, gifts and the delivery of each one.

Honourable Mention: Cynthia Adams – Cynthia Adams’ colleagues at Guildford Park Secondary School say the school community is fortunate to have her and her exceptional team as counsellors. Adams’ colleagues say she goes above and beyond to ensure that students receive the support that they need and to advocate for their often complex and serious needs.

Volunteer

Top Honour: George Garrett – Legendary CKNW reporter and longtime Surrey resident George Garrett is being recognized for his work in helping to found the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society based in this city. Garrett’s commitment has helped make possible the essential free travel to care for hundreds of cancer patients since the society’s inception in 2016 – an organization he helped found.

Honourable Mention: Gurleen Brar – Gurleen Brar is chairperson of the Youth Transforming Society where she leads a team of 20 youth that typically organize 10 annual events including a free volunteer fair called ‘Volunteering and Beyond.’ This year, she played a pivotal role in transitioning large scale events to an online platform and ensured that the organization could host some in-person events safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Youth Volunteer

Top Honour: Rabiah Dhaliwal – An activist, community leader and UBC student, Rabiah Dhaliwal is the founder and director of the Voices For Hope Foundation. It is a non-profit organization which aims to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health through an intersectional framework by spear-heading educational initiatives such as workshops and campaigns, social justice think-pieces, as well as policy and advocacy work.

Honourable Mention: Jasmine Ram – Jasmine Ram is a first year SFU student who has, for the past five years, been an ambassador for B.C. Children’s Hospital. She is the chair of the foundations youth committee and has been a host for the annual telethon on Shaw TV and Global TV.

Coach

Top Honour: Parvinder Bains – Creating opportunities for vulnerable students to play sports is a key driver for longtime Tamanawis Secondary coach Parvinder Bains. Bains is the long-time athletic director, Grade 8 boys head coach and senior boys assistant coach at Tamanawis Secondary. He’s often the first to arrive and last to leave on game days.

Honourable Mention: Manmeet Sahota – Manmeet Sahota says finding ways to empower his students is what drives him to go above and beyond in his efforts as a high school coach. Sahota is a highly respected educator and soccer coach at Surrey’s LA Matheson Secondary.

Click here for a special section that showcases all of the 2020 Community Leader Award recipients.



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