2013 Mayor’s Award recipients

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Gavin R Armstrong

Mayors Farbridge presenting award to Gavin ArmstrongGavin Armstrong is renowned for fighting hunger and poverty.

Engaged in the city and university community for more than six years, Gavin served the University of Guelph on the Board and Senate. During his time, he participated in “Trick or Eat” every year. Gavin recently served two terms as the Student co-chair for the University’s United Way Campaign, where he increased student contributions to the Campaign more than three-fold in two years. He also started the Guelph Chapter of Net Impact linking students and businesses in the community. He has also been involved with the World Food Program to promote hunger awareness and action.

Gavin is responsible for making the University of Guelph the first university in Canada to join the Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) organization. Within a year, he offered to host the 6th Annual Summit for UFWH which attracted more than 400 delegates and 40 speakers from all levels of government, non-governmental organizations, academia and members of the community. He worked tirelessly to raise more than $130,000 to support the Summit.

In 2011, Gavin organized a community event where 700 volunteers packed 159,840 emergency meals for Haiti, setting a world record. A year later, the event was repeated and more than 2,000 volunteers turned up and packed more than 350,000 meals.

Gavin’s efforts have been recognized internationally. He was the first Canadian to receive the William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Award in 2011 and was noted as a “Top 40 Under 40” in our local community. He was also an inaugural recipient of the Michäelle Jean Award for Emergency Hunger Relief in 2012.

Gavin has served two years on the Executive of Guelph Pride and contributed to fundraising efforts for Pride events. His outstanding contributions have brought honour and distinction to Guelph.


Emilie and Olivia Renaud

Emilie and Olivia Renaud accepting Mayors Award from Mayor FarbridgeHow many young people want to forego their birthday parties and instead create an event to raise awareness and funds for a worthy cause? Emilie, 16, and Olivia, 10, host the “Skate and Donate” event as a way to celebrate their birthdays.

When they heard about the Bracelet of Hope Campaign, which fights against HIV and AIDS in Lesotho, Emilie and Olivia asked their parents how they could help the campaign. The sisters then established this fundraising and community-building event with their parents, Lynn Harrison and Luc Renaud, to bring together extended family, friends, neighbours and their school community to celebrate the experience and joy of giving to the Bracelet of Hope campaign and local charities. The event has now been in place for eight years.

Each spring, Emilie, Olivia and their parents book and pay for a City arena and invite many friends, family and neighbours to enjoy an afternoon of skating with games, prizes and birthday cake. For eight years, they have raised more than $10,000 as a contribution to the bracelet of Hope Campaign. Over the years, they developed additional awareness and fundraising initiatives including a coin drive to encourage young people to participate. There is also a draw at the skating event to select a local charity for a $500 donation on an annual basis.

This year’s event was special as it was Emilie’s 16th birthday and her family surprised her with a movie event at the Bookshelf which took place prior to the skating event at Exhibition Arena.

Emilie and Olivia are making a difference locally and internationally with the Bracelet of Hope Campaign and helping local charities. They are truly an outstanding example of young people in the community.


Tina Brophey

Tina Brophey accepting the Mayors Award from Mayor FarbridgeTina Brophey is a tireless advocate for people living in poverty and is dedicated to finding community-based solutions that assist them.

She has brought the voice of marginalized people into the mainstream. Her leadership role in a photovoice project in 2011/2012 is a clear testimony of her ability to help those who are not seen or heard. Led by the University of Guelph, the photovoice project was an impactful way to demonstrate engagement of all the neighbourhoods that make up the City of Guelph. This project launched the Community Wellbeing Initiative.

Tina has played a critical role in changing the nature of the conversation about poverty and learning to understand it. Her passion is for helping the community understand the different faces of poverty that exist. Not only has she raised awareness about poverty, she has supported people struggling to make ends meet.

Tina has lived these struggles of poverty for much of her life. She encourages personal resilience and has inspired politicians, executive directors, front-line workers, community members, academics and many others.

A well respected and knowledgeable community member, Tina has been a member of the Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination, Coordinating Committee at the Shelldale Centre and Community Voices. She is a valued volunteer at Onward Willow and the Fresh Start Resource Centre.

In her nearly 15 years as a member of the community, Tina’s passion for social justice and community development has had a positive impact on those experiencing poverty, and on her neighbourhood and the city in general. Her unique capacity to build connections between the marginalized and the powerful is admirable.


Celeste Donkersgoed

Celeste Donkersgoed accepting Mayor's Award from Mayor FarbridgeIn her 11 years as a volunteer in Guelph, Celeste Donkersgoed has been involved in helping many local groups. Described as the most generous, gracious, and dedicated individual, she has touched the lives of children, young people and seniors in the community through her work with more than 20 community organizations.

Her volunteer activities include helping with the Special Olympics, Family and Children’s Services, Michael House, and tree planting for the Rotary Forest. Celeste always finds ways to inspire and include her family and friends in community volunteer activities. As a club leader for the Pioneers Club, Celeste focuses on skill development, healthy living, community living and faith based values. The club welcomes boys and girls between the ages of two and 12 run by the Salvation Army Church but open to all community children. Also, Celeste oversees the VeggieTales family fun event for the Guelph community which features values-based entertainment.

At work, Celeste is actively involved with The Co-operators Volunteers in Action group. The Co-operators has a rich history of giving back to communities-from soup kitchens to car seat safety clinics, to volunteering for The Salvation Army kettle drives to supporting the Hospice Wellington Gala.

A dedicated member of The Salvation Army Church, Celeste is an active member in the Children’s and Youth Ministries, musical groups and Sunday morning worship services. Celeste also volunteers as a Sunday school teacher for children in grades 5 and 6. Her class is often found in deep conversation.

During this year’s March break, Celeste was part of a team that co-ordinated the Vacation Bible School. For the past three years, she has led boys and girls in songs, verses and drama presentations. An exceptional musician, church pianist, and incredible vocal soloist, Celeste uses these gifts to serve her community.