Mayor Honours Local Citizens Who Make a Difference

I had the pleasure of honouring four local citizens with Mayor’s Awards last night as part of the Guelph Awards of Excellence gala.Award winners included: Imelda Gazzola Porcellato, the Italian Vice-Consul for the Waterloo-Wellington region, who has been assisting new immigrants to integrate into our community for almost 22-years;  Judy Coulman, the founder of AD VOX: Adding Our Voices Together for Kid’s Mental Health, was also honoured for recognizing a need to develop a mental health advocacy group for children and youth; Christina Pilgrim, who is well-known for her commitment to the Alzheimer Society by entering the 2009 Ascent for Alzheimer’s event and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro; and the final recipient of the evening was local community icon Larry Hill for devoting his time and expertise to improving the lives of his neighbours and community through his work and volunteerism.

Each honouree was presented with a print by local artist Wayne Forest, depicting current and past City Hall buildings.

Each of the recipients exemplifies the City’s vision of “making a difference” through their selfless devotion to the community and the ability to motivate others to follow in their footsteps.

Reading the submissions is incredibly inspiring and is easily one of my favourite duties as Mayor.

Please see biographies for additional information on the recipients:

Imelda Gazzola Porcellato

For almost two-decades, Imelda Gazzola Porcellato, has been educating young people about their Italian heritage and encouraging them to explore their homeland.

In her role as the Italian Vice-Consul for the Waterloo-Wellington region for the past 22-years, Imelda has been assisting new immigrants integrate into our community.  This has included interweaving Italian and Canadian heritage by assisting youth with their travel documentation to return to Italy as students or visitors. These events are life changing for the participants thanks to the dedication of Imelda.

Following WWII, Imelda and her family were part of a large cohort of immigrants to Canada. Whether it was by fate or coincidence, Imelda and her family ended up settling on Ferguson Street, which would later became the home of the Italian Canadian Club where she would spend so many years working closely with her community.

Like many new immigrants to the city, Imelda had difficulty adjusting to life in Canada due to the language barrier. It was thanks to her friends and neighbours that she began to learn the language and feel at home and included.

Despite being on the cusp of retirement, Imelda continues to have close ties to the Italian community and tries to make life for her neighbours a better place.

Imelda is a wonderful example of inclusivity, generosity and dedication. We are delighted she is a member of our community.

Judy Coulman

Over the past 5-years, AD VOX Wellington, a mental health advocacy group for children and youth, has gone from a handful of people meeting to discuss their concerns to more that 200-members.

This grassroots local initiative, whose motto is AD VOX: Adding Our Voices Together for Kid’s Mental Health, provides a much-needed forum for individuals, parents and caregivers to tell their stories and advocate for mental health reform. This direct approach raises the community’s awareness of the issue and gives a voice, without stigma, to the need to invest in our mental health system.

Judy Coulman is the backbone and founder behind this exceptional organization. She recognized the lack of support for children and youth with mental health issues and the impact on their families. She took matters into her own hands and formed a group to bring attention to this important community need. With 25-years of experience in mental health, Judy was the right person for the job.

Judy’s work on children’s mental health issues has grown to include other organizations including: Public Health, Guelph Police, School Boards, City and County Councillors, University of Guelph, Homewood Health Centre, Trellis, and a long list of supporters who want to see her vision for children and youth realized.

Judy’s goals are admirable. They include: providing accessible services that are tailored to the needs of individual families and respectful of culture; research-based treatment and support; and the establishment of a national mental health strategy for all Canadians.

Presently, Judy also sits on the Board of Directors for Parents for Children’s Mental Health; an active member of the National Consortium for Infant Child and Youth Mental Health; and on the National Mental Health Day for Child and Youth committee.

Her commitment and advocacy on behalf of AD VOX Wellington is commendable, as is her ability to bring the community together by sparking candid conversations. Judy shows us that one person really can make a difference.

 Christina Pilgrim

As a volunteer fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society, Christina Pilgrim, is top notch.

During the 2009 Ascent for Alzheimer’s event in support of the Guelph-Wellington Alzheimer Society, she raised nearly $18,000.00 for the organization.

She was part of a team of climbers, doctors and guides who donated their time and experience to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Her devotion to the cause was in memory of her grandmother who had succumbed to the disease. In fact, she was so inspired that she funded the travel costs herself.

Christina’s inspiration for the event was catching. Over the course of the year leading up to the climb, she successfully motivated her family, friends, the broader community and local businesses to get involved.  Numerous community partners provided financial support along the way.  This included media outlets, such as CTV News and our own Magic 106.1, who donated funds and covered her progress as she prepared for this tremendous expedition. 

Her personal journey from the loss of her grandmother to volunteering for the Alzheimer’s society and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a testament to her strength and perseverance. Guelph is the volunteer capital of Canada and Christina embodies this community value. 

The City honours her achievements and her ability to inspire those around her to follow in her footsteps.

Larry Hill

Guelph is Larry Hill’s home town.  Born and raised in Guelph, he is a true native of this community and understands the importance of family, friends and neighbours. Neighbours are wonderful because they are the ones who brighten your day with a wave; a smile; or a cheerful greeting.

Larry is a great neighbour and a caring person. He demonstrates this every day through his work, volunteerism, care giving and his role as a grandfather.

As a maintenance worker for the Drop In Centre, Larry can always be found doing extra chores long after the end of the day. Sister Christine is continually thankful for his assistance with any chore she throws in his direction. It is obviously important for Larry to provide an attractive and dignified space for all who use the Centre. 

Going above and beyond seems to be Larry’s motto. Not only does he provide service for the Drop in Centre, he also looks after maintenance for Elizabeth Place. His work provides comfort and stability to those around him. 

At the crack of dawn every weekend, Larry can be found picking up trash, recycling and cleaning up the park in his area to beautify it for his neighbours. His affection for his community is commendable and selfless.

Finally, in addition to all of his other duties, Larry also volunteers as a caregiver for one of the residents in his building. As part of his duties, he administers her medication; provides meals from the Drop In Centre; and helps her with home care.

Larry’s humanity is inspiring and touching. We are grateful to call him a good neighbour in our community.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

Connect with the City of Guelph

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: