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Surrey Now-Leader

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SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS The annual Community Leader Awards recognize the selfless, dedicated and courageous people who perform exceptional acts of service that make our community such a vibrant and rewarding place to live and work.

NOVEMBER 14, 2018

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2018 RECIPIENTS!

NOMINATION CATEGORIES: SERVICE ORGANIZATION VOLUNTEER This individual makes a positive contribution to the community by volunteering their time to one community service organization. This person is well thought of and is significantly relied upon by others in the organization. YOUTH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR This young person (aged 25 and under) makes a positive contribution to the community through their various volunteer efforts. ENVIRONMENTAL LEADER This individual makes a positive contribution to the community by championing environmentally friendly initiatives. Someone who inspires others to be “green” by being a leader in ecologically sound practices. VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR This individual makes a positive contribution to the community by volunteering their time to a variety of causes. They are dedicated to making a difference in several different initiatives. EMERGENCY SERVICES This individual makes a positive contribution to the community by going the extra mile, over and above the call of duty, is exemplary in the area of services and unselfishly shoulders enormous responsibility while accepting the potential risks and challenges of the job. TEACHER OF THE YEAR This individual makes a positive contribution by being a true leader, and demonstrates a high level of ethics and professional standards. They are an inspirational motivator, excellent communicator, good listener and a reliable resource to the community.

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community. But there are a large number of people in Surrey who do a great deal of important work. They strive tirelessly – through countless volunteer hours, sometimes

overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles – to better the community. And they don’t ask for anything in return. You’ll find them in our schools, on sports fields, in care centres, at the food bank and at various local events. They are truly community leaders. Many have their own families, careers and personal commitments, but still find the time to make a difference by sharing their empathy, enthusiasm and energy. The Community Leader Awards were established 16

years ago to recognize and honour the efforts essential to maintaining this vital and growing community. Each recipient’s story is inspirational, and by highlighting them, we hope others will be moved to contribute in the community and share their own skills, compassion, knowledge and heart with those around them. Thanks to our sponsors, the Community Leader Awards get bigger and better every year. The Now-Leader

A N N U A L LY H O N O U R I N G A N D C E L E B R AT I N G THE LEADERS IN OUR COMMUNIT Y WITH PRIDE.

COACH OF THE YEAR This person makes a positive contribution to their sport and is exemplary in developing skills and confidence in participants, inspiring and encourages a high level of athletic achievement. COMMUNITY BUILDER This is someone who has taken the initiative to engage a variety of Surrey residents in an innovative or new community project or event. The initiative may assist different groups to work together, address a gap in community participation, or result in a more inclusive, engaged community. ABOVE AND BEYOND This person makes a positive contribution to their community through their work, and is someone who goes beyond the requirements of their job to better the community. LEADER OF THE YEAR This is someone who rises above the rest by demonstrating leadership in all that he or she does, and makes a positive contribution to the community. They are a role model to look up to.

PHOTO: LAUREN COLLINS

Congratulations to all the 2018 Community Leader Award recipients. For photos and videos from the event, see surreynowleader.com.


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Friday, November 16, 2018 C3

SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS

NOVEMBER 14, 2018 SEE VIDEOS AND MORE AT SURREYNOWLEADER.COM

ABOVE: Jeff Sandes was winner of the 2018 Above and Beyond Award.

PHOTO: LAUREN COLLINS

The 2018 Environmental Leader award winners are Baljit Singh Sabharwal and Sarbjit Singh Sabharwal.

RIGHT: Steve Sapers was named Volunteer of the Year.

PHOTO: LAUREN COLLINS

Alannah Atley and Raul Oldhands were recipients of this year’s Leader of the Year award.

PHOTOS: LAUREN COLLINS

Community Leader Awards

A night to honour Surrey’s unsung heroes

Alexis Biggar was named Teacher of the Year.

PHOTO: LAUREN COLLINS

They are unsung heroes no more. Envelopes have been opened, trophies handed out and distinguished winners were celebrated at the Surrey Now-Leader’s 16th annual Community Leader Awards on Wednesday night, at the Eaglequest Golf Course clubhouse in Surrey. Awards were given in 10 categories including Leader of the Year, Above

& Beyond, Community Builder of the Year, Coach of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Emergency Services Leader of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Environmental Leader of the Year, Youth Volunteer of the Year, and Service Organization Volunteer of the Year. “We’re honoured to be presenting the community awards,” said

Dwayne Weidendorf, publisher of the Now-Leader. “This is our 16th year. We take pride in being part of the community and recognizing the unsung heroes in Surrey. I’d also like to thank our sponsors, because without them this keystone event would not happen.” Tom Zytaruk

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE NOMINEES AND THE WINNERS OF 16TH ANNUAL 2018 COMMUNITY LEADER AWARDS!

