What are volunteers if not a gift? They make our community stronger, safer, and healthier. They make it more inclusive for seniors and people with disabilities. They support education and healthcare, sports and food security. They're an integral part of our multicultural arts scene, and the beating heart of countless community programs.
All that, and they keep on giving. Not even the pandemic has slowed them down. Over the past two years, whether virtually or in-person, volunteers have continued to enhance the lives of Richmond residents. They've graciously and enthusiastically shared their time, skills, and talents, working tirelessly to help our community stay connected, and overcome one challenge after another.
Now, it's time again to recognize their contributions. RCRG is proud to present the 2022 Volunteers Are Stars Awards, taking place virtually on April 27, during National Volunteer Week.
It's a pleasure and an honour to introduce the 18 individuals and groups who have been nominated for a 2022 Volunteers Are Stars Award. Each nominee has made a meaningful difference in our community. Collectively, they've contributed thousands of hours to dozens of causes, enhancing the lives everyday Richmond residents. Their volunteer work has impacted children and youth, seniors and families, and those experiencing poverty and homelessness. In short, every one of them is a star, and their light makes our community shine so much brighter.
The winners - one in each category - will be announced April 27, during a virtual awards ceremony. Shortly thereafter, videos of each winner will be posted here, along with a recording of the event itself.
For now, please join us in celebrating the nominees, who so brilliantly represent Richmond's volunteer spirit.
Nova Star (Outstanding Individual Volunteer)
Constellation (Outstanding Volunteer Group)
Chimo Community Services - Outreach & Advocacy Volunteers
Richmond Public Library's Teen Ambassadors
South Arm United Church Outreach Committee
Walk Richmond Volunteers
Shooting Star (Outstanding Youth Volunteer)
Li Qing Wang
Star of Richmond (Excellence in Non-Profit Leadership)
The four recipients of this year's Volunteers Are Stars Awards have each found meaning and value in community service. In many cases, they're involved in causes with which they have a personal connection, channeling their passion in a way that benefits others. You'll notice that they frequently reference how much they enjoy working with people, which, in the end, is what volunteering is all about. You meet fellow community members, you make new friends, and together, you make a difference.
Our 2022 recipients highlight the diversity of Richmond's volunteer spirit, even as they share a common sense of purpose. In their own way, they want to make their community better, and we hope, by recognizing their efforts, we've shown that they have.
To the winners, to the nominees, and to everyone who gives their time in support of our community: thank you for the contributions you make, the inspiration you give, and the example you set.
Tammi Belfer has been volunteering for nearly five decades, often in leadership roles.
From 1974 to 2000, she served as a Board Member with the Organization Through Rehabilitation and Training. Rooted in Jewish values, the organization enhances the economic prospects of individuals and communities by providing them with employment and entrepreneurial skills.
Through much of the 1980s, Tammi was a Board Member with the Richmond Aquanaut Swim Club, which later merged with the Richmond Racers to become the Richmond Rapids Swim Club. During her time there, she served as Treasurer, supported membership development, and regularly volunteered at swim meets.
She also served eight years on the Board of Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, back when the organization was known as Volunteer Richmond Information Services. Here, too, she volunteered as Treasurer. She remains involved with the organization’s Richmond Christmas Fund program, volunteering each holiday season to assist families in need.
Since 2015, Tammi's served as Board President of the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre, where she’s had a transformational impact.
She’s played a key role in developing the organization’s Board, recruiting a diverse group of new members – including many young people – who are passionate about helping women build connections and thrive in their community.
Tammi also volunteers as Project Manager for the organization’s annual International Women’s Day event, which is both a community gathering and a major fundraiser, complete with an auction and raffle.
Recently, she helped lead the Resource Centre in drafting a five-year strategic plan, and, in 2019, was a key voice in the organization’s rebranding effort, which resulted in a new logo created in consultation with the community.
During COVID, Tammi worked diligently with the organization’s Executive Director to bring all of its programs and services online, so they would remain accessible throughout the pandemic.
Speaking of programs, it’s another area where Tammi has had a substantial impact. She helped create many of the Resource Centre’s most popular initiatives, from Hot Ink, a creative writing program for teenage girls, to Work Ready, which supports women in developing employment and job-search skills.
She’s also a current Board Member of the Jewish Senior Alliance and Beth Tikvah Synagogue, where she actively participates on committees, and generously shares her knowledge and experience, so both organizations can better serve their constituents.
Through her decades of service, Tammi has left an indelible mark on the Richmond community, and improved thousands of lives.
She’s still giving her time, and still making a difference, even as she mentors young volunteers on their way to becoming community leaders. She’s one of the giants on whose shoulders they’ll stand.
Li Qing Wang has found time to build an impressive volunteer resume. Her community service is especially noteworthy because finding time isn’t easy: she’s also enrolled in medical school.
In 2020, as part of the Leadership Richmond – Youth Now program, she joined the Board of the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre, where she continues to volunteer today.
