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Kitchener announces its Senior of the Year

Donny Hishon has been helping out at the Grand Valley Institution for Women for over 17 years
Donny Hishon
Donny Hishon

NEW RELEASE
CITY OF KITCHENER
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The City of Kitchener has named Donny Hishon the 2021 Senior of the Year. Having volunteered with the Grand Valley Institution for Women (GVIW) for over 17 years, Donny has dedicated his time and efforts to helping women who have been incarcerated overcome challenges in their lives, providing them with opportunities to continue their important roles as community members, caretakers, mothers and more.  

“Donny’s selflessness and dedication to bettering the lives of women at the Grand Valley Institution for Women is truly inspiring,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “Described by his peers as a star, Donny’s many contributions light the way for others to overcome personal challenges to aspire and grow to live full and meaningful lives. It is my honour to recognize Donny, as well as the 12 other nominees for their achievements and valuable contributions to the Kitchener community.”  

Over the years, Donny has participated in parole hearings and has been a site champion, representing hundreds of volunteers that support GVIW on an annual basis. He has also been instrumental in leading weekly on-site alcohol anonymous (AA) and narcotics anonymous (NA) groups and mentoring the women who attend. As a trained escort volunteer, Donny drives inmates to community events and programs, as well as home to visit family. 

Each year, he makes over 200 trips to help inmates, often from remote areas, to return home to their communities for a period of time under his supervision. A large part of Donny’s volunteerism is focused on preparing women for reintegration back into the community, while also helping to address some of the risk factors that resulted in their involvement with the criminal justice system. Former inmates have described Donny as a pillar of strength – a compassionate, reliable, and supportive role model.  

“Donny’s 17 years of dedicated service is a shining example of the valuable contributions of older adults in our community,” said Councillor Christine Michaud. “Through his volunteerism, Donny has positively impacted the lives of countless women, uplifting and empowering them to become the best versions of themselves.”  

Donny will be recognized by Mayor Vrbanovic on June 17, with a small ceremony taking place outdoors at the Rockway Centre. Each nominee will also be recognized individually with a scheduled porch visit, where City Councillors and members of the senior of the year planning committee will present them with a certificate, a gift basket from sponsor The Village of Winton Park, a lawn sign and City of Kitchener pin to honour their contributions to the Kitchener community. An acknowledgment of the winner and all nominees  will also take place during a virtual strawberry social taking place June 17 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. through Zoom.  

The selection panel, made up of members of Kitchener City Council, Mayor's Advisory Council for Kitchener Seniors (MACKS), and City staff, carefully review each nomination, selecting a candidate whose volunteer efforts or contributions make a significant, positive impact on the community.   

Senior of the Year Nominees:

  • Glenn Baird 
  • Mel Barrie 
  • Larrie Brown 
  • Janet Grindgeman 
  • Wieslawa Hyzyk 
  • Bruce MacNeil 
  • Bill Martin 
  • Bill Pegg 
  • Jim Romahn 
  • Florence Simiyu 
  • Larry Simpson 
  • Erik Westermann 

To learn more about the Senior of the Year award, nominees, and this year’s recipient, visit www.kitchener.ca/senioroftheyear 

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