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Surrey Now-Leader

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SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS

LEADER OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY

Community Savings Credit Union

NOVEMBER 14, 2018

TOP HONOUR

Alannah Atley & Raul Oldhands For Raul Oldhands and his wife Alannah Atley, helping people is just part of their “very nature.” Oldhands and Atley have been volunteering in the community for nearly three decades as Indigenous elders. “You know some people who go through life and don’t give anything — they’re takers. I’m a giver,” Alannah said. “My husband’s a giver… It’s just in our very nature. Our whole makeup is just to give to people who are in need.” Over the years, Atley has run a sweat lodge for women, creating “a place to feel like they belong, a sense of community” and place to welcome them without judgment while also giving them a chance to stay clean and sober. “People tell me, and other elders in the community tell me, that… I have a way of using my words that helps people to shift so they can find healing,” Atley said. She also likes to teach women canning and how to collect herbs, as well as teaching parts of coastal artwork so that if they practise enough, they could make a living out of it. For his part, Oldhands works to help Indigenous people who have suffered trauma at

residential schools. As a veteran of the war in Vietnam, Oldhands said he works with first responders on how to deal with traumatic events. “I’ve seen the worst that human beings can do to human beings, and I know that if a paramedic or fireman goes to scene of an accident or something horrific, that they have witnessed, it’s very hard for them to talk to a counsellor that’s never seen anything like that,” he said. “I work with them on how to deal with that, just like how my grandparents helped me with when I came back from the war.” Oldhands said he wants people to know there is still a community that cares. “I want to give back to my community because I feel that as a community’s we’re losing touch with each other, that we’re losing community to the social network and I want people to be able to have that comfort to know that we still are a community and there are people that do care.”

HONOURABLE MENTION

Perminder Chohan

Perminder Chohan credits his father for his drive to help people. Growing up in India, Perminder said he saw his dad helping people every day, even when his family might not have had the resources to take care of themselves. “He always taught me that if you take care of others, then others will take care of you,” Perminder says. “That always was in my personality from childhood. So somehow that became a part of my personality.” Over the years, Perminder said he has been involved in many different organizations and in the company he works for now, he is a managing director and a mentor and coach for

more than 600 people “to help them make a positive change in their lives.” Perminder said he helps people by working through “challenges and struggles” with them to “show them everything is possible in life.” Asked what being a leader means to him, Perminder said it’s just about being there for others and making a difference and “showing people if they do things for others, then they can change our personality.” “We can inspire others by sharing the things we have in life.”

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Surrey Now-Leader

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Friday, November 16, 2018 C7

SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS TOP HONOUR

ABOVE & BEYOND SPONSORED BY

Sameer & Ankur Kaushal - Century 21

NOVEMBER 14, 2018

Jeff Sandes

When Jeff Sandes was asked to start Challenger Baseball in Cloverdale, he wasn’t even aware of the program. Challenger Baseball, according to Baseball BC, is a program that “provides an opportunity for children with cognitive or physical disabilities to enjoy the full benefits of participation in baseball at a level structured to their abilities.” Cloverdale’s Challenger Baseball is part of the Cloverdale Minor Baseball Association, and Jeff said he’s coached in the association before, so he was asked to run the Challenger program. “I have three kids and my youngest is special needs,” he said. “They figured I probably could handle it and also would be more interested because I have a kid who would play.” In the first year, Jeff said, there were just 16 families involved. This year, the division grew to 50 families. Despite being seen as the “figurehead” of Cloverdale’s program, Jeff said a lot of people want to help out and have a leadership role “but for one reason or another, they would have to back out.” He said a handful of people have done a “pretty monumental task” the past few years.

Asked why he continues with Challenger, Jeff said the impact on the families involved keeps him going. “You’re happy as a person because you’re seeing these kids having a chance, but when your hands get dirty with this, you see the difference that it makes in these families,” he said. “When I see the impact it has on families and on our buddies, you don’t need more motivation to try and do this.” In the special needs community, Jeff said a program like this can make all the difference. “In the special needs community, the government may provide a stroller or something that will kind of help make the adaption to every day life a bit easier. They (the families) always accept these things with appreciation, but without any expectation. You don’t have that in that community. “Like if I didn’t show up (for a game), and they just made a game themselves, they would still be thankful that there’s an opportunity for their kids to have something that they can call their own.”

