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United Way East Ontario honours Community Builders Donald Neville and Marie Therese Wang

By United Way East Ontario on June 7, 2022


On May 31, in collaboration with Apt613, we recognized five more incredible community builders. You’ll read about two of them below; the other three will be featured on the blog tomorrow.

Louisa Taylor hosted the presentation and helped us surprise these unexpecting recipients—people who have worked tirelessly to make our communities safer, healthier, and more resilient when circumstances are still difficult and strained for many of us. From delivering hot meals to isolated seniors to helping marginalized communities succeed in entrepreneurship—community builders are constantly showing selflessness and care during these unique times.

These recipients are community leaders and fearless advocates who have stepped up and demonstrated a local love that has not gone unnoticed.

Award recipients have demonstrated a strong ability to mobilize their communities, going above and beyond their regular volunteerism. They also represent the kind of quiet determination and heroism that inspires others to act—leading by example.

We thank everyone who takes the time to nominate everyday heroes, and we thank you, community builders, for your exceptional contributions.

Donald Neville

Donald Neville. Photo provided.

Donald Neville has more than 25 years of experience volunteering within our communities. He became a volunteer for the National Defence Workplace Charitable Campaign (NDWCC) in 2000, where he wore many hats. From canvasser to team captain, Don has dipped his toes in all aspects of the campaign.

Since 2010, he has been a team leader for one of the biggest groups in the Department of National Defence, but the NDWCC team still considers him a part of their team. The NDWCC continues to be one of the largest and most successful campaigns within the broader Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC), which benefits United Way and Health Partners.

During Don’s many volunteering experiences, he developed and delivered a modified version of the Health and Safety Awareness training program for youth with developmental challenges. He then went on to work with other social support organizations and adapted his presentation to serve youth experiencing homelessness and social injustices, as well as newcomers looking for employment.

He didn’t stop there. He adapted the training program once again during the pandemic to be delivered virtually via online meetings, ensuring it could continue to support school and workplace safety.

 “I have volunteered for many years, doing many activities, and I never once expected to be rewarded for that, so thank you very much.”

One of Don’s most significant volunteer roles is the lead organizer of the Vice Chief of Defence (VCDS) Canoe Race. This race always kicks off the launch of the National Defense Workplace Charitable Campaign. Since the beginning of the canoe race event in 2001, this event has raised more than $158,000.

Don has received many notable awards and accomplishments celebrating his work and passion. Recently, he was awarded the Royal Canadian Navy Commander’s Coin for his adaptation of the VCDS Canoe Race during the pandemic. In 2016, he was also awarded the Military Personnel Command Commander’s Coin for his outstanding contribution to the NDWCC.

Don’s passion for helping his community by fundraising and adapting programs to allow everyone to learn is proof that local love is always in his heart.

Marie Therese Wang

Marie Therese Wang. Photo provided.

Marie Therese Wang is described as a friendly person whose dedication to reducing food insecurity is nothing short of extraordinary. Marie is a director and financial officer for Food For Thought Café, a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide meals to people in need.

People who access food banks are often given food to fill their cupboards, but they may not have access to the equipment needed to prepare their daily meals. Food For Thought Café provides hot, nutritious meals to those who cannot cook because of age, disability, or other circumstances.

Marie’s dedication to keeping the organization intact is seen by every volunteer who has offered their time to the cause.  She organizes events, takes care of the bookkeeping and inventory, and bakes delicious desserts with each meal.

She’s been known to never miss a day and will even bike to work when she’s not needed to lend a hand. Her dedication to the Food For Thought Café and reducing food insecurity within her community knows no limit. On multiple occasions, Marie has even offered her own savings to help run the café.

“I didn’t expect this at all, but I’m really proud to be a part of this group.”

Food for Thought Café is fully volunteer-run, and everyone who has worked with Marie can vouch for the care she provides the volunteer team. She’s described as a great listener who understands and will offer advice to help solve any issues they may have—even following up to ensure they know she supports them.

Every Friday and whenever there is a birthday, Marie will never miss out on baking for her volunteer team. Marie’s passion for volunteering and reducing food insecurity within her community is extraordinary. Her infectious laugh will never fail to make you smile, and her delicious desserts will fill you with comfort.

Marie’s countless hours of volunteering have only positively impacted the well-being of local people.

Do you know a volunteer who has gone above and beyond to support their community? Our Community Builder Awards program accepts nominations year-round! Nominate a Community Builder today.