Ron Antalek’s drive and passion to give back to his community was once again recognized this week, this time at a national level.
The local realtor was lauded by the Canadian Real Estate Association last week, beating out eight other nominees across the country for the Realtors Care award that acknowledges outstanding charitable achievement.
“There are so many people doing great things in Canada and it is overwhelming to receive this special recognition,” Antalek told The News.
Picked from realtors across the country, Antalek was recognized not just for one undertaking but for a career of giving back to his communities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Born and raised in Maple Ridge, he has been selling homes in the community since 1989. But it was his volunteer and philanthropic efforts through the years that garnered this recent accolade and resulted in the Canadian Real Estate Association donating $5,000 to the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation on behalf of Antalek.
“I am very grateful and feel privileged to receive CREA’s special recognition. I also know that I am surrounded by many special people who I am honoured to have the opportunity to work with and make good things happen. I want to recognize all of them while receiving this award,” he said.
“I am emotionally very connected with Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows and always try my best to support the many groups that are trying to make a difference,” he added.
Antalek credits his father, Lou, his mother, Rose, and his mentor, Dr. Biju Mathews, for inspiring him, noting his wife, Cathy, and their kids, Taryn and Devon, further motivate him to give back to their community.
Never much for the limelight, Antalek, 57, hopes that by accepting CREA’s 2020 award, and sharing his story, he might inspire others to give volunteering a try.
“What is your passion? What makes you feel warm inside? What can bring a tear to your eye? Pursue that as a volunteer,” he recommended.
“Ron Antalek makes the realtor community proud,” said Kimberly French, Chair of CREA’s Realtors Care committee. “CREA is delighted to share his inspiring story and make a contribution to one of the charities close to his heart.”
In 2006, Antalek made a personal donation of $1 million to the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation, in tribute to the local hospital where his mother had worked as a nurse, and where he has seen many members of his family benefit from great health care.
In 2009, staff at the hospital foundation proposed that a portion of his donation be used to establish a new psychiatric unit at Ridge Meadows Hospital. Antalek gave the idea his blessing and was then convinced to go one step further and attach his well-known name to the unit, to help fight the stigma around mental health.
“Mental illness continues to be misunderstood in our society and often does not attract the funding attention of donors,” explains Laura Butler, executive director of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation.
“Ron is to be commended not only for the size of his donation, but also for his willingness to have the funding directed to mental health, an area of great need,” she added.
His transformational gift to the hospital foundation was instrumental in the creation of the Antalek Family Psychiatry Unit, which serves the mental health needs of adult patients within the hospital walls.
Years later, further funds from his donation were used – in conjunction with an effective matching campaign within the community, spearheaded by Antalek – to help launch Foundry Ridge Meadows. Earlier this year, the youth wellness centre in his community, opened and is now providing young people with access to many health services, including mental health support.
Antalek has also served on the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation board of directors since 2009, and has been its chair since 2012.
His giving of time doesn’t end there, French said.
There are numerous other charities in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows that have benefited from his leadership and generosity, including Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services, Cythera Transition House Society, and Ridge Meadows Hospice Society.
As Vicki Kipps, executive director of Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services, explains, “Our community — its youth, businesses, non-profits, hospital, and so many more – is much stronger due to the deeply ingrained and selfless giving he demonstrates on a daily basis.”
This award, he hopes, brings to light how large the community really is – not just the geographical municipalities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, but the country and the world, and how “little people like me, through collaboration connect with great people, can make a difference when we all work together.”
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