Congratulations to our 2021 Give Back Award Recipients. Scroll down to read about this year's winners!
About the Program
The Give Back Awards are an annual cash prize donated by Magna International Inc. and Neighbourhood Network to graduating students from high schools in Aurora, Georgina, King Township, and Newmarket. The outstanding recipients of the Give Back Awards are selected based on the exceptional contributions they have made to fellow students and citizens, and their ongoing dedication to community involvement!
Give Back Award Recipients
The following students are the exceptional recipients of the 2021 Give Back Awards! Click on each winner’s photo to read his or her story.
To learn more about this program, call 905-726-3737 or email [email protected].
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Ashton Lee Wood
Kaitlyn has been described as “a wonderful student, a patient and calm leader who can be fair, yet firm when she needs to be, hardworking and dedicated to her volunteer roles.” Kaitlyn’s career goal of becoming an Early Childhood Educator will enable her to make sure all children receive kindness, compassion, and support throughout their lives.
On top of all the hours Abigail spends volunteering she has had a story published by Polar Expressions Publishers.
James believes that “giving back means being able to appreciate what your community, and the services in it, have done for you and showing that appreciation by helping out in any way you can.” James has been a committed, long-time volunteer for years with the OSPCA where he has held a weekly four hour shift every Saturday morning since 2016. He supports the OSPCA by doing laundry, helping keep the facilities clean, and socializing with the animals in their care. James is also a peer tutor and volunteers for the Salvation Army.
To Maiya, giving back means spreading equal opportunity to everyone in the community. She volunteers for the Town of Aurora as an assistant Summer Camp Counsellor, for community tree planting events, with the Aurora Community Band, and in numerous elementary schools. Maiya also helps Marquee Theatrical Productions and Ghostlight Players, is a peer tutor, and with her school’s Relay for Life committee. Maiya has been inspired through her years as a volunteer for the Aurora FC’s Stinger Stars program, where she provides one-on-one help and coaching to children with disabilities who want to play soccer.
Miles believes that you should always give back, especially to those who have helped you through your life journey. He has been a dedicated volunteer at the Georgina Public Library’s Teen Advisory Group for over five years, where he is a role model and mentor to his peers and younger patrons. Miles volunteers with the Robotics programs at two local elementary schools, working with kids to help prepare them for upcoming competitions. He also gives back through his church’s Vacation Bible School and at Air Cadets.
Molly believes that every small effort can make a big difference in the world. She began volunteering in grade seven, when she organized and implemented a penny drive throughout school that raised enough money to provide water to 82 families for life! Molly has also organized a walk-a-thon for Autism awareness and a brick-by-brick campaign to build a school in Kenya. She volunteers at Southlake’s Residential Village, for her school’s Peace Club, and in a kindergarten classroom. Last year, Molly travelled to Tanzania to build a foundation for a school. This summer, she is travelling to Ecuador to help build another school.
Deneisha believes that giving back means showing kindness and compassion through action and good work, and giving yourself wholeheartedly without expecting anything in return. Deneisha’s passion for humanity and justice is visible through her commitment to volunteerism. She is a peer tutor, a LINK Crew Member, a member of the Equity/Social Justice Club, Vice President of Music Council, and also sits on her school’s Student Council, Science Club, and Prom Committee. Deneisha is also a reading buddy mentor, a Program Assistant at a local nursing home, a volunteer for children with disabilities, and fundraises for her local food bank.
Tristan feels that volunteering has been a privilege, and that there is no better feeling in the world than giving. Since 2014, Tristan has volunteered with the Highland Cadet Corps where he leads his peers and provides training to younger Cadets. He has helped at Aurora Montessori School, with the Town of Aurora’s summer camps, as a volunteer actor in Focus Festival Plays, and at local baseball tournaments. Tristan also volunteers as House Captain where he mentors middle school students and on the Andrean Life Council planning events to enhance school spirit and engagement.
Ever since Rachel was a young girl, she always wanted to help others and believes that her parents helped inspire her to give back. She has been volunteering for Milal Mission since grade four, where she helps those with mental and physical disabilities. Rachel gives back in school as a member of Best Buddies, the Peer Mentorship program, Me to We, Habitat for Humanity, as President of the Music Council, and as a math tutor. She also volunteers for Compassion Canada helping children living in poverty.
As the daughter of immigrants, Alexandra feels she has truly been gifted with a lucky life because she has grown up in Newmarket. This respect and appreciation for her community motivates Alexandra to make it an even better place by volunteering and giving back. Alexandra has been a Teen Advisory Group member and a Reading Buddy Mentor at her local library. She helped as Co-Chair of Community Sponsorship for her school’s Relay for Life team, and is now the current Committee Chair. Alexandra is a Student Mentor at Sacred Heart and was also part of the TEDx Committee that hosted the first TED event at the York Catholic District School Board.
For as long as Josie can remember, helping others has been her passion. She has a determination to do everything she can to help those in need. Josie volunteers in school as the lead planner for the annual Terry Fox Run and the Habitat for Humanity team. She is the Head of Peer Mentors, an executive of the Williams Athletic Council, and is a math tutor. Josie gives back to the community at initiatives like the Spring Tree Planting, Run4Rett, and Coldest Night of the Year. She also founded an initiative called “Change for Change” where students can participate in a toy drive without leaving the classroom.
Nupur is inspired by Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” She is Chair of Pickering College’s Community Service Committee, a member of the Youth Action Organization, an Ambassador for the Canadian Cancer Society, and a tutor with the Learning Disabilities Association of York Region. Nupur is an advocate for the deaf community and after learning sign language, created ASL home alone and safety courses for deaf youth. She received a United Way grant to turn these courses into a mobile app for deaf youth to have continuous access to this information. Nupur also created a lifesaving skills course for students in rural India, who lacked access to such programs.
Madisyn says, “there is something very liberating, empowering, and satisfying about making a difference in your community.” Madisyn began volunteering in grade eight with her school’s Anti-Bullying campaign. She completed her Counsellor in Training certification, volunteers as a Town of Aurora camp counsellor, and is a Leisure Buddy, providing one-on-on support to children with disabilities so they can participate in sport and recreation programs. She is also a volunteer for the Central York Girls Hockey Association, the Newmarket Skating Club, Aurora FC, and the Aurora Skating Club.
To Robert, “giving back means taking the abilities that you excel at and, in turn, using those gifts to help others.” Robert sits on the Student and Arts Councils at his school. He is an active member of the Best Buddies program working with peers who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as the Youth Alive program running fundraisers for local charities. Outside of school, Robert volunteers for the York Regional Police, Yellow Brick House, the Terry Fox Run, Neighbourhood Watch, the Canadian Cancer Society, Urban Promise, and the Community Safety Village – just to name a few!
The different volunteer opportunities Maya has done have impacted not only those in her community, but herself as well. Maya believes that volunteering gives you a whole new perspective on life, and that the sense of gratitude received by helping those in need is the best reward. Maya is a Senior Student Council Representative, a member of the Transition Team for grade eight students, is Athletic Council President, and was recently nominated by her teachers to be part of the new Wellbeing Team. She is also a member of Best Buddies and volunteers at various Vacation Bible School programs and with the East Gwillimbury Soccer Club.
Volunteers have had an incredible impact on Alisa’s life, from helping her family escape their war-torn country, to detecting a heart defect that saved her life when she was born, to teaching her a new language, and helping her with rehabilitation. Alisa experienced first-hand the impact that a dedicated volunteer can have on the lives of others, which inspired her to give back an astounding 1,351 hours of time. Alisa is a member of Student Council, a Relay for Life committee member, and volunteers as a coach for girls and boys volleyball and the badminton squad. She is Head of Prefect Council and also participates in park clean ups, Moms on the Run BBQ, and WE Day.
In Alex’s words, “although this may sound cliché, volunteering has changed my life forever.” As a volunteer, Alex has found his passions and made lifelong friends, while also making the community a better place. In his role as Volunteer Coordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society Alex promoted volunteerism for the organization among his peers, collected donations, and is currently leading a group of students to plan and execute this year’s Relay for Life event. Alex volunteers in the Cardiology and Emergency Departments at Southlake Regional Health Centre, he is the Director of Volunteer Affairs for the Youth Nation Alliance, and has also given back at WE Day, with the Canadian Blood Services, and as a math tutor.
