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 now open for 2021! 

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.

Ajax Community Awards Nomination Brochure 

Complete the online nomination form or download and print the nomination form. 

Nomination deadline is Friday, November 5, 2021.

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

2020 Ajax Community Awards Recipients:

Ajax Civic Award Adult - Margaret Reid

Margaret ReidMargaret has been volunteering with Homebound Wellness Centre Inc. since she retired in 2018, and is extremely passionate about helping seniors and finding ways to meet their needs. She brings her innovative ideas to the organization which has made a lasting impact on the seniors of Ajax.

Recognized as an exceptional Seniors Coordinator Volunteer, she consistently looks out for the best interest of seniors, actively seeking out grant opportunities from all levels of government, for programs that will impact Ajax seniors. Since 2019, Margaret has been successful in obtaining 4 grants for the organization to initiate 4 programs for seniors, and most recently, was able to pivot previous funding during the pandemic to start an additional grocery delivery program.

Margaret assists with the hot meal and grocery delivery programs where she cooks hot meals, shops for groceries and delivers them to seniors. With seniors feeling isolated, lonely and depressed due to the impacts of COVID-19, Margaret collaborated with 2 staff to plan and execute a mobile one-on-one enrichment program for seniors in their homes.

In April, Margaret saw that Ajax Council had launched the COVID-19 Special Response Fund, which she quickly applied for. With this funding, she was able to start a hot meal program where 2 hot meals were cooked and delivered to over 45 seniors weekly. The success of this program prompted her to seek additional funding from the Community Foundation of Canada in September, where now 50 seniors of different cultural backgrounds are currently benefiting from this initiative.

Margaret’s passion to help seniors from all walks of life, improve their health outcome and her desire to give back speaks volumes to her contributions to the wellbeing of our community and the impact she has made in Ajax.

Ajax Civic Award Youth - Abiraa Karalasingam

Abiraa KaralasingamAbiraa has been an active Member of the Town of Ajax Youth Engagement Advisory Committee, as well as the Recreation, Culture and Community Development Department’s Neighbourhood Engagement Social Team (NEST). Last fall, Abiraa took the initiative to apply to be a “Youth Accessibility Leader” with the Enabling Accessibility Fund, to collaborate with local organizations and help build a more inclusive and accessible Canada. Through this role, Abiraa was provided the opportunity to apply for federal funding to contribute to a project that improves accessibility for people with disabilities.

Seeking to make positive change in Ajax, Abiraa took the initiative to approach the Town's Accessibility Coordinator hoping to partner on a project. In order to decide on an appropriate project, Abiraa attended several Accessibility Advisory Committee meetings to discuss community barriers with committee members. In consultation with the committee she developed a project seeking funding for the installation of an accessible door operator at the Ajax Community Centre’s north ice pad washroom. Due to her efforts and initiative, the Town received approx. $9,000 towards the project installation.

Her passion, commitment, and community devotion coupled with her desire to break down accessibility barriers in Ajax is a positive example to youth encouraging others to follow in order to make our diverse community inclusive and welcoming to all. 

Ajax Senior of the Year Award

EdEd is a passionate volunteer giving countless hours to the betterment of our community. As a retired teacher of 25 years, Ed began volunteering by contributing 10 years to the Ajax Knights Minor Hockey Association, helping to foster, promote and encourage self-esteem, team attitude, self-discipline and technical hockey skills for the youth participants in minor hockey.

Ed began his volunteer journey with the Town of Ajax when he signed on to assist with the Pan Am Games as a Mobile Community Ambassador in 2015. Since then, he has volunteered over 400 hours of his time to the Town.

After the Games, Ed found new ways to give back through a number of older adult and seniors programs and events. Ed became a staple at the Pickering & Village Seniors Centre, attending weekly to assist with art lessons, and also volunteered with their events such as their Holiday and Spring Fling luncheons, Valentine’s Day, and their Holiday Bazaar. He became the centre’s treasurer, helping them to keep track of their operating budget and expenses, ensuring the centre continues to operate successfully financially. He is also a mentor to youth, as the seniors centre also utilizes youth volunteers from the nearby high school. Ed acts as a leader to them utilizing his support as part of their weekly volunteering visits to the centre.

Ed was also a key supporter in the development of the Town’s Age-Friendly Community Plan consultations, assisting with various public meetings, which allowed residents to provide feedback on the Town’s service delivery for older adults and seniors.

When the seniors centre suspended programs and services due to the pandemic, Ed and his wife took it upon themselves to make door to door, social distanced visits on their bikes to club members. As regular volunteers in the centre, they formed a bond with many members, and knew how much the centre meant to them and how difficult it was for them to be isolated and not see their friends. Ed’s door step visits allowed these members to feel connected once again and feel part of the centre “virtually”.

