SOCA Winners

Last week, as part of Taste of the Tri-Cities, the Society for Community Development presented the Spirit of Community Awards, or SOCAs. The winners represent a broad cross-section of the Tri-Cities, but they are all working to make this a great place to live. Read on to find out more about them:

Environment – Elaine Willis

Elaine Willis is an amazing volunteer on behalf of the community and the natural environment. What is even more amazing is that she does this in spite of a debilitating neurological disorder called Ataxia and extreme chemical sensitivities. She brings her strength in protecting the environment to the political stage, although she may need to use a walker, wear a mask, or utilize an oxygen tank. Elaine encourages young people to become involved in issues that matter to their future and shows the community that a major disability does not need to be a handicap.

Elaine is a founding member of the Tri-city Green Council, helping to establish its new website and organizing events the council’s participation in the Noons Creek Fingerling Festival. She has been interviewed by Shaw Community Channel on the Tri-city Green Council and her work. She is also Treasurer of the Mossom Creek Hatchery and faithfully participates every Sunday in on-going hatchery maintenance, as well as events like ‘Salmon Egg Take’ in the Fall. It is quite amazing to watch this lady who constantly shakes participate in highly physical environmental events such as these.

Elaine is also very engaged in advocating on behalf of the environment. She was highly instrumental in Anmore Council’s decision to declare the Village Hall a scent-free zone, and because of her Coquitlam is considering the same thing. She speaks at many public meetings, including the recent public consultations on waste management. Her enormous courage was recently heralded in a documentary in the series ‘The Hindsight Years‘ .

Arts and Culture – Kirsten Tracey

Kirsten has worked to promote art with youth and the wider community at least since her days at the Port Moody Art Centre through the Street Banners Program. She works to bring real original art to the streets of Port Moody, and offers other the opportunity for creative expression in a public place. She allows both budding artists and community members to leave their mark.

Kirsten is very organized, working hard to ensure others receive the credit they deserve. She shows real dedication and presents the opportunity to doing art in an uplifting way to her students. She has created an excellent chance for people to make, and enjoy, public art.

Community Action – Andrea Corrigan

Andrea Corrigan was responsible for organizing the many volunteers that assisted during the Cold Wet Weather Mat Program at St. Andrew’s United Church in Port Moody.

Andrea has been involved with the program since 2007, encouraging others to volunteer and spending endless hours working herself. She’s organized information sessions for the homeless shelters, started a sock drive that brought in hundreds of socks for the program, and been present for almost every night the shelter was held at St. Andrew’s.

Andrea has truly been present for those in our community who are most in need.

Community Volunteerism – Brian Robinson

Brian Robinson is well known in the community, but his volunteer efforts have been so “behind the scene” that most do not know of his work.

An example of Brian’s work was that when he finished his term as the president of the Dogwood Pavilion he was asked by the board of then-unknown Pinetree 50 Plus Society to help them obtain a new Senior Centre. This became Glen Pine Pavilion, and Brian went on to become its president.

Brian organizes an annual, free leadership conference for seniors. He also coordinated the Seniors Peer Counselling Service where volunteer seniors provided help to anyone needed them. Brian has served on numerous city community committees, including the Coquitlam Foundation, the Conference Housing Society and the library board. Brian has lived in Coquitlam since 1976, and served as a Councillor in the city from 1976 to 1996.

Youth – Aarman Rahim

Aarman Rahim is co-founder of the Affero Vita Sustainable Future Society – a registered organization that aims to teach, promote and use organic and sustainable living solutions to support the homeless population of BC. It has won a grant from the Zenith in Action and Coast Capital savings group to pursue a community garden which grows crops for the homeless on a 1500 square foot property.

Aarman is also president of Amnesty International’s PMSS Branch, president and co-founder of Teens Transformation the Community, founder and president of “Mission Green” (the first ever environmental club at PMSS), an active member of School District 43’s Leadership Council, Youth Representative on the Coquitlam Youth Council, and active member of the Third World Awareness Group.

Aarman serves on his student council, writes a column for the school newspaper, is active on the debate team, and ambassador for Kids Help Phone and volunteer pianist and bass guitarist at the Ismaili youth and adult choirs. And there is more, but I am running out of space. This a truly remarkable young man, and our community is lucky to have him.

Cultural Harmony – Geoff Scott

Geoff Scott is our strongest and most determined advocate for community television. He has been the driving force to provide the Tri-Cities with access to community based television since the closure in 1998 of the existing volunteer television production program. Geoff has not let go of the dream that the Tri-Cities deserve access to community television, and that a non profit society could provide the equipment and training necessary for volunteers to create programming that reflects the wonderful and unique aspects of our community.

Geoff produced City Magazine on Shaw TV in 2005. Over the past three years, Geoff has volunteered more than 1000 hours to produce Tri-Cities News Magazine, a weekly half hour programme now airing on Shaw TV. Through Geoff’s efforts, this program has become a conduit for presenting issues and events to the larger community in a timely, interesting and professional manner.

Geoff works hard without expectation on all aspect of a TV production – he acts as executive producer, director, editor, camera, administrator and more. Geoff involves and instructs volunteers in a large scale, delivering cultural awareness in respect of the public surroundings.

Neighbour to Neighbour – Brenda Martel

Brenda is a very giving person I have ever met. She has worked hard to make Baker Drive a community. She established the annual Halloween fireworks and the building of a great playground. She volunteered and was the PAC president of Baker Drive Elementary in the 90s while her children attended school there. She is an active member of her church, teaching Sunday school among other things.

Brenda is first to welcome new people to the neighborhood or lend a hand if someone is in a bind. She teaches middle school and is the athletic director for the district, spending many hours coaching and refereeing. She has tutored many students over the years, helping them with math and English.

Brenda has delivered sandwiches to the DTES, and she has been a support person for people with cancer. She recently flew to Alberta to bring a friend home after a cancer treatment. Brenda is a role model for all who know her.

Douglas College Lifetime Leadership – Mary Ann Meegan

Mary Ann will be 83 this September, and she has not slowed down at all. Even after her stroke 20 years ago, she keeps going. She has been and is still involved with all walks of life, through her church and beyond. Mary Ann is involved in the Red Hat Society, and keeps tabs on all of the ladies. Her generosity and caring make everyone feel that we are always on her mind.

Mary Ann is compassionate and sharp as a whip. She gives up all of her time as soon as she hears someone is in need. She will sit bedside in hospital with people for hours if they need someone when they are dying. She sends support to those families who have had some one pass away. She has even helped to pay for the funeral of a friend’s loved one. She helps those who are going through hard times emotionally and financially, without being asked. She is an amazing woman; a truly sensitive lady.

Mary Ann is also accomplished in business. She opened Mary Ann Meegan Insurance in 1972 on Austin Avenue in Coquitlam where it still stands. And Mary has been an active community and church volunteer and leader in Coquitlam.

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