Winner Victoria Gardner with Foundation president Monica Hampu. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

Maple Ridge Citizen of Year finalists announced

Winners will be honoured at May 11 gala

The finalists have been announced for the annual Maple Ridge Community Foundation Citizen of the Year awards.

For Lifetime Achievement, this year’s nominees are Colene Thompson, Jan Hickman and Kat Wahamaa.

Thompson is chair of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-Katzie Community Network whose mission is to provide direction to the development of social services for Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Katzie, and to provide opportunities and supports for residents to lead healthy lives.

She is also a member of the Social Policy Advisory Committee for the City of Maple Ridge that advises council on matters related to social planning and the social needs, well-being and social development of the community.

Hickman is a local realtor is being recognized for her work as a director with the Maple Ridge Community Foundation, ambassador for Alisa’s Wish, past president of Haney Rotary where she is still a member. She also sits on several committees for the Vancouver Real Estate Board.

Wahamaa is co-chair of the Opioid Overdose Response Task Force, the group behind the Humans of Maple Ridge project, a one-day photo exhibit by people directly affected by the opioid crisis the city with the goal of eliminating the stigma of addiction.

She is also the Maple Ridge Artist in Residence and is the force behind the Positive Resistance Quilt, where participants create squares that signify positive resistance to negativity in the community.

For Citizen of the Year under 40, the nominees are Jen Baillie, Jordan Arsenault and Katelyn Ross.

Baillie is a children’s services programmer for parks and leisure services who, in 2012, organized a three-week trip to Rwanda through the non-profit Developing World Connections, for which volunteers helped to construct an occupational centre and worked with a primary school.

She also organized an emergency services scavenger hunt where students from three local day camps got to interact with RCMP officers with a purpose of fostering a sense of community.

Arsenault is a volunteer with Katimavik, a registered charity that educates Canadian youth through volunteer work. Arsenault joined Katimavik after hearing about it from a counsellor. Now he is in Nanaimo and working with the Island Crisis Care Society where he volunteers at a couple of the stabilization and transitional houses, as well as at the head office.

Ross is the head coach of the Garibaldi secondary softball academy and a counsellor at Alouette Addictions. Most recently Ross and Team Canada softball player Larissa Franklin attempted to catch a ball 1,200 times in less than an hour to make the Guinness World Record for playing catch. Their goal was to raise awareness of the importance of getting youth in sports, of team connections, and of after-school activities to encourage youth are active in positive community connections. They were also raising money to support children accessing sports.

Victoria Gardner was recognized as the Youth Citizen of the Year at a ceremony at Thomas Haney secondary last Saturday.

The Maple Ridge Community Foundation’s annual fundraising dinner and Citizen of the Year Awards presentation takes place on May 11 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club, 19675 Meadow Gardens Way in Pitt Meadows. Tickets are $125.

Last year, Dr. Biju Mathew won for Lifetime Achievement and Teesha Sharma, a homeless youth advocate who passed away in February, won the Under 40 award

The Maple Ridge Community Foundation works to provide ways to connect donors with local causes and promotes individual, corporate and foundation philanthropy.

The foundation’s goal is to recognize people who serve their community without regard to personal gain.

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