Mayor awards 10 residents with 2020 Order of Hamilton. Here’s what they’ve done to earn the honour

Published January 4, 2021 at 1:39 pm

Mayor Fred Eisenberger recently awarded 10 Hamilton residents with the 2020 Order of Hamilton for their volunteer efforts and contributions to the city and its inhabitants.

During a virtual New Year’s Levee held on Sunday (Jan. 3) afternoon, Eisenberger presented the awards and highlighted some of the impacts these individuals have had on the community in recent years.

According to a press release sent by the Mayor’s office on Monday, the Order of Hamilton honours “remarkable individuals who have made exceptional volunteer contributions to building our city and making it a better place to live, work and play.”

Here’s a list of 2020’s Order of Hamilton recipients and their accomplishments:

Rabia Saleem Awan
Awan immigrated to Canada in 1996 from Pakistan and is acknowledged with the Order of Hamilton for her tireless work as a volunteer in the Hamilton community. A pillar of the community, Awan has been running programs both within and outside of the Muslim community. Over the past five years, she has served seniors at the Hamilton Mountain Mosque. She has secured annual funding, over $53,000 since 2015 from federal and provincial sources to take the seniors on outings to the Royal Ontario Museum, Grand River lunch cruises and Hamilton Harbour boat tours among others. Raising two children of her own, Awan has also acted as foster parent to two children aged 5 and 3. She has served on the board of several local organizations including the Hamilton Mountain Mosque, has served as the Chair of the Muslim Association of Hamilton Seniors Committee, a member of the Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton, volunteered with the Canadian Muslim Vote as Volunteer lead Hamilton Chapter. Organized a Ramadan Campus Iftar (fast-breaking) by creating a working bridge between anti-violence and McMaster Muslim Students Association, where Muslims and non-Muslims alike broke fast together.

Jim Cimba
Cimba is a lawyer who has built a lifelong legacy of community service. His commitment to volunteer service began over 30 years ago and included his serving as a member of the board of directors of the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton-Wentworth, the Juravinski Cancer Centre Foundation and the Hamilton Waterfront Trust. He has served as the president of the Rotary Club of Hamilton, the Hamilton Club, Theatre Aquarius and the Hamilton Port Authority. He is a founding member of the Lawyer’s Legacy Fund for Children. As a member of the John Howard/Liaison College/David Lane Youth Success Fund Committee he has raised academic scholarships for youth at risk. He has also served on the boards of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

Dr. Margaret Denton
Denton is being recognized with the Order of Hamilton 2020 marking several decades of work as a community leader and advocate for older adults in Hamilton and beyond. She has inspired through her leadership, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of volunteer hours to have been contributed to advocacy work to improve life for older adults and to forwarding projects such as Age Friendly Hamilton, Let’s Get Moving and Hamilton’s Senior Isolation Impact Plan to improve the life of older adults in our city. Denton has served as the Chair of the Age Friendly Hamilton Collaborative Governance Steering Committee for six years. She has volunteered with the Hamilton Council on Aging for 15 years. She is a founding board member and has served as the president, vice -president and past-president of the Council. As a volunteer she chairs the Southern Ontario Age Friendly Network and she is the treasurer of the Ontario Council on Aging. Denton has had a tremendous impact on life in Hamilton. She has ensured that the guiding vision of Hamilton include older adults- ‘the best place to raise a child and age successfully.’ To improving access to information and skills for countless older adults to positively age in Hamilton.

Brenda Duke
Duke is a dedicated and engaged resident of the City of Hamilton. She began by leading volunteer clean up and greeting activities in the GALA neighbourhood and her efforts have grown across the city. Brenda is the visionary and founder of Beautiful Alleys and is a tireless advocate in her keeping our community and city clean and green. Duke inspires and organizes volunteers with multiple programs and projects such as the Team Up to Clean Up program, Community gardens, Pollinator Gardens and the Adopt-A-Park program. She was the lead volunteer in recruiting volunteers to help out with the Extreme Park makeovers at Birge Park, Woodlands Park and was instrumental in the recruitment of over 200 volunteers for the Extreme Park Makeover at Powell Park which was part of a TVO TV special called ‘The Giver.’ She has also served on the Clean and Green Citizen Committee with the City of Hamilton. Brenda is the lead on the adoption of Powell Park, Birch Avenue Greenspace and co-lead on Woodlands Park and is now in the process of adopting J.C. Beemer Park. She is currently the editor of the North End Breezes community paper.

