Last night at the London Convention Centre, about 700 people from the non-profit, government, military and volunteer sectors got together to celebrate – COMMUNITY!
After a wonderful cocktail hour with live music and lots to eat and drink (cash bar), everyone sat down at 7:45pm to watch and witness 12 finalists – 3 in each of the four categories:
- Community Innovation,
- Community Leadership,
- Community Impact, and
- Community Collaboration
walk across the stage to receive a beautiful (and heavy) engraved glass plaque with scallop edging, recognizing that they had been selected as a Award Finalist in this year’s Pillar Community Innovation Awards. NELCE, one of three finalist in the COMMUNITY IMPACT category, was represented by Leah Blenkhorn, Gord Johnston and yours truly.
A little backstory…..Michelle Hurtubise, Executive Director of London Intercommunity Health Centre, submitted a nomination package for NELCE in May 2017. Nomination applications were reviewed in July by a Selection Committee. Then, in August, the 12 finalists were informed confidentially, via phone, of their selection, and invited to attend a press conference to announce the results of the nominations process. For the first time, Pillar made announced the results to the public LIVE via their website.
In the two months leading up to last night’s amazing and well planned event, each finalist, including NELCE, was given the privilege and several opportunities to “tell our story – share; inspire; and be recognized” for our contributions to society and to the London community.
Thanks to Pillar, NELCE has had the amazing opportunity to create awareness and introduce ourselves to London through The Londoner, Rogers TV and Facebook.
Now, back to the evening….Emcee Janet Frood opened the formal part of the evening. Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director of Pillar Non-Profit Network, welcomed everyone to this year’s gala event and gave an address. Then a representative from this event’s Platinum Sponsor for seven years, Libro Financial Group, addressed the crowd.
By 8:25pm, Emcee Janet started to introduce the first of the four Award categories. Brief video clips, shown of each of the finalist by category, told the story of the nominee, who nominated them or supported the nomination and why. The winner in each award category was then announced by one of the event’s Gold Sponsors: 3M, Rogers TV, or Corus Entertainment, and Libro Financial Group, and the winners came up to receive their trophy and say a few words.
Congratulations to the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support & Integration [MRCSSI] on receiving the Award for Community Impact. The organization’s main focus is to ensure all members of the Muslim and Arabic communities have professional support and advocacy. This includes helping families sort through complex issues related to immigration, cultural differences and violence. The agency has also developed resources that help mainstream service providers understand and respond to the diverse needs of their clients. Well done! Well Deserved! NELCE is proud to have been selected as a finalist in this category with MRCSSI and WOTCH’s Impact Junk Solutions.
The winners in the other categories are:
- Community Innovation – Project Play
- Community Leadership: Kate Ballagh Steeper
- Community Collaboration – Youth Opportunities Unlimited and Meals On Wheels
And what did NELCE walk away with? Great PRIDE, JOY, HONOUR, and AFFIRMATION that we are doing good things, right things, and bringing positive change to our Northeast London community. Those of us at the event were humbled by the many, many groups of volunteers and organizations who strive to build an engaged, inclusive, vibrant and healthy London community.
Even though we did not leave with a trophy in our hands, to symbolize a win for COMMUNITY IMPACT, each of us who is a member of NELCE, knows that we win everyday in the hearts of the many participants and people whom we serve through our volunteer-managed programs, events, activities and projects. And for that we are always GRATEFUL!
NELCE has definitely made and continues to make a real impact in our Northeast Community. Everyone matters to us in NELCE – we are an inclusive, eclectic group of diverse individuals, very much representative of the demographics you will find in Northeast London; each unique, each bringing his or her gifts, skills and talents to the table, to share with the rest of our community.
So NELCE Members: Take a moment today to reflect on the NELCE you knew when you first joined, and the NELCE you know now – be PROUD, REJOICE, and be HAPPY for NELCE’s growth, successes, team spirit and camaraderie. And most of all, remember:
A Volunteer Is Not Paid Because He Or She Is Worthless,
But Because He or She Is Priceless!