HONOURABLE MENTION

Kiran Toor

Kiran Toor doesn’t take anything in her life for granted. “I have a beautiful life. I have all the resources I need to attain anything I want, and it’s up to me how I do it,” Kiran says. “Now it’s only fair if I share (it) with those who may not have it.” Kiran is a co-founder and vice-president of Kids Play Foundation, an organization aimed at providing opportunities for youth in the community. Kids Play, according to its website, has been working toward the improvement of society by preventing children and youth from getting involved with drugs and gangs since 2015. Through Kids Play, Kiran said, she has helped created sports programs, education-based programs and after-school programs. She said this month there are plans for a drug and gang enforcement program. Being able to provide these programs, Kiran said, “is an honour.” “When I started to be a part of something like this, it was more so for me to share what I have,” she said. “That drives me every day that there’s someone out there who’s not as privileged as me and it’s my moral obligation to provide them

with any resources I can to help them move forward.” Kiran is also a graduate from the Akal Academy Baru Sahib, an international school based in northern India aimed at people with a “keen desire to serve the community in which they live and work.” Over the years, Kiran said she has grown with the guidance and mentorship of her Kids Play co-founder Kal Dosanjh. “If you met me four years ago, before Kids Play started, I was nothing like this. I think I’m a person who’s learning every day, making mistakes, learning from them and trying to be a better person.”

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Surrey Now-Leader

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Surrey Now-Leader

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SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS

COMMUNITY BUILDER SPONSORED BY

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

NOVEMBER 14, 2018

TOP HONOUR

Savannah Scott

As an indigenous youth growing up in foster care, Savannah Scott uses her experiences and tragedies to help others get through hard times of their own. She and her younger sister Santanna entered the foster care system when they were 11 and seven years old, respectively. When Savannah aged out of foster care, she had to leave Santanna behind. Then in November 2016, tragedy struck when an overdose took Santanna’s life shortly after she had aged out of the foster care system. Savannah says aging out of the system can be a shock. “When I aged out, it was literally, there you go. There’s life. It’s hard,” she told the NowLeader. “Especially growing up in the system because we’re already vulnerable and not with our families. Just having that extra hand or support would go a really, really long way. It’s a hard transition time.” Since her sister’s death, Savannah has used her own experiences and her sister’s experience to raise awareness about the struggles of aging out of the foster care system.

Because of her background, Savannah said she tries to help people get out of “their rut” as well. “I’ve gone through hard times as well, and all I needed was a bit of hope and faith. I think if I continue to do that then I can help others as well and get them out of their rut as well.” Following Santanna’s death, an old motel on King George Boulevard was converted into women’s housing has been named in Santanna’s honour — Little’s Place. Savannah, who supported the naming of Little’s Place, said she continues to do her part helping out with the Atira-run project. Savannah said she collects and donates clothing from friends. “I’m always donating stuff there and trying to be as involved as I can.”t

HONOURABLE MENTION

Charan Gill

Charan Gill is the founding president of the Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society. Since Gill started the society as a one-man organization in 1987, it has developed into “a major community” with more than 120 staff members. Gill said his job as a social worker allowed him to understand the needs and issues of the community. “There was no such society that could meet that cultural gap, so I decided to start PICS.” Over the years, PICS began to offer many programs and services such as language and settlement services, employment programs, housing for seniors, housing for immigrant women, training and programs for women and youth. During his role as CEO of PICS, Gill established a multicultural seniors housing facility, adult day care centre and second-stage housing for immigrant women fleeing abuse. In the last 45 years, Gill said, he has been “very active in the community.” He also

established the Deol Agricultural Society, the Canadian Anti-Racism Society and the Rainbow Community Health Co-operative, and through these organizations, PICS was able to assist newcomers, immigrants, seniors, women, children, youth and anyone else requiring assistance. Before his retirement as CEO in 2017, Gill also initiated the PICS Diversity Village project. The project, according to PICS, will be a culturally sensitive and urgently needed complex care home for seniors meant to deliver customized services for each patient, “respecting their culture and lifestyle and giving them a home away from home.”

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Surrey Now-Leader

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Friday, November 16, 2018 C11

SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS

NOVEMBER 14, 2018

COACH

TOP HONOUR

Bryan Stretch

Volunteer wresting coach Bryan Stretch has spent more than 20 years helping kids push themselves to reach their goals and achieve things they never thought were possible. Over the years, he has coached students all the way to the national level, including several provincial championships, two B.C. high school team championships and has helped several students earn post-secondary scholarships along the way. While wrestling might not be the first sport of choice for many youth, Bryan says it’s an especially rewarding one for those who make the commitment. “In this day and age of ever-growing screen time, it is fabulous to get kids involved in a sport,” he says. “Wrestling is a tough sport, but those that choose to accept its challenge are rewarded with a strong mental fortitude and a great understanding of team work.” As a former student of Guildford Park Secondary school, where he competed in the school’s wrestling program, Bryan started out his coaching career at Fleetwood Secondary. He later transitioned back to Guildford to develop its current program, where he still volunteers today.

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At his peak, Bryan was spending more than 500 hours a season at the school – upwards of four to five days a week after school plus weekends. He has also worked to engage students at the elementary school level by hosting wrestling clinics, help to guide the younger athletes into the sport and in a positive direction. The coaching – which he has juggled with his work as a firefighter in Surrey – has been nothing short of inspiring, he says. “We coach from a goal-setting approach so it is very rewarding to have a student push themselves out of their comfort zone with their goals and then work hard to achieve them,” he says. Though he has scaled his coaching back to two days a week this year – to make way for volunteering as a wrestling official – Bryan still has the same high hopes for his athletes on the local, provincial and national stage. “If a student can dream it, we can help them achieve it.”

