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Five Kitchener residents, one organization receive 2016 Mayor's City Builder Award

PHOTO: Lindsay Grisebach - 570 NEWS.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic has announced the recipients of 2016’s Mayor’s City Builder Award.

This is the second year this award has been handed out to those who have shown great initiative in their volunteerism and service to the city in different capacities.

The City of Kitchener has sent out a release with the names of the winners, along with a brief overview of why they were nominated and were chosen for the award:

“Don Bourgeois
Don Bourgeois has been active in the Waterloo Region for 40 years, focusing on municipal strategic planning, arts and culture, and economic development. He has volunteered countless hours to local organizations and civic committees such as the KW Art Gallery, KW Symphony and Compass Kitchener. As President of JM Drama Alumni Corporation he has supported arts recreation and learning through the production of community theatre. In 2000, Don was the principal architect of a plan that saw the old Land Registry Office converted into The Registry Theatre. As founder of Createscape Waterloo Region, Don continues to support the creative community in Kitchener.

Nadia Muhammad
Nadia Muhammad’s spirit of volunteerism and community building followed her from her native Pakistan where she taught children who could not afford to go to school, or needed help with their studies. After arriving in Kitchener in 2013, Nadia has been heavily involved with the Victoria Hills Neighbourhood Association and was elected vice president in 2015. Nadia has led successful cultural celebrations at the community centre including, Diwali and Eid. She has also taken a leadership role in connecting with the “Our- Stories-Let’s Connect” program and assisted with the “Lemonade Stand” Neighbourhood Strategy session.

Mike Stephenson
Well known throughout the community as “Dr. Mike,” he came to Kitchener-Waterloo in 2012. Passionate about refugee medicine, Dr. Stephenson opened Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre in 2013 one day a week with six patients. In 2016, it served more than 1,500 refugees, especially those with complex and chronic needs. His team of healthcare professionals, mostly volunteers, includes students from the University of Waterloo and Laurier University, where he teaches occasionally. The “go to” person among service providers and organizations supporting refugee newcomers, Dr. Stephenson also works closely with Public Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Brooke Robinson
Brooke Robinson has been instrumental in building safe and thriving neighbourhoods through her advocacy and passion for the community. She leads activities and gatherings in her neighbourhood, Tremaine Park, like Easter egg hunts, summer family barbecues and Earth Day Clean ups. Brooke is a member of the Neighbourhood Strategy Committee and her family donated the first outdoor ping pong table in Kitchener to Tremaine Park. Truly committed to creating stronger neighbourhoods, Brooke is one of the city’s most enthusiastic supporters.

Warren Stauch
Warren Stauch has a passion for Kitchener’s neighbourhoods, culture and heritage is demonstrated through the countless committees and city projects he has been involved with. Warren is a member of the Christkindl Market organizing committee, chair of the Waterloo Region Heritage Foundation and executive of the Auditorium Neighbourhood Association. He was also project co-leader in the implementation of the pavilion project in Knollwood Park. An avid volunteer, Warren is the director of business for the Volunteer Association of St. Mary’s Hospital and volunteer for Joke Junction at Grand River Hospital. Known for having infectious enthusiasm, Warren has strengthened a sense of community in Kitchener for more than 50 years.

Reception House
Reception House is a community based organization that welcomes government-assisted refugees through a number of programs and services to make their new life in Canada a success. Since the federal government announced a commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian Refugees within Canada, Reception House has remarkably assisted more than 1,000 government assisted refugees with their services, many finding permanent housing in Kitchener. Staff and executive director, Bert Lobe who co-chaired the Refugee Resettlement Steering Committee successfully integrated newcomers providing a more diverse community for the City of Kitchener and its residents.”

Award Recipient Warren Stauch says it’s easy to volunteer in a city where the people are so amazing.

“I’m born and raised in Kitchener, 73 years, I’ve lived here all my life and it’s the greatest city in the world. I’ve travelled a lot overseas and when we come home I always say ‘you’ve seen the rest, now see the best.'”

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic handed out the awards Sunday afternoon at Kitchener City Hall during its New Year’s Levee celebrations.

“Thank you to all of these individuals and the organization for all that they do to make Kitchener a great place to live, work and play in. Our community is a better place because of all of them,” says Vrbanovic.