Nine Hamilton seniors were the proud recipients of this year’s Senior of the Year and other achievement awards announced by the city on Friday.
The Senior of the Year awards, now in its 25th year, is a program to recognize volunteer contributions by Hamilton residents over the age of 65.
“We know that there are a great number of older adults that are volunteering and that individuals and community organizations really respect and want to recognize them for their efforts,” said Lisa Maychak, a project manager for the city. “A lot of the programs and services wouldn’t happen without volunteers.”
Nominees for Senior of the Year are also considered for a number of other awards, which were all announced Friday.
There was no awards banquet this year because of COVID-19, so the nine awards were presented to recipients at their homes. There were a total of 21 nominees this year, who were also recognized with a certificate signed by Mayor Fred Eisenberger, which was sent by mail.
Four of the award recipients spoke to The Spectator about their volunteer efforts.
Ica Smith, 73, has always tried to help others whether that meant babysitting her friends’ kids, bringing people groceries, or volunteering to garden.
“Once you volunteer, you realize how important it is for society, because there’s such a need for extra help,” she said. “You’re really just giving some time.”
Smith has organized fundraisers and flower shows, and volunteered for the Canadian Cancer Society, among other organizations. She also tends to the garden at Jason’s House, a March of Dimes home for people living with disabilities.
An 87-year-old professor emeritus of math and statistics at McMaster University, Sri Gopal Mohanty spent decades promoting intercultural awareness and dialogue in Hamilton.
“Canada’s multiculturalism ... has inspired me,” he said.
He helped found the India Canada Society in the 1970s, as well as the predecessor to the mayor’s race relations committee.
He has volunteered with the Peace Brigades International and the Ancaster Community Food Drive, among other causes.
A volunteer with a number of organizations and committees, 76-year-old Penelope Petrie is currently the chair of the city’s seniors advisory committee.
She has been on the board of directors at Sackville Hill Seniors Recreation Centre for the last decade and is involved with the Hamilton Council on Aging.
Volunteering “is a way of staying connected,” she said. “It broadens your horizons.”
Dave Dedrick, 72, has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity Hamilton for almost a decade.
A former welder, Dedrick helped fix equipment which would be sold through Habitat. He also developed a tool to strip electrical wire quickly.
“It just becomes part of nature that you just pass on what you learn from your experiences,” said Dedrick.
Margaret Harris — Lifetime Achievement Award
Dave Davey — Behind the Scenes Award
Jean Lethbridge — Economic Leadership Award
Lee McKay — Compassion and Companionship Award
Archie McQueen — Healthy and Active Living Award
Maria Iqbal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator