Nine local citizens and four community groups were given the Community Awards by the District of West Vancouver recently.
The awards recognize the efforts and commitments made by individual volunteers and groups to build a stronger community and enhance quality of life.
The annual Community Awards ceremony honours dedicated community members in the five categories: Arts and Culture, Community Commitment; Environment; Heritage; and Health, Wellness and Activity and COVID-19 Pandemic response.
Beverley Sharpe (Community Commitment)
Beverley is being recognized for her outstanding contribution and tireless volunteer efforts to West Vancouver.
Beverley has gifted countless acts of service towards community members and organizations in need of support such as the BCSPCA, Families of Early Autism Treatment of B.C., Quest, and many others.
As an invincible team, Beverley and her daughter Allison who was diagnosed with autism at age two, have devoted their lives to autism research and creating accessible treatment options.
Beverley organically built a community, providing resources, pathways and opportunities for others living with autism.
In 2020, Beverley and Allison have each invested 500 volunteer hours at Quest, a not-for-profit food exchange on the North Shore.
Beverley has also volunteered with the West Vancouver BCSPCA since 2016, winning the Foster Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Beverley and Allison started a community project e-mailing over 60 neighbours offering services such as grocery or medication delivery, walking dogs, caring for cats, and offering their vehicles for drop off and pick up.
Beverley’s kindness, generosity and impact in the West Vancouver community make her a deserving recipient of a Community award in the Community Commitment category.
“I am honoured, very humbled, and I realised I couldn’t accept it without thanking the people I work with at SPCA and Quest Food exchange in North Vancouver,” Beverley said.
Felicia Zhu (Arts & Culture)
Felicia Zhu is being recognized for her exceptional contributions to the literary arts and to initiatives for cultural diversity.
Felicia has served six years in the West Vancouver Memorial Library Board and the Library’s Foundation performing several duties including chairing the Advocacy Committee.
Her work with encouraging newcomers to Canada to volunteer and serve on boards has allowed the Chinese-Canadian community to better integrate and simultaneously enrich West Vancouver.
Felicia has been an incredible resource to the West Vancouver Library by securing grants and fundraising for much-needed equipment and programs.
Active in other groups in West Vancouver such as the 4921 Reading Room programming, West Vancouver Scouts Committee and Ridgeview Elementary District Parent Advisory Committee, Felicia’s refreshing voice and new perspective is well-deserving of an Arts & Culture Community Award.
“I am very happy to be recognised by the District of West Vancouver. I hope more immigrants and those new to Canada could work in the community and inspire others with their work,” Felicia said.
Jennifer Webb (Arts & Culture)
Jennifer Webb is being recognized for her exceptional contributions to the arts and her drive for cultural vitality.
Jennifer Webb is a long-standing West Vancouver resident and supporter of the arts.
She has dedicated hundreds of hours over the past fifteen years to improving arts delivery in the community.
As a public relations and communications professional, Jennifer has shared her expertise on many committees including the former West Vancouver Museum Advisory Committee; the Arts Ambleside Committee; and as Co-Chair of the Arts Facility Advisory Committee.
As a member of the West Vancouver Museum Advisory Committee, Jennifer supported the Art Museum by being involved in the direction of the museum’s programming, helping redefine the museum’s mission statement, opening her home to the West Coast Modern Home Tour, and generously hosting fundraising and volunteer appreciation events.
Jennifer has played a leading role in navigating the vital initiative to build a purpose-built Arts Centre to house community arts programming in West Vancouver.
Jennifer’s dedication, generosity, professionalism and belief that West Vancouver can reach the highest standards in the Arts makes her a deserving recipient of an Arts & Culture Community award.
“We live in an amazing community, and I am inspired every day by the passion, dedication, and high level of service our citizens and their representatives offer. My sincere thanks to the awards selection committee, to Mayor Booth and Council, and to the extraordinary volunteers who received awards in all of the other categories. Such an amazing group of people doing such wonderful things for our community,” Jennifer said.
Cynthia Garton (Community Commitment)
Cynthia Garton is being recognized for her outstanding leadership, volunteerism and dedication to the community.
Cynthia has demonstrated her generous commitment by serving as Vice-Chair on both the West Vancouver Memorial Library Board and the Library Foundation.
Her fundraising work with corporate sponsors secured tens of thousands of dollars in funding for the library and has been a profound contribution to the West Vancouver community.
Cynthia secured substantial donations for large print books, served on the planning committee for many successful Foundation author fundraiser events, and she has been an active liaison by connecting the library to other West Vancouver community groups.
Cynthia has a distinguished career in education and has also volunteered as an educational consultant to the James Cameron School, Board of Directors for 12 years. She spent two years on the provincial board of the Federation of Independent Schools Association of BC.
Cynthia truly embodies the definition of Community Commitment.
