Community Service Nominees
For generously volunteering time to programs and services that make our community a better place.
Award Presented by:
Jeremy Parking, Station Manager, Southwestern Ontario, Rogers tv
After witnessing first-hand the overpopulation of feral cats in the community, and the negative impact these cats can have on local wildlife, Cloe Nielsen had to help.She built, self-funded, and now runs a shelter for feral cats, helping to rescue, rehabilitate, and find loving adoptive homes for the felines. Since beginning in October 2021, Cloe has rescued more than 40 cats at her shelter, and continues to find loving homes for them. Cloe has been recognized by both the KW and Stratford Humane Societies for her efforts.
Duaa Al-Aghar, a computer engineering master’s graduate, has extensive international work and educational experience. After almost 8 years as a professor, she moved to Canada in 2006. Duaa has worked closely with marginalized communities in the Waterloo Region, creating inclusive intercultural environments that foster a sense of belonging for immigrants. She has led projects promoting health, safety, and community service, and is an active member of the Interfaith Grand River. Duaa's outstanding volunteerism has been recognized through numerous awards, including the Community Impact Award and Leading Women Building Communities Recognition award. Her contributions have been documented in the book 'The Muslimah Who Fell to Earth'.
Since 2012 Jen has been the rock and foundation of the rebirth of the New Dundee Fireworks that are held annually on the May long weekend. For 10 years she has been responsible for creating lifelong memories for generations in our community under the night sky. Her community service efforts are unique and far-reaching. Jen is helpful, caring, resourceful, and happy to support her community that she loves. She is known for her quick wit, attention to detail, and loyalty to this community. She is a true champion of community service.
Jennifer has been an active community member for over 25 years. She manages her family (2x active boys), while juggling her privately owned pet product company (home based business). She works full time for a local waterproofing company called The Crack Specialists Inc and is an integral member to our team. Jen's involvement with multiple charities over the past 25 years is widespread. She has personally raised money for multiple programs - Public Schools, Football organizations, our local Stuff'n Stockings program and more recently, our local Guest House - in support of Ukrainians.
Dr. Jo, feels like home for so many. She started her practice as a naturopathic doctor in 2006 and has created an incredibly special place in Waterloo called George Street Naturopathic. This space is an extension of the feeling Jo provides in her everyday interactions; a place embodying the feeling of home, safety, and support. But her career isn't where that feeling sparked. Jo has been volunteering since age 19, from being a Big Sister here in Waterloo to supporting an NGO in Madagascar, Jo brings her spirit and love wherever she goes.
Julia Gizzel Castillo
Julia is a graduate from the University of Waterloo, and has been supporting incarcerated men, women, youth and trans folks in their transition back into the community after prison for over 10 years. She is deeply passionate about antiracism and social justice issues. In her free time she has facilitated dance workout classes in prisons, helped start the Read Aloud program for mothers inside the women’s federal prison, and has organized events such as a clothing drives for local emergency shelters. She has collaborated with community organizations such as Hospice of Waterloo Region, Reception House, and Neruda Arts to use music and dance to build community and show solidarity for different world issues. She is also a proud mother, partner, performer, and entrepreneur with Guatemalan roots.
Krysanne McLean is a phenomenal young lady. She is a single mother to three children and very active in the community. Whenever she sees a need she is quick to create a solution. She was asked to participate in a grassroots innovation promoting the black and racialized community in Cambridge. She became one of the founding members of Rhythm & Blues Cambridge. Krysanne quickly became a leading voice and advocate for young racialized girls in our community. She created the Black Girl Excellence program which concentrated on the mental health and wellbeing of girls in our community.
Laura is the Director of Community Impact at Vidyard; she is responsible for building and implementing Vidyard’s social impact programming. In her role, Laura works to introduce giving back through volunteering as a way of life at Vidyard. Beyond her role, Laura is committed to numerous local organizations, including her role as a founding member of Plugin, a non-profit that connects the community to charitable organizations. Her volunteer efforts span across organizations such as House of Friendship, United Way, Women Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, WCT Waterloo Region, University of Waterloo Alumni Chapter, Food4Kids, Technovation, and The Working Centre. In her spare time, Laura enjoys spending time with her 10 year old daughter, Binny- mountain biking, rock climbing or doing science experiments together.
Linda Drouin, a retired educator, and her Waterloo Lincoln Heights neighbours first met some Afghan families in Moses Springer Park in the fall of 2021. She started bringing toys, chalk, and Frisbees for the children of the families living at the Comfort Inn. As she befriended the families she wanted to help with their basic needs and living situation. Her call for donations of clothing led to her living room becoming a storage/sorting area, and her husband Bruce’s truck being used to deliver and pick up needed items. Linda, with the help of so many in the Waterloo Region, continues to improve the lives of our new Afghan families.
For Lori Payne, volunteering in community is a way of life. She is committed to making Waterloo Region a better place to live, work, play and stay. She has been supporting not for profit organizations in Waterloo Region for over 25 years, serving as a Board Member, advisor, advocate and educator. She quietly, confidently and capably lifts others up to do their best work while competently leading or assisting as required. She believes in the strength of people coming together to solve big issues and makes an impact in all she does. All while actively listening and caring for others.
Monica is a lifelong advocate of building community and providing care. Throughout her over 50-year career and through her volunteer work, Monica has made an undeniable impact on people. Monica’s volunteer work spans all facets of her community including the Breakfast Club, the Alzheimer’s Society, and Community Support Connections, as well as private citizens for whom Monica provides day-to-day care. In 2018, she coordinated Conestoga’s United Way campaign, which raised over $39,000 in one month, receiving the Rising Star Award from United Way Waterloo Region Communities. Now retired, Monica works part-time at Conestoga as a Standardized Patient for the School of Health & Life Sciences.
Sheena (Bin-no-g Man-na-doe Quay – Spirit of the Children) is a strong leader in our community, as well as an ally to many. At the Centreville Chicopee Community Centre, she is a coach to children and youth. Sheena also founded a Group called Act of Kindness in 2020 and over the past two years has helped support members of the community with unconditional love, hampers, and kindness. In 2022, Sheena led the community with an Every Child Matters crosswalk in Victoria Park, giving the Indigenous community and allies a spot to reflect, learn, and grow. She is also the founder of Gizaagi’in Healing, a new not-for-profit organization that works with all children, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
Children, youth, women, community - these are Sherryl’s priorities. Her volunteer work with organizations focused on nutrition, access to education and personal safety has helped children learn, feel safe and thrive. As a coach and mentor, Sherryl has modeled how to be a teammate, learn from mistakes, and lose and win with grace. She has inspired and advanced women as co-founder of the region’s largest free, monthly mentorship program and as producer of a month-long series of events to celebrate IWD. And, as a local government advocate, tech ecosystem builder and passionate fundraiser, Sherryl has demonstrated her fierce dedication to community-building.
Tessa Hoffman is passionate and relentless for the people of this community. She created Waterloo Region Crossing, her non-profit organization, to help support citizens experiencing homelessness in our region. Over the last few years, hundreds of community members have joined her on her grueling 65km non-stop winter trek across Waterloo Region. Tessa has spent countless hours and her events have raised over $120,000 for the Working Centre in downtown Kitchener. Tessa goes above and beyond for everyone that she meets. There is nothing she would not do for another human. When out and about in the community, she is always met with a friendly hello and a familiar smile.