They span the realms of nature and aviation and tragedy, and they work with the lonely, the challenged and the hungry.
But a unifying thread does connect the 17 individuals and organizations named to Mayor Mike Bradley’s Honour List for 2015 – a desire to make Sarnia a better place.
“It is living proof that individual citizens and groups can make a difference,” Bradley said.
The recipients are:
In addition to her work at Lambton College’s Centre for Educational Pathways, Asher is an active member of Lambton Circles, a groundbreaking initiative that helps lift families out of poverty.
Through her volunteer work was able to help establish a post-secondary Circles group at the College—the first of its kind in North America.
Asher serves as a board member at Sarnia-Lambton Rebound, an agency that supports local youth. She works with the local Children’s Aid Society and was the driving force behind the creation of a Crown Ward Education Championship Team, designed to meet the educational needs of youth.
She is a lead facilitator of the Senior Women in Leadership in Sarnia-Lambton, a group that meets regularly to discuss the professional goals and challenges women experience in the workforce.
Asher’s academic and civic accomplishments speak for themselves, and many people she has worked and volunteered with say knowing her has enriched their lives.
Banks played a key role in saving the Howard Watson Nature Trail from being sold to abutting property owners in the 1980s. The trail has become an important part of peoples’ lives, but would have been lost if not for Banks’ intervention and dedication.
He spearheaded a comprehensive information campaign in the media to gather support for the trail concept, and developed a proposal with Lambton Wildlife in which they managed the trail for a three-year trial period at no cost to the Town of Clearwater.
In the end, Clearwater Council voted in favour of the proposal to keep the trail open to the public. With the signing of a formal agreement in 1988 involving Clearwater and Lambton Wildlife, the Howard Watson Nature Trail was born.
Barrand has worked tirelessly with the Bluewater Trails Committee, as chairperson and fundraiser. He took the lead and worked with industry and First Nations to establish an information gazebo on the Bluewater Trail, near LaSalle Line at the St. Clair Parkway.
Through his efforts an information brochure and map were produced and made available to citizens and visitors.
His goal is for Sarnia and the surrounding area to have a first-class trail system with safe street linkages.
Barrand’s community work has also included volunteering with the Alix Art Gallery.
Chafee is a founding member of the Lambton Seniors Association, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015.
In 1990, representatives from 70 senior groups in Lambton County came together and identified things that impacted their quality of life such as housing, health, transportation, loneliness and involvement.
She has been an active advocate in addressing loneliness and involving seniors in the organization of social events and a Seniors Info Fair the past 16 years.
Chafee is an active member of the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church lunch program, and a member of the Seniors Information Network, which links with numerous agencies to communicate activities for seniors.
She has been described as the epitome of a volunteer, who consistently acts for the good and wellbeing of others in her community.
Davidson was first elected in 1980 to Wyoming council. With over three decades of public service as a councillor, mayor, county warden and MP, she is respected for her personable, thoughtful approach to every office she held and her deep and abiding commitment to Sarnia-Lambton.
A former elementary school teacher, Thea deGroot serves her community as a founding member of the Sarnia-Lambton Food Coalition and as a board director with the Citizens for Public Justice.
deGroot, a recipient of the YMCA Peace Medallion, believes it’s important to focus on the good in the world, and that hope and healing can come in the face of tragedy.
Her impact on the community demonstrates the positive change that an individual can make with one set of hands and a heart.
Foubister is recognized for his many dedicated years of volunteer service to his community with the Huron House Boys Home, Circles anti-poverty program, Inn of the Good Shepherd and the Sunshine Foundation.
He also served 26 years of elected public service as a Sarnia municipal councillor.
GOLDEN HAWK RESTORATION GROUP
The restoration on the Golden Hawk F86 Sabre fighter jet in Germain Park began more two years ago with volunteers from the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA Flight 7).
It was a true community project funded entirely by donations of time and material from area businesses and individuals.
The restoration project was a labour of love for those involved, and saved one of the last remaining aircraft from the world-renowned Golden Hawk aerobatic team of the 1950s and 1960s, a direct forerunner of today’s Snowbirds.
KATIE HORVATH AND KARI ROOS
Ms. Horvath and Ms. Roos are the co-founders of the Social Justice Club at Lambton College. The two mature students, who were upset about government funding cuts and other social issues not being addressed, formed the Club to empower students and bridge the gap between individuals with power and the general public.
The club formed discussion groups and identified leading students concerns, which include sexual assault, politics and mental health.
During last fall’s federal election it promoted a different kind of all-candidate meeting that drew a capacity crowd that engaged students directly with the local candidates While the club is college-based it has expanded and reached out to the community.
A Detective Constable with Sarnia Police Services, Howell worked to establish a “patch-for-patch” fentanyl program in Sarnia.
Under the prescription-abuse program, pharmacists can only dispense fentanyl patches when patients return their used patches.
During its launch in Sarnia, a mother whose son died from a fentanyl overdose credited Howell for working with her family and health officials to make the program a reality.
In December, Howell was in Toronto to see Queen’s Park vote to make the Fentanyl Patch Exchange Program law in Ontario.
LeFaive’s volunteer work was instrumental in the establishment of a breakfast program at Johnston Memorial Public School. At the time, 35 students were served breakfast and snacks were always on hand should a student not have a lunch.
She works with the Sarnia Minor Athletic Association, volunteering in the concession stands, and now overseeing a girls’ fastball league with 190 youths. LeFaive was actively involved with the Families & Schools Together Programme (F.A.S.T.), to help reduce social isolation and protect against bullying and substance abuse.
She travelled to Calgary, Ottawa and Chicago to promote the program and was part of a group that met at Queen’s Park with ministry officials in an effort to secure ongoing funding.
LeFaive loves life and is able to transfer that enthusiasm to all who interact with her through group activities or as an individual.
Raza is a busy, community-minded young citizen of Sarnia.
The Northern Collegiate students volunteers for the Bluewater Sustainability Initiative and teaches Arabic and creating vegetable gardens at the Sarnia Muslim Association.
She has served as a student trustee on the Lambton Kent District School Board. Her volunteer work includes working with the local food banks, Habitat for Humanity and Goodwill Industries.
Despite the heavy schedule she maintains excellent grades, and was very involved with school projects involving the environment.
Raza was the only Lambton County resident to receive the Libro Credit Union Student Award, which recognized students who demonstrate leadership and commitment to volunteerism while maintaining scholastic excellence.
She was also one of 25 students granted an eight-month fellowship at the MaRS discovery district in Toronto.
SARNIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Sarnia Historical Society, led by president Ron RealeSmith, vice-president Laura Greaves and secretary treasurer/chief editor Phil Egan, has, in its own words, rejuvenated and shared with the public “the excitement, the drama, the humour, pathos, comedy, heroism, grief and inspiration that make up Sarnia’s incredible story.”
The society has renewed Sarnia’s interest in its own history by means of creative and educational programming and publications, and promotes cultural tourism.
Stalmach is recognized for her efforts to preserve the history and sacrifice made by Lambton-area Polish war veterans.
In 2014 she and a group of volunteers began researching a project that became known as Our History, Our Heroes Polish War Veterans – From Fighting Wars to Farming Fields in Lambton.
The effort resulted in gathering many medals, letters, uniforms, keepsakes and artifacts from veterans who immigrated to Sarnia-Lambton following the Second World War.
Twenty-two shadow boxes filled with stories and sentiments from the Polish soldiers who made their home here have been viewed across Ontario at museums, schools and events.
“The Polish people did not have a homeland to come back to and they were all very grateful to Canada and made this land into their new homeland,” Stalmach said. “The displays that have been made are a lasting memorial to our heroes and their families.”
Tidball is dedicated to improving the lives of Sarnia youth through his volunteer work with Scouts Canada and other organizations.
In addition to Scouting, the Sarnia firefighter has volunteered with the Salvation Army in delivering Christmas hampers over the past 19 years
Vansickle is a tireless advocate for the disabled and intellectually challenged in Ontario.
He has put together the largest summer job program in Ontario that helps people with disabilities find employment, and is the architect of the Mayor’s Challenge, which encourages municipalities to hire persons with disabilities.
Vansickle’s dedication goes well beyond what’s asked of him in his role as a supervisor at Community Living Sarnia-Lambton, and for this Sarnia is a better community.
He received the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for significant achievements related to his work with the Ontario Disability Employment Network.
VICTIM SERVICES OF SARNIA-LAMBTON
The year 2015 marked the 25th Anniversary of Victim Services of Sarnia- Lambton, which was established as a joint project between the Salvation Army and Sarnia Police.
Over the years, Victim Services has answered an average of 150 calls each month to assist citizens involved in fires, break-ins, assaults or sudden deaths, helping those affected by tragedy.
The agency also helps seniors facing abuse, and in some instances provides a safe haven for them.
The recipients will be formally recognized at a reception held on Jan. 28.