‘Mayor’s Office Challenge Coins’ honours Clarington volunteers


Published April 22, 2024 at 1:36 pm

Clarington Challenge Coin recipients
Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster and the 2024 Mayor's Challenge Coin recipients

A new recognition program that honours residents for their service to the community has been launched in Clarington, with a dozen deserving recipients awarded ‘Challenge Coins’ to celebrate National Volunteer Week.

The Clarington Mayor’s Office Challenge Coins were presented last week a “symbol of appreciation and gratitude” to residents who have made a positive impact on the community. The recipients are Clarington residents from all walks of life who have contributed to the community in a variety of ways, such as volunteering, fundraising, organizing, educating, or advocating.

“The origins of challenge coins go back to the military, where they were awarded to soldiers who demonstrated exceptional courage and skill,” said Mayor Adrian Foster. “Today, they are also used to honour those who have served their communities with distinction and dedication. The Clarington Mayor’s Office Challenge Coin is a way of acknowledging residents who make a meaningful difference in our municipality. For 12 remarkable residents, this is a sign of our gratitude for their invaluable service to our community.”

Clarington Council nominated residents for the 2024 challenge coin and Foster selected a dozen individuals from the list to receive the award this year, with the recipients presented the coins at a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon April 17.

“Clarington is a better place thanks to your contributions. Thank you for your efforts, and congratulations on this well-deserved honour,” Foster added.

The Challenge Coin program will continue recognizing deserving residents each year. This year’s recipients are:

Joe Solway

A proud Bowmanville Rotarian, Joe Solway wholeheartedly intends to make sure those in need have access to food. He is the Chair of the Rotary Club’s Feed the Need in Durham Concerts, raising thousands of dollars each year for local food banks. He is also an active Rotary organizer at both the club and district levels, contributing to various service projects and events. A former radio producer, Joe shares his love of music and birding with the community. He is a member of Clarington’s Diversity Advisory Committee, guiding the Municipality on issues affecting diversity in our community. His deeds show a way of life that puts service above self-interest and creates a better community for everyone.

Marilyn Morawetz

Marilyn Morawetz has been a Jury Lands Foundation board member since its establishment in 2011. She is committed to preserving and promoting Clarington’s heritage and culture. She has served as a board member and stakeholder representative for the Clarington Museum and Archives, and as a founding member of the Architectural Conservancy Ontario Clarington branch. She was the driving force behind the successful Doors Open Clarington event for ten years and received the A.K. Sculthorpe Award for Advocacy in 2014. She also devotes her time to Durham East 4-H, Scouts Canada, and her local United Church. She works at a local school to foster community connections through meaningful outreach projects for students.

Pat Thexton

Pat Thexton is a driving force behind the stunning public gardens in the Village of Newcastle. She makes the community a more beautiful place with her dedication to maintaining the Newcastle Community Hall gardens and the gardens at the corners of King Avenue East and Beaver Street. She has a passion for gardening and a vision for creating inviting and sustainable green spaces. She launched the rejuvenation and renovation plans for the extensive gardens for the 2022 season, which included a refocus on a low-maintenance garden design. Pat is a skilled gardener and an altruistic resident who shares her time, knowledge and expertise with the community. She is an asset to the Newcastle Community Hall and a source of inspiration for many.

Hannu Halminen

Hannu Halminen is a local developer who has shown incredible generosity and support for the Bowmanville Hospital over the years. In 2017 he sold a Courtice home that was built in just three days by more than 200 tradespeople – a remarkable feat of teamwork and dedication – and donated the $400,000 proceeds to the hospital foundation. Later, Hannu made another significant contribution to the hospital by pledging more than $2 million for its redevelopment and expansion. This was the largest personal gift ever received by the Bowmanville Hospital Foundation, and it demonstrated Hannu’s commitment to improving the healthcare services in his community. Hannu is also a patriotic citizen who honours the troops by flying over the Bowmanville Remembrance Day ceremony every year.

Brian Purdy

Brian Purdy is a long-serving community builder who is well known for helping to organize the Concerts in the Parks series, which brings free live music to Rotary Park every Thursday in the summer. These concerts have been a popular attraction for residents and visitors alike, showcasing local talent and creating a festive atmosphere. Brian is also an avid hockey fan and a long-standing supporter and developer of minor hockey in Clarington. He had a long career supporting local businesses as the Advertising Manager for The Canadian Stateman newspaper and has also served on the board of directors for Memorial Hospital Foundation-Bowmanville, helping raise healthcare funds in the community. Brian Purdy is a true leader who has made a positive difference in the lives of many people in Clarington.

