2021 Awards of Excellence Recipients
Eileen Bona is a registered psychologist, holding a Master of Education from the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Alberta and is the Owner/Founder of the Dreamcatcher Association. Dreamcatcher is committed to helping people find healing, balance, joy, hope and confidence through the immediate feedback that animals and nature provide. When COVID 19 struck Eileen offered a “First Time on the Land” visit to families. A free experience for one family, one hour at a time to get out into nature. Front Line Workers and First Responders along with their immediate family members have been welcomed for the last three months at Dreamcatcher to regroup their thoughts and emotions, decompress and destress.
A master electrician by trade, Billie also spent 10 years in the electrical engineering field and the past 27 years in the insurance business. In 2013 Billie started out as the only softball coach for the Josephburg Agricultural Society where he became a Director and has looked after the ball program for the last 8 years. He works a lot behind the scenes such as his work on the playground garage. Billie grew the ball program’s youth enrolment and parent volunteers over the years. His focus was keeping the cost of this ball program affordable by getting local sponsorship and building the program's volunteer base. Tee-ball 4fun and softball 4fun are set to return to play on June 21!
Arts, Culture and Heritage
Joe Balogh and Roy Teske
Joe and Roy were exceptional individuals who valued the outdoors and worked tirelessly for over 25 years to provide a special escape for friends, family, and neighbours. Joe and Roy built and maintained a four kilometre trail that they called the “JR trail.” The JR Trail has been embraced by the community and has become a staple among the many residents that use it and maintain it. Joe and Roy are symbols of Strathcona County’s appreciation and love for nature.
Strathcona County Library Bookmobile
The Strathcona County Bookmobile provides access to books, movies, and social programs. These vital services ensured that our communities could stay connected despite this past years COVID 19 restrictions. They moved their “hands-on” program to online so that families could still participate and inspired similar programs such as Cooking Lake’s “Sharing Shed.” These types of programs are essential to the County and are made possible by the dedicated people that run it.
Barb is a role model citizen who took it upon herself to make our community a better place. Barb is no stranger to hardship as she has struggled with every unexpected obstacle that life can throw at her. From overcoming her cancer diagnosis and the following health complications that came with it, Barb has found a way to persevere and inspire us all. She has created a bright spot in our community amidst the pandemic with her many holiday hunts that she has put on. Barb was asked to do it again for Canada Day, Barb’s scavenger hunts were becoming a beacon of joy amidst the pandemic. Barb was back at it with a Valentine's Day hunt with an added word search. Barb reminded us that we are a community and that we are still here for each other.
Gayle is a busy worker, Grandma, and community member. She devotes her time and energy to her work and many volunteer roles that she has. Gayle works at A Safe Place, a women's shelter in the County, as well as volunteers at The Christmas Bureau, Burial Options Society of Strathcona and the Strathcona Food Bank. Gayle secured support for the 2020 Christmas Bureau campaign. She was able to get interviews with the mayor, the Sherwood Park News, corporations, and other community groups to raise awareness. This is a particularly valuable accomplishment as this year's pandemic landscape changed the holidays and stretched resources thin.
Engage Construction Management
Kevin Kuly founded Engage in 2012, working out of his truck, local copy shops and Tim Hortons’. With his boundless energy and unending work ethic, Engage was able to sign a lease for office space in Sherwood Park, where it resides to this day. Kevin employs local professionals, maintains his offices in the county, lives in the community and supports local businesses and charities. Even as the effects of COVID-19 and a sluggish economy have reduced Engage’s backlog. Engage was recently hired to lead Canadian operations for a global project developer on a massive infrastructure project. This project will bring in a wealth of foreign capital into the Alberta and local economy.
Kepler Academy Emerald Hills
Kepler Academy Emerald Hills opened their doors in January of 2020. Centre Director Amandeep Bhusley and her team of 18 professionals, including early childhood educators, transportation drivers, a director and a chef, have maintained a high level of service with all the children and families they serve in the community. Amandeep and Kepler Academy Emerald Hills have a successful track record of running many charitable initiatives. To date, they did not have one positive case of COVID, which is exceptional for a field in which germs and viruses are so easily transmitted. They go above and beyond being just a childcare provider.
