Tara Jordan is certainly doing something right, because she garnered amongst the highest number of nominations for any category. As coordinator for KidStart, Tara Jordan is a tireless advocate for children and families struggling with poverty and other challenges. Jordan’s positive and generous spirit is contagious and she sees her work as an honour and a privilege.
Greenways Land Trust is a registered charity and conservation organization that works to enhance the community through the creation and management of greenways networks, based on principles of stream and land stewardship. They act as an umbrella organization that works together with local stewardship groups, community organizations and local governments. And they support the activities of volunteer streamkeepers and stewards.
The kids in the Carihi Fly Fishing program won’t call themselves heroes, so their instructor Nic Pisterzi (who himself is nominated for an award in the Educator category) will do it for them.
“They’re inspiring role models,” Pisterzi says. “They’re young conservationists at heart. Yes, they appreciate the sport of fly fishing, but they’ve gone well beyond that now and have started to acknowledge and appreciate that without a clean environment and functioning ecosystem, there wouldn’t be the opportunity for that, because there wouldn’t be those fish out there.”
They’ve cleaned up riverbanks, estuaries, streambeds and neighbourhoods. They’ve rebuilt salmon habitat, released fry, removed invasive plants and installed bird boxes.
“Basically, they’re giving a (expletive deleted) about our community,” Pisterzi says. “When most kids are sitting around playing xBox or Playstation, they’re out there picking up garbage and improving our community.
“That’s why I think they’re heroes.”
Danny Brown was a man with knack for bringing history alive
Danny Brown’s passion for the history of the mid and North Island was evident to all who came in contact with him.
And it was something that he loved to share. As a volunteer for the Museum at Campbell River for many years, Danny was known for his enthusiastic presentations and engaging conversations.
And he came by his knowledge honestly after 39 years of working in the forest industry. He would call on that knowledge and experience when conducting his presentations on area pioneers and the history of the fishing and logging industries. He was particularly fond of the museum’s restored 1930 Hayes-Anderson logging truck. Because of Danny’s diligent care and maintenance of the historic vehicle it was able to regularly appear in parades and local events.
Besides presentations given at the museum, Elder College and elsewhere in town, Danny also narrated the museum’s historical boat tours and fascinated many with his presentation on the Yorke Island West Coast defence site that he created for the Year of the Veteran.
Brown was not just active with the museum, he was also a longstanding member of the Knights of Columbus, getting involved with them first in 1963 and was a mainstay of the Community Christmas Hamper Project Committee. With the Knights, he also helped with special celebrations, coordinated bursaries and participated in fundraisers that helped the less fortunate.
He was also active in other community groups, including St. Patrick’s Parish, Employee and Family Assistance Program, City of Campbell River Parks and Recreation, the Age-Friendly Committee and the Multicultural and Immigrant Services Association.
In 2017, Danny received the Medal of Good Citizenship from the Province of British Columbia for his service to Campbell River and his countless hours of volunteerism.
When he received the medal, Danny said, “I am truly humbled to have been chosen to receive the prestigious Medal of Good Citizenship for volunteering my time with people in our community of Campbell River. I benefit, as a person, and appreciate the opportunities to interact in the day-to-day lives of the young and the young at heart.”
It takes a team to build a hospice facility
In Campbell River, there is a place that provides care for people facing end of life illness or for folks grieving the loss of loved ones. It’s the Hospice Care Centre run by the Campbell River Hospice Society.
To think that this organization was very close to being homeless is unimaginable.
But we have this wonderful facility and organization thanks to a team of caring Campbell River residents who said this service cannot disappear and so they rolled up their sleeves and got to work raising funds or in-kind service. With no government money, this team built an $800,000 hospice facility, providing a permanent home for the society and the services it provides.
That team has come to be known as the Hospice Build Team and consists of Brian Stamp, Darcy Frankland, Jim Dobinson, George Stuart, Gerry Griffin, Brett Giese and Jill Hanson.
“I was reading the (Campbell River) Mirror one day,” Brian Stamp recalls, “there was an article in the Mirror, it was telling the story of the problems that the hospice society was having.”
The society was having to move out of their rented space.
“The article said ‘What are we going to do?’” Stamp said.
Stamp picked up the phone the next day and talked to the executive director at the time and asked what were they going to do? Then a small group met with the society shortly afterwards
and heard some ideas the society had about raising money to buy an old house and renovating it.
“We immediately said as a chorus ‘no, don’t do that, you need to build a purpose-built facility,” Stamp said. “And that was the start of it.”
A subsequent round of phone calls pulled together the Build Team and the first order of business was finding a piece of land, but there was one condition about that piece of land.
“And the ground rules were, we didn’t want to pay for it,” Stamp said with a chuckle.
A number of ideas were explored and through the engagement of then-City councillor Andy Adams (now mayor), a parcel of City owned land was found and given to the project as a serviced lot.
“That was a huge hurdle to overcome,” Stamp said.