In Sierra’s words, “volunteering is not about recognition of the volunteer, but the recognition of others in need.” She believes that we must be selfless and compassionate in life. Since 2014, Sierra has been a lead in the Edge Youth Group through Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church. She organizes food drives and is an avid fundraiser for events like Big Bike and Terry Fox. Sierra has volunteered for two years at the Hospital for Sick Children as a Child Life volunteer, where she helps alleviate the anxieties of children who are hospitalized. In school, Sierra gives back as a member of the Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving Council, Student Council, and as a Peer Mentor.
In Keshikaa’s words, “giving back, to me, means having the opportunity to bring happiness to someone’s life” and to create change in her community. Keshikaa began volunteering in elementary school, where she helped at her local library assisting with their Chess Program. In high school, she volunteered for the International Languages Program, as a Student Mentor, and a peer tutor. Keshikaa helps young children as a volunteer basketball coach and gives back to local seniors by volunteering for the Seniors Centre as a Program Assistant and a Volunteer Trainer.
Natalya recognizes that community involvement extends beyond simply “showing up” for events. Within her school, Natalya leads her peers by running the Healthy School’s Council and as a co-founder of the Model United Nations Club. She is also the Lead Entertainment Coordinator for the school’s Relay for Life Youth Event, helping raise over $88,000 last year. Outside of school, Natalya volunteers for the Foundation for Student Science Research and Technology, has organized fundraisers for Belinda’s Place, and taught herself American Sign Language and Tactile Signing, in order to volunteer for the deafblind community.
To Lauren, giving back means making someone smile and helping to make someone’s day better. Lauren has been an active volunteer within her high school. She represented her peers by annually serving as an executive member of Student Council. Lauren leads her classmates as President of the Drama Council, she is a YRDSB Mentor, and she works with local elementary schools to help them develop their own theatre productions. Outside of Aurora High, Lauren gives back by volunteering for Highview and Holland Landing Public Schools, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Aurora Public Library’s Reading Buddy program.
Heba Shahaed believes in the words of Gustav Nossal, who said, “Community leadership is the courage, creativity, and capacity to inspire participation, development, and sustainability for strong communities.” To Heba, a successful society comes from the leadership of youth who take action to improve it.
Heba donates her time to a variety of causes; from working with the York Regional Police as their President of Empowering Student Partnerships, to being a Peer Mentor Team Coordinator within her school, and running fundraising initiatives for organizations like the Aurora Food Pantry, Belinda’s Place, the Yellow Brick House, Free the Children, and the Red Cross. She has volunteered over 1,200 hours, all to fulfill her goal of uniting the community to create a better tomorrow for her friends and family.
Charles Choi volunteers because he knows it is the right thing to do. When his family came to Canada from South Korea, volunteers helped them adjust to their new Canadian culture and lifestyle. Charles credits these volunteers for his ability to overcome the challenges of immigrating to a new country, and believes that he should give back his time to help those in the community in need of support.
He has donated almost 1,300 hours of service. In school he is a reporter for the newspaper, has been President of the Free the Children Council, and leads the Mock Trial team. In the community, Charles volunteers for the Korean Community Centre for Multiculturalism, participated in a mission trip to the Timiskaming First Nation Reserve, and composed a song that he played with the Kitchener Waterloo Chamber Orchestra to bring awareness to PTSD.
"Volunteering is more than just the forty hours needed to graduate high school. It is about giving up something of your own without any expectation of compensation or gratitude, to positively impact the lives of others."
Gareth is an avid volunteer who has given back hundreds of hours from a very young age. He has helped at church events, in soup kitchens, initiating fundraisers, running campaigns to support LGBTQ youth, in community gardens, as a school lab assistant, and as a peer mentor and leader to younger high school students. Gareth believes that when you are born with privilege, you have a substantial duty to give back and leave the world in a much better place.
Ella Wickham cares about people and refuses to let apathy and ignorance run the world.
Her compassion has led her to volunteer hundreds of hours as a leader and mentor for younger students, with Goodwill Newmarket organizing donations, and at charity events like GoGreen. Ella’s most impactful initiative was in creating a mental health council that is registered as a chapter of the national Jack.org Project. By introducing this program to her school, Ella has inspired her peers to raise awareness and end stigmas surrounding mental health. She has led assemblies and awareness campaigns on cyberbullying and drug use, and has encouraged the discussion on coping mechanisms, healthy friendships, and reaching out when you need help, leaving a platform for acceptance behind for future students.
Quinn Demczuk volunteers for the joy it brings him, knowing he has done good work and helped someone, or the community, that is in need.
He has donated almost 500 hours of time throughout high school, helping with Relay for Life as a first-aid Medical Venturer, as a Harmony Movement leader, with the annual graduation breakfast as a cook and server, as a Student Mental Health and Well Being Student Leader, as School Ambassador for Empowered Student Partnerships, and in the SpeakOUT Gay Straight Alliances Conference. Quinn also volunteers for the 1st Newmarket York Region Medical Venturers & Rovers, with Scouts Canada, and as a Leader and Counsellor in Training for the Town of East Gwillimbury.
To Alexander Akiki, being young has never been a reason not to give back. He believes that youth play a big role in the well-being of a community, and that anything can be accomplished if you put your mind to it.
Alexander has volunteered over 500 hours and counting, through diverse volunteer programs and projects. He has helped at a long-term-care home in North York, where he spent his summer working with seniors, playing games with them, and acting as a companion. Alexander has also volunteered with children at a horseback riding summer camp. He is a leader within his high school, having served on Student Council for six years, where he is currently President. For Alexander, volunteering has had a profound personal impact, and has shaped him into the person he is today.
Sarah Kennelly learned from her parents that the most valuable gift you can ever give to someone is your time. To Sarah, volunteering is second nature; she says "there is no greater feeling than making someone else’s life better and supporting the community that has supported her."
Sarah has donated hundreds of hours through her volunteer work. She helps at the Mount Albert Food Pantry, where she provides food to those in need. At school, she volunteers as a peer mentor and as a member of the Peace Club, responsible for organizing a free holiday meal to 1,200 individuals. She is also President of the Music Council, and plans outreach events to spark interest in music with local youth. Sarah volunteers for the Mt. Albert United Church’s community dinners in support of local charities and is a blood donor with the Canadian Blood Services.
Ryan Lithgow volunteers to give back to the communities that have given him valuable experiences, and to support his passions for community, education, and children.
He has donated his time as one of the leaders for the Youth Alive Christian Club, where he prepares and leads weekly meetings for students. Ryan also tutors students and is part of Science Council, where he is currently working to set up a blood donating and bone marrow registry. For the past six years, Ryan has helped at an organization called Awana, where he volunteers weekly as a supervisor for children.
Stephanie Saunders says that, “when I volunteer, I feel as though I have been given a purpose and a clear way to make a difference. To give back to the community is to invest yourself completely into a cause, and persist until a difference has been made.”
Stephanie is a member of the Town of Aurora Youth Engagement Committee, where she has planned and executed initiativess to encourage youth participation in local events. She is President of her school’s Environmental Council, where she organized a “Lights Out!” campaign and is currently working to build a school greenhouse. Stephanie has been on the Arts Council all through high school, and has designed and painted two school murals. She promotes social justice through the Youth Awareness Council, is a peer mentor, and a soccer referee for the Aurora FC.
For Michael Unsworth, volunteering is his way to make the community a better place for the future.
He has donated almost 1,000 hours of time giving back others. Michael volunteers for the Newmarket Royal Canadian Air Cadets, where he instructs younger members and supports the Royal Canadian Legion with their annual poppy sales and Remembrance Day events. He is Student Council President, student representative on the Catholic Parent Council, and has volunteered as a camp counsellor for the board’s Arts and Athletics Camp mentoring students as they transition into high school. Michael also volunteers with the York Regional Police Pipe and Drum Band, and has played at the National Police Memorial in Ottawa and the Provincial Police Memorial in Queen’s Park.
