This award honours the everyday heroes who roll up their sleeves day-in and day-out to ensure that all members of their community have what they need and stay safe. She is a woman who faces the Covid-19 pandemic head-on through her work on the front lines. She is considered an essential worker and is perhaps an educator, a first responder, a delivery driver, an early childhood care provider, a grocery worker or a custodian. She exemplifies courage and leadership on the front line and through her work, promotes the health and safety of her team and members of the community.
Olivia Mancini brings her passion, dedication, and expertise to six positions across various organizations providing housing, addiction, and harm reduction supports to Hamiltonians. Olivia is a Harm Reduction Worker at the AIDS Network, an Addiction Attendant at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Men’s Addiction Services, a Withdrawal Management Worker at St. Leonard’s, a Research Assistant at McMaster University for the school of Social Work, an Outreach Worker at Wesley Day Centre, and a Case Manager at Salvation Army Booth Centre. When she’s not on the frontline, Olivia is a strong advocate for harm reduction, affordable housing, the right to housing, and trauma-informed care. Olivia is also a Bachelor of Social Work post-degree candidate studying at McMaster University.
Christina Mulder has been the Director of Programs and Partnerships for Open Doors at St. Christopher’s for three years. She oversees the development of new programs, as well as the adaptation of approximately a dozen others. With a small staff team and a large contingent of volunteers, she delivers programs to a diverse group of people, supporting their well-being and navigating them through challenging times. The joy of feeding people has always been at her core and in her current role, she is able to focus on providing dignified, equitable access to healthy and delicious food for the community. With Christina’s dedication and commitment to her values and the community she serves, Open Doors food programming has thrived under her leadership.
Amanda Nagy is the Assistant Bakery Manager at Fortino’s in Hamilton. As a proud member of the JHSC and steward for the UFCW Union, Amanda advocates for the rights of all workers with a special interest in the rights of women. Recognizing the need to have a seat at the decision-making table, she is pursuing her studies at the Labor College of Canada and is actively engaged in political action focusing on increasing maternity leave benefits, publicly funded day care, and pay provisions such as paid sick days for essential workers. As one of the brave faces of frontline essential workers, she was featured on CBC Radio and TV, and was guest speaker at the Vision 20/20 Speaking of Women’s Work event.
Angela Jaspan is a passionate Peer Support Worker with St. Joseph’s Health Care West 5th Campus who provides essential mental health/addictions support to hospital patients who find themselves in need of a peer, an ear, and hope. Covid-19 has not deterred Angela from meeting with her peers, either face to face or on social media. By offering her support and sharing her lived experiences, she has helped others to navigate the system, know that they are not alone and to begin their own journey. In 2011, Angela became a speaker for the TAMI (Talking About Mental Health) program with a focus on Hamilton high schools. In 2019, Angela received the St Joseph’s Foundation Spirit of Hope Award – individual category.
Danielle Pinto is a Grade 8 Teacher at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Hamilton, which is in the inner city. Having experience working as a volunteer for Big Brother, Big Sister, and for The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Danielle has helped families in need – providing extra-curricular activity experiences for youth and providing groceries and furniture to families. Currently, Danielle volunteers helping the homeless outside the First Ontario Centre, by providing warm clothes, meals, and drinks. As a Teacher, Danielle believes that school is a happy place for children. Although some students come from poverty, or a difficult home life, Danielle believes in showing all students unconditional love.
Diana Abdulrahman has worked for over eight years in Hamilton as a frontline worker with vulnerable families in the charitable sector. She started working at Wesley in January 2013 with the EarlyON Children & Family Programs. In December 2015, she joined Wesley’s Newcomer Team as a Life Skills Worker during the Syrian influx, helping to welcome and house thousands of refugees. In June 2017, she became a Resettlement Worker at Wesley and has continued to be passionate in welcoming newcomers. Diana was born in North Sudan and moved to Hamilton as a teenager. She graduated from Barton Secondary School, then earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Psychology from York University, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Concurrent Disorders from Mohawk College.
Elizabeth Cronk has been in the Social Services field for 16 years, starting as a frontline worker with Wesley. She was then involved in developing the Hostels to Homes Pilot Project through the City of Hamilton, a program that successfully housed individuals experiencing homelessness, and is now called Wesley Housing Services. In 2012, she was hired by the Mental Health and Street Outreach Program, through Public Health/Housing Help. In this role, Elizabeth did outreach work with homeless individuals and connected them to critical services. She now continues the same work with the Encampment Task Force through the City of Hamilton. Elizabeth has built strong relationships and is well respected in the community. She is a strong advocate for those most vulnerable and enthusiastically provides support to anyone in need.
Jacqueline Haynes is a dedicated Developmental Service Worker (DSW) who has supported people with developmental disabilities in Hamilton for over 23 years. Her interest in finding solutions and creating a healthy working environment led her to a position with the SEIU Healthcare. While working full-time and maintaining active SEIU involvement, Jacqueline is also a mom. Her passion for the health and wellness of her colleagues working in residential settings and long-term care facilities, put her on a path of hard work and dedication to effect important change. COVID-19 has not slowed Jacqueline down – in fact, it has only highlighted the essential service DSW and Retirement Home Workers provide the Hamilton community and strengthened her commitment to her work in this field.
Naomi Henderson has been a Paramedic with the Hamilton Paramedic Service since 2003. In 2015, she joined the Social Navigator Program team as the Alternate Paramedic. During her role in the Social Navigator Program, she realized her love for helping vulnerable populations and chose to go back to school to enhance her knowledge of addiction and mental health.
Natalie Teal is a City of Hamilton Building Inspector and has been the primary Building Inspector for most of Hamilton’s major downtown developments, including the numerous skyscrapers that have been transforming Hamilton’s skyline over the past five years. Natalie received her Architectural Technology diploma from Mohawk College in 1988, and although experienced in inspecting all types of new construction, she has gravitated towards large and complex buildings and has perfected her inspection routines. She liaises regularly with Architects, Engineers, Contractors and Developers to ensure Hamiltonians are kept healthy and safe in these buildings. These projects can be challenging to inspect, but Natalie’s professionalism, negotiation skills and in-depth Building Code knowledge always shines through.
Riana Kruger is the Director of the Hamilton Confectionery Plant of Mondelēz International, one of the world’s leading snack manufacturers. With 30+ years of industry experience, Riana thrives in her role, which has been statistically male-dominated. Exceptionally inclusive, Riana quickly gained the confidence of 350+ colleagues y after joining the team in March during the first wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Leveraging outstanding communication skills and unequivocal decision-making abilities, Riana executed prompt measures to ensure everybody’s health and safety, while maintaining business continuity. Leading a collaborative and inspired team, Riana develops processes to optimize safety, quality and productivity, creating a positive, safe and growth-focused work environment.
Sandee Green is a dedicated Developmental Service Worker (DSW) who has supported people with developmental disabilities in Hamilton for 40 years. While working full-time and maintaining active SEIU involvement, Sandee is also a proud mother of a son serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. Sandee is passionate about the health and safety of her colleagues in the field and is not letting COVID-19 slow her down. She continues to work towards creating meaningful change for DSWs and Retirement Home Workers and hopes that the pandemic will shine a light on the essential service these frontline workers provide for the Hamilton community.
Victoria Young is a strong woman who went through hardships and personal struggles as a teenager, and is now using her experiences to help youth and young adults as a Support Worker. Victoria is involved in the community and goes out of her way to lend a hand.
Maha Tawadrous moved with her family from Egypt to Canada in 2004, with a hope for a better future. Maha currently works as a Before & After School Educator with the YMCA Of Burlington, and has worked as an International Language Teacher with the Halton Catholic District School Board, as well as facilitated her own Home Daycare. She has donated her time to a number of community initiatives, including Food For Life and YMCA Strong Kids, as well as actively served within her church community. Maha is a passionate childcare advocate f and has the ability to leave a positive impact on the lives of children in her care. Her goal is for each child is to have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Michelle Collins has been working as the Director of Operations at Kerr Street Mission (KSM) since 2019. Throughout the pandemic, Michelle continues to model unwavering courage, resilience, and grace. She has effectively led her team through many unforeseen obstacles by creatively adapting programs, and implementing new safety standards, all while thinking of the vulnerable community KSM serves. She is quick to give a helping hand, even when not asked, and offers words of encouragement to reassure the team. She is first to arrive and last to leave, always putting the safety and success of the agency as her first priority. Her faith continues to guide her heart and it has been instrumental in navigating the team through the most difficult of times.