Recipients of the 2023 Community Builders Awards – L-R Sevenoaks Alliance Church, Gary McCaskill, Khalsa Diwan Society, James Clifford, Chantel Funk + Co & Joie Ford
Event Video Recording Available at the Bottom of the Page
Three local individuals and three organizations were honoured at the annual Archway Community Builders Awards, presented by FortisBC, on Thursday, November 2nd at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.
“The nominations recognize the extraordinary people and organizations who strengthen the fabric of our community with their leadership, their volunteer work and their collaborative spirit,” said Pamela Chatry, Archway Board Vice-President and Committee Chair. “They all manifest the values of Archway Community Services. They walk the walk and we’re grateful to them.”
“Thank you for actively being a part of honouring and celebrating some pretty unbelievable people,” said Rod Santiago, Archway Central Executive Officer in his opening speech thanking the 130+ attendees, which included sixteen nominees.
“What truly is so great about Abbotsford is that whenever somebody does need help or support, there is always somebody there,” said Mayor Ross Siemens in his speech. “In our city, we are blessed to have thousands of volunteers who work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Awards were given in the Community Builders Category, which recognizes long-term community service, and the newly added Emerging Community Builders category which recognized those who may be younger, new to the Fraser Valley or have recently started giving back.
Emerging Community Builders Award Recipients
- Chantel Funk + Co
- Joie Ford
Community Builders Award Recipients
- Khalsa Diwan Society Abbotsford
- Sevenoaks Alliance Church
- Gary McCaskill
- James Clifford
Thank you to Presenting Sponsor FortisBC
Event Photographer: Dale Klippenstein
Mayor Ross Siemens spoke at the event
“The nominations recognize the extraordinary people and organizations who strengthen the fabric of our community with their leadership, their volunteer work and their collaborative spirit.”
Chantel Funk + Co
Chantel Funk + Co was recognized for their commitment to diversity and inclusion including having trained stylists knowledgeable in caring for gender-diverse clients and for donating free hair services to youth through Foundry Abbotsford since 2018.
“The feedback from the youth who have been able to access this service in a safe space has been overwhelmingly positive. Some youth are unable to afford basic haircuts and care, and some youth are looking to express themselves in a healthy way and able to use their hairstyles to do so and express their true identity, said Simone Maassen, Archway Manager of Youth & Health Services.
Tori Sellitto, a stylist and Assistant Director accepted the award and shared, “we at Chantel Funk + Co believe that it’s important to give back where we can, and when we can, to promote kindness and integrity to all. We hope that more businesses will do this in our community to help inspire and pay it forward.”
Joie Ford was nominated for supporting and welcoming local youth at her Starbucks location, donating food, organizing a Christmas giving tree, and helping secure more than $20,000 of Neighborhood Grants from The Starbucks Foundation.
“Joie has gone above and beyond anything we had ever really expected,” shared Rob Taylor, an Outreach Counsellor with the Archway Basic Life Skills Training program. “I really think this cycle of sincere giving and receiving is at the heart of a healthy community.”
“I believe in giving back to your community. I believe in showing up for the people that you care about, and that’s even people you don’t even know,” said Joie Ford.
Referring to Taylor and his co-worker James Hogben she continued, “these two lovely human beings who inspired me to ask ‘What more can I do? How much can I give back to my community?’”
Khalsa Diwan Society Abbotsford
The Khalsa Diwan Society in Abbotsford was recognized for providing space and resources to Archway programs including the Best for Babies program and the South Asian Seniors Day Program.
“This program would not have happened if we did not have the space that Khalsa Diwan Society and the food that they provided to all our participants for 15 plus years,” said Monica Grover, Program Coordinator of the Archway South Asian Best for Babies.
“It has just been such a gift to us,” said Tania Rempel, Supervisor of the Archway Family Centre and Best for Babies programs. “I also want to acknowledge that since 1983 this society has given spiritual care, emotional care and physical care to this community, and not just the South Asian community, but that and beyond.
