Immigrants need all the help they can receive to assimilate into a new environment.
For Chris Campbell, it seemed like everywhere he turned, after arriving from Jamaica nearly three decades ago, there was a welcoming hand to help facilitate the transition.
“People embraced me and provided opportunities,” he said.
“I will never ever forget that. Toronto has been good to me and volunteering is my way of saying thanks for all the assistance I got along the way.”
Campbell was the recipient of the John Herra Award, presented annually to volunteers who demonstrate outstanding leadership skills and proven commitment to their community.
This year’s Volunteer Appreciation Night event took place on April 13 at the Toronto Police College.
Herra was a Toronto Police Service Auxiliary officer who retired as an inspector in 1996, after 14 years of community service.
“I was an Auxiliary officer for two years at 31 Division, so I can relate to what he did and the impact of his work on the community,” said Campbell.
“There are few things more fulfilling than giving some of your time to help uplift communities.”
He has assisted in the construction of the Breakfast Club’s floats for the annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival, and was among five of his union’s carpenters who volunteered to travel to Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake ravaged the country. He also went to New Orleans, 11 years ago, to build homes for displaced Hurricane Katrina victims.
Carpenters Union in 1989, just two years after coming to Canada, Campbell
completed his carpentry apprenticeship in 1994 at George Brown College and
worked on several major construction projects in the city.
The former construction site supervisor and carpentry apprenticeship instructor is a Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario representative for Scarborough, Markham, Stouffville, Pickering and Ajax. He also helps to resolve labour-related issues between management and workers on job sites or, at the Ontario Labour Relations Board, organize non-union companies and negotiate collective agreements.
Five-, ten-,15-, 20- and 25-year pins were presented to Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) volunteers at the event that coincided with National Volunteer Week celebrations from April 10-16.
Frances Bates was recognized for three decades of outstanding volunteer service.
“Kay Parsons, who was with University Settlement House at the time, asked me to be the safety captain for the street I lived in in 52 Division,” recalled the mother of three, who has been a Toronto District School Board teacher for the past 38 years.
“I accepted and later was a member of the Community Police Liaison Committee.”
Superintendent Dave McCormack, 52 Division Unit Commander, said Bates is an institution in the Division.
“We didn’t have a 30-year pin for her because she predates the CPLCs,” he pointed out.
“Frances is a very giving and caring person, and we could use a lot more people like her to get engaged and to make a difference in the communities that we serve.”
The 14th annual Victim Services Toronto (VST) Award recipient was University of Ottawa student Asha Ali, who was unable to attend the event because of exams.
The 2011 Youth in Policing Initiative graduate has been a T.E.A.R (Teens Ending Abusive Relationships) youth leader with VST for the past five years.
“Asha has shown remarkable leadership skills,” said VST program manager Sarah Rogers.
Appreciation Awards were presented to Black Community Consultative Committee member Yvette Blackburn, Christine Newman of the LBGTQ Community Consultative Committee, 12 Division CPLC co-chair Barbara Spyropoulos, and Mark Tenaglia, 31 Division CPLC co-chair.
Deputy Chief Jim Ramer thanked the volunteers for their service and reminded them they are an integral part of Canada’s largest municipal police organization.
“Our volunteers provide counselling and support and they are group leaders, program co-ordinators, coaches, fundraisers and more,” he pointed out. “They represent every walk of life, age and cultural group. Volunteering is as important to the person who serves it as it is to the person being served. It’s truly gratifying to serve a cause, work with people, solve problems, see benefits and know one has had a hand in making change.”
The Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) funds volunteer programs and support many of its initiatives.
Board member Ken Jeffers said the Service’s volunteers are an extraordinary group of people whose work is critical to the TPS and the city.
“Through their selfless dedication and enduring hard work, they create the foundation for healthy and safe communities,” he noted.
“We owe them a great debt. Their dedication and generosity enrich our society in many different and unexpected ways. They invigorate our communities and infuse them with compassion and they often show that their legacy will inspire generations to come. Through our volunteers, the Service is able to establish positive relationships with all segments of our community and assert a greater presence throughout the city.”
The five-year pin recipients were David Barnes, Margaret Blair-Grant, Marilyn Brady, Chris Campbell, Cathy Carnevali, Arnold Cheung, Jey Dharmaraj, Pinaz Dubash, Dorothy Feenan, Mary Fragedakis, Cecilla Gallivan, Henry Hong, Helen Liepens, Ian Marcial, Henry Motha, Augustre Munro, Jorma Palomaki, John Plumadore, Amtul Rauf, Cindy Rose, Phil Shadbolt, Layla Sharif, Ian Taylor, Stephen Wanless, Lumumba Wolde-Gabriel and Yitong Zhao.
Marie Blanchard, Judy Brunell, John Campbell, Deb Devgan, Brian Dorie, Lee Jackson, Shawn James, Joseph Lam, Elsie Maranan, Carmen Martino, John O’Dell, Maheli Pacheco, Rev. Jim Parker, Dorothy Pestell, Al Stuart and Rosemary Ullyot received 10-year pins, while Suku Balasubramaniam, Gail Bockneck, Donata Calitri-Bellus, Chris and Mike Commins, Linda Martin, Maria Meyers, Hema Murdock, Diarmid Murphy, Heather O’Neil, Cynthia Persaud and Peter Themeliopoulos were awarded 15-year pins.
The 20-year-pin winners were Claire Andrews, John Anga, Gee Chung, James Hamilton, Bud and Floyd Migory, Barbara Spyropoulos and Silvan Tucker, while Fred Chung, Ellen Hudgin, Elizabeth Mason and Paul Newbigging were recognized for 25 years of volunteer service.
Superintendent Frank Bergen, 14 Division Unit Commander, said the TPS volunteers are second to none.
“They are involved daily in the improvement of our surroundings and they choose to help others by caring and contributing to positive change,” he said.
“These are enthusiastic and open-minded people, whose wise counsel and continued commitment to community service and the TPS is unwavering. We simply cannot put a value to their service.”