Volunteer Appreciation Week

It has been a week of appreciating all the dedicated service that volunteers to in our Town.

I had the pleasure of attending the Volunteer Appreciation event that the Town hosts each year for the volunteers that help out the Town specifically. These are people that range in age from teenagers to retired people, and their duties range from helping out with summer camps to ushering at our theatre. It was interesting to hear that :

  • it takes 150 volunteers to put on the Town’s Canada Day Event
  • the Town of Richmond Hill has 767 volunteers in total
  • these volunteers put in over 31000 hours of time for our Town
  • 31000 hours is equivalent to about 18 full time staff positions

I also had the pleasure of presenting my friend Norman McMullan a Volunteer Achievement Award at our 52nd Annual Volunteer Achievement Award Ceremony.  Norman is one of the most passionate and dedicated people I know. He has been a volunteer for many years. He has worked as a volunteer for St Mary’s Anglican Church as the Chair of their Archives Committee and as a member of the Outreach Committee, he co founded the St. Swithun’s Society, he founded a collection of Royal Collectibles, he was a volunteer with the North York Public Library, and he is currently the President of the Horticultural Society as this amazing volunteer organization celebrates its 100 anniversary. I was pleased to be able to present this award to such a deserving recipient.

I also attended the Mackenzie Health Hospital Volunteer gala. The Mackenzie Health Volunteer Association (formally York Central Hospital Volunteer Association) is a group in our community that has been in existence since just before the York Central Hospital was built. The membership in this group has been strong over these years, and they continue to provide a crucial service to our hospital in many areas including volunteering with patients in the hospital, and raising money for the hospital.

As our Commissioner of Community Services, Shane Baker said “Volunteers don’t have time – they have heart”. This is very true – I have always admired people who make a commitment to their neighbours and to their community by generously giving their time to make their corner of the world a better place. For me, this has been the motivation for the volunteering that I have done in our community over the past years. My commitment has not been for any particular reason, and not just before an election,  but all the time. It is a way of life for many dedicated people in our community. They see a need and they feel a need to fill it.

To our volunteers – Thank you for making Richmond Hill a better place for all of us.


Mackenzie Health Hospital Volunteer Association Gala Tony Petruccelli – President

A young Volunteer at the Mackenzie Health Hospital Volunteer Association Gala

Biographies of our 52nd Annual 2014 Volunteer Achievement Award Winner

Nargis Bardai

Nargis is well-known for her work ethic, positive attitude, teamwork mentality, leadership and diligence. She’s well-respected throughout the various organizations she’s worked with and has an impressive portfolio, having served on several committees and boards with a wide range of initiatives. Most notably, Nargis has served as the Director of Yorkland Neighbourhood Centreand has sat on the Parents’ Committee at Richmond Green High School, where she organized English as a Second Language classes within the York Region District School Board. Nargis is also a member of the Sports Committee, Entertainment Committee, Education Committee, Economic Planning Board, Social Services Board and Director of Nursing Homes within her community mosque. In addition, she’s also served as a Minister of Religion at the Richmond Hill Mosque and helped Ugandan refugees, Afghani refugees and new Afghani and Iranian immigrants settle into the community.


Kevin Dark

Kevin volunteers countless hours in Richmond Hill and has done so for many years. Not only is he an active member at the Lady Queen of World Roman Catholic Church, he volunteers with the Breakfast Club at Walter Scott Public School in Richmond Hill, too. As past President of Richmond Hill’s Garden and Horticultural Society, he’s spent countless hours promoting interest, involvement, education and improvement in all areas of horticulture throughout the community. Today, Kevin is the Director of Programming for the Richmond Hill Historical Society where he helped establish the McMullen/Dark Collection of Royal Commemoratives. He is also Vice President of the St. Swithun’s Society which includes portraying St. Swithun in many parades in Richmond Hill and Toronto. In 2013, Kevin was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Award –one of his greatest honours to date.

 Community members recognize Kevin’s service and consistently describe him as a most-dedicated individual to his community.

 Demetrios Fragopoulos

Demetrios is a committed and passionate volunteer who donates his time to the Richmond Hill Curling Club (RHCC) on the Board of Directors and as a representative on various committees. Demetrios has assumed several roles as a volunteer, helping raise awareness to the skill development of novice curlers. His passion for raising awareness about curling is evident from his tireless participation in the Learn to Curl initiative he carries out throughout the entire season. He also volunteers several hours each week at the Novice League sessions to provide additional support and instruction to newer members. In fact, many of the novice members indicated they would have never joined the RHCC if it hadn’t been for Demetrios’s positive presence and his knowledgeable and safe introduction to curling.

Demetrios always conducts himself in a welcoming and professional nature and, as an organization that is dependent its volunteers, he’s a true leader and a dedicated and passionate contributor to the Richmond Hill Curling Club and to the community.

