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Local Heroes lauded by the City of Burnaby

Six outstanding citizens have been named Local Heroes by the City of Burnaby, recognizing the immense contributions they have made to their community.

This is the 23rd year the city has recognized Local Heroes who have dedicated their time to volunteer efforts to improve Burnaby. This year’s nominees have a wide variety of passions, from training puppies as service dogs to ensuring Burnaby’s extreme weather shelters are equipped with food and supplies for those in need.

This year’s Local Heroes are:

  • Sameer Aslami 
  • Marianne Buesink 
  • Mary Gates 
  • Kathy Richardson 
  • Donna Short 
  • Dianne Stevenson

2019 Local Heroes

Biographies for each of the nominees is included below. 

Local Heroes are nominated by the citizens of Burnaby. To be eligible, candidates must be an active volunteer in Burnaby for at least five years in a minimum of two different activities.

“Burnaby is a world-class city thanks to the tireless efforts of local volunteers,” said Mayor Mike Hurley. “Congratulations to all six of our Local Heroes, who have demonstrated incredible commitment to improving our community.”

The nominees were recognized at the City Council meeting on October 28, where city council presented them with certificates of recognition.

For more information contact:
Rebekah Mahaffey | Social Planner
604-570-3623 | socialplanning@burnaby.ca


Sameer Aslami

Since 2010, Sameer has been an active volunteer in the Edmonds neighbourhood engaging with residents of all ages. He has assisted the City of Burnaby with many major community events such as Canada Day, Festival of Lights, Breakfast with Santa and has also been a regular volunteer at Edmonds Community Centre for 55+. His spirit of volunteerism started early, at age 9, when he volunteered his time by organizing supplies for children's programs and events at Edmonds Community Centre and helping out in the games room. As Sameer's nominators note: "Sameer Aslami is a very deserving Burnaby resident who has become an involved citizen in southeast Burnaby. Positive attitude is one of the first characteristics that comes to mind when thinking of Sameer and it has been truly infectious among those volunteering along-side him. Sameer's strong sense of community leads me to believe he will continue to be one of Burnaby's outstanding citizens.”

Marianne Buesink

Marianne has shown a commitment to helping vulnerable Burnaby residents throughout her volunteer work within her faith community at Westminster Bible Chapel. In 2010, she helped to establish the Extreme Weather Response Shelter at Westminster Bible Chapel in Burnaby. Since that time, she has continued to volunteer each year as a member of the Extreme Weather Response Committee, which develops the annual Extreme Weather Plan for Burnaby. She also annually recruits and trains volunteers and organizes help for the provision of meals and supplies to those using the shelter each winter. Marianne is on site to open the church for the EWR shelter every evening it is open. She also plans the meals and assists with shopping for needed supplies. An indication of her commitment is that she has provided meals at the shelter for 363 nights between 2010 and 2019 and contributed nearly 200 volunteer hours during the 2018/2019 shelter season alone. Marianne also volunteers through her faith community every Tuesday to make quilts and assist others with their projects for donating to various agencies that support those in need, including Liberty Place in Burnaby. She also volunteers to deliver the finished products to the agencies and assists with two luncheons annually put on for the quilters. As Marianne's nominators note: "Marianne is an extraordinary individual, giving a significant amount of her personal time as a volunteer lo assist others that are vulnerable and homeless. She is caring, humble ... well respected and quietly a true hero to many. "

Mary Gates

Mary is a long-standing volunteer in Burnaby and committed to improving public safety. She has volunteered with the Burnaby Citizens Crime Watch since 1990, assisting with events such as Hats Off Day, conducting foot and vehicular patrols directed at crime hots spots, and assists in the recruitment of new members. She has also volunteered at the RCMP Community Policing Office helping out with the Burnaby RCMP inaugural Open House, foot patrols throughout Burnaby and assisting at community events. Since 2011, she has been a Co-Captain of the Burnaby RCMP Block Watch Program in her neighbourhood, observing and reporting incidents to police as well as communicating crime prevention tips and information to neighbours and program participants. As Mary's nominator's state: "Mary is constantly trying to make the world a better place. Dedication, flexibility, and a keen eye to detail are all hallmarks of this outstanding individual. Burnaby is without a doubt a safer and stronger community because of her decades of service."

Kathy Richardson 

Kathy has been an active volunteer with her faith community at Deer Lake United Church for over 30 years. She is a board member and participates on the Christian Education Committee, Worship Committee and Pastoral Care Committee. Through these committees she helps with supporting members of the congregation who have lost a loved one or fallen ill, organizing services, and faith education opportunities for the congregation. Kathy has also been an active volunteer at Burnaby Association for the South East Side (BASES) where she has been a Board Member for the past eight years. For the past six years, she has served in the role of Secretary of the Board. She has volunteered her time with the Administrative Committee for the thrift store ensuring that all store supplies are kept in stock, co-organizing volunteer appreciation events and other administrative tasks such as those related to human resources. Kathy is also an integral part of the Book Giveaway event held every June for the past 13 years. Kathy's nominators say: "Kathy is a real example of a local hero. Kathy has a heart of gold and cares for those around her. When Kathy commits to a project or issue, her focus is so strong that others join in and the dream becomes reality."

Donna Short 

Donna Short has been volunteering with both Citizen Support Services and PADS for over ten years. Donna volunteers weekly as a Shop by Phone Shopper to purchase groceries to be delivered to isolated seniors throughout Burnaby. Donna works closely with the seniors she is purchasing for to ensure that their orders are correct and alerts them when a similar product is available for a lower price. Donna started her time with PADS many years ago in the Early Puppy Education program by training very young puppies in preparation for becoming service dogs. She continues to provide a temporary home for dogs going through the PADS training program and ensures that they attend all training sessions. These dogs stay with her up to 100 days until they are matched with a person who needs the dog's service. As Donna's nominator's note: "I cannot say enough about Donna's kindness, consideration and dedication to being dedicated in our community and therefore I truly feel she would make an excellent candidate for a Local Hero award."

Dianne Stevenson 

Dianne has been a loyal volunteer at BASES thrift store for over five years. She serves as a cashier at the store as well as assisting with unpacking, sorting and organizing book donations. Dianne has also led fundraising activities for the thrift store in addition to her in-store volunteer shifts. Dianne is also a member of the Fraser Valley Quilters' Guild and organizes charity events and makes quilts for various organizations such as Aunt Leah's House, for premature babies at BC Women's Hospital, and the Cops for Cancer Program. Dianne's nominators say: "Dianne puts her heart and soul into her passions - quilting for others and the thrift store. Everyone who knows her finds her smile and commitment infectious."

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