Mary Elop
Elop is being recognized with the Order of Hamilton for her 40 years of service with Scouts Canada. She has held numerous positions within the organization. She has been the driving force behind the Ancaster Beaver unit held at Marshall Memorial United Church in Ancaster. Mary has inspired others to volunteer with the movement even after their own children have graduated from the program. Besides being a weekly Beaver leader, Mary has served 11 years as the Hamilton-Wentworth Area Registrar, as a member of the Hamilton-Wentworth Area Service Team for 25 years, as Area Commissioner for Beavers for four years, Sub-Area Commissioner for Hermitage Springs for over 10 years and as a Venturer Advisor for 2 years. As a local Beaver leader Mary communicates with the families of her Beaver unit weekly. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic she is still holding weekly virtual and in person meetings for her Beaver group of children ages Kindergarten to Grade 2. More than 1,500 young people and their families have benefited from the volunteerism of Elop over the past 40 years.

Anthony Frisina
Frisina has been named as a 2020 Order of Hamilton recipient in recognition of his volunteer work in support of his passion for accessibility. In 2014, Anthony was named a Mohawk College Alumni of Distinction recipient and recognized by the Rick Hansen Foundation as a Difference Maker. Frisina has created and produced a local television program that tackles accessibility awareness and inclusion in the Hamilton area. He has also founded Above and Beyond an organization helping to bridge the gap to accessibility and inclusion across the City of Hamilton.

George Geczy
Geczy is being recognized for his longtime contribution to the Hamilton Public Library (HPL). Since 1982 he has been an active advocate for early technology adoption, internet connectivity and digital literacy across the city. Geczy has served as a member of the HPL’s board for 18 years from 2001 to 2019 serving as chair or vice-chair for nine years. He helped steer the library system through amalgamation and supported public computing through the HPL’s 22 branches. As the past chair of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s Science and Technology Committee, former board member of the Hamilton-Wentworth FreeNet, and a member of the Hamilton Spectator Community Editorial Board he helped build a connected and future-ready Hamilton.

Dr. Nadia Eva Rosa
Dr. Nadia Eva Rosa was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in 1938. She lived with her mother and her maternal grandparents in the Bratislava ghetto during The Second World War. Captured on Christmas Day 1945, Nadia and her mother were transported to the Sered and Terezin concentration camps. She was six-years-old when she became a prisoner in the death camps. Her grandparents and many relatives perished. Rosa now holds a PhD in microbiology. She and her husband fled Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1968. Rosa has been a lifelong advocate on behalf of local survivors. She inspired a small group of educators to form the committee that launched an annual seminar on the Holocaust, that is now in its 22nd year, with a total of 15,000 students having participated. She has spent her life delivering education about anti-Semitism, antiracism and bullying. She has received the Shem Tov Award for her volunteer work at Beth Tikvah Synagogue and the UJA Federation of Hamilton’s highest award, the CeCe Schreiber Volunteer Excellence Award.

Raven Van Bommel
Van Bommel is being acknowledged with the Order of Hamilton for her tremendous work on behalf of the low-income sector in Hamilton. She is the founder of Essential Aid and Family Services of Ontario; a vocal advocate for some of the most vulnerable families in Hamilton. Their mission is straightforward, to prevent hunger in children and lower health risk by providing free infant and children’s essentials to families in need. Essential Aid has been serving the Hamilton area for over 10 years and is now serving over 600 families a month. Today, Essential Aid is both a well funded and consistent contributor to the community.

Robert J. Wilkins
Wilkins has been named a recipient of the Order of Hamilton in 2020 in recognition of his accomplishments in support of a wide range of community projects. He has served most recently as the Public Fundraising Chair for Ancaster Performing Arts Centre inspiring many philanthropists and residents to donate time and money to the project. Wilkins has raised $5 million in donations, pledges, and gifts-in-kind to the Centre. He has helped raise money for the Music at Fieldcote program over the past 20 years. His work in the community has seen the beautification of the Ancaster Village Core, the creation of the Ancaster Farmers’ Market, restoration of the Hermitage with the Hamilton Conservation Authority and the maintenance and improvement of the Fieldcote Museum. He has served the broader community for many years as a member of the Ancaster Rotary Club, six years on the board of the Ancaster Information Centre, nine years on the board of the Bay Area Trust Fund and six years on the board of the Victorian Order of Nurses of Hamilton-Dundas branch.

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