To Kelly Zou, “giving back means sharing the blessings within our lives with others in our community.” As a volunteer, she uses the fortunate life she has been granted to help others who do not have these same opportunities.
Kelly has volunteered over 600 hours to help those in need. She is an Executive member of the Creativity through Arts Council, a youth-run non-profit organization. She also volunteers for York Region’s Music Alive program and Pencil Studio’s Art Camp. Kelly is passionate about teaching and the environment, and has volunteered as a peer tutor for the past two years, as well as with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. She initiated a volunteer program for the Canadian Cancer Society within her high school, and due to its success, is now working with the Board to implement it in other schools.
Claudia Rupnik began volunteering by tagging along with her mother to their church meal program. Since then, she has discovered the positive impact volunteering not only has on others, but on her own life. Claudia says that in return for her time, she has gained confidence, a better understanding of the world, and has had a chance to meet new, inspirational people.
At school, Claudia volunteers on the Student Activities Council, the Social Justice Club, Peer Mentors, and the Drug Use and Abuse Awareness Council. She also gives back in the community to the Newmarket Food Pantry, at St. John Chrysostom Catholic Church, at the Windfall Ecology Festival, and for We Day. Claudia says “it is truly amazing how easily we can all help to make the world a better place.”
For Jordan Wheatle, giving back and helping others gives him a great sense of satisfaction and engagement with his community.
In his high school, Jordan has taken on a leadership role as a Prefect, where he helps organize school activities and fundraisers, including a project to raise money for children in a local hospital. Jordan is also co-leader of the Black History Club, where he planned the entire assembly and delivered a presentation in front of the whole school for Black History Month. He is part of the Robotics Club and continues this volunteer work in the community at NewMakeIt makerspace for inventors and innovators. Jordan also gives back as a swim instructor with the Town of Newmarket.
For William Deo, volunteering is a matter of social responsibility. He strives to give back to the community that has given so much to him, and shaped him into the person he is today.
William is engaged within his school as a senior member of the Community Outreach Committee, which organizes fundraising events throughout the year. He is also a Senior Chapter Leader of the Jack.org Project promoting mental health, has been a peer tutor for three years, and produced an award-winning short film for the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, 360 Kids. William is a founding member and Co-Chair of the C.O.S.S.O.T. STEM Council, which works with eight schools in the GTA to promote student engagement in science and technology. He also founded iWillSwim, an initiative to promote water-safety and provide swimming lessons to underprivileged children in need.
Even before high school, Kristen Harrington was eager to volunteer. In grade eight, she began supporting local recreation programs to help children with special needs. As Kristen moved into high school, she realized that through her volunteer experiences she learned and received much more than she could ever dream of giving back, which motivates her to continue.
She has spent years as a softball coach for young children, and has volunteered at hockey tournaments in her high school. Kristen is also a peer mentor and a dedicated volunteer at the Southlake Residential Care Village. At this nursing home, Kristen makes the lives of residents brighter by playing games, bringing them to social events, and helping them to remain positive. She has developed treasured friendships with those she has met through her role as a volunteer.
Nili Tonkonog is the first recipient of the Give Back Awards from The Country Day School. Her goal is to leave a positive impact on others and on her community.
Nili volunteers at an after school care program for children, where she leads, supervises, and interacts with young kids. She is an avid fundraiser, spending her weekends raising money for cancer research initiatives, and has helped raise over $1.2 million towards this cause. Nili used her summers as a Leader in Training, volunteering at camps and in programs for youth. She also gives back as a tutor, helping kids to enhance their learning and overall success in the classroom.
Jenny Park believes that life is a gift, never to be taken for granted. Her goal is to make each day count and to be a role model for younger generations, inspiring her to give back over 1,100 hours of community service.
For three years, Jenny has been volunteering to help the homeless in Toronto. She prepares and distributes sandwiches throughout the year, which she hand-delivers by walking around the city. Jenny is also an active volunteer with the Richmond Hill Philharmonic Orchestra, where she donates her time as the only teenage viola player in the orchestra. She volunteers for local retirement homes, which she has been doing since grade four. Jenny believes in the power of a stranger’s capacity to have a positive impact on another person’s life.
Gabrielle Stefou feels that giving back is sharing with others the same kindness, compassion, and assistance that you have been given, because we all have experienced the relief of receiving help when we are in need.
She is an active volunteer at Stevenson Memorial Hospital in their Medical/Surgical Department. For Gabrielle, this volunteer role has been life-changing and one of the most rewarding experiences she has ever had. In addition to her work at the hospital every weekend, Gabrielle organized a fundraiser to help purchase items for the Medical/Surgical departments like privacy curtains, window blinds, over-the-bed tables, bedside tables, and new beds. She also volunteers as a French and English tutor, and has participated in the Sandwich Patrol program to provide food, drink, and conversation to homeless individuals in the city.
Alyssa Yantsis has realized putting the needs of others ahead of her own has shaped her into the person she is today, while making a world of difference to those she has been able to help.
Alyssa volunteers in leadership initiatives at her high school giving back almost 900 hours. She helps at Lady Night, a student-led program to unite younger girls; she sits on House Council to plan activities and increase school spirit; she volunteers for the yearbook; as a peer tutor; and on Nova News preparing satirical and comical broadcasts for the student body. Alyssa also supports child sponsorship programs, raising money for ten children living in Cameroon, and volunteers with Girl Guides of Canada, at a local elementary school, in the Oak Ridges Urgent Care Medical Centre, and with the Advanced Student Placement Integrated Research Education program at Toronto General Hospital.
According to Matthew, “giving back is a chance to show people the kinder side of life,” and make the world just a little bit better for someone else.
To help others or do something nice for someone without expecting a thank you is what gives Matthew great joy. He volunteers at the Kingsway Arms Retirement Centre and has helped them with gardening and general maintenance, assisted in family celebration activities, organized events, and even showed seniors how to Skype so they could contact their loved ones. He also volunteers at the Aurora Farmer’s Market and in his school with the Best Buddies and Prayer Breakfast programs.
Danika volunteers because she knows the importance of helping others and truly believes that she can make a difference.
Over the course of her high school career, Danika has been extensively involved in volunteering, both in her school and in her community. Danika has served as the President of the Pastoral Council and Pastoral Representative on her school’s Student Council, has initiated and implemented an anti-bullying campaign, and founded the first GET REAL high school team, which included workshops for her peers. She also gives her time organizing fundraisers for the OSPCA and leading programs for Sick Kids and the Rose of Sharon. Danika’s strong family and faith based foundation has taught her the importance of supporting the community, especially those less fortunate.
“Volunteers are often the glue that holds a community together,” Shalyn says, which is why she has spent time volunteering in her community and around the world.
The majority of Shalyn’s efforts have been with children, where she assists with reading, crafts, and playing games, while also acting as a mentor. In the summers of 2014 and 2015, Shalyn travelled to Taiwan as a teaching assistant, helping young girls learn to speak and write in English. She finds volunteering to be incredibly rewarding, and believes that the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people and organizations in need.
For Hollie, growing up with the help from many volunteers inspired her to do the same for others.
Hollie stands out as a selfless, generous person who has given so much of herself to the community and her peers. She volunteers for her high school as the Senior Boys Football Team Manager and also donates her time as the team’s photographer. Hollie helps at the Schomberg Lions Club, where she assists at a variety of events, and at the Schomberg Agricultural Society promoting the town’s cultural fair. Hollie’s dedication to the importance of rural agriculture resulted in her being awarded as the Schomberg Fair Ambassador, a role she now uses to inspire younger generations.
Sarah has a goal: to give each person hope and love for their life and future.
Sarah is very involved in community outreach initiatives both in her school community, and the community at large. Her volunteer work stems from a genuine concern for others and a true sense of commitment to the community. Sarah not only seeks out opportunities to help those in need, she looks for ways in which she can use her talents, positivity, and warm personality to empower others. She has volunteered in many programs for different causes, from the Town of Newmarket gym and dance program, helping elderly neighbours shovel snow, peer tutoring, and by co-running a Jeans for Teens drive, providing jeans and pants for to underprivileged youth.