Community Award Recipients

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

Accessibility Award - Kathreen Smith

Kathreen SmithKathreen Smith is a long time Ajax resident who actively gets involved in her local community whenever there is an opportunity to volunteer, be it for Town events or accessibility related matters. She is a take action individual who "always has her eyes open…and if she sees an accessibility issue, be it Town or business related, she immediately takes action."

Kathreen has been a member of the Town of Ajax Accessibility Advisory Committee since its inception in 2002, providing advice and feedback to the Town on programs and initiatives to ensure that they are accessible and inclusive. She has been active in fundraising for Ataxia Canada (Freidrich's Ataxia) as well as for Easter Seals, and she was also the winner of the Region of Durham Accessibility Award in 2015.

Her many years on the Accessibility Advisory Committee, as well as her dedication to volunteerism, demonstrates a commitment to both advocacy and leadership. She strongly believes in breaking down barriers and enhancing opportunities for community engagement and inclusion. She consistently has an impact on the well-being of individuals and her efforts have enriched the quality of life for both individual Ajax residents and the overall community.

Arts & Culture Award - Sanaaj Mirrie
Sanaaj works tirelessly to engage Black youth via dance and drumming at the AFIWI Groove School, Durham Region’s first ever African dance program for children and adults. Her and her team provide fun and active opportunities for youth to connect to their African/Caribbean heritage and culture as well as form bonds with other youth. The school provides an environment of pride in one’s self and commitment to the community by sharing performances of their entertaining skills while also teaching the community to better understand diversity. 
Community Event Award - Sepelene Deonarine

Sepelene DeonarineSepelene and her family have taken it upon themselves to make sure her community stays united and full of pride, and this was especially important and evident during the Pandemic. Sepelene organized weekly outdoor meet ups to make sure that her community understood the tireless work of our first line responders. Weekly notices emphasized how the neighborhood would undertake this effort while staying safe and observing recommended guidelines. This small undertaking made sure that none of her neighbors suffered the perils of isolation, by being able to see each other and have fun at the same time.

These small events also made the world of difference for seniors and empty nesters in the neighborhood. It allowed an opportunity to talk to others and play catch up with neighbors as well a chance to bring together the new younger neighbors allowing them to make some meaningful connections.

Health & Social Service Award - Doors of Compassion

Marla Walters, Ben McPherson, Fredrica Walters, and Shirleen WeekesThe Doors of Compassion program started as a result of the caring, compassionate and tenacious resolve of Marla Walters, Ben McPherson, Fredrica Walters, and Shirleen Weekes, who worked tirelessly to find shelter from the winter cold for unsheltered residents within our community.

This dedicated group volunteered a significant amount of their personal time, tapping into the Homelessness Taskforce, the Town, the Region, Community Development Council Durham (CDCD) and other entities to formulate a solution.

The Doors of Compassion program that exists today houses and feeds dozens of unsheltered men and women each week, and during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a significant force in helping to limit the spread of the disease among transient persons and the broader population.

The program is groundbreaking and can serve as a model for the efficient and collaborative delivery of social and human services in a caring and compassionate way. Our community in Ajax, and in fact the Region, has benefited greatly from these invaluable acts of true volunteerism.

Diversity & Community Engagement Award - Daveisha Francis
Daveisha FrancisDaveisha has been involved in many initiatives in Ajax; most recently, applying for funding to create art opportunities for racialized youth and for youth dealing with mental health issues at Ajax High School. Daveisha felt that racialized youth were not brought up with the same opportunities as some of her peers. She felt by purchasing the art supplies and providing the space within her school she would be able to make the program accessible for students so they will not have to commute to another location. Daveisha has shown a great deal of commitment and a promise to advocate and create opportunities for others in her community.
Education Award - Nicole Andrée Vernon

Nicole Andrée VernonAs a teacher within the Durham District School Board (DDSB), Nicole works to educate, elevate and empower today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders of excellence, purpose and change. Having the opportunity to mentor youth through her volunteer work creating and facilitating workshops, she has empowered them as both a speaker and author, teaching them about issues pertaining to cyber bullying, violence, racism and body shaming.

She was a facilitator/speaker at the DDSB’s “Empower Her Roots” Conference, and the “Still We Rise” Conference at Ajax High School. Nicole was also a speaker at the Caribbean Cultural Association of Durham’s Christmas Event at J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate.

Patient & considerate, Nicole takes pride in every aspect of her job, caring about the future generation and making the success of her students her top priority.

Environment Award - Derek Nguyen

Derek NguyenAs Vice-President of his schools Eco-Team, Derek is a conscientious young man who cares deeply for his community and the environment. He has made significant contributions to the Durham community by engaging in activities to protect and preserve the environment, to feed those in need and raise awareness of threats to the environment.

