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Niagara Impact Awards

The Niagara Impact Awards recognize community members who have made a positive impact on life in Niagara.

Residents were encouraged to nominate individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations who have gone above and beyond to help make living in Niagara a little better for others during the past year.

With over 250 submitted nominations, hundreds of stories were shared about those who made a substantial, positive impact on our communities. The scope and scale of the nominations ranged from moving personal stories, to broad, region-wide examples of service.

Meet the Recipients

2021 Impact Award winners

On June 24, the Regional Chair announced the names of the eight winners of the 2021 Niagara Impact Awards.

  • Youth Award Winner - Anisha O'Brien
    Anisha O'Brien The winner of the 2021 Niagara Impact Award for Youth is 12 year old Welland resident Anisha O'Brien.

    This young resident applied the new skills that she learned during the pandemic to help those less fortunate in our community by crocheting 100 scarves. Those scarves were then donated to the Hope Centre in Welland so the homeless in her community could stay a little warmer during the winter.

    Her efforts and generosity are inspiring and a step towards improving the quality of life in Niagara.

  • Individual Award Winner - Natasha Bell
    Natasha BellNatasha Bell of St. Catharines has taken remarkable steps to help enrich our community by supporting diversity and black-owned businesses across Niagara.

    Natasha's positive and constructive outlook has helped to make Niagara a more welcoming and inclusive community, while also putting a spotlight on black business owners who have persevered and prospered in the face of adversity and systemic prejudice.

    Ms. Bell received multiple nominations from those who could not say enough positive things about the impact she is having in our community.

  • Individual Award Winner - Amanda Cote
    Amanda Cote Amanda Cote of St. Catharines is a selfless individual who is making a difference on a personal level for many in our community.

    While her acts of service may be more personal than some others, they are making no less of an impact.

    From coordinating baseball tournaments as fundraisers for those who needed to purchase a hospital bed at home, to hand delivering groceries to housebound residents during the pandemic, this individual serves her community without any thought of herself.

  • Individual Award Winner - Justin Preston
    Justin Preston Fort Erie resident Justin Preston received multiple nominations for his work in several different areas.

    Justin is a Kid's Help Phone ambassador, an anti-bullying advocate who started Rise Against Bullying, a global campaign designed to support victims of bullying, those with mental health issues and individuals in the LGBTQ+ community.

    Nominators also pointed out that this recipient hand wrote hundreds of Christmas cards to individuals who were shut-in due to the pandemic. Justin's contributions to our community is vast, and he is certainly deserving of this award.

  • Non-Profit Award Winner - The Valhalla Project Niagara
    Three Golden Retrievers The Valhalla Project Niagara is a relatively new non-profit out of St. Catharines. Its mission is to provide first responders and veterans with mental health treatment, while advocating for post-traumatic stress disorder supports for those who work to keep us healthy and safe.

    While they have numerous service offerings, their innovative service dog program aims to provide trained service dogs to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. They also eliminate the fostering aspect normally associated with service animals. This unique approach reduces costs and increases the bond between the dog and the individual.

    All of their services are offered free of charge and they have already seen amazing results in a short amount of time.

  • Non-Profit Winner - Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 613
    Royal Canadian Legion logo The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 613, out of Fonthill jumped into action when the pandemic hit, offering a service that was far outside of their core mandate.

    After mobilizing a team of volunteers, and partnering with local businesses, the Legion managed to prepare and deliver over 14,000 warm meals to seniors and veterans in the community who were housebound due to COVID-19.

    This service was offered free of charge and made a lasting impact for those in Niagara.

  • Business Award Winner - Dillon's Small Batch Distillery
    Owner of Dillon's Distillery Dillon's Small Batch Distillery's innovative use of their manufacturing process to make hand sanitizer came at a time when sanitizer was hard to find, and certain retailers were inflating prices and exploiting our natural anxieties about COVID-19.

    If we think back to the early days of the pandemic, sanitizer was a hot commodity - Dillion's did what they could to help out, even making their sanitizer free of charge for first responders and health care workers in our community.

    Their innovative process to produce the sanitizer was copied in numerous other places outside of Niagara, proving its real impact.

  • Community Leader Award Winner - Tom Rankin
    Tom Rankin The Community Leader Award was presented to Tom Rankin for his work to raise $2.8 million to purchase a new MRI machine for our hospital system.

    Tom's individual contribution and his ability to secure donations will have a lasting impact on the health of our community for decades. This huge sum of money was raised in just over two months and demonstrates his generosity and leadership in action.

    To quote Lynne Guerriero, one of his nominators, "Tom's leadership has demonstrated just how much the community values him as a philanthropist, a business leader, and as the public face of what it means to make Niagara a better place for all who live here."

