Individuals and organizations were honoured with Community Builders’ Awards on Oct 24th in a presentation at The Reach Gallery Museum. Each year, we present the awards annually to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations who work tirelessly, passionately and collaboratively to make Abbotsford a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.

The 2019 Community Builders’ Award recipients were:

  • Harold Janzen
  • Pieter and Fran Vanderpol
  • Vancity Credit Union
  • The Abbotsford News

Harold Janzen is a long-term Archway volunteer who contributes around 90 hours a month in helping seniors and low-income individuals complete income tax returns and other forms. He also volunteers at other organizations and “supports all people without prejudice and with a fierce sense of duty,” according to nominator, Meredith Lee Sperling.

Fran and Pieter Vanderpol were nominated for their various efforts in embracing new and improved ways to respond to issues. They helped lead the charge to develop the Peace and Conflict Studies program at the University of the Fraser Valley, established their Oikodome Foundation to give out scholarships for post-secondary education and are founding members of the Character Council of Abbotsford.

The Vanderpols played a major role in helping support and champion Foundry Abbotsford, one of the over 90 programs at Archway, before it even opened. Fran Vanderpol said when they heard about the vision for Foundry, it was a “no brainer.” They talked about their desire to help find solutions that were more than just a “bandaid” and the importance of involving their entire family.

Manpreet Grewal, the Director of Multicultural and Immigrant Integration Services at Archway presented the award to Vancity for being leaders in investing in communities. Vancity offers accounts and loans to newcomers with no financial history in Canada and was one of the first sponsors of the Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards. In the Fraser Valley, the credit union has actively worked with Indigenous communities, newcomers, and other marginalized groups.

Archway founder, Walter Paetkau nominated the Abbotsford News for their support of the organization over the past 50 years. In their early days, back when Archway was known as MSA Community Services, they were unable to afford the $400 cost of printing their first information directory. The News volunteered to help in exchange for the non-profit promising to pay for the printing “when they could.”

Paetkau reminisced about how the Abbotsford News helped spread the word and support the Food Bank and Christmas Bureau over the years. He also thanked them for the help their coverage provided when he wrote a book about the history of the first 50 years of Abbotsford Community Services. Many of their articles had been collected into scrapbooks and their photos were archived at The Reach.

Publisher Carly Ferguson accepted the award on behalf of the Abbotsford News and talked about how they feel it’s more important than ever for communities to have local newspapers, that can be counted on.

The Community Builders’ Awards were established in 2006 by the Archway Board of Directors to acknowledge outstanding individuals and has since grown to also include other non-profits and businesses.

Mayor Henry Braun gave a welcome speech and Elder Eddie Gardner of the Skwah First Nation conducted the traditional welcome and acknowledgment of the gathering on traditional and unceded Stó:lō territory.

The Employing People in the Community program participants provided set-up and take-down services and live music was performed by Chris and Karen Savage.