There were more to come but, in the end, numerous individuals and businesses in the community contributed to the project and on Sept. 21, 2017, the members of the Hospice Build Team officially turned over the new Hospice House building at 440 Evergreen to the Hospice Society at a celebration
When Dave Cunning retired as a commercial fisherman, he wanted to give back in a way that would show his appreciation for the natural resource and environment in which he made his living.
So for the last, “many, many years,” according to Greenways Land Trust executive director Cynthia Bendickson, he’s been taking care of the fish and waterways of Campbell River.
“He’s just a great, great guy,” Bendickson says.
“I love working with him,” agrees Josie Simpson with Greenways. “He just cares so much about the environment. He’s basically running the restoration work on Baikie (Island) transforming it back into a natural ecosystem after it was basically run over by industry, and his work on Simms Creek and the fish fence has truly been amazing. He knows it like the back of his hand and he just has a rhythm about knowing when and where things need to be done.”
Dave’s one of those people who never turns away from an opportunity to help, either.
“It’s not like a 9-5 Monday to Friday thing for him,” Simpson says. “If he thinks something needs attention, he’s there doing it, whenever it needs it, which is really inspiring.”
“Oh, I just lend a pair of hands and make sure the children don’t go wandering off and get eaten by bears,” says Cheryl Freeman, modestly showing off some of the work she’s been doing in her spare time these days helping Greenways Land Trust take care of the new saplings that have been planted out on Baikie Island.
After moving to Campbell River from Coquitlam three years ago, Cheryl wanted to do something that was the polar opposite from what she’d done her whole life while finding a way to give back to the new community she would call home.
She’d spent her entire career inside offices as an accountant. So she wanted to get out into nature.
“It’s my new home, and it’s where we’re going to be until we’re not breathing anymore, so why not help out? It’s really, really rewarding, and, like I said, it gets me out when I’ve been cooped up for 30 years in an office.”
And she couldn’t have asked for a better group to get involved with, she says.
“Greenways people are so wonderful,” she says. “They’ve got the experience, they’ve got the knowledge, they’ve got the experience, they’ve got the tools, but then when someone like me comes along and has none of that, they’ve got the patience to show me and let me help them, too.”
Having signed on with Campbell River Search and Rescue (CRSAR) in 1992, Grant Cromer is now one of the longest-serving members of the team.
“Nobody told me to leave,” he jokes.
“I’m still here.”
Grant, who is a career nurse, serves as one of the managers and also handles some of the ground search and rescue training, focussing his efforts on rope rescues and swift water rescues.
He remembers his training as pretty informal when he joined up. In the time since, things have advanced significantly, as members typically take part in certified courses now.
“The whole training program has come a long way,” he says.
The CRSAR team has also grown and has just added 17 new recruits to the team of about 40 — all the more important because search and rescue is nobody’s day job and not everyone may be readily available to help out when duty calls.
“We’re all volunteer, so we make do,” he says.
As well as working out of the local office, Grant has devoted time to working with the provincial organization and recently finished his term as North Island regional director for the B.C. Search and Rescue Association.
Amanda and Barry Glickman realized emergency communications service was lacking on Cortes Island a few years back.
From their time at sea they had experience in the field, so they decided they could help expand the network of people trained to provide emergency communications.
“We believe in this issue,” says Amanda.
They started by training local amateur radio operators but understood there was a lack of sufficient infrastructure, and that for an emergency system to function properly the region would need to have to train other operators, beyond Cortes.
“We went off to various communities and taught courses,” says Barry. “We now have exercises that cover the whole region.”
This training has expanded throughout the communities of the Strathcona Regional District, including Campbell River, Tahsis, Gold River, Zeballos and Sayward.
Early on, with no financial support, the couple taught many courses at their own expense. Typically, Barry and Amanda volunteered a couple of thousand hours each year.
Eventually, enough people were trained to set up volunteer communications teams in the SRD, and funding was leveraged to cover some expenses and provide emergency equipment.
“When people realized it could work, money started coming in,” Barry says.
Phoenix teacher Peter Ubriaco vividly remembers what it was like growing up in an environment that maybe wasn’t the most conducive to efficient intellectual development.
“I guess one of the advantages I’ve always thought I have – if you can call it an advantage – is that I had lots of different abuses going on in my house when I was growing up,” he says. “So I feel like I can kinda relate to some of the kids that maybe some other teachers can’t relate to when it comes to the things that are happening outside the school.”
For him, teaching isn’t about transferring information, it’s about building relationships, which is why the nominations that came in all had statements like “I’ve never seen my child so engaged” in them.
“What I try to do is get down to their level and try to remember what it’s like to be a Grade 8 student with a Grade 8 brain and just remember that I have to teach in a way that they buy into what I’m selling,” he says. “They have to believe that what I’m selling has value. I can act like a kid – if there was a camera in this room you’d see me being extremely silly sometimes – but it’s a very delicate balance between being their friend and being their educator and being a counsellor sometimes when you need to, and that’s what I have to do: blend all of that together.”