The Maple Ridge Community Foundation’s annual Citizen of the Year awards were announced Saturday, with Dr. Biju Mathew winning for Lifetime Achievement.
Teesha Sharma earned the Under-40 award.
Mathew was nominated for his volunteer work with the Ridge Meadows South Asian Cultural Society, Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation, Youth Wellness Centre, Nurse Practitioner program and MRCF’s 25/40 Campaign.
He donates all proceeds from his best-selling book, Super 30 – the Anand Kumar story, to the Super 30 teaching program in India.
“Today, to me, all tonight’s nominees are winners, and so are all the people assembled here,” Mathew said.
“We are all here to give back to the community. Thank you so much.”
Julie Koehn and Kim Dumore were also up for Lifetime Achievement.
Koehn was nominated for her volunteer efforts with the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, Maple Ridge Historical Society, Community Heritage Commission, Alouette Correctional Centre Citizen Advisory Board, SPEC, Earth Day, Girl Guides of Canada, Family Education Centre, Webster’s Corners Community Association. She was a founding director of the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, and served on the board of directors for 30 years.
Dumore was nominated for her selfless volunteer work throughout the community, including Cythera Store, PLEA, Youth Unlimited, Humans of Maple Ridge event, Maple Ridge Opioid Overdose Response Task Group, Golden Ears Kiwanis Club, Maple Ridge Arts Council, Friends in Need Food Bank and Puttin’ on the Glitz. She is the current chair of the school system’s District Parent Advisory Committee.
This was the first year there were three award categories: Lifetime Achievement, Under 40, and Youth.
Sharma won for Under 40 for her volunteer outreach work in the community. Sharma commits herself to local homeless youth by preparing them daily meals, administering first-aid, and providing personal support. She is on the board of the Golden Ears Transition Initiative and is a founding member of the Youth Wellness Centre.
“Thank you. “Chelsea and Cheryl, you guys are also amazing,” Sharma said.
Chelsea Keenan was nominated in Under 40 for her dedication to teaching yoga classes with a charitable twist. After taking a self-exploration journey, which led her to exciting places around the world and obtaining her yoga teacher certification, Keenan’s generous spirit called to her to return home, and give back to her community by increasing engagement in wellness. She has developed a series of donation-based yoga classes dedicated to a variety of Maple Ridge charities.
Cheryl Zandbergen was also nominated in Under 40 for creating and leading the Moms Gone Wild group in Maple Ridge. Established to create a comfortable space for mothers to join activities in a judgment-free, supportive environment, Moms Gone Wild hosts several events each week. Zandbergen leads this group to participate in many fundraisers, including the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper and fundraising for local families facing hard times, illness or crisis.
The Youth award winner was announced last month, and Ryder Moore, an eight-year-old who has established the Ryder’s Rainboots charity to help give homeless people rain gear, is the winner.
The other nominees were Marlowe Evans and Gurleen Goraya.
The award is for people 18 and under.
The foundation is now in its 27th year of issuing the awards, and for the first time the executive wanted to add more categories.
The theme for this year’s awards was “Fully, Completely Maple Ridge.”
The foundation’s goal is to recognize people who serve their community without regard to personal gain.