J Stewart and the latest chapter in the legend of awesome...
by Teena Gin on Friday Jun 21, 2013
What a treat for a Wednesday! A new chapter was added to the Legend of Awesome earlier this week when J Stewart, the Manager of Community Engagement & Creative Services of the Vancouver Union Gospel Mission was celebrated and presented with an Awesome Award (AA:Walnut).
The top secret presentation was coordinated by the Pivot Legal Society’s Peter Wrinch (an inaugural recipient of the Awesome Award himself, of course) and included a good many of UGM staff and J’s peers. J was only told to attend a staff presentation at lunch time and to make sure his staff were present. As the people gathered for the ceremony, I spotted J sitting towards the back of the room, unaware that his name would be called within moments. Genesa Greening introduced Eclipse team member Nelson Borges to say a few words about the Awesome Awards and also announced that there would be a surprise presentation by Peter.
As Nelson shared the background story of The Awesome Awards and our hope of building stronger communities by recognizing the people that make them awesome, I could see people quietly nodding their heads in agreement.
Then Peter came forward to make his presentation and called J to the front for his award. Peter spoke warmly of J’s longtime commitment to Pivot and to helping the people of the Downtown Eastside through his work at UGM. It was an open and heartfelt celebration of a man that is clearly loved by his community. Though he was surprised, a very humble and flattered J thanked his staff and all of those who work and volunteer at UGM for the work they do everyday. The ceremony ended with a well-deserved standing ovation for an awesome community member.
I spoke to J after his presentation, and he was both honoured and grateful to have been acknowledged for his work. In fact, the next day J sent us the following note:
I think my head has sorta stopped spinning, but just wanted to drop a very brief note of thanks on each of you.
That was a very thoughtfully executed surprise and I’m flattered beyond words. Please know I deeply appreciate the honour and am proud to share it with my friends and colleagues at both Pivot and UGM.
If encouraging people and inspiring them were part of your mandate in developing the Awesome Awards, please believe me when I say you have created a highly effective tool for doing so.
I look forward to also paying this forward and will spend a few days in careful deliberation as to who I would like to see receive it next. Again, thank you so much.
So, on this Wednesday, June 19, 2013 another unsung community hero becomes the latest chapter in the Legend of Awesome. Not bad for a Wednesday!
After the ceremony, we were able to get a picture of J with his Awesome Award in front of the donor recognition wall that we built for UGM a few years ago. We believe it's the world's largest donor recognition wall that is made from reclaimed materials and it's another community contribution that we're really proud of!