“I have volunteered with the West Vancouver Memorial Library Boards over a number of years, and it is an absolute pleasure to support such a key community resource. The Library offers a vast array of educational, musical and cultural experiences and provides exceptional service to our community. This year, particularly, the Library has been instrumental in providing significant human connection and social well-being through innovative virtual programs and community outreach,” Cynthia said.
Tooka Shahriari (Community Commitment)
Tooka is being recognized for her outstanding, volunteerism through community commitment and active citizenship.
Tooka began volunteering for the 3rd West Vancouver Scout Group in 2012 when her son joined the Beaver program and immediately became a critical member of the leadership team.
She executed innovative program ideas with talent and enthusiasm that was infectious to the rest of the group.
Her ingenuity and effort to add new programs and activities resulted in a significant enrollment increase in the Beaver program.
Tooka’s success earned her an appointment as Group Commissioner for the Scouts Group, responsible for all the Scouting Programming.
Since then, membership has increased 90% from previous years and is above average for Scout groups across Canada.
Tooka has introduced several group-wide initiatives such as professional day programs and summer camping trips that have enriched youth’s lives.
Tooka’s creative, hardworking and kind leadership makes her a deserving recipient of a Community Commitment Award.
“I got into volunteering as a parent and within a year, I became a leader and a group commissioner. Volunteering has become such a beautiful part of my life, and I can’t imagine not volunteering,” Shahriari said.
May Loudon (Community Commitment)
May is being recognized for her exceptional contribution, tireless effort and active citizenship.
May has been a committed and dedicated volunteer in West Vancouver since the early 1960s in various groups such as Guiding Movement, Nature House at Lighthouse Park, the Gleneagles Scottish Country Dance Club and West Vancouver Presbyterian Church.
May has been involved in numerous leadership roles in the West Vancouver Presbyterian Church since 1953.
She has volunteered with the Brownies and Guides and, while working with the Flower Guild, shared her artistic talent by creating incredible Thanksgiving displays that decorate the Church.
For the last six years, May headed the West Vancouver Presbyterian Church’s Knit and Natter group that met each Monday to knit items that were donated to local shelters and prayer shawls for sick and vulnerable members of the congregation.
Most recently, May and other members of the church saw the need to connect the community during the isolating times at the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
She became a member of the Communications Team and received a grant from the West Vancouver Foundation to send cards to friends, neighbours, and members of the congregation.
May was able to hand paint 100 cards with encouraging messages to the community.
May’s deep love for West Vancouver and its people is an inspiration and a true example of active citizenship for anyone to strive for.
“I want to thanks the West Vancouver Mayor and council for honouring me with a community award.”
Coralynn Gehl (Health, Wellness & Activity and COVID-19 Pandemic Response)
Coralynn Gehl is being recognized for her active citizenship and outstanding dedication to promoting active lifestyles in the community.
Coralynn founded a Facebook Group called the Caulfeild Athletic Club in 2014, since then the group has attained 188 members who participate in weekly hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, walking and other outdoor activities.
Her aim is to bring people together while supporting active lifestyles.
The Facebook group has taken on a life of its own and Coralynn encourages members to use this platform to organize their own planned activities and groups.
She has created an avenue for people to share equipment, safety information, and knowledge while promoting well-being and stewardship of our environment.
As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Athletic Club was put on pause, however, a need for information and support through the community was evident.
Coralynn took the initiative to create another Facebook Group called the West Vancouver Covid-19 Information group.
Due to its popularity and expansion, the name was soon changed to the North Shore Covid-19 Information group.
This new platform now serves over 6,000 individuals and allows them to share local COVID-19 updates, exposure notices and has evolved to promote local business support.
Most recently the North Shore Covid-19 Information group now offers a method to share local vaccine opportunities.
Coralynn has created a space for people to dialogue with kindness and respect and has created a sense of community when it was most needed.
“Since my family moved here eight years ago we have been so impressed by how warm and welcoming this community is. I am really happy to have found ways to contribute to this sense of community that I love so much,” Coralynn said.
Don Harrison (Environment)
Don Harrison is being recognized for his volunteer contribution to environmental stewardship, protection and education.
Don joined the West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society eleven years ago.
During this time he received a Master of Arts Degree in Environmental Management and worked as a civil and environmental consulting engineer in the Greater Vancouver Area.
Don was appointed Team Leader for the Annual Streamkeeper Work Plan for four years.
Don has been part of countless Streamkeeper activities including educational programs for students from elementary to secondary levels.
His thoughtful and easy way of sharing information with others, no matter what age, is truly a gift.
Don has volunteered with the District of West Vancouver in many capacities outside of environmental conservation.
We are grateful for people like Don, who volunteer their time, skills and talent to nurture and maintain our treasured natural surroundings.
