The 14th Annual Sage Awards, presented by Servus Credit Union, were held on Friday, June 11, 2021 and celebrated stories of resilience, community building, and leadership among seniors who inspire.
Eric Storey, a driving force in advocating for ending ageism, has been significantly involved as a volunteer and advocate in the Edmonton Pride Seniors Group (EPSG). EPSG is volunteer-led and was founded eight years ago to address a significant gap in connecting older GLBTQ2S+ persons with safe and appropriate seniors services, centers, and housing. In addition to participating in group meetings and working groups, Eric has both developed and presented a number of informative presentations to other seniors groups, provincial government agencies, and within the community. He is also a member of the Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council, and volunteers with the Edmonton Prime Timers, where he has stepped up to become the program coordinator. And his volunteerism doesn’t stop there. For many years, Eric was a board member of Big Sisters and Big Brothers as well as a Big Brother to many youth where he gave countless hours to mentor, guide, and help others. Eric Storey is a living example of the definition of advocate, and the work that he has done, and is doing, will have a lasting impact for generations to come.
Last fall, Marsha Paradis stepped up to offer her expertise to a cohort of learners that were facing homeschooling due to the pandemic. As a retired elementary school teacher, Marsha's expertise was invaluable to the learning cohort, as she fostered immense growth in each student by taking into consideration their individual strengths and interests. Her contribution will have lifelong positive impacts on these children as they reflect back on the worldwide pandemic and how they learned during it. She also seeks out opportunities to help community organizations or to provide care, a listening ear, meals, and support to friends, family, and acquaintances as they face various challenges in life. In her "retirement," Marsha has continued to contribute to her community with the most humble heart and kind approach. She is someone who ensures change and goodwill continue in her own community and within those that surround her.
When COVID-19 first hit, Terry Ferguson took initiative to sew masks and ear savers for nurses before any mandatory mask bylaws were implemented. To date, Terry has sewn and donated over 600 masks to the community using expenses from her own pocket. When she is not making masks, she is sewing and knitting other things for the community, like baby items for the Grey Nuns Community Hospital. But her community contributions don’t stop there. Terry wanted to do more for the frontline workers fighting COVID-19. In September 2020, she organized a Glass Facemask Gratitude Award Event, to recognize first responders, including firefighters, police, and paramedics for their work throughout the pandemic. On top of that, she asked a local goldsmith to design a lapel pin to be awarded to frontline workers to express her gratitude and appreciation. With the help and generosity of her community, Terry has given away 450 pins, along with a card she designed. Terry’s character and generous nature is apparent and reflected in the countless lives she has positively impacted, not just during the pandemic, but throughout her entire life.
Brian Christianson is an unstoppable social connector and pioneer in bringing the Men's Shed Movement to Edmonton: a community-based project where men can learn, share, and make long-lasting friendships. Mindful of the terrible impact of social isolation on men's health, Brian found safe ways for men to connect throughout the pandemic through an innovative and accessible approach: introducing Zoom. For those unable to participate on Zoom, he would press his phone against his computer speaker so everyone had the opportunity to listen in and connect. He also built local and international relationships to bring top-notch presenters to Shed Meetings, and began to attend online sessions with Shedders from the UK to learn from their extensive experience with Sheds. If not for Brian's dedication and determination, the Men's Shed movement would not have grown throughout the pandemic. Other municipalities are noticing his model for running a Shed, and Brian will be an inspiration for them to foster social connectedness and fight the scourge of social isolation among men in our community.
Bonnie Herring-Cooper and Peggy Follisbee
Bonnie Herring-Cooper and Peggy Follinsbee are long-standing community leaders who have dedicated countless hours toward community connection and neighbourhood development through volunteer opportunities that benefit natural areas. They have helped Lendrum Community League with the development and implementation of community events as part of the TD Park People Grants program, which connects communities to nature and each other. For example, Bonnie and Peggy helped organize: a spring clean-up and community walk-through featuring a plant expert (and ice cream); a Saskatoon Berry festival that saw an Indigenous elder lead the community in a beading activity while providing an information session about local plant life; and spearheading a harvest festival. Despite the pandemic, these two community champions found safe ways to continue to contribute to their communities. Bonnie and Peggy bring a deep sense of care, love, and devotion to the land, and inspire others to contribute to their own neighborhoods and community in tangible ways.