Jo-Anne Marks and Jay Parsons
For ten years, Jo-Anne Marks and Jay Parsons have offered a karate program that is open to anyone in the community at no charge. In addition to being a place to learn karate skills, Jo-Anne and Jay’s karate dojo is a place for participants to develop self-discipline and self-esteem, improve language skills, and even get homework help.
After seeing the need for an organized sport that would be accessible to everyone, regardless of financial resources, Jo-Anne and Jay established their karate dojo at Shelldale School in 1997. Since then, they have welcomed hundreds of participants ranging in age from three to 72, from elite athletes to people living with a variety of physical or mental challenges. There is also a homework club staffed by adult volunteers. For the many students who are new Canadians, the dojo is also a place to learn and practice English, and the rich multicultural mixture of the club helps break down negative stereotypes.
Ten students have been awarded black belts, with three of these receiving their second degree black belt and one achieving third degree.
Jo-Anne and Jay continue to offer the program at no charge, and make it accessible to anyone who is interested in participating. Funds needed for uniforms, belts and fees for black belt grading are raised through train-a-thons and other fundraisers.
With seemingly boundless energy, Jo-Anne and Jay have run the dojo while pursuing graduate degrees and raising their daughter. They generously give their time, talent, and teaching to the community, and are an inspiration to all.
If you have been involved in track and field in Guelph, chances are you know and admire Peter Manning. Peter has been coaching locally for 36 years, inspiring generations of athletes to rise to personal excellence both on and off the track.
Peter’s coaching has earned him a national and international reputation, yet he has always remained committed to the community of Guelph. He has been a member of the Canadian national team coaching staff since 1974, was the Canadian Olympic coach for relay and hurdles in the 1984, 1988, and 1992 Games, and was the head coach of the national team in 1990. He has helped many local athletes advance to compete at the national level, at the Olympics, and at the Pan American games.
With all his coaching commitments at the national level, Peter has still given his time and expertise to local track athletes. Over the years, he has coached approximately 600 area athletes ranging in age from 13 to 50 plus, starting with a Royal Canadian Legion program, followed by a program supported by the Kinsman Club, and then at the Guelph Oaks Track Club, which he established.
Today, he is still a familiar face at the local track, as he continues to devote many hours of his time to coaching local athletes at the Guelph Track and Field Club.
Peter has helped hundreds of local young people strive for excellence – and showed them that they can achieve more than they thought possible. His commitment to our young athletes makes our community a better place.
Robin-Lee Norris is involved in so many community causes and organizations, it’s almost like having a whole army of volunteers in one person. She brings her considerable talent and energy to causes that span all aspects of community life – business, educational, social, cultural and athletic.
Robin-Lee has become a leader in the business community as a senior partner at Miller Thomson LLP. She has also become a leading community volunteer through her membership on numerous local boards and committees. These include the Volunteer Centre of Guelph/Wellington; Big Sisters Association; Edward Johnson Music Foundation; Saultos Gymnastics Club; Junior Achievement; Downtown Board of Management; the River Run Centre (including chairing the fundraising drive for its construction); Guelph Curling Club; Guelph Services for the Physically Disabled; Rotary Club of Guelph (she was the first woman to be admitted in 1989); Guelph General Hospital Foundation; Guelph Non-Profit Housing Corporation; Guelph Chamber of Commerce; Elderhostel Canada; and the University of Guelph Board of Governors. She also chaired the Dialysis Fundraising Campaign in 1998 and the United Way campaign in 1987.
In addition to this dizzying array of volunteer commitments, Robin-Lee is an involved alumna of the University of Guelph. She has been a member of the Board of Governors since 2000, served two terms as first vice-president of the U of G Alumni Association, chaired the Arboretum Master Plan Steering Committee in 2004, and actively supported the university’s capital fundraising campaign in 2002.
Robin-Lee is an outstanding ambassador for Guelph wherever she goes. She is an amazing role model for all citizens and sets a stellar example of what hard work and dedication can accomplish. We are grateful for her tremendous service to the community.
Vicki Gojanovich helps thousands of local kids start the day off right. As the coordinator of Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute’s breakfast club, Vicki gets up bright and early to help serve breakfast to up to 40 children daily.
The club runs from 7 to 8:30 a.m. at St. James Anglican Church. But Vicki is there much earlier, making sure that a good breakfast is ready for the children. When the children and volunteers arrive, they are greeted by Vicki’s bright smile and warm welcome.
In addition to her work in the mornings, Vicki gives many hours of her time to coordinate the scores of volunteers who are needed to run the program.
Vicki is also a member of the board of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Food and Friends, which is hosted by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. Food and Friends supports snack, breakfast and lunch programs at 46 sites, including the GCVI club at St. James. In all, Food and Friends-supported volunteers serve about 1.2 million meals to more than 8,500 school-age children in a year. And Vicki’s efforts are an important part of making it all happen.
For many students, the breakfast club provides a safe and enjoyable place to eat, socialize, and catch up on homework. And for some at-risk students, it provides a significant portion of what they will eat that day. The club helps ensure that every child goes to school nourished and ready to learn.
When speaking of Vicki, the words “unsung hero” come to mind. For the many children she serves, Vicki is a hero indeed.