Six community leaders recognized at awards ceremony. Wendy Hager named citizen of the year.

From the left: Michelle Bennett Environment, Sam Kawazoye Community Service, Trevor Copp Arts , Mayor Goldring, Wendy Hager, Citizen of the Year, Dan Taylor Junior Citizen and Jim Frizzle, Senior of the year.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 11, 2012  One award recipient saw the letter from city hall and thought it was a bill – so she didn’t open it.  Another had a voice that was made for the world of broadcasting.  Ellen Wilkes Irmisch,  speaking about the Arts Person of the Year Award given in her parents name, had the funniest line when she recalled for the audience the comment her mother used to make as she went out for an evening with a friend: “ make sure your hot date doesn’t become your due date.”  It had nothing to do with the award she was giving but it gave one an insight as to the kind of Mom she had.

Michelle Bennett’s acceptance speech:  This award deserves to be shared.  People who volunteer require the support of all the guests who are here tonight or in my case parents that stayed home to watch our kids.  Without the family and friendship networks  that help cover our at home and work  responsibilities, we’d be so hard pressed to join organizations and committees and support the good work being done in Burlington.  So my heartfelt thank you to you all.Another reason to share this award is because it was and still is a team effort to create this wonderful new community garden.  City Staff  identified available funds early on, and worked diligently to prepare staff reports that City Council unanimously endorsed.  The Burlington Sustainable Development CAC led the charge and BurlingtonGreen received the baton and ran with it to create a wonderful supportive program to really kick start this new pilot community garden.  Citizens have been impressed with the good work of the Parks and RPM staff in the garden construction, and are simply thrilled to be involved with this healthy grow-it-yourself opportunity to add fresh food to their daily plates.To receive this Environmental award has made me ponder the meaning of being identified publically as an Environmentalist.An environmentalist is someone who believes our consumer driven lifestyles have collectively contributed to climate change.  Someone who believes that by reducing our personal impact and by voicing our concern to change government policy and corporate practice that collectively we can hope to mitigate the negative consequences that threaten our immediate security, and our future survival.Personal action is where we each have the most control.   For instance, our household of 5 uses one vehicle. Our kids and I quite easily get the majority of what we need and want done by carpooling, taking a bus, walking or riding a bike.   To transition from stay at home mom I chose to spend my time volunteering for causes I felt important, and work for a local non-profit that advocates and provides programs to support environmental awareness and local policy for a healthier, greener city.  Thank you to Amy Schnurr and BurlingtonGreen for this opportunity.  I grow a garden (a few now actually), buy organic and local food when I can, and hope to inspire others to do the same. I am a daughter, a spouse, mother and citizen.  I do not wear an environmentalist label exclusively or intentionally.  It seems to be something that has grown on me naturally as I have simply altered small and large day to day practices making decisions with a conscious scope on what many consider common sense basics:  Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Grow. Buy and Eat Local.    Many people are aligned with the environmental movement’s goals even if they don’t necessarily align themselves with the movement itself.  We all can live eco friendly lives simply by striving daily to make rational balanced decisions.  Living lightly is a balancing act we can all improve upon.To truly create a more sustainable and equitable social and economic system we need to embrace the creation of “green” jobs and welcome more eco-conscious industry and services to Burlington.  I hope that the City or Chamber of Commerce will someday create an award to recognize the achievement of social, economic and environmental triple bottom line success in Burlington. We need to look past inherited divisions and understand that most of us are on the same side with the same fears, hopes and goals regardless of what labels we may wear.  Timelines are a victim of politics, but goals can be reached in both the short and long term as long as the commitment is made.  Individual efforts can make a difference, and collectively we can make good things grow.

The Civic Recognition Awards is a community event; a time to recognize those people who do the things that make a community real; a place where you can live a good, comfortable life and spend some of your time helping others.

Jim Frizzle, recognized as the Burlington Senior of the Year arrived 20 years ago and got to know his neighbour Keith Strong. And anyone who knows Keith Strong knows the rest of the story.

Jim Frizzle, who certainly did a lot of helping, explained that when he moved to Burlington twenty years ago,  his neighbour said he would have plenty of things to volunteer on.  His neighbour was Keith Strong, chair of the Civic Recognition Committee for 2011,  and probably the best civic minded strong arm the city has.  We are fortunate to have both of them.

Dan Taylor, Junior Citizen of the Year thanked his parents for driving him to all the places he had to get to as he both motivated and lead fellow high school students.  This young man has a voice that was made for broadcasting; listening to him – and you understand immediately how he motivates.

There were award recipients in six categories.

Community Service Award given to Sam Hawazoye, the sole nominee in the category.

Environmental Award given to Michelle Bennett with Susan Fraser and Barbara Frensch nominated.

Arts Person of the Year given to Trevor Copp with Myles Erlick nominated.

Junior Citizen of the Year given to  Dan Taylor with  Bo Chen Han and  Amy Stringer nominated.

Senior Person of the year award given to Jim Frizzle, with Donald Jervis, Mary Plows and Dr. Salem Rao nominated.

Citizen of the Year Award was given to Wendy Hagar with Marilyn Heinz, Bev Jacobs and Crystal McNerney nominated.

Burlington has been recognizing its leading citizens since 1955



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