2018 Award Recipients
The Courage to Give Back Awards recognizes extraordinary individuals in our community who have overcome adversity in their personal lives. Not only have they found courage to overcome obstacles, they also inspire others by giving back to their communities.
Rodney Small - Common Good Solutions
Amazing Grace Award
The Amazing Grace recipient has the courage to face overwhelming circumstances and turn it into an opportunity to better the lives of others. He or she has surmounted barriers and continues to fight for what is right, through a graceful gentle spirit and a natural inclination to bring out good in others. Their advocacy and accomplishments have significantly contributed to the well-being of families.
Rodney is a change maker, community builder, father, mentor and coach. Raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Rodney has established a passion for both its people and communities, working hard to help ensure those individuals and communities thrive. A graduate of Dalhousie’s Bachelor of Management program with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. Rodney is well-known for his forward thinking and innovative ways on dealing with issues that have affected marginalized communities, both through his work at Common Good Solutions as the Social Enterprise Developer for the Halifax and Truro region and community volunteer work.
Rodney’s leadership and passion have been vital to the development and success of countless youth leaders and businesses in the local community. As basketball and life coach for over 15 years at the local Community Y, mentor to numerous “high priority” youth, Community YMCA Youth Leadership Development (YLD) and Exchange Leader and Chaperone, Co-founder of The O.N.E. Project, UJAMAA Association co-chair and Social Enterprise Developer at Common Good Solutions, it’s clear that Rodney’s dedication and presence as a community-minded leader is big one. To Rodney, community is everything.
Barry Yhard - Abbigail Honey
Brave Heart Award
A Brave Heart is one that beats strongly and loudly, motivating others to be the best they can be. Despite many challenges, they persevere, overcoming obstacles, and defying expectations. This recipient has found the courage to make significant changes in their own life and inspire others through their personal growth and dedication to do the same.
Barry is a 33 year veteran of the Canadian Military and the President / Owner of Abbigail Honey, a small agricultural based Honey Farm in Cole Harbour NS.
Throughout his career with the military, Barry has seen abject poverty, destruction, devastation and the moral injustices of war, all culminating in a deployment with task force Afghanistan in 2008. These experiences would later in life profoundly shake his beliefs in right and wrong, and ultimately resulted in a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was during the dark years of recovery that he found the desire to assist others with PTSD, a motivation that was instrumental in his treatment, a motivation that quickly focused his life’s efforts towards helping others deal with “the darkness” as he calls it. Barry ended treatment for PTSD in 2015 and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a mere 10 months later, a new life challenge that he faced head on and with the tenacity that he threw at PTSD.
It was during his chemotherapy treatment that Barry, true to his desire to “give back” approached Family SOS and offered to set up an education program and mentor the youth of the BEEA Honey with Heart program. Barry has become an incredible role model for those who face adversity or hardship, and has personally committed himself to a “others first” philosophy. His perseverance and strength displayed during his fight with cancer was awe inspiring to the youth.
Barry continues to defy expectations on a daily basis, persevering through the emotional pain of PTSD, being diagnosed with cancer and has never lost focus on giving back to others.
Barry’s motivational and courageous heart are contagious to all of those lucky enough to meet him.
Loran Morrison - SHINE (Supporting, Helping and Inspiring through Non-profit Education)
Indomitable Spirit Award
The Indomitable Spirit is not only a leader in our community, but a force to drive change and motivates others. He or she has true determination, conviction and dedication to their community. They demonstrate what it really means to invest “yourself” in a cause. This individual’s passion is evident in their work, and the heart they put into each project.
Loran is passionate about education, and has been instrumental in not only educating herself, but allowing others that may have otherwise fallen through the cracks, succeed! A medical student at Dalhousie University, Loran is a true go-getter, and inspiration. She has given community youth the opportunity to learn through a not for profit tutoring organization solely focused on underprivileged school children. Launched in 2013 by Loran and co- founder Chloe Zinck, SHINE (Supporting, Helping and Inspiring through Non-profit Education) commenced tutoring at the Halifax North Memorial Library to about 15 children. In 2017 the program has grown to 55 students from grade primary to grade 12 and is now supported by 50 volunteers.
In 2012 Loran was tutoring a number of high school students independently in math and science. During this tutoring period, Loran recognized that a greater need existed in the community of North End Halifax. From this she began providing additional tutoring to a broader audience. Loran’s role as current Program Director, sees her organizing the program which includes coordinating the efforts of a program coordinator, various supporters, sponsors and tutors as well as providing free tuition for the students. Loran also communicates with parents, library staff and community leaders to promote the program.
