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Congratulations to the 2020 Bhayana and United Way Agency Appreciation Awards!

Every day, agencies and community leaders support our most vulnerable people and our communities to ensure that no one is left behind.

Whether it’s creating partnerships, generating innovative solutions for inclusive environments, or supporting initiatives focused on mental health, poverty reduction, or basic needs, you’re there to strengthen our communities.

To recognize the value of our frontline workers and agencies, we are proud to celebrate the Bhayana Family Foundation and Agency Appreciation Awards to thank and celebrate these individuals who have shown their dedication to our community.

The Bhayana Family Foundation Awards are made possible by a generous donation from Raksha M. Bhayana and the Bhayana Family Foundation. As a former member of United Way Toronto’s Board of Trustees, Raksha is a dedicated community volunteer and a passionate champion for the recognition of staff who make a difference in the community every day.

Partnership, Collaboration and Connection Award

This award recognizes and rewards individual employees and/or teams who have demonstrated exemplary partnership, collaboration and/or connection in their frontline work.

Case Management Team at HomeFront

  • The Case Management Team at HomeFront demonstrates partnership, collaboration, and connection each day, partnering with police, the justice system, and various community partners to provide support to families impacted by domestic violence after they have been in contact with the police and the case is entering the justice system.
  • Through their highly collaborative work, HomeFront creates effective, meaningful, and lasting change for individuals dealing with domestic violence.

Frontrunners Team at Families Matter

  • The Frontrunners (Families Matter’s youth programming team), know how children can quickly become vulnerable with the new stressors that COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing place upon them.
  • To address this challenge, the group turned up their superpower of innovation, finding ways to creatively support children and families through collaboration. Partnering with another local organization, The Frontrunners developed an initiative to improve health outcomes for children, enabling participants to socialize, learn new skills, and have fun.

Community Building Award

This award recognizes and rewards individual employees and/or teams who have demonstrated dedication to community building.

Adanech Sahilie – Action Dignity (RAVE) (COVID)

  • A self-less, dedicated community worker, activist, and mother of 2, Adanech implemented the RAVE Project which supports 23 grass root organizations
  • The RAVE program (which stands for: Response Advocate & Volunteer Engagement) is an emergency response program that addresses the impact of COVID-19 on ethno-cultural communities.
  • With a compassionate heart for those who are struggling to make ends meet, Adi can often be found organizing fundraising initiatives, coordinating volunteers, and driving around the city to deliver goods to those in needs.
  • She spends hours on the phone connecting single moms, dads, and new immigrants who are struggling to make ends meet to government and or charity organizations

Community Development Team – Trellis

  • The Community Development Team at Trellis, led by Erin Anderson, works in vulnerable communities across our city to empower residents. Where community resources do not yet exist, the Community Development team works with resident groups and community organizations to create these supports.
  • The team’s combination of meeting needs, ensuring residents voices are heard and honored, focusing on morale, and celebration during trying times has had a measured impact on the communities they serve.

Commitment to Person-Centered Practice Award

This award recognizes and rewards individual employees and/or teams who have demonstrated commitment to placing people at the heart of their work.

Melissa Morrison – Site Supervisor, Avenue 15, Trellis

  • Melissa Morrison wears many hats at Trellis. She is currently the site supervisor at Avenue 15, and truly went above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Despite the risk to her own health, Melissa continued her outstanding work reconnecting youth and their families, housing vulnerable youth, and supporting the staff team at Avenue 15.
  • Her selfless efforts to support some of our most vulnerable citizens through a global pandemic were inspiring and deserve celebration.

Cathy Keough – Director of Counselling Initiatives – Calgary Counselling Centre

  • Cathy Keough, Director of Counselling Initiatives at Calgary Counselling Centre, has put people at the heart of her work, adapting the way she leads her team of staff, and serving clients to meet their unique needs.
  • Her commitment to person-centered care has been even more evident this past year while facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. With Cathy’s leadership and guidance, Calgary Counselling Centre transitioned from in-person services to virtual counselling within 36 hours of the initial COVID-19 lockdown in Calgary.
  • Although 2020 brought new challenges, Cathy’s leadership and dedication to individuals and families in need was unwavering.

