Mayor Guthrie recognizes five community champions

Guelph, ON, June 23, 2016 – Tonight, Mayor Cam Guthrie will present Mayor’s Awards to five outstanding local volunteers at the Guelph Chamber of Commerce’s annual Awards of Excellence gala.

This year’s honourees are D. Trevor Barton, a founder of the Guelph Enabling Garden; Chris Cigolea, Artistic Director and Conductor of Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra and Guelph Concert Band;  Denise Francis, Guelph Black Heritage Society volunteer; Peter Gill, Board Chair and volunteer at Chalmers Community Services Centre; and Sgt. Douglas Pflug, a coach of the local Special Olympics floor hockey team who has also been a mentor and coach for Guelph Gryphons football and the Guelph Storm hockey club.

I am thrilled to have the chance to shine a spotlight on these community champions,” said Mayor Guthrie. “They are helping to make Guelph an even better place to live – and they exemplify Guelph’s motto of ‘making a difference.'”

Guelph’s Mayor has presented Mayor’s Awards each year since 1997. The awards are presented at the Awards of Excellence gala, Guelph’s premier appreciation event where the community’s exceptional individuals and businesses are celebrated.

More information about the award  can be found at guelph.ca/mayorsawards.

A description of each honouree’s achievement is below.

D. Trevor Barton

D. Trevor Barton is the driving force behind one of our city’s great gems – the Guelph Enabling Garden.

In 1999, Trevor first conceived of an accessible garden designed for everyone: children, the elderly, families, and especially for those with varying degrees of physical and cognitive abilities. His vision was for everyone to be able to experience the joy of gardening. He gathered a team, developed a plan that was unanimously approved by Council, and the garden was constructed at Riverside Park.

Today, the Enabling Garden welcomes more than 10,000 visitors a year, with over 50 groups registered for its services. The Garden hosts the Guelph Storyteller’s Guild, the Master Gardeners, and an on-staff horticultural therapist who provides free programming to members. With its sensory gardens, accessible raised garden beds, and brick path, the Enabling Garden is a thriving and inclusive space where people of all abilities can connect with their community, learn new skills, and ultimately grow something truly unique.

Trevor continues to work tirelessly to ensure the Garden’s continued success: fostering relationships, working with volunteers and staff, developing programming, seeking out grants, and fundraising – not to mention planting and weeding!

Many people in Guelph credit the Enabling Garden for helping improve their physical, emotional, cognitive, or mental health. It is a place where everyone is welcome, and everyone belongs. In the words of his nominator, “Without Trevor, this garden would not exist. He is the soil in the garden metaphor – the foundation for successful growth.”

Chris Cigolea

Chris Cigolea is well-known to local music fans and budding musicians, as a Principal in the Guelph Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director and Conductor of Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra and Guelph Concert Band, trumpet instructor at the University of Guelph, and music director at St. John’s Kilmarnock High School.

Under Chris’s inspired leadership, the Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra has become a thriving cultural force in our community and a place where Guelph’s most talented young musicians can flourish and develop their skills. The orchestra performs concerts at venues throughout the city, including an annual side-by-side concert with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra at the River Run Centre. They even performed in a surprise Christmas-themed flash mob at Stone Road Mall (when Chris was nearly apprehended by mall security, until the concert was allowed to proceed!)

As conductor of the Guelph Concert Band, Chris leads a diverse group of musicians ranging from high school students to seniors, who all play music in their spare time yet come together to achieve the sound of a professional ensemble. The band plays annually at Guelph’s Remembrance Day ceremony, as well as at many other events and concerts throughout the year.

Originally from Romania, Chris moved to Canada with his family at the age of 23. Our community is made so much richer by Chris’s inspired musicianship, his passion for music, and his love of teaching the next generation.

Denise Francis

Denise Francis serves as the volunteer Secretary-Treasurer of the Guelph Black Heritage Society Board and helps lead its Black History Month planning committee. Her nominator describes her as the cornerstone and driving force behind the Black Heritage Society, saying, “Denise’s efforts can be felt in just about every aspect of our organization’s activities.”