HONOURABLE MENTION

Chad Clifford

As someone who knows first hand the power of sport, Chad Clifford says he is honoured to be in a position to pass that power on to youth in the community. As co-founder of Surrey’s DRIVE Basketball Academy, Chad has spend the past 14 years mentoring, coaching and inspiring young athletes while creating a sense of community and instilling confidence to carry them through to adulthood. “The amazing thing about basketball and sports in general is that it helps prepare you for life,” Chad explains. “It teaches you life skills such as hard work, communication and perseverance... and it also empowers our youth. It teaches them to dream big and believe that anything is possible if you believe it, set goals and work hard to achieve those goals. Born and raised in Surrey, Chad attended White Rock Christian Academy where he helped secure a provincial basketball title in 1999, and was named team MVP. Chad went on to study human kinetics at UBC where he was a member of the university’s varsity basketball team, which had a perfect 20-0 regular season and earned the Pacific Division title. Since launching DRIVE Basketball Academy in 2004, Chad and his co-founder Pasha Bains have worked with hundreds of youth, guiding the next generation on how to pursue their passion and achieve their goals and dreams. “I believe it’s a gift to be able to work with youth

in a small way that helps shape their lives,” Chad says. “One of the things that I enjoy the most is watching young players improve their confidence and belief in themselves. Seeing the young players smile and develop is an amazing thing.” In addition to helping young players expand their skills and confidence, Chad says DRIVE has also created a family-like community among players, parents and siblings. “These connections are inspiring and we know everyone has each other’s backs, especially during those rough times,” Chad says. DRIVE Basketball Academy has now grown to four locations in Surrey, Langley, Richmond and Burnaby, and in addition to inspirational coaching also awards several scholarships each year to student athletes who show great promise on the court and in the classroom. Chad says he hopes to expand the scholarship program to help underprivileged youth reach their full potential. “Coaching and mentoring is my passion, and to be recognized for that is truly an honour and something that means a lot to me.”

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Surrey Now-Leader

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Students leave SFU

ready

to blaze their own trails. Simon Fraser University is pleased to recognize, honour and congratulate Surrey's outstanding teachers for their student-centred approach to learning and for the impact they have made on students and society. Congratulations to the 2018 winners of the Surrey Now-Leader’s Annual Community Leader Awards


Surrey Now-Leader

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Friday, November 16, 2018 C13

SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS

NOVEMBER 14, 2018

TEACHER

TOP HONOUR

Alexis Biggar Alexis Biggar has taught at Surrey’s Guildford Park Secondary school for 18 years. Her colleagues describe her as being an incredible positive influence on many of the school’s students. As a physical education teacher, Alexis was instrumental in creating a new PE program at the school called BAM (Body and Mind), aimed at students who suffer from high anxiety and have a hard time participating in traditional PE class. She teamed up with the Firefighters Charitable Society on a quest for funding for the program and was able to launch the first class four years ago. “There are a lot of kids out here that are terrified of PE, but they still need that PE 10 credit to graduate,” Alexis explains. “With BAM, we do a lot more yoga and mindful breathing, it’s not so competitive, the aggression is dialed down. It’s really a lot more fun.” The response from students who have taken the course over the past four years has been positive, she says, noting many students returned to her class voluntarily even after completing the credit they needed. Alexis also coaches the school’s volleyball team in the fall and the ultimate frisbee team in the spring, and says she enjoys the close community the teams create, often over a period of several years as the students grow and move through the grades. While she is quick to point to the students as

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her inspiration for teaching at Guildford Park for nearly two decades – their energy is one of many things that keeps her going – she notes the challenges of working at an inner-city school, where many students can easily stray down the wrong path. “Working with kids who are needy really breaks your heart,” she says, noting patience and love is one method to address certain issues, whereas sports involvement can also help steer students in the right direction. “Keeping them in sports keeps them out of trouble for as many hours as you can.” Alexis has not shied away from taking students under her wing and closely mentoring them should they need the extra guidance. Last year, one particularly high-risk student facing a multitude of difficulties was helped by Alexis; the student is now attending the University of British Columbia. Describing her work teaching and coaching at Guildford Park as both challenging and rewarding, Alexis says she wouldn’t trade it for anything. “A lot of people wonder why I teach where I am,” she says. “It’s cause these kids are different. They really have heart.”