“We’re truly honored to be a part of the community,” said Maninder Singh Gill, President of the Khalsa Diwan Society. “We want to encourage anyone to really approach and allow us to be a part of this community even further.”
Sevenoaks Alliance Church
Sevenoaks Alliance Church was nominated for housing the Talia’s Closet program which offers grad outfits for grads in needs, hosting a food bank satellite location, and organizing Abbotsford Connect events for those who are unhoused.
“Sevenoaks Alliance Church’s generosity is a testament to their deep-rooted commitment to bringing together diverse groups and organizations, creating a stronger and more inclusive community fabric,” said Carmen Machado, a Youth & Family Worker with the Archway Youth Resource Centre. “They have made a significant impact, instilling hope and a sense of belonging in those they serve.”
“It’s basically being a very real privilege to be able to serve in this way,” said Dave Verwoerd who spoke on behalf of the Sevenoaks Alliance Church.
Verwoerd noted the large group of volunteers that faithfully and cheerfully serve food bank guests in providing grocery and household needs. “It’s also been great to see the relationships and camaraderie that have formed between volunteers and guests over this time.”
Gary McCaskill was recognized for his tireless support of Archway, decades of coaching youth sports and organizing fundraisers.
Archway Philanthropy Specialist Janis Mitchell shared how McCaskill has championed Archway, created connections with sponsors and served on the Archway Charity Golf Tournament organizing committee for five years.
“I can’t stress enough that Gary believes in his community, and that’s what makes him a community builder,” shared Mitchell.
“It’s a passion. A passion I grew up with, said McCaskill reflecting on the example his parents set when he was growing up playing sports in a low-income community.
“I can’t thank the other nominees and the people who won enough for doing what you do. It means a lot.”
James Clifford was nominated for supporting the Archway Food Bank and the Special Olympics with volunteering, advocacy and public speaking.
“James’s dedication to the community, healthy living and advocacy for over 10 years has been a joy to witness. James has made an imprint on the food bank, he is well known and loved by our volunteers and staff teams alike,” shared Rebecca Thuro, the Program Supervisor at the Archway Food Bank.
“Archway is a much better place because we have people like James that share their time with us. With help from James, and people like him, the Abbotsford Food Bank helps ensure that over 4,000 people in Abbotsford have access to nutritious foods.”
Clifford recognized his “awesome” team at the food bank and shared that the reason he wants to give back “is for the families that can’t afford groceries.” He wrapped up the awards part of the ceremony by saying, “thank you all for this high honour.”
In a surprise presentation, Steve Carlton was recognized for his nine years of service on the Archway Board of Directors, particularly his five years as Archway board president from 2018-2023.
Recognizing the various community organizations present, Carlton said, “I see the leaders of so many organizations in our community that make us strong. This is never about the individual, this is about the work, and I’ve been so pleased and proud to be a part of many things over the many years, but I think Archway has a very tender place in my heart.”
Carlton ended with an encouragement to “keep up the good work community of Abbotsford. Let’s all dig in and make this a strong, healthy place.”
Carlton remains on the Archway board with Benjamin Lorimer, now taking over the Archway Board President role. In his closing remarks, Lorimer thanked all the nominees and observed that “we live in a great city, but we live in a tough world.”
“As a board member, I think I can speak for the entire board, we’re intensely proud of Archway. It’s a pole star. It’s a beacon in our community. But being here tonight, it’s a pole star in a constellation of stars – all of these people, all of the nominees, all of the award recipients and let’s not forget award recipients in years to come.”
(L-R) Rod Santiago, Benjamin Lorimer, Steve Carlton, Pamela Chatry
Thank you to all the event vendors!
- Mama Michelle’s Catering
- Buckets Flower
- Dale Klippenstein Photography
- Sapphire Sound (venue audiovisual support and videography)