In 2016, he and his brother co-founded Operation EcoPen to champion the recycling of writing instruments. In addition to recycling, Derek has also been a key advocate for composting at large food events. A few years ago, he was successful in getting a local Ribfest organizer to launch a composting program, for which he continues to volunteer for.

During the pandemic, Derek was acutely aware of increasing food insecurities in our community due to both job/income insecurity and lower volumes of food donations. As a result, Derek and his brother, Luke, started a victory garden with the hopes of donating fresh vegetables to those in need. What started as a few vegetable beds, grew into twelve vegetable garden beds and ten rows of crops, all nourished with natural fertilizer and compost. The boys grew over 300 pounds of kale, radishes, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beans, and bok choy, all of which were donated to Feed the Need in Durham, throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

Good Deed Award 1 - Wayne Young

Wayne YoungIn March 2020, at the start of the pandemic quarantine in Ontario, Wayne made the decision to start running around Ajax Neighborhoods and the Waterfront Trails dressed as Spider-Man. As an experienced long distance runner, he thought it would be good for the community, to help bring smiles, hope and happiness to adults and children who were stuck inside or out for a socially distanced walk along the Waterfront.

He thought it would be encouraging for Ajax residents to see that if Spider-Man could wear a mask while he runs, then it would be alright for them to wear a mask when out at the grocery store or running other errands. "Spider-Man" quickly gained traction through social media, with many special requests being made to have him run by residents’ homes to wave to their children.

Wayne, who had previously worked as a mascot, decided to take his love of running and dressing up to the next level and continued creating joy across Ajax after the lock-down and throughout the summer, running upwards of 20+km in a single run in 30 degree weather, waving to children and other residents as they passed by.

In September, he started fundraising for the Terry Fox Foundation, and committed to running 250km through Ajax dressed as Spider-Man over the course of 7 days (a Marathon a day). Through his efforts, he raised $5,000 for the Foundation, and was featured twice on both CBC Radio and CBC Television.

Wayne is a role model for the Ajax Community, and doesn’t do this for recognition but rather to inspire others to be active and healthy during these challenging difficult times.

Good Deed Award 2 - 100 Women who Care Ajax

100 Women who Care Ajax100 Women Who Care Ajax | Pickering | Whitby consists of local women interested in making an immediate, direct and positive impact within the Durham Region.

Since 2015, this group has donated over $140,000 to 22 charities that offer a wide range of services and programs that support the residents of Durham Region. Each quarter, women from Ajax, Pickering, and Whitby pool their donations and vote for a local charity to support. The group’s impact is far-reaching, from direct monetary support to help fund services, to volunteer connections with members and charitable organizations.

Their meetings and social media presence have helped raise awareness for local charities and their immediate needs, creating a network of like-minded individuals who focus on giving back to their community.

Good Deed Award 3 - Natalia Martin

Natalia MartinNatalia is a grade 12 student at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School. Recognizing how families were financially impacted by the pandemic, she developed and organized a group that together gleaned 1,000 lbs of fresh produce for Feed the Need in Durham this past summer. She achieved this by networking with local farmers willing to allow gleaning of their crops utilizing volunteers she coordinated to do the work.

The challenge during COVID-19, was to find farmers who would be willing to participate, however, this was overcome through e-mails, phone calls, and visits to various local farmers. It was a positive experience for all and Natalia hopes to expand the initiative in 2021.

Recreation Award - Erica Conte

Erica ConteAs a volunteer with the 8th Ajax Beaver Scouts, Erica has provided an outstanding program for youth aged 5-7 years of age that is both educational and fun, and as a result, has increased the participation of youth wanting to get involved.

Despite the gathering restrictions required due to the pandemic, Erica continues to deliver an amazing program for youth, either virtually or outdoors, when permitted. These children look forward to their weekly meetings and for some, it is their only socialization with youth their age. The safe, youth-led and adventurous programs that Erica develops, creates well-rounded children who are better prepared for success in the world.

Erica has also been able to help the program grow substantially by recruiting other volunteers and motivating them in their duties.

Senior Support Award - Doug Bolduc

Doug BolducDoug Bolduc is a long standing member of the Ajax Seniors Friendship Centre and holds a volunteer role on the Executive Board as the newsletter creator and editor. Since taking on this role, Doug has been able to develop a fun and informative monthly newsletter with valuable information for the Centre’s 750+ membership (including members from the Pickering & Village Seniors Club) to benefit from.

Beyond the newsletter, Doug also wears many hats within the Centre’s activities, including contributing to the annual membership drive, helping to organize the weekly Tuesday Social Group’s activities, and assisting with the Centre’s annual member BBQ, Bazaar Craft Show, Spring Fling luncheon and Christmas Dinner. Doug always shows a willingness to volunteer his time to help the Seniors Centre run smoothly and ensure members have everything they need when accessing the Centre.

Doug goes above and beyond to show how much he cares about all the seniors involved in the community.

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