HONOURABLE MENTION

Louay El Halabi

Described by his colleagues and students as a gifted educator, Louay El Halabi admits he did not plan on pursuing a career as a teacher. The International Baccalaureate Physics teacher, who grew up and completed post-secondary school in Lebanon, says he took a teaching job in Abu Dhabi, UAE following university as a means of supporting his family. “It was the most challenging of my teaching years as I was teaching in a language I was still learning, English, in a new country, teaching students from 50 different countries,” Louay explains. “This, however, was how I discovered I loved teaching and sharing knowledge and learning with my students.” During his five and a half years of teaching in Abu Dhabi, Louay met his future wife, who is Canadian, and immigrated to Surrey in 2005. After re-certifying as a teacher at SFU, Louay found work with the Surrey School District and a full time position as physics teacher at Semiahmoo Secondary in the IB program shortly after. As a teacher of a notoriously difficult subject, Louay says he is constantly challenged to keep his students inspired and engaged, while building their confidence and their belief in their abilities to learn. When asked what he finds inspiring about teaching, he is quick to answer it is the students themselves. “Their energy, commitment to learning and passion for science is inspiring every day,” he says. “I have a

passion for physics and I love sharing that passion with my students. They truly are our future and it is an honour for me to be a part of their journey.” In addition to teaching, Louay also coaches senior students for two provincial science competitions: Kwantlen Science Challenge and UBC Physics Olympics. Over the past decade, Louay’s teams have consistently placed in the top 10, including six firstplace finishes. Louay has also served as a board member for the British Columbia Association of Physics Teachers for the past six years and says he is proud to work among like minded educators who share a passion for teaching physics. He looks forward to bringing more opportunities for his students to participate in competitions or events around the community, as well as branching out to his junior high school counterparts to offer professional development to help “take the scary” out of physics for the younger students. Louay also points out he is part of a wonderful group of students and staff at Semiahmoo Secondary. “I am fortunate to work alongside a team of staff and administrators that foster an incredible community of learning at Semiahmoo,” he says. “This team combined with incredible students make me look good. I am indeed lucky to be apart of such a team.”

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Surrey Now-Leader

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Friday, November 16, 2018 C15

SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS

EMERGENCY SERVICES SPONSORED BY

PAPA Plumbing & Heating

NOVEMBER 14, 2018

TOP HONOUR

Kalum Iverson

During his eight years as a member of the Surrey Fire Service, Kalum Iverson has been an avid volunteer with the department. While he participates in many initiatives hosted by the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society (SFFCS), there’s one that remains closest to his heart. “Five years ago, one of the guys I worked with passed away and he suffered from PTSD,” Kalum said. “He was a guy who was my age and I looked up to him, and it hit me hard when it happened. “After that, I wanted to take an active role on the mental health side of things.” Kalum has stepped up in the years following, and he’s helped organize and fundraise for the SFFCS’s annual ‘Break the Ice’ hockey tournament. The tournament raises awareness for mental health and education in light of firefighters suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. “We’ve had such good support over the last four years at that tournament,” he said, “and

it always feels good to support such a great cause.” Kalum has dedicated hundreds of hours to other volunteer initiatives with the Surrey Fire Service. He was previously a chair member for the department’s charity golf tournament, which raises over $75,000 annually. Kalum’s coworkers at the Surrey Fire Service also say that he’s the first to sign up for many volunteering initiatives, including their nutritional snack programs, community barbecues, and more. “When it comes to being a volunteer, it seems like everyone is really happy to see you there,” Kalum said. “It makes you feel good to give a little, and it goes a long way. “A little effort can make a world of difference.”

HONOURABLE MENTION

Rubina Mudhar

While ongoing gang violence in Surrey gets headlines, it can be easy for behind-thescenes gang prevention work from people like Rubina Mudhar to go unnoticed. For the past 15 years, Rubina has been a dedicated leader, working with at-risk youth in Surrey. Through her occupation at the Surrey RCMP’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, Rubina has worked relentlessly on a number of programs aimed at keeping young people away from gangs. She also works with youth who are looking to transition out of gang life. “When I was in high school, I remember hearing about violence in the community,” Rubina said. “I wondered why so many young people were getting involved. As I got older I started to realize that nobody wakes up wanting to be a gangster. There’s usually trauma, family dysfunction, or mental health issues at play.” Rubina loves what she does. “As stressful as it is, I don’t think I could do

anything else,” she says. “People don’t understand how tough it is for people to get out of a gang. It’s a tough process.” One of her main focuses right now is to help young girls who are falling into the gang lifestyle. “Girls and gangs are becoming a bigger issue. The public doesn’t realize how often young girls are being exploited.” That’s why one of the events Rubina has worked on in the past has been an annual youth conference for girls at risk. “We put on a conference where we engage youth to become leaders,” she said. “It’s a conference for youth put on by youth, in an environment where they can be open and gain employable skills.”