Ron Collis

Ron Collis is a champion of local economic development and a devoted community leader. He served on the Clarington Board of Trade’s board of directors, where he advocated for local businesses and entrepreneurs. He was involved in several initiatives to promote the community’s economic potential, such as the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) Community Council and the Clarington Business Group. He helped found the Firehouse Youth Centre, a safe and supportive space for young people, and worked with the Clarington Arts Music Festival, the Bowmanville Hospital Foundation, the Rick Hansen Foundation, and Valleys 2000 to preserve greenspace in our community. He volunteered with the Accessibility Advisory Committee, the Living Green Community Advisory Committee, Scouts and as a local soccer coach. In 2012, he received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award for his outstanding contributions.

Crystal Yaki with Mayor Adrian Foster

Crystal Yaki

Crystal Yaki passionately advocates for the Newcastle community and its rich heritage. She is the chair of the Newcastle Community Hall Board, where she oversees the management and maintenance of the historic building, which has been a landmark for the village since 1923. She was also a devoted member of the steering committee for the Hall’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2023, which showcased the its role in the social and cultural life of the village over the decades. Crystal is a member of the Board of Directors for the Newcastle Village and District Historical Society, where she helps to preserve and promote the village’s local history and archives. Crystal loves to share her knowledge and enthusiasm with others and contribute to her community’s vitality and well-being.

Garth Gilpin

Garth Gilpin was a strong supporter of the Historic Downtown Bowmanville BIA, where he has served as a board member for more than 20 years. He founded the Apple Festival and Craft Sale, one of Clarington’s largest and most successful events, attracting thousands of visitors every year. He also helps organize the Bowmanville Concerts in the Park series, a free summer concert program that features remarkable live music and entertains young and old alike in the audience. Well after his retitement as a beloved teacher at Bowmanville High School, Garth’s dedication to his community and love for festivals have earned him appreciation from many organizations and individuals. He is a true leader and a generous volunteer who has made a lasting impact on Bowmanville’s cultural and economic vitality.

Sheila Hall

Sheila Hall is a passionate advocate for Clarington’s economic and social well- being. As the Executive Director of the Clarington Board of Trade, she works to promote and support the local business community and attract new investment and opportunities. She is also a champion for the health sector, spearheading the efforts to recruit and retain physicians in the area. Sheila served as the past president of the Rotary Club of Courtice and as a member of various committees. Through her work and volunteer roles, she demonstrates the power of service and collaboration to make a positive difference. Her wholehearted drive has made Clarington a better, more vibrant community now and in the future.

Joyce Kufta

Joyce Kufta is a strong proponent of seniors and their housing needs. She is a tireless member of the Newcastle Parkview Seniors Lodge board of directors and spearheaded the expansion project that provides more quality and affordable living spaces for older adults in the Village of Newcastle. Joyce has also been a hard- working member of several local organizations, such as the Newcastle Lions Club and the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and on the Clarington Board of Trade board of directors. Through her volunteer roles and dedication as the former proprietor of the Newcastle Funeral Home, Joyce is a role model for others who want to make a positive difference in the community.

Challenge Coin recipients Joyce Kufta (left), Sheila Hall and Garth Gilpin chatted after the awards were presented

Mary Ann Found

Mary Ann Found is a dedicated advocate for agriculture and education. For a decade, she was a member of the Clarington Agricultural Advisory Committee, where she advised the Municipality on issues related to farming and rural development. She also ran the Found Family Farm, a unique facility that combined a working farm with an educational centre for schools and the public. Mary Ann became involved in the Orono Agricultural Society, which organizes the annual Orono Fair and other community events. She also spent time with the Agriculture Education Committee for Durham Farm Connections, where she taught about the environment and the impact of human activities on water quality and natural resources. Mary Ann is committed to promoting the importance of agriculture in the region.

Ferdinando ‘Ferd’ Longo

Ferd Longo is a dedicated community builder who has served in various leadership roles for Courtice. As Past President of both the Rotary Club of Courtice and the Courtice Lions Club, he spearheaded initiatives to eradicate polio, support local causes and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Rotary Charter in 2022. He is also a founding Chair and Member of the Courtice Area Ratepayers Association, advocating for the interests of the residents. He has received several awards and honours for his service, including the Paul Harris Fellow, the Melvin Jones Fellow, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is also a former Board Member of the Clarington Board of Trade.


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