Norman McMullen

Norman’s early volunteer work began at the North York Public Library and later expanded to several other initiatives, including working with St. Mary’s Anglican Church as Founding Member and Chair of the Archives Committee. He’s also a long-time member of St. Mary’s Outreach Committee and, this year, has assumed the leadership role of President of the Richmond Hill Garden and Horticultural Society. Norman, along with fellow award recipient Kevin Dark, established the McMullen/Dark Collection of Royal Commemoratives in the early 1970s – one of the largest and most diverse collections in Canada. In this role, he arranges displays, provides informative talks and offers programs with royal themes using the materials amassed over the years. He also co-founded the St. Swithun’s Society in 1974 to encourage feelings of goodwill and to promote the knowledge of this Saxon Bishop. In 2013, Norman was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Award.

 Norman’s respect for others and his reliable, conscientious dedication to his volunteer tasks has contributed to the enrichment others’ lives. 

Anna Petruccelli

It’s safe to say Anna Petruccelli has had her fair share of roles after volunteer at Mackenzie Health Hospital for more than 20 years! Whether it’s assisting at one of many Mackenzie Health events, volunteering as a baby photographer or as an Information Desk Escort, Anna always performs each role with enthusiasm and hard work. Most recently, she spearheaded Mackenzie Health’s first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Graduates’ Picnic. This event celebrated the specialized care provided to the Hospital’s smallest patients and gave the children and their parents an opportunity to reunite with the staff and physicians who cared for them. For more than 15 years, Anna has devoted herself to providing Respite Care to families with special needs, as well as assisting with the development of mentally challenged children. She is a person who works behind the scenes – never taking direct credit for what she does. In addition, in the last three years, Anna’s also found time to coach a Special Olympics Bocce team once a week.

Anna’s organizational skills and her passion for perfection in all of her roles, make her an ideal candidate for this Award. She demonstrates the enthusiasm for Mackenzie Health and compassion for patients. Volunteers like Anna Petruccelli exemplify the spirit of Mackenzie Health Hospital’s vision to create a world-class health experience for its patients and visitors.

 2014 Enbridge Youth Volunteer Achievement Award Recipient

 Amit Manocha

In the last five years, Amit has participated on Richmond Hill’s Youth Action Committee (YAC) both as a member and co-chair. As YAC member, Amit contributes many hours a week supporting the Committee, coordinating events and contacting businesses to sponsor youth activities. Amit is a strong team member and leader, ensuring all committee members are provided equal opportunity to participate on the Committee. In total, Amit has volunteered more than 400 hours for YAC-related activities.

 On top of Amit’s YAC involvement, he was also a volunteer assistant swim instructor at community centres across Richmond Hill, where he ensured a safe and effective learning environment for all students. Amit is also extremely involved in his school community. He is an enthusiastic member of the Richmond Hill High School World Action Council, which works closely with Free the Children to support developing nations with water projects, as well as alternative ways to help families generate income. In addition, he is the Vice President of his school’s Cancer Society. In this role, Amit supports the 45 student members and provides leadership in coordinating many fundraising activities to support Cancer research. At a young age, Amit realized his classmates’ lack of First Aid knowledge, so he co-founded his school’s Lifesaving Club. The Club’s mandate is to teach high school students the basic First Aid skills required to save a life. Amit also contributes his time volunteering with Yellow Brick House.

 Amit is a dedicated and hardworking, young man who clearly enjoys volunteering his time to support his community and the people around him.

 2014 Naim Malik Volunteer Achievement Award for the Promotion of Intercultural Friendship

 Nadirshah Khoja

Nadirshah has provided the community with a great service through his incredible work ethic and leadership qualities in the more two decades he’s spent volunteering. Of his extensive portfolio, Nadirshah’s work with the Isamaili Council for Canada is his greatest contribution to date. From 2002 to 2005, he served as the Vice Chair for Human Resource Development for the Council, where he was responsible for the implementation of programming for all Human Resource Development portfolios across Canada. This involved volunteer training and delivering youth volunteer initiatives. Nadirshah currently serves as Vice-Chair for Council’s Arts and Culture portfolio. In this role, he is responsible for strategic deliverance of programming and artist development for all Arts and Culture portfolios across Canada, including assembling youth choirs, ensembles and marching bands, as well as strategic benchmarking for artists and their needs. In addition to his involvement with the Ismaili Council, Nadirshah also has an extensive background volunteering in sport. In 1999, he served as the Director of Operations and Logistics for the One to One Challenge – Bailey versus Johnson world event, overseeing transportation, hospitality and venue bookings. He also acted as the Volunteer Manager for Olympic Village entertainment and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies during the 1998 Special Olympics World Winter Games and the World Basketball Championships in 1994. Some of his other notable volunteer titles include Director of Social Services Network for York Region, Community Member for the York Central Hospital Board and Lay Minister of Religion for the Ismaili Jamat in Richmond Hill.

 Nadirshah’s great attitude, dedication and exceptional leadership in the Promotion of Intercultural Friendships exemplifies this Award’s criteria.