For Tayler, giving back is an important way to demonstrate citizenship, raise awareness about healthy lifestyles, and mentor young people to inspire them to give back.
Tayler truly demonstrates the spirit of sport, teamwork, and volunteerism by dedicating her time to giving back and supporting young children as a skating coach and mentor. When she isn’t busy volunteering for the Central York Girls Hockey Association, Tayler finds time to participate in the Terry Fox Run, assists with school fundraising initiatives, and volunteers at the Kettleby Valley Camp. She plans to continue her leadership and mentorship roles by pursuing a career in teaching.
In grade nine, Kelly learned that in order to graduate she must complete forty hours of community service, but what she didn’t realize was how much joy she would receive or the great lessons she would learn while giving back.
From enhancing the Terry Fox Run at her school, to organizing food drives where she collected thousands of items for the local food pantry, Kelly has thoroughly enjoyed her experience in volunteering for a vast amount of community needs. Her most impactful project was organizing bone marrow drives, which led to the addition of almost 3,000 new names to the bone marrow registry, and means that many more lives potentially saved. Kelly’s dream is to work for the United Nations or the World Health Organization, to pursue a career in humanitarian aid and help with global crises in health or security.
“Volunteering truly has become an indispensable and integral part of my life,” Tiger says, and believes that his volunteer experiences have built his character.
Throughout the years, Tiger is proud to have contributed to a diverse range of volunteer commitments. Within his school he acts as a Captain’s Member, where he helps current grade eight students transition to high school. He spends most of his lunch time tutoring fellow students and, as a baritone saxophone player, provides musical accompaniment at many school events. Tiger is also very active within his community and has helped with Newmarket’s annual First Night Event, ran ABC Camps for young children, collected donations at food drives, and volunteered as a program assistant and volunteer trainer at the Southlake Residential Village.
Giving back to Lucille simply means “doing my duty to my family, friends, and nature…giving back to them is the least I can do.”
As a lover of the outdoors with great passion for the environment, Lucille found herself volunteering in the gardens of Loretto Maryholme, an inter-faith spiritual retreat centre, and at Happy Farm where she learned more about gardening, operating small machinery, and animal care. Within her school, Lucille is Co-President of the Social Justice Committee. She is dedicated to initiatives like ThinkFast, raising awareness for global hunger injustices, and takes part in food and clothing drives and Christmas Shoeboxes. Lucille feels that the best things in the world happen when people give back without expecting anything in return, and she acknowledges that time is valuable, making it one of the best gifts to give.
Lauren volunteers because she has a passion for serving others and loves knowing that her contributions help make worthy causes successful.
Throughout her high school career Lauren has been an active volunteer in her church and school communities. From being a Bible School team leader, to running a camp for children in junior kindergarten to grade four, and assisting with the annual Pickering College Holiday Home Tour, Lauren is always giving back. She takes pride in helping children and finds joy in knowing that she has made a positive impact on their lives. To Lauren, giving back means spending her time using the gifts and abilities she has been given to help others.
“I have always felt a great sense of purpose in doing volunteer work, because to me, volunteering means committing to something greater than myself,” Yazmeen explains.
Yazmeen began her volunteer contributions in elementary school, where she founded a Response Team club to organize food collections and coat and shoe drives for victims of the Haiti earthquake, along with movie nights and annual Halloween Dances to support UNICEF. In high school she continued her volunteer work by becoming an active member of Free the Children and The Third World Council. Yazmeen believes that volunteering is a wonderful way to meet new people, gain experience in the workforce, build public speaking skills, and increase your self-confidence.
Cardinal Carter Catholic High School
“I have always felt a great sense of purpose in doing volunteer work, because to me, volunteering means committing to something greater than myself,” Yazmeen explains.
Yazmeen began her volunteer contributions in elementary school, where she founded a Response Team club to organize food collections and coat and shoe drives for victims of the Haiti earthquake, along with movie nights and annual Halloween Dances to support UNICEF. In high school she continued her volunteer work by becoming an active member of Free the Children and The Third World Council. Yazmeen believes that volunteering is a wonderful way to meet new people, gain experience in the workforce, build public speaking skills, and increase your self-confidence.
Veronica knows that people have the power to make a difference, and with perseverance and the help of a community, amazing things can be achieved.
Veronica is a young woman that has a heart for others, a passion evident throughout her high school years. She has immersed herself in school life through various organizations that serve her peers including the Youth Alive program and the Peer Mentorship initiative that she is developing for grade nine students. Veronica also demonstrates leadership and commitment to others through her tremendous fundraising efforts for impoverished families in the Dominic Republic and her role as Youth Liaison for a Refugee Sponsorship team aiding families in war-torn countries.
Marcha feels very lucky in her life and wants to do anything she can to help others and better the lives of those less fortunate.
Marcha began volunteering at a young age as a camp councillor. Since then, she has been involved with many other volunteer positions, such as the Reading Program at the Newmarket Public Library, helping as an assistant swimming instructor for the Town of Newmarket, and assisting with the Newmarket Home Shows. She also donates her time to local Rewilding Projects of Lake Simcoe, food drives, and community cleanups. Marcha has always loved helping others in any way that she can, and plans to continue her efforts while at university.
Emily believes giving back goes beyond the physical act of community service, and encourages others to get involved in issues they are passionate about.
Giving back through volunteerism is an opportunity for Emily to show her appreciation for the organizations and community that have done so much for her over the years. She is an active volunteer with Relay for Life, St. Andrews Church, Social Justice Club, Newmarket Home Shows, the Tom Taylor Ten Mile Race, and Help Portrait Day. Emily also volunteers as a math tutor in school and teaches kayaking, swimming, and fishing to local youth. She believes that her volunteer efforts have brought happiness to others in her community and plans to continue giving back on a future mission trip.
“Giving back means being the light amidst someone else’s darkness,” Alexa says.
For the past two years, Alexa has been an active member of the Child Sponsorship Club, helping to raise money for children from Cameroon. Alexa is also a reading buddy at the Pierre Burton Library, where she tutors students with their reading and comprehension skills, and a fundraiser for the Jennifer Ashleigh Children’s Charity. At Sick Kids Hospital, Alexa entertains patients through games to lessen their anxiety and while in Toronto, participates with her peers in Sandwich Patrol to deliver handmade sandwiches to the city’s homeless population. Alexa believes that happiness is the pivotal aspect of our well-being that must be spread around the world, which is why she volunteers.
“I always had a passion for making a positive contribution to my community,” says Melika, whose dedication to becoming a global citizen has earned her an outstanding 1,852 hours of community service.
Melika’s volunteer contributions began in grade seven, where she founded a Milk Bag club, collecting bags to make sleeping mats for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Transitioning to high school, she ensured that her efforts for contributing to a better world continued by tutoring students with disabilities. Melika has also expanded her volunteer reach by travelling to Iran to help in a hospital as a lab assistant in the Maternity Ward. In the future, she plans to attend medical school and work for Doctors without Borders to help those in need, not only in Canada, but around the world.
“I volunteer because I take great satisfaction in making a difference in other people’s lives,” Nicole says.
Nicole’s community involvement ranges from being an IEM basketball coach, a tutor, working with the BOOST Child Abuse program, being involved with Newmarket’s Community Cleanup, supporting Relay for Life, and gift-wrapping for Southlake Regional Health Centre. Her volunteer experiences have enriched her leadership, time management, and conflict resolution skills. More importantly, Nicole believes that being a volunteer constantly rewards and motivates her to continue helping others.
According to Kristina, “there’s always time to give time.”
Kristina is heavily involved in leadership committees within the Keswick High School community. She has been a part of the Student Council, Leadership Council, and Peer Mentoring programs. Her commitment and enthusiasm is said to be contagious, making her a natural leader who inspires others to give back. Kristina is an avid participant in the planning and execution of her school’s Terry Fox Run and Relay for Life, and has spent countless hours raising awareness and money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. She also volunteers as a figure skating coach and as a mentor for the First Kicks Soccer Club.
