Sharon Abbasakoor - Nominated by VON Middlesex-Elgin
Sharon is a former nurse who has volunteered since 2005 at a VON clinic, helping people who need to monitor their blood pressure by doing weekly checks. She is well-liked by clients because of her courteous, respectful and
genuinely caring nature, and valued by VON for her knowledge and empathy.
Abubaker Bariuon - Nominated by Cross-Cultural Learner Centre
Abubaker volunteers his time to mentor newcomers as they make London their home, providing friendly support, cultural knowledge, and translation services to help with resettlement. He is inclusive and compassionate in all he does, and exemplary in the way that he both advocates for and empowers adults and children alike.
Bob and Pat Caron - Nominated by Oakridge Optimist Baseball
Bob and Pat have been coaching baseball for over 25 years, dedicating their summers to helping the youngest members of the London West Tincap program. Their dedication and passion has helped inspire love for the sport and joy in being part of a team among both kids and their parents.
Omar Khoudeida - Canadian Yazidi House
Omar is a passionate advocate for Yazidi refugees and immigrants to London, supporting their transition to Canada and creating a close-knit community. He works as a full time Settlement Counsellor at the London Cross Cultural Learner Centre (CCLC) and founded the Canadian Yazidi House, extending his work to integration and community-building initiatives.
Sue LeBlanc - Nominated by London Search and Rescue
Sue has been a committed search and rescue volunteer since 2020. She is an unflappable ground searcher, and a knowledgeable committee member. In addition, she arranges special events for the team, participates in many community initiatives, and teaches outdoor safety and wilderness skills at local schools and organizations.
Rev. Frank Mantz - Nominated by Byron Community Organization
Frank is the much-loved Padre for our city’s Royal Canadian Legion branches and a dedicated volunteer with Lutheran Social Services (London) charitable foundation. He has been especially active with the Byron Legion, and led a tireless and ultimately successful campaign to establish a new Springbank Park veterans’ monument to honour fallen and returning Canadian veterans of all wars.
Sandy McCallum - Nominated by Optimist Club of Byron
Sandy has served as the Chair and Treasurer of the Byron Optimist Sports Complex Board for 21 years. In addition to leading the charity and volunteer committee, he has generously given his time to serve on various other charity boards, helping to make London a safe and enjoyable community for all residents.
Mike Mulder - Nominated by Hyde Park and District Lions Club
Michael has been vital to the success and growth of the Hyde Park Santa Claus Parade, spearheading the creation of Santa’s float and making sure that Santa replies to all of the letters collected on the route. Michael also supports many other events, organizes annual highway cleanups, and supports Londoners who are homeless.
Eva Norman-Vestergaard - Nominated by L’Arche London
Eva gives her time, her passion and her green thumb to maintain the garden at one of L’Arche London’s homes, donating plants and growing valuable produce for residents. Since 1985, she has volunteered with numerous garden clubs and the London Horticultural Society, as well as the Western Fair and Forest City Road Races.
Brianna Phelan - Oakridge Pride
Brianna was the driving force behind the annual Oakridge Pride event, which started as a socially-distanced alternative when London’s Pride Parade was cancelled in 2020 and has grown ever since. She is a strong advocate for London’s 2SLGBTQ+ community, especially queer youth, and provides support for other marginalized communities in our city.
Rikie Schieven - Nominated by Old South Community Organization
Rikie is a long-time community volunteer who has been involved in many groups and organizations over the years. She has participated in various initiatives to cultivate a close-knit and supportive community as an Old South Community Organization volunteer, a member of the Being Neighbourly group, and an active volunteer at Aeolian Hall.
Bob Thibert - Nominated by Byron Optimist Minor Baseball Association
Bob has been volunteering with Byron Baseball for over 50 years, as a coach, as a board member, and as the organizer of the annual summer ball camp. He is also an active volunteer with the Byron Optimists Sports Complex, St. George’s Catholic Church, and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.
Sue Amaral, Christine Crunican, Traci Cummings, Leslie Hack and Charys Martin
In 2023, these five friends and their families collected 525 backpacks, 400 lunch pails, and an abundance of school supplies to help kids in our community prepare for their first day of school. As the eighth annual backpack drive, these donations supported students in need at both Thames Valley and London District Catholic School Boards.
Mary Blancher, Anne Peckham and Fran Wassmer
Mary, Anne and Fran created an in-house food bank called the Caring Cupboard in their apartment building at 30 Baseline. Since 2019 they have helped provide food for their neighbours, who are mostly seniors living on a fixed income, and have shown resilience and determination in overcoming obstacles and meeting growing needs.
Essence and Culture Awards
Liz Akano, Michelle Brissette, Colin Caleb, Joseph Chakabveyo, Danny Clarke, Stephan D'Amelio, Senay Habtemariam and Angel Tsiga
This group launched the Essence & Culture Awards in 2022 to recognize Black Excellence in medicine and science, education, arts and music, community service, and youth achievement. In their first two years, the awards recognized the outstanding contributions of more than 40 Black Londoners.