Friends say that "Although we all have 24 hours in a day, no one, crams more into those 24 hours that Loran, and the fact that she does so willingly as a volunteer is an inspiration to us all." Through her efforts Loran has made significant impact on the lives of underprivileged youth in Halifax. Her drive and energy have resulted in these children and youth gaining confidence and improving their grades so they are able to pursue post secondary level education.
What Loran has accomplished is a true inspiration! As a medical student, who has entirely self-funded her education, she is an example of no matter what socio economic background we come from, we can overcome any challenges in front of us and accomplish great things is we set our minds to it!
Stephanie Glendenning - Halifax Regional Police
Unsung Hero Award
While the Unsung Hero may not seek the spotlight, he or she is constantly giving back to those around them. They have made substantial and significant contributions to the community, but have rarely received the recognition they deserve. He or she is a pillar of strength and support on which the community can rely. They inspire and encourage us at Family SOS, to ensure no good deed goes unnoticed, through their kindness and positivity.
Stephanie, a police officer for over 22 years, is a single mother of two young boys and is currently the Community Response Officer in the Greystone Housing Community in Spryfield. Stephanie is a true community advocate! Recently honoured by the International Association of Women Police with the Community Service Award, she is praised for her ability to give so much to her residents and balances that with her home life. Before her time in Greystone, Stephanie was a patrol officer and says the biggest difference in her career now is that "when you are on patrol, and you have to interact with someone, very rarely is it on positive terms, many times you are the bearer of bad news. As the Community Response Officer you have the ability to learn from your residents and be proactive so that majority of your interactions are very positive." Stephanie, believes that in her career "you cannot arrest your way out of a problem", so rather she spends her time developing relationships and trust within the community.
It only takes a moment in Stephanie's Greystone office to see the impact she has had. Countless children walk in through the doors to tell her about their day, and grab a snack. On report card day at school, Stephanie can expect anywhere from 40-50 children to stop by her office to show off their accomplishments. Stephanie's mission in the Greystone Community is to leave a lasting trail of positivity among the residents, and most importantly the children. If she can change the perception of one child and how they see police officers, she says that is an impact she is happy with.
Stephanie takes the time to teach her sons the value of helping others and learning by interacting and making friends with others who may have had it harder than they have. She does this by including her sons in community events and volunteer activities within the community whenever she can. She says many officers separate their work from their families, as they do not want to expose their children to "that side of the world", but not Stephanie, she wants her boys to have the same appreciation for the communities that she works in as she does, and that comes from getting to know the incredible people who live there.
Alex "Cunny" Ross - Family Over Fame
Inspiring Youth Award
This is awarded to a youth who has overcome personal barriers, has shown personal growth and demonstrates leadership in their community. Their values to give back to the community and continue their efforts to strive towards a pro-social choices, encourages us to do the same.
Alex Ross is twenty-year-old from Uniacke Square, where he grew up with his mother, grandmother, and grandfather. He signed himself up for Family SOS when he was young, which gave him an opportunity to have fun with other kids in the community, and gave Alex the chance to see the positive side of his neighbourhood, while making lifelong friendships. His involvement with Family SOS planted a seed for a community organization.
As Alex never had a father figure growing up, and so became deeply connected to his grandfather, Raymond Ross. Raymond Ross was an R&B singer and was an inspiration to Alex. After the death of Alex’s little sister and Alex’s grandfather passing away, Alex was inspired to turn his personal pain into music, and express his feelings through writing and performing R & B and Hip Hop. His debut album came out in 2014, and in September 2015 “Family Over Fame” was released.
The concept behind “Family Over Fame” became a movement, resulting in a clothing company and a community organization and lifestyle brand. “Family Over Fame” overcomes tensions in communities. The lifestyle combats poverty, violence, and economic despair. To Alex, the company is deeper than a brand, it’s his team working hard to save lives in the community, bringing people together, turning their energy into something positive and uniting the community as a whole.
Alex has created an annual event to celebrate his neighbourhood and give back to his community. The first event was July 15th, 2017, and was attended by over 400 people and featured musical performances, free food, “Family Over Fame” clothing giveaways, face painting and henna. This event was inspired by recent violence in the community, as a way to fight against inner disparity in the neighbourhood, and to highlight shared values. Alex wants to express thanks to everyone who helped him along his journey to get where he is today, especially his family, Family SOS, Centre Line Studio, North Branch Library, and YAC.