Giving back for Michelle means “positively impacting the lives of those around you, helping those in need, and enjoying yourself while doing it.”
Michelle has been actively involved as a volunteer coach with the Newmarket Crest Special Olympics Swim Team and encourages participation from all members, regardless of their abilities. Her volunteer efforts in the pool also expand to the Newmarket Stingrays Swim Club where she uses her skills to assist at their events. Michelle is a member of her school’s Relay for Life committee and also volunteers for the Canadian Cancer Society. She believes that volunteering has taught her more about herself than she could have imagined, and has made lifelong friends along the way.
To Aaron, volunteering and giving back is about much more than simply attaining the forty hours required to graduate high school.
Aaron volunteers to give back, to thank his community, and to leave his community in an improved state. He has led a team of students and worked with two town councillors in establishing the Aurora Youth Engagement Committee, creating events and opportunities for local youth. Aaron also volunteers for the Canadian Cancer Society by recruiting students to help with Daffodil Days, Relay for Life, and with their Pink Ribbon Campaign. His volunteer efforts have helped to raise a significant amount of money for causes he truly cares about, while donating over 1,700 hours of involvement in the process.
Volunteering is a part of Trevor’s life and he believes “if we work every day to improve the lives of others, the world will slowly but surely become a better place.”
Combatting youth homelessness is Trevor’s passion, and is an ongoing cause that he champions by participating in fundraisers and raising awareness amongst his peers. Trevor organized the Sandwich Run at his school to provide lunches for those in need, and acts as Co-Chair for the 360 Experience Youth Leaders Edition, recently raising over $23,000. As Co-Chair, Trevor connects 360 Kids with the public high schools in York Region, where he hopes the knowledge gained will spread region-wide and encourage future initiatives. Trevor believes that we should never stop volunteering, and that there is no limit for giving back.
Damian Di Biase
Through volunteerism, Damian has gained “good leadership skills and learned the true value of giving back by impacting people in a positive way.”
For the past 5 years, Damian has accumulated over 650 community service hours acting as a referee for the King United Soccer Club. Through this opportunity, Damian has become a strong leader, which he carries into his school community. He is President of the Student Council, and while holding this role, Damian formed a new committee called the “Identity Squad,” a group that seeks to help individuals who are experiencing difficulty within the school. Damian also volunteers in the community with the Terry Fox Run, King Day, annual Town parades, E-Waste Day, and helping at sport events in York Region.
Damiano hopes to “help further develop devices for the hearing impaired, such as the cochlear implant, to help other people just like him.”
Damiano is a true inspiration, leader, and role model. In 2013, he qualified to swim for Team Canada at the Deaflympics. Damiano acts as a mentor for the York Catholic District School Board by giving talks to students about setting goals, hearing loss, and overcoming adversity. Damiano also volunteers at the Hospital for Sick Children and the Parkinson’s Foundation. His determination to achieve his goals is applauded by other students and adults. Damiano wants everyone to know that people with disabilities can reach their goals and do anything – the key is not to give up.
Haven knows that “giving back to the community should not be considered a task, but rather something that she should be honoured to do.”
Haven feels she has not only made a positive impact on her community, but her volunteer efforts have helped her grow as a person. She loves that volunteering has given her the ability to meet people who share her passions, all while making someone’s life better. Haven organized a bone marrow drive at her school, which led to a campaign to hold bone marrow drives in every high school in York Region. She also believes in healthy living, and organizes the Terry Fox Run at her school to promote the fun side of physical activity.
Cassandra believes that in order to achieve goals in the community, everyone needs to contribute, “nobody can get anywhere alone…we all need help.”
Even before high school, volunteering regularly within the community was a huge part of Cassandra’s life. She donates her time to a variety of causes from being a reading buddy, to a program assistant at her skating club, to dedicating countless hours volunteering at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Cassandra firmly believes that “by helping people, you are helping your community, and by helping your community, you are helping the world.” She put these words into action earlier this year when she traveled abroad to build two homes for families in need. Cassandra has a deep compassion for others and her contributions continue to enhance many lives in the community.
Dhruv feels that “the path to success should not be focused on ‘me,’ but ‘we,’ and that the key to happiness is supporting each other and rising together.”
Dhruv is an active volunteer within his community and at St. Andrew’s College. He has volunteered for the Alzheimer’s Society of York Region as their Youth Ambassador, the Learning Disabilities Association of York Region where he tutors grade 5 students every week, and acts as the Student Engagement Coordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society at his school. Dhruv’s passion for community is rooted in his altruistic nature. He believes that “the idea of a community is that different people will do their part and contribute for the prosperity of the whole.”
For Trisha, “giving back means devoting her time to worthy causes and to things that she’s passionate about, without the intention of getting awarded or recognized.”
Trisha’s well-rounded personality stems from her active involvement in several organizations, like Easter Seals Ontario, the Aurora Historical Society, and the AIDS Committee of York Region. She is recognized as a positive peer mentor and a leader in the community, and has volunteered to organize a number of fundraisers for St. Vincent de Paul, the Rose of Sharon, and various natural disaster relief organizations. Trisha believes that everyone possess unique skills that can be used to positively impact individuals in need, and hopes to continue inspiring volunteerism.
For Eric, giving back is not about the recognition; he hopes “that people can be and do better because he made an effort to do and be better.”
Eric believes volunteering has good value because you make a difference and get “paid” in a way that is priceless. This belief shines through his lengthy list of volunteer commitments within his school and in the community. Eric has volunteered at the Red Cross, senior’s homes, animal shelters, Relay for Life, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Salvation Army, and the Georgina and Aurora food pantries. To Eric, the life experiences that are gained from volunteering are true experiences that are irreplaceable.
Margaret volunteers because of “the relationships that come along with the work that she loves.”
Margaret has devoted the past two summers to volunteering at Camp Widjiitiwin, where she spent countless hours impacting hundreds of young campers by providing healthy advice, leading religious lessons, and offering her friendship. During the school year, Margaret donates her waitress skills to the New Wave Café for its many charity fundraisers. She also helps at a number of different community events through her church. Margaret’s volunteer experiences have built a strong stepping stone for her future academic endeavours in early childhood education.
"For Mahima, volunteering is "a hobby she has grown to love," and she believes, "it is our collective responsibility to take care of our community."
Mahima began volunteering at a senior’s home in Aurora, where she assisted with exercise classes and then in the CAT scan department. From these early volunteer experiences, Mahima decided to pursue a career in the medical field because “saving a life is the greatest help one can get.” Mahima has positively influenced a number of senior’s homes in her community by regularly assisting staff and residents. On top of that, she volunteers at church functions preparing dinners, and participates in charity events like the Hike for Hospice and the 4T Miler.
For Joshua, volunteering does not feel like “giving back because he is also receiving enjoyment from the activity.”
A recent immigrant to Canada, Joshua has quickly become a young leader and entrepreneur who uses his skills to educate others. Joshua was diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age, which motivated him to work hard and in turn, to mentor students on how to manage and adapt with learning differences. Joshua is active in his local Scout group and has volunteered as a Troop leader, a Medivent, and a liaison between Cubs and Scouts. Joshua is also the Co-Founder of Qwertynomics and Founder of Sci-Tek, which employs youth in the community and teaches people about robotics.
Madison plans to volunteer for the rest of her life and believes that, “no matter how big or small, positively impacting the community is giving back.”
Madison has been an active volunteer with the Rotary Club of Newmarket, the Rose of Sharon, Big Brothers Big Sisters of York, the Alzheimer’s Society of York Region, and Inn from the Cold. Though she has well over her required community hours, Madison chooses not to log her volunteer contributions because she doesn’t want credit for her efforts. Madison believes that everyone in the community should help one another, and that people need people in order for a community to function.
When entering grade 9, Ashni saw volunteering as receiving hours necessary for graduation. Now, Ashni believes “volunteering is the backbone for a solid community.”
