Community Living Essex County hand out awards at 52nd annual AGM


By Ron Giofu


Community Living Essex County (CLEC) held its annual general meeting last Tuesday night with staff and community members earning several awards.

The 2013 Media Award went to someone who is no stranger to Amherstburg or the River Town Times. Associate editor Joel Charron was this year’s recipient for his support of the organization.

CLEC Eva CLEC JoelTony DeSantis, manager of community relations and resource development with CLEC, pointed out that Charron had provided “excellent journalistic coverage” for a variety of events in the Amherstburg area including Special Olympics, Coats for Kids, Meals on Wheels and the Amherstburg Heroes Athletic Club. DeSantis added he also arranged a photo essay on those receiving employment supports.

Charron thanked CLEC for recognizing his efforts and Michelle Jones-Rousseau for nominating him.

“I’ve covered a lot of Community Living events,” said Charron. “Every event you go to, you leave with a sense of inspiration. I’m very humbled and grateful for this honour.”

The second annual Bruce Crozier Memorial Award was won by Julie Sturkenboom. Sturkenboom was described in her nomination letter as a positive role model to her family and those around her and empowered those in her life to believe goals and dreams are attainable.

Sturkenboom participates in the New Day self-advocacy program, fundraisers including the Jingle Bell Run, the Make a Day Matter day supports program and raises awareness in her community. She has also earned a position with Godfather’s Pizza helping to make pizza boxes, a job that has given her pride and dignity.

“She continues to grow each day through participating in local events and activities,” the letter stated.

Outstanding Achievement Awards went to a person CLEC supports in each of the organizations four geographic regions. In the west area, which includes Amherstburg, the award went to Eva Penner.

Penner’s demeanor has blossomed from being shy to extroverted with her also being described as “bright, energetic and full of personality.”

Penner was also praised for her volunteerism with Meals on Wheels and Wesley United Church and for her participation in the healthy snack program at General Amherst High School, which feeds roughly 200 students. She is also involved in New Day with that group spreading the campaign to end use of the “R word.”

Scott Legault won the Outstanding Achievement Award for the south area while Tina Awad captured the honour in the north area. Dan Martynse won in the central area.

Dr. Paul Smith and Andrew Banar of Group Hug Apparel won Community Inclusion Awards. Smith, who assists CLEC through performing dental work on people the agency supports, said it was an award he shares with all he works with as well as his family.

“It is not a one man show. It’s a team award for sure,” said Smith.

CLEC president Diane Bourbeau read a letter from Banar, who was unable to attend. In it, Banar stated “inclusion is so important in our community and it is an honor to receive this award.”

Greetings were brought by Warden Tom Bain as well as local MPPs. Windsor West MPP Teresa Piruzza brought greetings via a letter while constituency assistant Patti Hayes brought greetings on behalf of Essex MPP Taras Natyshak.

Debbie Rollier, past president of the CLEC board of directors and current president of Community Living Ontario, noted the agencies are continuing to work on behalf of those with disabilities and that they are raising awareness about cuts to home care funding and the reapplication process for “passport” funding as people who turn 18 now have to reapply and get on a waiting list for funds.

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