2023 Ajax Community Awards - Making the World a Brighter Place

Each year, the Town of Ajax honours the contributions of outstanding Ajax community members. These awards show the Town's appreciation of the many individuals, groups and businesses who give their time and skills for the benefit of the community.

Nominations are now closed for 2023

Do you know an outstanding community member? Submit nominations for those individuals, groups and businesses who have made a significant contribution to our Town.

There are a number of award categories including Community Awards, the Ajax Senior of the Year Award, and the highest honour, the Town of Ajax Civic Award.

Click here to browse the various categories for nomination, learn the nomination requirements or to print a nomination form.

NOMINATIONS FOR 2023 NOW CLOSED 

For more information about the Ajax Community Awards program, please contact the Volunteer Management Coordinator at 905-619-2529, ext. 7271.

2023 Ajax Community Awards Recipients:

Ajax Civic Award Adult - Gloria Small

Gloria Small Clarke, a nurse and advocate for children's rights, has had a transformative impact in Ajax. As the driving force behind the Durham Community Action Group, Gloria has addressed food insecurity by donating over $700,000 worth of groceries, particularly supporting seniors in rent-geared-to-income housing. Beyond local contributions, she's recognized internationally, representing the Ontario African Canadian Legal Clinic at the United Nations in 2012.

 

Gloria's commitment to community development and education led her to co-found the Durham Community Action Group in 2008, fostering mental health awareness and empowering young Black individuals. She played a significant role in the International African Diaspora Heritage Conference in 2011 and continues her leadership as Vice-chair of the group. Notably, she was nominated among the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women in 2018 and received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities in 2020. Gloria is a firm believer in the saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and her unwavering dedication and multifaceted contributions make her a distinguished leader and advocate for positive change in Ajax and beyond.

Ajax Civic Award Youth - Thomas Johnson

At only 17 years of age, Thomas Johnson has demonstrated exceptional leadership and community impact in Ajax. Acknowledged with the Citizenship Award in his final year at Eagle Ridge Public School, Thomas continued his philanthropy work at Pickering High School, where he spearheaded initiatives that raised over $4,300, collected nearly 3,850 pounds of food, organized a toy drive, initiated the #UnderstandUs campaign, and led successful community cleanups. In Grade 11, Thomas achieved unprecedented growth in the Students for Change Club, increasing annual food and hygiene product drives by over 550% and 250%, respectively. Despite maintaining an honor roll status and working three part-time jobs, Thomas introduced innovative strategies to combat donor fatigue, involving local businesses and politicians. Notably, he founded the "Put Into Practice" club, focusing on youth mental health awareness and aiming to raise $1,000 for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Thomas's unwavering leadership and dedication have significantly contributed to the success of many community campaigns, making him a young leader who has made a substantial difference in Ajax and Durham Region.

Ajax Senior of the Year Award - Ray Smith

Ray Smith has a passion for building accessible and age-friendly communities and it shows by his active involvement as a member of the Town’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, Age-Friendly Ajax Steering Committee, and the Recreation Older Adult Task Force. Through his committee work, Ray has assisted to improve the accessibility of a crosswalk in his neighbourhood, provided educational presentations to Town staff, and has been a great asset to improving the accessibility of Town communication materials, all through his lived experiences.

 

Although Ray has been retired for 5 years, he was a strong advocate for accessibility in his professional life. He worked with Sun Life Financial as an ambassador for workers with a disability as well as WSIB promoting the importance of health and safety. Ray was also a Union Steward and co-chair of the CUPE National Accessibility Committee. His passion for building accessible communities continued after retirement, as Ray is now actively involved with the local CNIB chapter. Through his dedication to the community, Ray strives to make recreation and community participation opportunities accessible for people with disabilities and seniors.  

Community Award Recipients

Awarded to an individual, group or business in Ajax who, over the past year or more, has contributed to...

Arts & Culture Award - Whitney Collins-Wilson

Whitney Collins-Wilson is the founder of Knitting and Crochet for Community Durham Region and Beyond. She and her volunteers have provided comfort to the homeless, grieving parents, children in distress, and seniors, as well as supported existing charities. The group, initially formed in 2019, has grown to 672 members in 2023, donating 3,500 handmade items, including hats, blankets, and toys. Whitney's initiative fosters community connection, with regular meetings and a dedicated space for creating and donating. Her commitment, organizational skills, and generosity make her a deserving nominee, embodying the spirit of community service through the art of knitting.

Community Event Award - YEAC

Since 2009 the Youth Engagement Advisory Committee (or YEAC) have acted as a voice for the youth of Ajax, not just for youth-centric issues but all things within their community from their unique perspectives. The current committee consists of 20 inspirational youth from all corners of Ajax who have the potential of becoming future leaders with a passion for their community.

 

Each year, the committee develops and implements a large number of events within the Town, some of which include… A Winter Care package initiative, Youth Week Events, involvement in a mental health symposium, the Ajax Superstar talent show, as well as designing and coordinating the annual haunted house at the Ajax Community Centre. 

Good Deed Award - Taylor Hiebert-Thorne

Taylor Hiebert-Thorne is an active volunteer with Community Living Ajax. Engaging weekly with her assigned client, she meticulously plans activities tailored to their interests, fostering a sense of belonging and breaking down community barriers. Taylor's contagious enthusiasm and commitment significantly impact the person's well-being, alleviating isolation and enhancing opportunities for community inclusion. Activities like games, bowling, and puzzles, coupled with meaningful conversations, enrich the client’s life. Taylor's advocacy for people with disabilities and outstanding volunteer efforts exemplify her commitment to making a positive difference in their lives.

Accessibility Award - James Titmarsh

James Titmarsh is a long-time sledge hockey participant and leader. James has been an advocate for adaptive and para sport in our region with his team, the Steehawks. He has helped raise awareness of the capabilities of people with disabilities, as well as their accessibility and inclusion needs.

 

James’ efforts to provide sledge hockey opportunities have contributed to the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of many people with disabilities. It’s noteworthy that a number of players working with James and the Steelhawks have gone on to compete for provincial and even national teams. 

Environment Award - Luke Nguyen

Luke Nguyen, a youth environmental innovator in Durham Region since the age of ten, has dedicated over 800 volunteer hours to various eco-projects. Notably, he founded Operation EcoPen, promoting the recycling of writing instruments, involving local businesses and schools. Luke initiated a Victory Garden during the COVID-19 pandemic, donating almost 2,000lbs of produce to combat food insecurity. His efforts extend to growing native pollinator plants to beautify outdoor living spaces and provide food and habitat for declining pollinator populations, such as bees and butterflies. His multifaceted contributions reflect a profound commitment to environmental stewardship, community well-being, and inclusivity. 

Diversity & Community Engagement Award - Durham Family Culture Centre

Durham Family and Cultural Centre is a non-profit organization, established in February 2019.  The Centre is a Durham-based organization that provides a space for members of the Black community, and other racialized and diverse groups to engage in programming that empowers their lives.

 

They are the only organization of its kind in Durham region, established to meet the social and culturally specific needs of this growing population. Their mission is achieved through culturally focused programs such as counselling, parenting, education, mentorship, and child and youth development programs.

Recreation Award - Karen Narine 

Over the past year, Karen Narine has exhibited remarkable dedication to enhancing recreational opportunities in the Town of Ajax, making a lasting impact on residents' lives through her tireless efforts. Leading initiatives such as the Ajax Fitness Group and a Zumba WhatsApp group, Karen has created a diverse and inclusive community of individuals passionate about working out in the Town's fitness facilities. The groups, characterized by daily motivation, class information, and support, extend beyond exercise to include birthday celebrations, outings, and local event participation, fostering a strong sense of belonging.

Through her unwavering dedication, innovative initiatives, and inclusive approach, she has significantly enriched the recreational landscape of the community. Karen embodies the spirit of community service, leaving an enduring legacy of health, happiness, and unity in Ajax.

For more information about the Ajax Community Awards program, please contact the Volunteer Management Coordinator at 905-619-2529, ext. 7271.