Don Grant (Heritage)
Don is being nominated for his contribution to West Vancouver’s cultural heritage through preservation and education.
Don was a lifetime resident of West Vancouver who passed away suddenly in February 2021 leaving his unforgettable legacy for future generations to continue.
Don Grant led the charge to preserve and promote the rich Heritage of West Vancouver’s mountain community by restoring the Hollyburn Ski Lodge. His legacy also includes collecting, assembling, cataloguing and sharing the history of Vancouver’s North Shore mountains.
During his tireless efforts of over 20 years, Don created the Hollyburn Heritage Society website, which he used as a tool to preserve documents and pictures for future generations. He obtained and scanned over 5,000 photos and collected stories from community elders.
These achievements are only a portion of Don’s contribution to West Vancouver and we will forever cherish his generous dedication, work and invaluable role in the community.
Enhance West Van Board (Health, Wellness & Activity and COVID-19 Pandemic Response)
Enhance West Van Board is being recognized for their exceptional dedication to enhancing the well-being of the community.
In April 2020, Enhance West Van Board started The Youth and Family Food Security program as an initiative to meet the dire need for food security during the pandemic.
Enhance West Van quickly recognized that the economic effects of COVID-19 posed a serious threat to food security to the community and immediately put forth a plan to support this issue by providing grocery gift cards to those in need.
Through grants, fundraising campaigns, corporate and donor gifts, Enhance West Van raised over $30,000 in 2020 to support the Youth and Family Food Security program.
An astounding 227 individual youth and their families have received support through this essential program.
The Enhance West Van Board’s contributions of supporting the community’s well-being have earned them a Health, Wellness & Activity and Covid-19 Pandemic response award.
West Vancouver Seniors’ Activity Centre Fundraising Committee (Health, Wellness & Activity and COVID-19 Pandemic Response)
The West Vancouver Seniors’ Activity Centre Fundraising Committee is being recognized for its “Feed the Need” program and its outstanding dedication to the well-being of the community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recognizing the potential risk to the senior community during the pandemic, the West Vancouver Seniors’ Activity Centre team sprang into action establishing a Seniors’ Help Line at the very outset of the pandemic. They made phone calls to more than 350 individuals to assess which issues were of major concern.
It was quickly identified that food security was a prominent issue in this community.
The committee focused its efforts on fundraising and raising awareness about food security, loneliness, isolation, and other health risks in the senior population.
Once the needs were identified, efforts such as food delivery, handwritten letters, care packages and other supplies were quickly mobilized.
As the pandemic progressed, it became apparent that food security issues faced by the vulnerable population were not strictly related to the pandemic and were in fact part of an increasing demographic of “invisible poverty” on the North Shore.
The “Feed the Need” program launched an ongoing fundraising campaign that aims to raise over $200,000 annually to provide the over 250 vulnerable seniors with three nutritious meals per week for all of 2021.
Navvy Jack House Citizens Group (Heritage)
The Navvy Jack House Citizens Group is being recognized for their significant contribution to the preservation of West Vancouver’s cultural heritage through conservation and advocacy.
The Navvy Jack Citizens Group prevented the demolition of a structure that represents the initial history of West Vancouver and, working closely with District staff, helped launch a drive to continue its historical use.
New research confirming that the house will be 150 years old in 2022 makes Navvy Jack House the oldest continually occupied building in West Vancouver.
The Navvy Jack House Citizen’s Group helped define a vision to create a self-supporting, inviting waterfront destination that highlights the community’s cultural and built heritage.
The Navvy Jack House Citizen Group is an outstanding example of volunteers coming together to address a significant need using constructive means.
“I am very honoured to receive, with the others in the Navvy Jack Citizens Group, this Community Award. More importantly, we are proud to play a role in finding a solution, with Council and staff, to save this house as a heritage feature. As the oldest building in West Vancouver and one of the oldest buildings in BC, it is deserving of the work we have done to try to save it. So far it looks like we may have a very positive ending but the work isn’t finished yet,” said Paul Hundal, a member of the group.
West Coast Modern League (Heritage)
The West Coast Modern League is being recognized for their contribution to the preservation of West Vancouver’s architectural heritage.
As an independent, volunteer-based, non-profit society, the West Coast Modern League is dedicated to advancing the understanding and appreciation of West Coast modern architecture with a special focus in West Vancouver and the North Shore.
The West Coast Modern style is a distinct signature style of the area from the 1950s to 1980s that led to the transformation of design culture in Canada and is an important part of West Vancouver’s heritage.
Due to the desire for new and larger dwellings, many of these homes are being destroyed and their design legacy, lost.
Through the West Coast Modern League’s advocacy, they have increased awareness and educated the community on preserving these buildings.
The important work that the West Coast Modern League has done will protect West Coast architecture for generations and serve as an example of successful heritage advocacy.
(The profiles have been sourced from the district website.)