THSS VP Blakeway wins woman of distinction

Educator founded outreach program which reconnects people on the Downtown Eastside with friends and family.

Kristi Blakeway started Project HELLO.

Kristi Blakeway started Project HELLO.

Kristi Blakeway won a Women of Distinction Award from the YWCA of Metro Vancouver on Tuesday night.

At a gala event at the Westin Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver, attended by 1,100 guests, the vice-principal of Thomas Haney secondary was revealed as the winner of the Connecting the Community Award.

The award is chosen by members of the public in an online vote, based on the biographies of the nominees.

Blakeway said she was thankful for the many people in the school district who voted for her.

She was one of 11 women in the Metro Vancouver region to win an award, which were for various categories from entrepreneurship to technology.

Blakeway was nominated for project HELLO, (Helping Everyone Locate Loved Ones), which has reconnected hundreds of people living on the streets in the Downtown Eastside with their friends and family.

The educator has also used the volunteer-run project to inform young people about the issues surrounding homelessness.

Blakeway started the project while she was working in the Coquitlam School District in 2009, and brought it with her when she transferred to the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows district.

Project HELLO has gone on to inspire students to create their own award-winning social initiatives and has been replicated in cities outside of Canada.

The award carries with it an award of $10,000, to be donated to the cause of Blakeway’s choice. She chose reducing

“I have seen the damaging effects of poverty in the Downtown Eastside. Too many of our homeless citizens still suffer the scars of a traumatic childhood,” she said. “The YWCA supports children and mothers on the DTES and gives hope for a better future. I support reducing child poverty so we might give light to Vancouver’s darkest neighbourhood.”

It is an honour just to be nominated for a women of distinction award, as was Diana Allen of Pitt Meadows – one of the first hydro geologists in the world to systematically study the potential effects of climate change on groundwater sources.