Frontline Innovative Leadership Award

This award recognizes and rewards individual employees and/or teams who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in their frontline work. These leaders play an exceptional role in helping others contribute to their organization and advance its mission.

Judit Kovacs and Team, Language Assessment and Referral Centre – Immigrant Services Calgary (COVID)

  • The Language Assessment and Referral Centre at Immigrant Services Calgary provides English tests for immigrants who would like to study in federally and provincially funded language programs or enroll in professionally related courses in Calgary and Southern Alberta.
  • Prior to the pandemic, the Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Test was held in person; and online for those who lived in remote communities and were not able to go to their office. To be able to take the test online, the clients had to go to a testing site where a proctor helped them with all the aspects of the assessment.
  • After the closure of schools and their office in March 2020, both in-person and remote ways of testing became impossible to offer.
  • In partnership with the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks, Judi Kovacs, Sally Okasha, Lindsey Nill, Nargiza Djalilova and David Whitehead led the development of a new proctor-less version of the existing remote assessment.
  • By the end of April, this small but mighty team found a new platform for the Listening/Speaking test, developed a procedure to screen clients, and found ways to communicate with clients before, during, and after the test.
  • After many pilot tests, the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks evaluated the findings, built the new documentation and procedures, and ultimately gave permission to start using the newly formed tool.
  • The Immigrant Services Calgary team was the first in Canada to use the new tool and are proud of their leadership in developing the new tool.
  • As of March 17, 2021 – over 2,500 have completed the test from the comfort of their home

Amy Munroe, Team Lead, Direct Service – Sagesse

  • Under Amy’s leadership, the Direct service team was able to alter the in-person programming facilitation plans, workbooks, and clinical programming features into a new format that would work on Zoom. They made the changes within the team and quickly and comprehensively communicated the changes to their volunteers, and participants.
  • Amy worked closely with Sagesse’s executive team to manage the development of new privacy protocols to handle any issues that may come up while participants were talking about very personal experiences of abuse online.
  • Amy also worked on the development of a new Text and Chat support feature that allowed people within Calgary and across Alberta to access support and resources from Sagesse from the privacy of their web browser or phone. Since many people in Calgary were isolated with their abuser, these types of access points became increasingly required.
  • In addition to these items, Amy also worked on developing a new program to help support informal supporters. This program, called Stand By, recognizes that supporting someone experiencing or using abuse can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. This peer-based group provides both informal and formal supporters an opportunity to talk to a Sagesse facilitator as well as other supporters about their experiences, ask questions, and provide encouragement.

Above and Beyond Dedication in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Award

This award recognizes and rewards individual employees and/or teams who have demonstrated remarkable commitment and passion to their work and community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fatima Macavinta – Nursing Coordinator, Licensed Practical Nurse – The Drop in Centre

  • Fatima worked as a Case Manager for the Housing Team for many years prior to the pandemic; however, once the pandemic hit, she pivoted her position and joined the Heath Care service team where her education and knowledge in health care could be utilized.
  • Fatima was instrumental in the design and setup of the overflow shelter health service delivery model   o She has worked tirelessly to ensure there was early- intervention and isolation options as positive COVID-19 cases hit the DI
  • On top of her critical role during the pandemic; Fatima’s leadership skills never faltered; she was quick to provide support and advice to new health care workers on how to stay safe in uncertain times, how to keep others safe and lead fearlessly.

Agency Social Innovation Award

Social Innovation: “Novel ideas that work to resolve social problems for the benefit of society, not for individuals alone.” This award recognizes an initiative or agency that has implemented a socially innovative idea which led to a community or organizational change.

Gateway – Immigrant Services Calgary

  • Gateway is an innovative client-centric approach to delivering services to newcomers by way of provisioning a standardized needs assessment followed by a referral process to help clients access appropriate services as needed.
  • This program will remove the inefficiency and duplication that comes with multiple agencies collecting data on a single newcomer or newcomer family who may engage with multiple agencies.
  • It will also help identify key barriers, and service gaps, enabling the sector to better meet newcomer needs.
  • The Gateway Partner Advisory Council is made up of the following organizations: Center for Newcomers, Calgary Local Immigration Partnership, The Immigrant Education Society, United Way, Cite des Rocheuses, University of Calgary, and Immigrant Services Calgary.

Engaging Communities Award

The community we live in impacts the kinds of chances we have in life. Research shows living in neighbourhoods with high levels of poverty can negatively impact life expectancy, physical and mental health, early childhood development, and overall quality of life. This award recognizes agencies and initiatives that exemplify a strong commitment to mobilize community members in addressing the issues that matter to them.

Frontline Shelter Providers – DIMustard SeedSalvation Army and Alpha House

  • The DI, The Mustard Seed, Alpha House, and the Salvation Army worked together to create process and ensure no one was turned away in their time of greatest need.
  • Working together they lent each other support, and together they created smooth referral pathways when needed and continue to communicate and collaborate regularly.
  • Their joint advocacy resulted in the homeless population being prioritized for Phase 2C of the vaccine roll-out.

George Blondeau Indigenous Support and Awareness Builder Award

This award recognizes agencies and initiatives which exemplify a commitment to support the Indigenous community and build awareness to both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community through their services.


  • Trellis, a newly formed agency, has combined the history of the Indigenous initiatives through the legacy agencies to deepen their offerings, advocacy and allyship.
  • From the support and wisdom of the Elders and Knowledge Keepers Council, Trellis has been able to work to dismantle colonial underpinnings and look forward to improving the experience for those using their services.
  • Trellis has worked to change in key internal policy areas to honor Indigenous Ways of Being and Knowing, training, Ceremony and cultural practices, and advocacy and education.
  • One major project has been the development of the new policy that is representational of the TRC 94 Calls to Action.

Together We Can Award

This award recognizes significant partnerships between and among community agencies, community groups, government, businesses, and/or citizens to address and alleviate complex social problems that can’t be solved by one sector or organization alone in order to achieve large-scale, lasting social change. Two recipients are being recognized in this category for their incredible work in the community.

Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative (CENC) – Center for Newcomers, Immigrant Services Calgary, The Immigrant Education Society, Action Dignity , Calgary Local Immigration Partnership

  • The Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative led by Center for Newcomers, Immigrant Services Calgary, The Immigrant Education Society, Action Dignity, Calgary Local Immigration Partnership, came together in response to the pandemic to specifically help newcomers and ethnocultural communities with COVID-19 needs.

COVID Re-entry Strategy for Persons with Disabilities – Cerebral Palsy Association of Alberta

  • The COVID-19 Re-entry Strategy for Persons with Disabilities, led by Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta, sought to bridge gaps in COVID-19 guidelines that impacted the lives of persons with disabilities.
  • COVID-19 created additional barriers in day-to-day lives, along with the pre-existing barriers they already live with, from not being able to wear a mask, to the challenge of social distancing when assistance from a caregiver is required.
  • The Strategy established a Task Force that brought stakeholders, agencies, self-advocates, academics, and the government together to address challenges for the disability community.
  • Through their work, an indispensable guide has been created to support persons with disabilities, their families, caregivers, and service providers throughout the past year.
  • Through cultural brokers, support was provided in 20+ languages with referrals to more than 16 agencies.
  • The Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative is an incredible example of how we can work together to help people – they believe that a strong community is created through building relationships and I couldn’t agree more!  Congrats! 

Thank you for your commitment to improving lives across Calgary and area! United, we make the biggest difference.

Originally posted on Calgary United Way’s website.