Mayor’s City Builder Awards presented at annual New Year’s Levee
Five individuals have been recognized as recipients of the City of Kitchener’s 2017 Mayor’s City Builder Award for fostering community connections to build a better Kitchener for everyone.
“Reviewing the nominations showed me how much passion our residents have about ensuring community support is there for everyone,” says Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “The compassion and commitment these five leaders have shown is inspirational and critical to the success of each program, committee and organization they are involved in.”
The awards were handed out at the January 7 New Year’s Levee held at Kitchener City Hall and hosted by Mayor Vrbanovic and council.
For the past four years, Melissa has been president of the Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association (VPNA) and is current chair of the Downtown Action and Advisory Committee (DAAC). Melissa’s work with VPNA has helped make this neighbourhood an exciting and vibrant place to live and visit. Her leadership and insight has provided value to city staff on the rejuvenation of the downtown core. An avid volunteer, Melissa has been donating her time with the Waterloo Region Food Bank for almost a decade and served for seven years in volunteer roles with Nexus church. Known for her desire to make her neighbourhood great, Melissa gladly lends a helping hand whenever she can.
In playing an active role within the sexual assault support sector for over 17 years, Sara is an advocate and leader in educating the community on issues surrounding sexual violence. Sara is currently the executive director of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region and sits on a number of boards and coalitions addressing gender violence. She co-chairs the Sexual Assault Response Team of Waterloo Region and represents her centre as a member of the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres and the Sex Workers’ Action Network of Waterloo Region.
Basheer Habib serves numerous organizations including: Canadian International Council, World Partnership Walk, Aga Khan Council for Ontario, Aga Khan District Administrative Committee, St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation, Junior Achievement and Waterloo Region Walks. Specifically, Basheer has been instrumental in making the World Partnership Walk a fixture in Waterloo Region. He was one of the original founders of the walk and has served as a chair for many years. As chair, Basheer built relationships with local corporations, academic institutions and all levels of government, educating them about the importance of supporting international development. Through Basheer’s philanthropic work, many local residents have been inspired to be active members of the community, turning their thoughts and learnings into meaningful action.
Laura McBride has been a Kitchener-based artist for the past 10 years. Her love for visual arts, photography and event planning has evolved into her role as a local place maker and community activist. Laura bridges art and community through individual initiatives like Central Fairy Doors and The Ladybug project, and through creative collaborations like The Frederick Street Art Walk, The Hohner Avenue Porch Party and The Weber Park Piano. Whether its long term collaborative committee work with the Central Frederick Neighbourhood Association and Downtown Neighbourhood Alliance, or joining relatively new adventures like the Summer Lights Festival Board of Directors and the City of Kitchener’s Neighbourhood Strategy Project Team, she commits to long term relationships and follows through with dedication, passion and action. This dedication to reaching as many people as possible and creating community connections is woven throughout her artwork and love of storytelling.
Paula Saunders has been a strong advocate for promoting a barrier-free community. For over 25 years Paula has been on the Waterloo Region Barrier-free Advisory Committee, offering suggestions and practical solutions for eliminating barriers to both municipalities and the region. She has consulted for the City of Kitchener to review blueprints and designs of new buildings, including the construction of City Hall. With the introduction of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, this committee became the Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee where Paula continued her work in the role of Built Environment Chairperson from 2011 to 2017. Paula has worked with city staff and engineers to examine curb cuts, intersections, trails, parks and buildings to ensure the same level of accessibility for everyone.
The Mayor’s City Builder Awards recognize any youth, adult, older adult or group that has demonstrated a commitment to making the city and community a better place today and in the future.
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