Award of Merit and Certificate of Recognition recipients

The Regional Chair congratulates all nominees for the inaugural Niagara Impact Awards. The following individuals, businesses and non-profits received Awards of Merit and Certificates of Recognition.

A to M N to Z

Alchemy Yoga and Wellness Studio
Amanda Griffiths
Amber Hughes
Ayah Alkadi
Ballet Etc. Studio for the Arts
Baraka Shawarma and Donair Niagara
Beechwood Doughnuts
Bethlehem Housing and Support Services Niagara
Big Red Market
Border City Paper
Bradley Ulch
Brothtaking Soups and Sides
B4 Networks Inc.
Bryan Rose
Canadian Tire Grimsby
Carole Fuhrer
Charle Peck
Chelsea Bolger / Clinton Paul Family
Chelsea Wainwright
Christine Kempf
Christopher Yendt
Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CARES) Niagara
Clark Peddle
Community Living St. Catharines
Community Support Services of Niagara
Con Gusto Artisan Baker
Copper and Twine Artisan Boutique
Corner Cafe
Country Basket Garden Centre
Craig Brown
Dan Giancola's BTO Performance
David Sabina
Davies Environmental
Devries Fruit Farm
Donna Hepburn
Donna Poirier
Dr. Mike Venneri
Elly Hoff
Emily Kovacs
Erica Williams
Falynn Shaw
Fort Erie Arts Council
Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre
Frankie Pietrangelo
Fred Bowering
Friends of Crystal Beach
From The Strait
GBF Community Services
Gillian's Place (Nicole Regehr and team)
Gina Teabo
Gino's Pizza
Greg Nemcko
Hannah Traynor
Hanya Nagy
Hard AF Clothing
Heartland Forest
Nature Experience
Ian Smith
Incoho Restaurant
Jacob Botbyl
Jaime Fay / Quest Community Health Centre
Jennifer Benstead
Jill Stiefelmeyer
Jimmy Stahl
Joanne Mcrae / Gabrielle's Catering
JoAnne Turner
Joe Ambrosio
John Dempsey
John Stamp
Josh Green / Go Fitness Niagara
Katie Schinkel
Ken Beaudette
Lemayzzz Meats
Linda Boich
Liz Throw
Lorraine Simpson
Luca Vitali
March of Dimes Buckley Towers
Mark Tym
Matt Anthony Guarasci
Matthew Cuthbert
Melissa Stevens
Melodi Doiron
Mendelt Hoekstra / Momentum Choir
Michael Lethby
Michelle Caza
Mike Hicks
Mishka Balsom

Natalie Caruso
NFCO The Soup Kitchen
Niagara College
Community Health Centre
Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre
Niagara Furniture Bank
Niagara Gardens Senior Living
Niagara-on-the-Lake Ukesters
Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Palliative Care Service
Niagara Regional Native Centre
Niagara Sea Cadets
Nicholas Printup
NOI Fonthill
Pam Laverdier
Paul Damiano
Paolo Sirianni
PBO Group
Port Cares
Port Cares Reach Out Centre
Port Colborne Lioness
Quest Community Health Centre
Renee Delaney / Small Scale Farms
Revalee Brunch Cafe
Rhiannon Burkholder
Ridgeway Lions
Romby's Tavern and Smokehouse
Roto Rooter
Ryan Crawford
Salon Carrizz
Salvation Army Booth Centre St. Catharines
Sarah Kaufman
Sarah Thompson
Sean Vanderklis
Sheri Hawkins / Mainly Niagara
Shoppers Drug Mart-Linwell
Silia Stapleton
Silver Spire United Church
Socks and Snacks
Southridge Jam Company
Spicy Olive
SRH Health Food Store
St. Joseph Bakery
Start Me Up Niagara
Steven Soos
Susan Fielding-York
Susan Venditti
Suzanne Johnston
Talent 2 Design
Tammy McMillian
Tax Pro Niagara
Tender Cuts Quality Meats
The Barry Team / Revel Realty
The Bell Tower
The Niagara Centre for Creative Arts
The Pie Guys Bakery and Cafe
The Red Box Project Niagara
Amy Welch / The Shopping Heart
The Village Boutique
The Village Flower
Third Space Cafe
Tim Empringham
Trillium Environmental
United Way Niagara
Valerie Jones
Village of Hope
Warren Dittrick
Welland Public Library
Wellspring Niagara
Wendy Walker
Westview Centre 4 Women
Wise Guys Charity Fund
Young Caregivers Association
10th Welland Scouting
24-7 Water

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