Heroism and Leadership
Andrew Buchanan is a Strathcona County firefighter, paramedic, and a youth hockey coach. Andrew was a goaltender in the World’s Longest Hockey Game this past winter and helped raise $1.8 million for the Cure Cancer Foundation. Andrew was the top individual fundraiser, raising $100,000. This year players were on the ice for a record 252 hours in temperatures as low as -56 degrees Celsius. Andrew dedicated his participation in the event to First Responders worldwide who are battling cancer or who have lost their fight to this disease. Due to COVID-19, Andrew had to spend five days isolated at home before the event, another three days in isolation at the event, and have three negative COVID tests before he could even participate. Finally, Andrew spent more than 10 days at the rink. In total he sacrificed three weeks away from his family to raise money for this great cause.
Eileen and Ian Edwards
Eileen and Ian Edwards are true leaders in the community. They have worked tirelessly over the past decade to bring the community together through their non-profit, volunteer-driven Common Ground Community Café founded in 2013. The café to creates a common space where community members can get together and form connections. It is a safe place that engages community members regardless of age, race, ability, sexuality, gender and religion. The café provides free space for agencies, artists and artisans, and volunteers. The café continues to be a vibrant meeting place open to the entire community, and it carries on the Edwards’ mission and values.
Friends of Strathcona County Library Society
The Friends of Strathcona Library Society is an organization of 120 members and volunteers who strongly believe that your local, public library is a vital piece of a healthy community. The Friends of the Strathcona County Library Society has raised over $530,000 since 1993 through various fundraisers, casinos, raffles and grant applications. They have made the library a community centre where Strathcona County residents of all ages and walks of life can feel at home, meet their neighbours and share ideas.
Strathcona County Diversity Committee
The Strathcona County Diversity Committee (SCDC) was established in 2016 by a group of residents with a passion for promoting inclusivity in the community. The SCDC has a unique leadership model in which there are no leaders. Members of the Committee take turns chairing meetings, taking minutes and working on projects. The SCDC has been involved in many events that promote unity and equality within our community. This Committee has demonstrated exceptional creativity, commitment and collaboration to pursue this belief with no fundraising and no paid staff. They have accomplished everything through grants, small donations and working in partnership with other organizations.
Service to Seniors
Linking Generations Society of Alberta
The Linking Generations Society of Alberta organization pairs students with seniors with the goal of bridging the gap between generations. Linking Generations provides mentored and structured visits for its students and seniors aimed at building relationships. Linking Generations provides a vital service in an area that is often overlooked. Throughout the pandemic connecting with one another has been harder and more important than it has ever been. Linking Generations was not discouraged by the pandemic restrictions, instead they were even more driven to provide that much needed social connection through virtual visits and their Pen Pal program.
Service to Youth
CanTeen Youth Hub
The Boys & Girls Club of Strathcona County's CanTEEN Youth Hub creates a safe, positive space for youth in our community. This safe environment allows for youth to feel heard and appreciated. The resources offered at the CanTEEN enable youth to gain opportunities and access to resources such as tutoring, a community kitchen and meeting rooms. As a Boys and Girls Club, the CanTEEN You Hub has been maintaining friendships and connecting youth throughout the COVID 19 pandemic. This type of connectedness is crucial for our mental health and getting through this pandemic.
Lorri has served as a member and coordinator on the Strathcona County Youth Justice Committee for 17 years. She has dedicated much of her life to the guidance and support of youth through extrajudicial sanctions program. Lorri was heralded for her ability to look beyond what is contained in the paper file. She has worked with the Solicitor’s General Office, the RCMP, and Crown prosecutors. Her charismatic personality has drawn in several members of the community to join in her efforts working with the youth of Strathcona County.
Tim is commonly thought of as everyone’s neighbour and friend. His efforts during the pandemic will have lasting affects throughout the community. Tim purchased gift cards from many local businesses, cafes and restaurants in values that sometimes exceeded $2000, which he then gave to first responders in the community as a thank you for their wonderful service. Tim’s pay it forward campaign and other initiatives has brought out the best in everyone, and he continues to shine brightly for the County.
Lisa DeSousa, Krystal Hampel and Tanya Saumure
Lisa and Tanya founded a COVID-19 support group on Facebook after the Alberta government announced immediate cancellation of K-12 classes and the closure of licensed childcare programs. They wanted to support residents with low income, seniors, people with disabilities and all other vulnerable communities. The group offers a place where updates and other relevant COVID-19 information is shared. By September 2020 the group had reached 4000 members! With that much traffic Krystal joined the group on the admin side to help organize posts, comments, photos and recommendations into sections and albums to ensure items were easy to locate and to provide a positive experience for members.