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Renfrew County Warden's Community Service Awards

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer


Citizens who have made a difference were honoured during the sixth annual Renfrew County Warden's Community Service awards.

The award recognizes the outstanding efforts by community champions in the county for their acts and roles with social responsibility and community contributions. This year's recipients were announced during the final 2016-17 session of Renfrew County Council on Nov. 29.

Eleanor Donaldson, who just turned 90, received the individual award. A role model in the community with respect to giving of herself to others in need. Donaldson’s volunteer efforts at Bonnechere Manor and the Renfrew and area communities have been recognized by the Governor General of Canada Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers award. She has been active in her community for over 50 years as a member of the St. Paul's Anglican Church in Renfrew (for over 65 years), the Altar Guild, the Church Choir and the church's fundraising board.

Donaldson has been a member of the ‘University Women’s Club’ for 56 years. The Club’s accomplishments include raising funds from their annual book sale with the proceeds used for scholarships at the local high schools. She has been a volunteer at Bonnechere Manor in various capacities since 2003, establishing many close relationships with residents. She volunteered with the residents to form the Bonnechere Manor choir and the Home’s Auxiliary, which funds valuable activities for the residents. A founding member of Bonnechere Manor’s fundraising Foundation Board in 2003, her efforts raised almost half a million dollars and saw the “Renfrew Rotary Hall” become a reality; not an easy feat in a rural community. An inspiration for not only all community residents but seniors in particular, she loves music, dancing, swimming, golfing, skiing and bridge.

Victoria Cleary and the Petawawa-based VC Athletic Therapy and Bracing received the business award. A reservist with 2 Field Ambulance who worked for four years at the garrison's physiotherapy department, Cleary opened her home-based business in 2010 before moving to its current location on Petawawa Boulevard.

Cleary and and her team have supported various sports events working with the Canadian Forces national men’s soccer team and the Petawawa Grizzlies women’s soccer team, as well as the men’s and women’s rugby teams and the Upper Ottawa Valley Lumberjacks.

She was the athletic therapist in Colorado Springs for the women’s wrestling team in 2012 and worked with members of the Heels Over Head Xperience Gymnastics Club and the Pembroke Lumber Kings. Cleary and her team have supported the athletes and event at the Hell or High Water raft and kayak races since inception in 2009.

The Grind Pembroke received the not-for-profit award. Striving to be agents of change in the community through their coffee house, emergency shelter, and youth programs that run throughout the year, the Grind was the brainchild of OPP officer Jerry Novack. He recognized that the area lacked the necessary resources for marginalized youth who were either at risk of pursuing a lifestyle that could eventually get them in trouble with the law or who had personal issues that were going unresolved because they had no one to listen to them and to mentor them.

Novack initially started the program in Petawawa and then through a partnership with the Salvation Army moved to Pembroke. He then came up with the concept of a coffee house as the base for a community outreach operation that could offer a safe, relaxing place for displaced residents to come and socialize and where they could connect to community health and social resources. Today, the Grind Refuge Homeless Shelter provides temporary accommodations for male and female adults, 18 years and older, for a maximum of four days, seven days per week.


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