The Etobicoke Guardian recognized a record number of local groups and individuals as Urban Heroes Monday night, June 25, at its fourth annual awards night honouring the people who make a difference in the community.
The title of 'Urban Hero' was bestowed upon 27 local individuals and groups whose personal efforts, sacrifices and contributions have made a significant impact to a cause, person or group in Etobicoke over the last year.
As the newly minted publisher of The Etobicoke Guardian, Ian Proudfoot said he was proud to take part in his first Urban Hero Awards reception, with its emphasis on celebrating the community.
"I believe as a newspaper group, our challenge is to make our communities better places to live. A part of that challenge could be fulfilled when we tell the stories of people who make communities great places to live," he told a crowd of 150 at the Old Mill Inn and Spa. "In recognizing our Urban Heroes tonight, we are, in fact, fulfilling that mandate to build better community. And as a community newspaper publisher, I absolutely believe that that is our role and responsibility."
This year's crop of Urban Heroes ranged from teachers, to business leaders, to mentors, volunteers, and caregivers. Among them, 23 individuals and four groups were recognized for their accomplishments in six different categories: Arts and Culture; Business; Community; Education; Environment; Health and Sciences and Sports.
In the Arts and Culture category, sponsored by Giant Tiger, Creative Village Studio walked away with the award for its work supporting client artists of all abilities learn how to express themselves artistically.
When told of their Urban Hero win by facilitator Harold Tomlinson, the artists of Creative Village said they were "grateful" and "proud," Tomlinson said, noting the award made them feel like part of the community.
"It was a great surprise," said one artist; "People love us and that's nice," said another.
Canadian Tire's Ted Mangnall and Pet Valu's Veronica Williamson were recognized for their work in the Etobicoke community with Business awards, sponsored by Toronto Community News.
The Community category, sponsored by Canadian Tire, saw a staggering seven individuals and two groups recognized for their work in making Etobicoke a better community. They are: Kathering Caviedes; Kay Mountford; Shelley Porritt; Anna Schaefer; Franklin Horner Community Centre volunteers Irene Bryant, Lou Boulet and Marion Hall; The Agnes Potts Garage Sale Team; and LAMP Community Health Centre.
Russ Ford, executive director of LAMP, said the win was a great accomplishment for him and his team.
"We don't often have opportunities for recognition," he said, "so, to get this is really quite flattering and, I think, indicative of all of the work that our 100 staff and 200 volunteers do at LAMP. They make me look good."
Johann Fisch and Kerry Gage were recognized with Environment awards, sponsored by Humbertown Shopping Centre, for their work in greening Etobicoke, while The Etobicoke Humane Society, Dr. Tina Meisami, and Sandhya and Swapna Mylabathula were honoured with Health and Science awards, sponsored by Dr. Amanpreet Chopra.
In Sports, a category sponsored by Sherway Nissan, Nancy Allen, Patrick McConnell, Jaime Oliveria, Duane Quashie, and Andrew Stunt took home the awards.
As sponsor of the Education category, Humber College's vice-president of Student and Corporate Services John Mason took the opportunity Monday night to laud all of this year's Urban Hero Award recipients for their hard work and dedication.
"Just as I was reflecting on the Urban Heroes and the achievements of so many people, I was really thinking that the one thing that every Urban Hero in the room does is sacrifice something - and the thing that they generally sacrifice is their time," he said. "They have taken on their cause and they believe that that's more important than the other ways that they could spend their time - and that's to be applauded."
Amongst the winners Mason handed out Education awards to were: Marcella Porretta, Donald Putnam, Terry Singh, and Nigel Barriffe.
"I'm very humbled and very grateful. This is not work for me, it's just part of what we do to give back," said Barriffe, a Greenholme Junior Middle School teacher and tireless community advocate. "Our parents and our grandparents worked so hard to create the society that we live in, and I think it's our duty, as citizens, to build on what they did for us."