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NOVEMBER 14, 2018

VOLUNTEER

TOP HONOUR

Steve Sapers

Before Steve Sapers reached retirement, he had found inspiration for one impactful way to spend his free time. “Many years ago, I discovered that there are many children in Surrey who go to school hungry,” Steve said. “When I understood the size of the problem, I knew that I wanted to volunteer at a food bank.” Steve has stayed true to his word. For the last four years, he has been a major contributor and volunteer at the Surrey Food Bank. Steve volunteers with the organization three days per week, and he’s a mainstay for two of the Food Bank’s largest initiatives. He is heavily involved with the Surrey Food Bank’s senior distribution day, and he’s a delivery driver for the ‘Hamper to your Home’ program. “I didn’t realize how different it would be to deliver food to someone’s home versus seeing them in the food bank,” he said. “I’ve delivered to people living in garages, I even delivered to someone living in a garden shed. “You don’t know how lucky you are until you

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see the situations that some of these people end up in.” But there are moments on the job that brighten his day. “I enjoy the smiles on the kids’ faces, he said, “whether I’m delivering food or seeing them at the Food Bank. It moved me to see some of the reactions when we had the bulge of Syrian refugees. They knew the brand names, they’d ask for Cheerios and Coca-Cola. “Some of them couldn’t speak English but they knew the brand names and they have these enormous smiles when they get what they want.” No matter what event the Surrey Food Bank puts on, you’re likely to find Steve there. He also passes along the spirit of the Surrey Food Bank by training new members who come to volunteer.

HONOURABLE MENTION

Jerry Gunadasa

The spirit of volunteerism was instilled in Jerry Gunadasa at a young age by his family, who encouraged him to be independent, responsible and strive to take leadership roles. “I can’t remember a time when volunteering was not a part of my life,” Jerry says. His list of volunteer experience in Surrey and beyond is a long one, and so are the accolades he has received as a result of his hard work. At 17, Jerry was nominated for the City of Surrey’s Youth Recognition Award; in 2016, the Surrey Crime Prevention Society awarded him the Community Safety Youth Mentorship and Youth Leadership Award; and that same year, he was recognized by the Surrey Board of Trade’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards. Growing up in Surrey, Jerry says it was a natural fit for him to become involved in programs and initiatives focused on safety and crime prevention. “Reports of gun violence and gang activity had made my friends, family and neighbours fearful of life in their community, and I wanted to do my part to make people feel safe by engaging in proactive community safety practices,” he explains. As a mentor in the Community Safety Youth Leadership program, Jerry helps troubled youth get on the right track, something he describes as “inspiring.”

“The youth I work with all have incredible potential, but they don’t realize it,” he says. “They have been through the system or they are used to people giving up on them, thinking they are worthless or writing them off as a bad seed. The most inspiring part of working with youth at risk is when they finally begin to realize their own potential and believe in themselves.” Having completed the Justice Institute of BC’s Law Enforcement Studies program in 2015, Jerry is now in the selection process for the RCMP where he hopes to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a police officer. In addition to his vast volunteer work – including coaching a variety of sports and helping out with charitable fundraising events, to name a few – he works for Guardteck Security Co., the VPD Tactical Training Center and the JIBC Police Academy as a civilian role player. “It’s definitely a juggling act!” he admits. He looks forward to pursuing his career with the RCMP, where he can “further serve and protect my community and mentor youth at risk.”

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SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS

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NOVEMBER 14, 2018

TOP HONOUR

Baljit & Sarbjit Singh Sabharwal After seeing heaps of styrofoam pile up after Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi celebration, brothers Baljit & Sarbjit Singh Sabharwal were inspired to reduce the event’s carbon footprint. With the Vaisakhi parade in Newton drawing about 500,000 people every year (it’s the largest Vaisakhi event in North America), the brothers noticed that millions of styrofoam products were ending up in landfills. “Our concern, when we started looking at the actual problem and seeing what’s in the garbage bags – what’s in them, almost entirely, are contaminated Styrofoam products like plates and cups and the plastic,” Baljit told the Now-Leader back in April. “That’s a concern,” he added. “That was something we really started taking to heart.” Their goal was to get businesses who participate in Vaisakhi to reduce the number of styrofoam products used during the event. “We want all the vendors to think about using different kind of materials for the food serving,” Baljit said. “We’re looking at getting away from foam. No foam, no plastic – let’s go to sugarcane.”

The brothers encouraged vendors to use ‘sugarcane bagasse’ products instead of styrofoam. Sugarcane bagasse products typically decompose in 60 days, whereas styrofoam products don’t decompose for thousands of years. Their initiative was supported by the City of Surrey and many vendors in the Vaisakhi event. The City of Surrey gave the brothers a $5,000 grant for their efforts, and many of the vendors took the brothers’ suggestions to heart. In the first year of implementing this initiative, Baljit and Sarbjit got their message through. Some of the vendors switched to sugarcane bagasse products, and it’s estimated that about 250,000 styrofoam products were swapped for sugarcane bagasse. The brothers have set a five-year goal to get the use of styrofoam products during Vaisakhi down to zero.