Over the past 3 years, Ashni has volunteered countless hours at Southlake Regional Health Centre in the SDC Post-Op Unit. She found purpose as a volunteer to help nurses, patients, or simply by being present as a cheerful face for others in need. Ashni’s volunteering extends into the sport community, where she helps children experience the real fun and value of being active. She hopes her involvement in the community will inspire others to follow suit.
Sarah volunteers to “help others be the best version of themselves, and to help her be the best version of herself.”
Sarah’s community involvement ranges from being the President of Food for Thought, organizing a committee for Relay for Life, and acting as a coach and mentor for youth soccer players in Aurora. She has also dedicated countless hours at the Walk It Off Spinal Cord Wellness Centre, where she assists patients during their recovery sessions and aims to make therapy fun for patients. Internationally, Sarah gives back by teaching English in Ethiopia. Sarah’s goal is to continue improving people’s lives by furthering her studies in the medical field.
A leader at the age of 10, Leah began hosting her own fundraising events and has become an anti-bullying activist and role model to girls struggling with the definition of ‘true beauty.’
Leah’s greatest achievement has been the creation of her own foundation, the Leah Hans Fundraiser for Childhood Cancer through the Canadian Cancer Society. She has raised over $16,000 by hosting hair-cutting events and multiple community fundraisers. When Leah is not organizing or participating in a community event, she is volunteering for Girls Inc. York Region after school and during the summer months. Leah volunteers to create “a brighter tomorrow” in the community, “with the aspiration of creating hope and compassion for others within it.”
At an early age, Samantha had a passion for helping people, and though she doesn’t “have a master plan to save the planet, she does have a plan to make a difference, one person at a time.”
Making a difference in someone’s life is not just a one-time goal for Samantha, it’s an ongoing effort. Samantha has volunteered for a wide variety of organizations, taking part in different fundraisers, and dedicating over 300 community hours in just one year at the Southlake Residential Care Village. Her efforts and leadership were admired by the Volunteer Coordinator, and Samantha was asked to continue giving back as a Volunteer Trainer. To Samantha, the most important thing in life is people, and she will continue to help anyone who is in need.
“It’s important to always remember that you didn’t have any say in where you were born but you do have a say in what you do with the blessings you’ve been given.”
Helping the less fortunate has always been important to Jennifer, and her efforts have earned an outstanding 1650 hours of community service. At a young age, Jennifer understood the significance of giving. She planned garage sales, ran lemonade stands, and held clothing drives to help raise money for various causes. Not only has Jennifer taken part in several community events, but she even raised money to support relief efforts in Haiti. Soon after, she found herself volunteering there, to help rebuild a home for a family who had lost theirs during the natural disaster. Jennifer is a true leader by nature, and an incredible philanthropist at heart.
Melissa Cusack Striepe
Melissa gives back “to contribute, to have a part in change, to help one or many, and because she yearns to see better lives and better ecological health.”
Melissa’s most significant contribution to the community has been through active involvement with the Ontario Nature Youth Council. As a member, Melissa helps to plan, organize, and execute an Annual Youth Summit, as well as other fundraisers. In May, Melissa will be holding a wildflower planting day in Newmarket to create a pollinator habitat. Melissa hopes to impact youth and adults by inspiring them to follow their passions and make a difference. When thinking about giving back, Melissa takes a look at all she has received from her community and environment, and then finds a way to help.
Bomi strongly believes that her “small actions of caring will be brought together and contribute in changing the community and making the globe a better place to live.”
Bomi’s volunteer efforts started at an early age and spread beyond Newmarket’s borders. With her creation of the Christian youth group, 4TX, Bomi has brought together 100 students from Newmarket, Mississauga, Hamilton, and Toronto to discuss ways in which they could address inner city homeless. In grade 7, Bomi went on her first mission trip to the Philippines, and later went to Ecuador and Costa Rica. While abroad, Bomi learned what poverty looked like, and committed herself to a lifetime of volunteering, helping one individual at a time.
Zach has recognized “that working within one’s community can have a powerful impact, and consequently has sought to touch as many lives as possible in a positive fashion.”
Zach dedicates most of his volunteer efforts to school events and leading other students. In grade 9, he was the driving force behind the school’s first participation in “We Day.” He is also a founding member and student leader of the Social Justice Club. Zach has made many new international students’ lives easier by tutoring students in reading and writing. He helps raise their confidence, and makes them feel at home. Zach also teaches others in the community by volunteering as a reading buddy at the Newmarket Public Library and hopes “to be a teacher down the road, and use his experiences to enrich learning and inspire youth to follow their passions.”
Requeza believes that if she is able to spend her time “helping others and having such rewarding experiences while doing so, then this is a life worth living.”
Requeza has been an avid volunteer in her high school. As a SMASH member, Requeza welcomes incoming grade eight and nine students to Sacred Heart, helps lead school retreats, and assists at masses and school ceremonies. She also volunteers for Relay for Life, the MS Walk, and recently helped fundraise for citizens of the Philippines. Requeza’s love for music has inspired her to dedicate her time to a local youth choir, and to help out at her parish’s Vacation Bible Camp.
Michael has dedicated his “volunteer service to the school and community at large, and has a self-directed commitment to make our world better.”
As a member of Student Council from grades nine to eleven, Michael has dedicated his time to improving school life for all students. He helps organize dances and fundraising events, has acted as the schools’ Relay for Life team captain, and has organized and presented Remembrance Day assemblies honouring war veterans. This year, Michael was chosen as a Student Trustee to represent the voice of all students in the YCDSB. Michael also gives his time at his local church, where he volunteers as an altar server and acts as the Youth Coordinator.
Samantha truly understands the intrinsic values of volunteering, and believes that “being involved in the community is not only beneficial to society, but beneficial to personal growth as well.”
Samantha is a “lead by example” student, whose volunteering contributions go beyond her commitments at school. She has participated in Relay for Life and raised awareness to the importance of cancer research for the past three years. Samantha also helps welcome newcomers to her school as a member of their Link Crew. Additionally, she turned her passion for athletics into a volunteering coaching position for grade seven and eight students.
Erin began volunteering at a young age, through her family’s personal dedication to community. Through her passion, she hopes to inspire others to give back.
Erin’s initial volunteer efforts were through community meals, while simultaneously fundraising to fight poverty within the community. During the summers, she volunteers at garage sales run by local churches, where the proceeds directly benefit parishioners. Erin also volunteers as a member of her school’s Peace Club – an organization that exists to help the community. She is a Peer Mentor and was instrumental in the high school’s “courtyard regeneration” project where she helped turn an area of urban decay into a functioning environmental classroom.
Kathy believes that “volunteering makes you realize how little your problems matter in comparison to the woes of others, and it makes you appreciate all that you have.”
Kathy has contributed over 300 hours of Community Involvement. Locally, Kathy has volunteered as a Program Assistant at the Southlake Residential Care Village where she assisted long term residents with nightly entertainment and acted as a friend for them to talk to. Kathy also volunteers as a Mandarin Teacher’s Assistant for the YRDSB’s International Languages program. Globally, Kathy volunteered to help renovate a school in China with Fudan University’s volunteer group.
For Sarah, volunteering and giving back in all capacities is part of “a very large push for positive change,” which she hopes to achieve on a local and global scale.
Sarah volunteers locally through teaching initiatives, where she is an assistant swim instructor for the Town of Newmarket, helps at a local elementary school, and teaches Sunday school. Sarah is also a member of her church’s Youth Group where she participates in Acts of Random Kindness, Earth Hour initiatives, community meals, and is a summer councilor at Bible School. Sarah is a member of her school’s Social Justice Club and works to raise money for people in developing countries.
Jessica volunteers because “doing good for others makes a huge difference, whether it is a small gesture or a large one. It’s not about the number of hours you commit, it’s about making a difference.”
Jessica participates in town events, like Canada Day celebrations, Winterfest, the Santa Claus Parade, the Children’s Health Festival, and Easter events. Last year, she began volunteering at Southlake Regional Health Centre, assisting visitors coming in to the hospital. She also volunteers for Alexander Muir Retirement Home every Saturday, and encourages volunteerism within her high school through her role as Student Council Vice President.