Initially, Li Qing took time to observe and learn the fundamentals of non-profit governance. In short order, however, she was making significant contributions, from serving on the Governance committee, to co-leading the revision of the organization's constitution and by-laws.
She also developed and launched a new program, which, by providing resources and mentorship opportunities, empowers female-identifying youth to pursue professional careers.
Li Qing's medical background has created another avenue of community service. During the pandemic, for example, she helped facilitate contact tracing in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, with a focus on physicians who had been exposed to COVID-19.
She also mentors students from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, supporting them along their journey as they apply to medical school.
Over the years, Li Qing's volunteered with the Richmond Centre for Disability, Richmond Lions Manor, and Canadian Cancer Society, and back in high school, at A.R. MacNeill Secondary, she served as President of the First Responders Club.
During her time in Youth Now, she worked with other young leaders to create a video, meant to highlight the Richmond community’s resilience throughout the pandemic.
The video features interviews with volunteers and non-profit leaders, and acts as a living historical document, emphasizing how strong and connected our community truly is. Li Qing has played a big part in that, not wasting a single minute as she pushes for – and inspires – positive change.
When it comes to volunteering, there are no age limits. Just ask ‘Grandma Gen.’ At 98 years old, she continues to serve her community, as a member of the South Arm United Church Outreach Committee.
The group has a long history of supporting Richmond’s charitable sector, raising funds through car boot sales, silent auctions, and its much-loved Annual Country Fair.
Most significantly, however, the Outreach Committee has had a 20-year association with the Heart of Richmond AIDS Society, an organization that provides one-on-one and group support, counselling, and advocacy services to people living with HIV and AIDS.
Each month, volunteers in the group host a free dinner for Heart of Richmond members, their families, and caregivers. Over the years, these gatherings have become a lifeline for vulnerable and isolated members, offering a supportive, safe, and familial atmosphere.
For those living with HIV and AIDS, the dinners have had a positive impact on their health and self-esteem, giving them the confidence to engage in other community activities.
During COVID, the dinners couldn’t happen, but the Committee volunteers didn’t stop. Rather than hosting a group meal, they prepared and packaged individual meals at home, then delivered them to the Heart of Richmond office, where they could be distributed to members.
The volunteers give back in other ways as well, whether by providing members with emotional support, driving them to community events, or donating clothing and household items to members who are struggling financially.
Earlier in April, the Committee hosted its first in-person dinner since the pandemic began. For both members and volunteers, it was something they had been looking forward to, and a chance to bring their shared community back together.
Dawn Thomson has been described as an “agent of equity.”
Since 2004, she’s volunteered with the Richmond chapter of Special Olympics BC, supporting the organization at both the operational and executive levels.
As Equipment Manager, she assists coaches in maintaining, tracking, and transporting sports equipment, uniforms, and other items, ensuring that Special Olympics athletes have everything they need to perform at their highest level.
She’s also a coach herself. Currently, she works directly with 11 athletes, coordinating their annual program and equipment needs, and, together with her son, providing them with fundamental fitness exercises.
When not on the court or the field, Dawn helps host social events for athletes, giving them an opportunity to come together, network, and celebrate as part of a larger community.
In addition to all this, she’s one of the organization’s star fundraisers. From hosting pub nights to securing donations from local businesses, she works tirelessly so that individuals with intellectual disabilities can grow and thrive through the power of sport.
Dawn's other passion is volunteering at the Salvation Army Rotary Hospice House, where she’s served since 2009. In her time there, she’s worked alongside care staff to support over 400 individuals and families, helping to make the end-of-life transition manageable, peaceful, and comforting.
As the parent of a daughter living with Down Syndrome, Dawn speaks glowingly of the supports and services available to Richmond residents. Her family has benefitted from organizations like the Richmond Society for Community Living, and in turn, she’s paid it forward many times over.
Reflecting on her life in Richmond, she says that it “gives me a sense of higher purpose and belonging to live and volunteer here.” In community service, she’s found a way to show gratitude and make a profound difference.
On April 27, during National Volunteer Week, we held a virtual ceremony to announce the winners of the 2022 Volunteers Are Stars Awards. To everyone who attended - the recipients and nominees, their family and friends, elected officials and community partners - thank you for joining us. For those watching the recording, we appreciate you taking the time to learn more about our community's brilliant volunteers and their many accomplishments.
Of course, next year, we hope to once again host the Volunteers Are Stars Awards in person, so we can celebrate together. Whatever happens, though, one thing is certain: volunteers will continue to have a profound impact on the Richmond community, and we'll be here to thank them for all that they do.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of our Media Sponsor, the Richmond News. The paper is a friend of our organization, and a partner in promoting and encouraging volunteerism. Be sure to check our their April 21 issue for stories and features on local volunteers, and a full-page ad recognizing this year's Volunteers Are Stars nominees!
A little time may have passed, but their contributions remain as meaningful as ever. Read about the many brilliant winners and nominees from previous editions of Volunteers Are Stars.