HONOURABLE MENTION

Paul Deol

After Paul Deol’s son had to go for surgery at Surrey Memorial Hospital in October 2016, he couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t a comforting communal area for families and children to spend time while they were stuck in the hospital. “I was sitting there in the waiting room, and I felt like it was a really depressing place to be,” Paul said. “Kids were crying in the hallways, my wife and I were crying, it was sad. We were waiting around and we just thought, this sucks.” The unenviable experience of waiting in the halls of Surrey Memorial Hospital waiting for their son to come out of surgery inspired Paul to make a difference for other families in his situation. “Our company was looking for a project to give back to the community and we thought, there’s gotta be a way to make this a happier place.” Paul and his wife were then inspired to create a children’s playground at Surrey Memorial Hospital. “We met with the hospital and they showed us this playground that wasn’t working for them,” he said. “They had a bunch of wood structures that a lot of kids weren’t able to use. Someone had an idea for a space but

what was currently in place wasn’t working.” “We wanted to do something big, so it took a long time and a lot of input to get the vision right.” After about a year and a half of planning, construction got underway for a new playground and communal area on the roof of Surrey Memorial Hospital. The playground was completed and ready to use this past July. The new communal area for children and parents is complete with revitalized outdoor courtyard space, complete with a new interactive wall, foam play cubes, basketball and hockey equipment, benches, tables, wooden sculptures, and plants. “One thing we did is develop handrails and other areas where children can complete their rehabilitation outside, instead of in the hallways of the hospital.” Paul and his coworkers at McElhanney construction also developed a kiosk, where kids can learn more about construction.

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C20 Friday, November 16, 2018

leader

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(´li:dәr) n.

1. One who motivates and inspires. 2. A person who helps others realize their potential. 3. One who is selfless. 4. Someone who makes a difference.

To the Leaders in Education and all of the nominees and recipients of the 2018 Community Leader Awards, the Surrey School District congratulates you and thanks you for your service to our community.


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Friday, November 16, 2018 C21

SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS

YOUTH VOLUNTEER SPONSORED BY

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NOVEMBER 14, 2018

TOP HONOUR

Hebah Hussaina

Even as a young girl, Hebah Hussaina always knew she wanted to give back to the community. “Surrey has really shaped who I’ve become,” Hebah said. “Ever since I was young I joined different clubs at Guildford Rec Centre and the Surrey Arts Centre that were really enjoyable.” And while some youth in Surrey volunteer as part of an organization, Hebah has found a way to combine her leadership abilities with her philanthropic goals. As founder of Youth for CARE, she has inspired and empowered students across Surrey to give back at Surrey Memorial Hospital. “When I was in grade 11, in 2015, I approached the Surrey Hospital Foundation to develop Youth for CARE,” Hebah said. “They were very receptive and we’ve been growing the program ever since.” Youth for CARE works to support Surrey Memorial Hospital and the patients there through a variety of different ways, including hospital visits, doctor talks, and fundraising events. One of the initiatives that is closest to her heart is the ‘Care Kits’ for patients that include

hygienic and artistic materials to brighten hospital stays for those in care. “As a child, I’ve gone to Surrey Memorial numerous times, so it really inspired me to give back the hospital that’s been so important in my life.” To date, Youth for CARE has engaged more than 500 students across Surrey. These students aren’t just from a couple of schools, as Hebah has connected with students from 32 high schools and five universities in the Lower Mainland. Hebah has organized more the 35 volunteer events in her time with Youth for CARE. “It’s really important to me to give back to the community that shaped me,” she said, “and I wanted to inspire others to give back as well.” She also finds time to volunteering with the Surrey Doors Open campaign and the Science World ‘Future Science Leaders program, which brings STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Mathematics) talent to Surrey.

HONOURABLE MENTION

Gurjevan Dhaliwal

Ever since he began high school, Gurjevan Dhaliwal has led by example. Currently the youth executive director for the Kids Can Play Foundation, Gurjevan’s volunteerism began when he was just 13. “Anything with volunteering, I always love doing it,” he said. In his role, Gurjevan spearheads leadership seminars and co-ordinates events for high school students, and even elementary school students, all across Surrey. His seminars are intended to help teach students leadership skills while helping them excel in all aspects of their life. “I saw some of the letters written to Kal [Dosanjh] at Kids Can Play,” Gurjevan said. “In some of the letters, kids talk about how our seminars changed their lives. I know you can’t help everybody with their problems but if you can even help one person change their life, that’s pretty powerful.” “I try just being a good role model for any other youth,” he said. “It’s hard to survive in Surrey high schools without smoking and without drinking. There’s a lot of peer pressure and

I just never let the peer pressure get to me.” Gurjevan’s volunteer efforts have also been recognized by his school, where he’s received scholarships for his excellence in sports and community service. “I saw a lot of things growing up and it inspired me to be a leader in my community.” Aside from excelling in school and dedicating thousands of hours to volunteering in the last five years, Gurjevan is also an avid Kabaddi wrestler. He combined his passion for Kabaddi and volunteering by creating a Youth Kabaddi Club. Dhaliwal helped train hundreds of boys, and they even travelled to Toronto for a Youth Kabaddi Cup in 2017 that he helped organize. “With training and volunteering it’s a lot of hard work, but I just want to give back to the community. Even with me being on a tight schedule with so many things going on, I always try to give back.”