Miranda’s 200+ hours of community service have reflected her aspirations of entering the health care field, and her goal of improving the quality of life and health of others.
Miranda regularly volunteers her Sundays at the Southlake Residential Care Village where she helps as a “Friendly Volunteer,” promoting and preserving patients’ mental, social, and emotional health. She also acts as a volunteer trainer within this role, where she passes on her passion to new volunteers. In addition, Miranda volunteers for Community Living in the Newmarket/Aurora district where she raises awareness and assists in supporting overall independence for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Bhagyashree volunteers her time within her high school and the town of Newmarket, where she “strives to generate a positive environment and assist others in need.”
As President of her high school’s Student Council, Bhagyashree runs events and volunteer programs to encourage inclusivity among all students. She is particularly proud of her participation on the school’s Robotics Team where she campaigned to help inspire other girls engage in the program. Bhagyashree has also dedicated over 120 hours of volunteer time to the Windfall Ecology Centre and Festival, promoting eco-friendly products and the benefits of being environmentally friendly.
For Catherine, collecting Community Involvement hours “was never just to say she had them, but to do these things because she enjoyed them.”
Catherine has volunteered close to 300 hours of her time making a difference in our community. She helps at summer camps, teaches Sunday school, and volunteers for many school sporting events. Catherine is an active participant in Relay for Life and also fundraises for the Samaritan Foundation. Last year, after her and a group of students raised almost $18,000, she travelled to the Dominican Republic to help build houses and volunteer with children.
Nicolas believes that everybody should “have the same educational and recreational opportunities regardless of their age, cultural background, physical abilities, or economical means.”
Nick has spent many years volunteering within his local community and on a global scale. Nick gives back in Aurora by participating in the Neighbourhood Network Fall Food Drive and through fundraising for Big Brothers Big Sisters of York. He has also taken on the role as a mentor and advocate for the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiing, where he helps students with physical and mental disabilities participate in this sport. Globally, Nick also volunteered in South America to help children at the Hogar La Providencia orphanage in Columbia.
École secondaire catholique Renaissance student Mathilde “is the ultimate community ambassador,” and plays an active role in both the community, and her high school.
For over a year, Mathilde has volunteered at the Southlake Residential Care Village, where she helps as a program assistant. Every year she participates in Relay for Life, and in 2012, Mathilde travelled to Honduras to build a house through Habitat for Humanity. She is currently working on a fundraiser for The Lavoie Foundation and will soon be riding her bike 300 km to Welland and back for this cause. Even with all her community involvement, Mathilde spends countless hours encouraging volunteering within her school where she has been the leader of the Volunteer Committee for the past two years.
Alex “has demonstrated a personal commitment to the areas of community service and school leadership,” at St. Andrew’s College.
With over 870 hours of Community Involvement, Alex volunteers in a variety of roles that help benefit the community. Within his school, Alex volunteers as a School Ambassador, as the tech designer for dramatic productions, as a lifeguard at swim meets, and as a fundraiser for causes like 30-Hour Famine. He is President of the St. Andrew’s College Outreach Committee, responsible for helping many local and international charities, as well as mentoring students within the school. Recently Alex travelled to northern Madagascar to help build a school and teach children English
When it comes to giving back, Sydney “has spearheaded significant efforts to engage the school community and to support the local and global communities.”
Sydney acts as the Lead Mentor in the Peer Mentor program, where she facilitates leadership training for young adults. Her initiative within this role has sparked large community outreach, most notably by creating a fundraising event, “Something for Sarah,” after being inspired by a local six-year-old’s battle with leukemia. Through her Bone Marrow Drive within the school, two students were matches for patients in need of bone marrow – incredibly beating the 1 in 22 million odds. Sydney was also determined to bring the Terry Fox Run back to her school and after a twenty year hiatus, she co-organized its successful return.
Alexander “is an example of someone who has shown consistent commitment to the improvement of our community.”
Alexander believes that “volunteering is an amazing way to give back to the community that gives so much to us.” He lives by these values, exemplified in his many volunteer roles. Alex volunteers selling ribbons for Wounded Warriors, assisting the Aurora Minor Hockey Association, at the Hockey Helps the Homeless Tournament, and with Neighbourhood Network’s Spring Tree Planting day. He also gives back within his school as a Peer Mentor, fundraising for events like “Something for Sarah,” and as captain of his school’s Relay for Life team.
Anita “is a very active and involved student in school and community leadership,” highlighted by her passion for volunteering in community events throughout Georgina.
As the current Student Chair of Our Lady of the Lake’s Chaplaincy Council, Anita has been instrumental in the planning and implementation of key initiatives, such as: collecting over 1,000 food items for the Georgina Food Bank, gathering and distributing Christmas gifts to low-income families, and sending hundreds of toys to children in developing countries. Anita is also a student mentor, and within her school organized and facilitated a “12 Hour Awareness” fast for the hungry.
Through her participation in a variety of volunteer opportunities, Brooke “has had an active role in supporting the school and community with enthusiasm and drive.”
Brooke’s community involvement spans many fields. She is an active member of the Environmental and Students’ Council, as well as a “Stand Up Speak Up” and Prom Committee member. Brooke also takes on a mentorship role at her school, working with grade nine students to help prevent cyber bullying, address mental illness, and foster positive relationship development. In the community, Brooke’s environmental efforts have increased Georgina’s awareness on proper recycling habits.
As stated by Principal Fran Fraser, “a phrase that best suits Taylor and her commitment to volunteerism is, ‘she gets it.’”
Though a graduate of Keswick High School, Taylor’s volunteer efforts began at Our Lady of the Lake where she helps on parent-teacher evenings and decorates for the school’s dances. Taylor’s volunteerism expanded to community events like the Georgina Santa Claus Parade and Snow Fest, Christmas toy drives, and the Peer Mentorship program. Taylor recently helped organize a fundraiser called “Score for Shelton” in memory of a friend and in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Shamika “has already dedicated her life to helping others,” and is driven to do so because of the happiness it gives her.
Shamika has been volunteering from a young age, and completed her 40 hours of Community Involvement by the second month of grade nine. Shamika is active with the Keswick branch of the Georgina Public Library where she assists every week at the Children’s Reading Circle and on the Teen Advisory Committee. Shamika also helps at town events and fundraisers, and strives to inspire students within her school through acts of kindness and championing important issues like blood donation.
Allen Tian has made the most of ‘giving back’ to his community after moving here only three years ago.
Allen is a dedicated, friendly, visiting volunteer at Southlake Village’s Long Term Care Centre. In fact, he volunteered 100 hours at the Centre over the course of only one year. He is also a regular volunteer at the Magna Centre, supporting events such as the Tim Horton’s First Night and the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Allen is a volunteer at his school library and helps out with concerts at Trinity Anglican Church Aurora.
With an impressive number of volunteer contributions, Andrew Benjamin steps-up for his community in diverse ways.
Andrew was selected the past two years to be a mentor for grade nine students at Huron Heights Secondary School. He was also chosen to work alongside players and coaching staff from the Toronto Argonauts to raise awareness on bullying and its effects. At his school, Andrew was the Social Advisor for Student Council and initiated its Movember campaign for prostate cancer. Outside of school, Andrew has been involved in Relay for Life at various levels of leadership.
Brian Lo has made an excellent contribution to his community and future generations due to his dedication, professionalism and empathy.
Since the beginning of high school, Brian has been volunteering in the Clothesline Department of the Canadian Diabetes Association. In his role, Brian is in charge of the pickup of clothing donations, including mapping the appropriate routes. Brian also volunteers with the Reading Buddies program as a tutor at the Newmarket Public Library. Through his co-op program, Brian started working in the Pathology Department of Southlake Regional Health Centre, assisting with the Optimization program to increase patient care efficiency.
With over 500 recorded community service hours, to say Cheyanne Reed ‘gives back’ is an understatement.