Denise is the perfect example of someone who sees a need and rushes to fill it, without a lot of fanfare. She is a dedicated volunteer who wears many hats for the Society – running errands for events, filling out paperwork, designing and producing print materials, organizing meetings, cooking, cleaning, sorting, and even one on occasion scrubbing out an old industrial-scale popcorn machine! She is the first person to arrive and the last to go home from events, and, her nominator says, “when the rest of us wake up the next morning, this administrative virtuoso has already drafted a full debriefing report, complete with a cost-benefit analysis, sent directly to our inboxes.”

The Guelph Black Heritage Society is creating a cultural, historical and social centre within Guelph and Wellington County by restoring and maintaining Heritage Hall and offering community programming that includes music, dance, lectures, and documentary screenings. Denise is passionate about the Black community and its history and is dedicated to inclusiveness, unity, and the common bonds between all peoples. She is an exemplary volunteer who is one of the reasons the Black Heritage Society is able to achieve so much without any paid staff. Her nominator says, “I can’t imagine Guelph Black Heritage Society without her spirit.”

Peter Gill

Peter Gill is described as an indispensable part of the Chalmers Community Services Centre, a not-for-profit organization that provides emergency food, clothing and support to people in need in our community.

As Chair of the Board, Peter has developed community partnerships, secured funding, and served as a champion of the Centre throughout the community. He is also a dedicated volunteer who has assisted guests in the clothing room every Friday morning for the past eight years. He knows most of the guests by name and is always willing to lend a listening ear to those who wish to share their stories. In the words of his nominator, “On a Friday morning, there is a real community feel to what happens here at CCSC. A lot of that is due to Peter’s presence, openness and genuine interest in those who come here and what they have to say.”

Peter is also an innovator. Recently, he facilitated a major move for the Chalmers Centre from rented downtown space to a co-owned community space, a move that will provide for improved security and expanded programs and services.  Peter also helped to initiate the opening of Guelph’s first micro-finance program in 2015, creating opportunities for low-income community members to seek out access to small loans.

The relationship- and community-building Peter does every Friday morning informs his board work, ensuring that CCSC is a grounded organization that meets the needs of the community and the people who live here. The Chalmers Community Services Centre is a tremendous success story in Guelph, and Peter is a big reason why.

Sgt. Douglas Pflug

Sergeant Doug Pflug is a 26-year member of the Guelph Police Service who, outside the uniform, has given thousands of volunteer hours to a long list of local organizations.

Over the past 14 years, Doug has served as a coach for the Guelph Buns Master Rollers Special Olympics Floor Hockey team, which capped off its tremendous record by winning the National Championship this winter. Working with the athletes weekly, Doug is a mentor, motivator, and lifelong friend to the team.

Through the Guelph Police Service, Doug has been a leader and champion for many community initiatives and organizations – including Guelph Wellington Crime Stoppers; the Special Olympics Torch Run; and the Police Service’s #nomorebullies campaign. For many years he organized the Cst. Jay Pirie Memorial Hockey Game, where the Guelph Police “No Stars” took on the Guelph Storm to raise funds for Guelph and Wellington Special Olympics.

Doug also served as the community outreach coordinator for the Ontario University Athletics champion Guelph Gryphons football team this past season. He is currently a mentor for eight players who wish to pursue a career in policing, and is leading the football program’s youth outreach and mentoring initiative.

For more than 17 years, Doug was the strength and conditioning coordinator for the Guelph Storm, and served as a mentor for many young hockey players who called Guelph home. He is also the strength coach for the University of West Virginia Men’s Hockey program, part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

Sgt. Pflug has dedicated countless hours and touched thousands of lives in our community. He exemplifies the Guelph Police Service credo of “Pride, Service, Trust.”

For more information

Kate Sullivan
Mayor’s Office
519-822-1260 extension 2558
kate.sullivan@guelph.ca