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Friday, November 16, 2018 C23

SIXTEENTH ANNUAL COMMUNIT Y LEADER AWARDS

SERVICE ORGANIZATION VOLUNTEER SPONSORED BY

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NOVEMBER 14, 2018

TOP HONOUR

Dan & Sharon Dobin

For nearly 18 years, Dan & Sharon Dobin have been helping women on the streets of Surrey, offering love, support and above all, hope for a better life. Their work began in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, when they signed up as volunteers for the Agape Street Ministry. Following screening and training, the couple went out for their first night on the streets, and according to Sharon, they instantly realized it was their calling. “We just looked at each other and knew,” Sharon recalls. “It was so natural, we knew then and there it was a real fit for us.” The couple shifted their efforts to Surrey, where they began their outreach work on the infamous 135A Street. Sharon recalls that it took some time before the women - many of whom were sex-trade workers - began to trust them. “There were a lot of women working in that area, and they didn’t know who we were, they thought maybe we were police officers,” she explains. “Then this one night, this girl turned around and gave me a hug.” The couple, along with their trusted and trained volunteers, hand out little gift bags of candy. In the bag is a card with an inspirational message and resource numbers, including that of a recovery home in Kitsilano that the Dobins help run. “We’re not there to preach,” Sharon explains. “It’s really about meeting these women and connecting with

them. Letting them know not to give up, that there’s always hope.” Sharon admits there has been a shift in Surrey over the past few years, as the tent cities are cleaned up and replaced with portable housing. It has challenged the group to find a new way to connect with the women, she says. One of the group’s biggest goals is to be able to help create a recovery centre for women and their children, as keeping the family together can help break the cycle of pain and trauma, which often leads to addiction and mental health issues. Sharon says the biggest message she would share with the general public is that the women they work with can be helped, and a little understanding and compassion can go a long way. “Addiction, alcoholism, homelessness underneath all that is usually a broken little girl who has a story,” she explains. “These women have gone through it all. People don’t like to hear that, but that’s why they’re there.” She hopes people will visit the ministry website - www. agapestreetministry.org - and be inspired to donate or volunteer some time. “There is so much that can be done to help.”

HONOURABLE MENTION

Team Keian - Ryan & Chantal Blundell Following the loss of their six-year-old son to cancer, the Blundell family created Team Keian to honour their son’s kindness, bravery and unwavering spirit. Keian lost his battle with cancer in January 2014, after being diagnosed 18 months prior. Keian’s father, Ryan, recalls the outpouring of support their family received during those difficult months, and how it helped to ease the uncertainty and financial stress during an already stressful time. “That’s exactly what families going through this need – not having to worry about paying rent or their mortgage, or how they’re going to get money for groceries,” Ryan and mom Chantal explain. “We were always so appreciative of that help we received, that allowed us to be together as a family.” During Keian’s time in treatment, the youngster came up with the idea to hold a small toy drive for the children who were in hospital over the holidays. A few dozen toys were collected, and Keian himself delivered them – Santa hat and all – to the kids in the oncology ward at Christmas. “He just wanted to make sure that everyone had something,” Ryan recalls. Since Keian’s passing, the family has carried on they toy drive, collecting nearly 10,000 toys over the past several years. Local RCMP detachments and fire departments, and the Semo Foundation have since come on board Team Keian, and Ryan

says the group hopes to surpass the 10,000-toy mark this year. The toys aren’t all distributed at Christmas, Ryan notes, as some are kept on hand to be handed out at other times throughout the year, when patients are going through particularly rough patches, or just having a bad day. In addition to the toy drive, Team Keian hosts an annual bottle drive, with every dollar raised donated directly to families facing the same tough fight the Blundells experienced. On average, the drives raise around $1,200; this year’s drive is set for Nov. 17 at the Great Canadian Superstore in Langley, where the team will be on hand collecting empty pop, water and alcohol bottles and cans. The family, friends and partners in Team Keian plan to carry on his legacy as long as possible, and Ryan says that while plans may be in the works to create a registered charity, the family insists on maintaining the heart Keian’s wishes, to help those in their time of need. “Everything that we get, we give back to the families, and we want to make sure that we will continue to have that same impact,” he explains. “As long as I can do it, I’m going to keep doing it.”

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