For the past 2 years, Cheyanne has volunteered as a Life Enrichment Program Assistant at the Long-Term Residential Village partnered with Southlake Regional Healthcare Centre. Cheyanne is a peer tutor and mentor at her high school and was elected Secretary of the Student Council. She also re-established her school’s environmental council, acting as President for 2 years and raising $2000 for their various initiatives. Cheyanne was the 2012 co-chair of her school’s Relay for Life Entertainment Committee where her school raised $150,000 and was named the top fundraiser in Canada.
Daniel is known as a committed and motivational leader at his school, ‘giving back’ whenever he can.
Despite his various roles in student committees, Daniel maintains the position of Director of Communications for the York Secondary Catholic Presidents’ Council. In this role he has initiated multiple projects funded by the Ministry of Education’s SpeakUp grants. Daniel consistently strives to improve his school community and environment for his peers.
Doaa Abou Hussein
Doaa Abou Hussein has been passionately involved in ‘giving back’ to her community.
Doaa is a pillar in her school community for all that she does. She founded the Smile Campaign (Students Making Inclusive Learning Environments), where they host a series of creative events that inspire and educate students to challenge discrimination, intolerance and negative peer pressure in the classroom. Doaa is an active member on Student Council, Athletic Council and a member of the York Region President’s Council. Doaa is also initiating a Youth Summit to educate students on Municipal Politics.
With a strong commitment to both her community and school, Donna Ngyuen is most definitely a person who ‘gives back’ through her countless hours of volunteering.
Donna is actively involved in community events and has been a peer tutor at her high school for the past four years. She is a longtime volunteer at the Rosewood Girl’s Club, Southlake Village and serves on the Newmarket Public Library’s Youth Advisory Council. Her ambition is to be admired, as she hopes to one day become a doctor and help people each and every day. Donna is also a part of the Link Crew that welcomes grade 8 students to high school.
With a variety of volunteer experiences under her belt, Glenda Willcock ‘gives back’ on both a local and international level.
Locally, Glenda is actively involved with her church where she volunteers in their outreach programs and the Children’s Clothes Closet. She also teaches Sunday school, acts as a nursery helper and Librarian assistant. For the last 4 years Glenda has volunteered at the Vacation Bible Camp. Internationally she has travelled to China to be a counselor at a summer English camp. On a co-op in Costa Rica, Glenda was able to become involved in community beautification, canal widening, sand bagging and protecting turtle nests. Glenda manages all her volunteering along with holding a part time job.
Jason Lo’s commitment to ‘giving back’ to his community is evident in his passion for his local church summer camp.
Jason has served for four years as a volunteer-counselor and Coordinator of his church’s summer camp. Jason is involved with the camp throughout the entire year in terms of planning, organizing and executing the two week program. Jason has also volunteered for the City of Markham’s March Break Camp, the Milliken-Markham Children’s Festival and various school events.
Over the last four years ‘giving back’ to the community has been a top priority for Newmarket High School graduate, Kalina Charnock.
Kalina has exemplified great leadership as President of “Food for Thought”, a club which provides weekly lunches for children in need. Kalina spearheaded the program and secured donations to ensure its longevity. Kalina has also volunteered in the Transitional Care Unit and travelled to Ethiopia to teach, bringing donations, clothes and school supplies.
With extensive involvement in co-curricular’s, the ways in which Kara is able to ‘give back’ to her community are remarkable.
Kara has touched many lives through her volunteer efforts, both on a local and global scale. At St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic High School, Kara is recognized by her principal as “an active member of our school since we opened our doors for the first time”. In her community, she has been dedicated to the environment, the Sunrise Senior Living Center and the homeless. Kara has taught English to children in Ethiopia and plans on continuing to serve the global community.
Huron Heights Secondary School graduate Kelsey Donald has consistently ‘given back’ to the community throughout her high school career while maintaining an impressive academic average.
Kelsey is a highly involved student as part of her school’s Peer Mentor Group. Kelsey is also a Peer Ambassador and helps resolve inter-student conflicts and gets students involved in the school community. She has been President of the Athletic Council and a coach for the past four years at the York North Basketball Association. Kelsey volunteers in two classes at Hartman Public School. Kelsey says her biggest accomplishment is being a loving foster sister for the past 14 years.
When it comes to ‘giving back,’ Laura Bondi seems to simply do it all.
Laura has been a proud member of the Best Buddies chapter at her high school for the past four years. She has served as the Chapter’s President where she implemented new programs and outings in the community. She has also organized Autism awareness campaigns and a rainbow week for LGTB equality. Laura volunteers at the Aurora Public Library in the Reading Buddies program and takes part in the strategic planning committee. Laura also volunteers annually with the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Big Bike program.
Michael Nash is ‘giving back’ in all facets; from Scouts, to Student Council, Medical Venturers and volunteering abroad
With 393 recorded volunteer hours, Michael Nash’s community involvement began ten years ago with Scouts and hasn’t stopped since! With the Scouts, Michael has volunteered at the Aurora Food Bank and planted trees. As a Scouts Medvent, Michael has provided medical aid at many camps and community events. He travelled to Kenya last summer for a month-long work effort and delivered 1100 pounds of medical supplies. In addition to everything else, Michael is also on Student Council.
Nicole has been ‘giving back’ since she was just a child, dedicating her time to her community in a variety of areas.
Nicole works to provide a “unique and fun experience” for the members of her community, getting involved with events through The Knights of Columbus, The Women’s Group and The Sutton Agricultural Fair. Throughout the school year, Nicole stepped up as Pickering College’s Gold House Chair on the Student Committee, encouraging volunteering and community involvement in her peers.
Nooran exemplifies community leadership as she is involved in so many capacities, further reflecting her multidimensional enthusiasm for life and learning.
Nooran is very involved in the community where she is the Student Ambassador for the Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge. She is also an active participant in Neighbourhood Network’s annual Tree Planting Day and Student Food Drive. Nooran promotes youth literacy as a Reading Buddy and Children’s Program Assistant at the Newmarket Public Library. She has also been the Viva/YRT Student Ambassador, Chief Electoral Officer for her High School, Link Crew Leader for incoming grade nine students and a volunteer at the community garden.
Ricardo De Sequeira
Known for his “discipline, commitment, and integrity” Ricardo’s determination to ‘give back’ has made a lasting impact on the local and international community.
During his high school career, Ricardo has dedicated his time with the Special Olympics Festival, the Markham Stouville Hospital, and as a peer tutor to ESL students. He spent last summer refurbishing a school in Tanzania and building a road for the students to walk to class. Ricardo is recognized as “a gifted academic, a dedicated musician, a well-respected student leader and a genuinely nice guy”.
Saarah’s passion for making lasting contributions to her community, both local and global, is displayed through the multitude of her extraordinary initiatives. Simply put, “Saarah truly understands commitment to community.”
Saarah is an exemplary leader, as President of the Equity Council and President of the Red and Gold Society, which facilitates volunteering opportunities for students. Saarah even co-founded a new club called “Students Helping Students,” whose goal is to raise funds to build a library in South Africa and to send young girls to school.
Sarah Osmond is dedicated to helping through Girl Guides, the Terry Fox Run and her school Leadership Council.
Sarah has been involved with Sparks, which is a division of Girl Guides for the past seven years, which she herself was a participant of at the age of 5. Taking part in the Terry Fox Run and community clean-ups make Sarah an active member of the community. Within her school, Sarah is President of the Leadership Council “LEGACY” which promotes and raises school spirit. She has also fundraised for the Rose of Sharon for Young Mothers and has assisted in organizing an annual leadership conference.
Shanna Hunter enthusiastically steps-up for her school and community through numerous initiatives including anti-bullying campaigns and Relay for Life.
Shanna actively promotes equality and inclusivity as president of her school’s Social Justice Club. Shanna has received the Applause Award for her anti-bullying campaign and was named Junior Citizen of the year. She has also fundraised over $1800 for families fighting Malaria in Africa. If that wasn’t enough, Shanna also volunteers her time with Relay for Life and in the Multiple Exceptionalities classroom in her school.
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