2013 Scarborough Urban Heroes honoured with awards
|2013 Scarborough Urban Hero Award|
By MIKE ADLER
Scarborough’s newest Urban Heroes like what they do, and keep doing it because giving something back gives them satisfaction.
“When you have a young person come back to you and say they remember something you said,” said Cleveland Clunis, “and they carry it, and it stuck with them and made a difference, that is a reward you can’t put any price on.”
The founder of the East Toronto Basketball Association remembers when he was growing up in Scarborough, people in the community drove him to sports events and took time to coach him.
Two young men with Clunis at the presentation of the 2013 Scarborough Mirror Urban Hero Awards now sit on a board consisting of past players who went to university (Clunis stresses achievement in academics as well as sports) and have returned to help.
“The cycle continues, which is a great thing to see in the community,” he said.
The recipients honoured Monday night are “some pretty amazing Scarborough residents,” said Sheila Clark, the Mirror’s manager of digital properties, adding she was thrilled to find “no shortage of community members who deserve to have their stories of dedication told.”
General Manager Marg Middleton said the annual awards dinner, “an uplifting evening hearing about positive community accomplishments,” had become one of her favourite events of the year.
“It’s about people who care about Scarborough and realize it’s the unselfish giving of time and effort that helps to build a better community,” she said at the Grand Baccus Banquet Hall in Agincourt. “We think recognition of fine community achievement is essential to community development. That’s why we’re here tonight.”
First to step on stage was Fazilatun Nessa Babli, recognized for contributing to arts and culture in her Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park neighbourhood with the Healthy Living Through Art Project, where she said children can express their talent and emotions.
Running any kind of community project is challenging, Babli said earlier, because you need funding, an available space and “a wonderful relationship with everyone.”
Since she started volunteering with the project, former students started programs of their own in Bangladesh and Kenya, sending Babli pictures and reports.
“Just start small but think big, this is my philosophy,” she said. “If I can do it, everybody can do it.”
Rob Burridge, recognized for community work including at the East Scarborough Summer Festival Market on Lawrence Avenue, is a life-long Scarborough resident who sees the local face of community involvement changing, but said the old spirit is still there.
“As Scarborough’s growing, so is the need,” Burridge added before the ceremony. “I feel that I’m really fortunate, I’m lucky, and I feel that there are lots that are not.”
For Joseph Gomez, the satisfaction of volunteering with the Squires youth group in southeast Scarborough comes from teaching boys of 10 to 18 leadership skills and how to increase their faith.
“Seeing them be successful in school, in the community, it’s a blessing also. It makes you feel that you did your job,” said Gomez, adding seven squires in seven years have joined the local Knights of Columbus to carry on their work as adults.
He said the boys need role models who will be honest with them, adding, “it’s about them; it’s not about you.”
Paul Blackwood, a recipient for running numerous football clinics for young players in Scarborough, took his daughter Aven Blackwood, 3, onto the stage to share the moment.
Twenty years ago, Lindy Wong followed her mother to the local park to do exercises outdoors.
Now Wong and her husband Stephen Sung lead as many as 150 a day through two hours of exercise and dances in Milliken Park Community Recreation Centre.
Some seniors have difficulty sleeping, but after a couple of weeks of this routine, they sleep better, said Sung.
“We feel good and we would like to make a whole lot of other seniors feel good too.”
Seniors in the class say it gives them tremendous benefits not only in health but in friendship. They think the couple’s award in the Health and Science category is well-deserved.
“Rain or shine, they’re there,” said Elaine Ho, one of several who nominated Wong and Sung.
Urban Heroes are chosen through nominations, and people at Monday’s ceremony were told it’s not too early to think about nominating an outstanding Scarborough person or group for next year.
That can be done just by visiting www.urbanheroes.ca
The 2013 winners
Arts and Culture: Babli and the Guild Festival Theatre Group;
Health and Science: Wong and Sung as well as Dr. Ashleigh Molloy;
Education: Vicky Tsorlinis and Shyamal Bhattacharjee;
Sports: Clunis and Blackwood;
Environment: Friends of the Rouge Watershed as well as Haskmukh Mistry and John Seaman;
Business: Jason Quammie;
Community: Christine Lee and Stephanie McBride, as well as Burridge, Mohamad Fadel Chakroun, Gomez and Ron Wootton.