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Character in Action Awards presented to three recipients

Annual awards event hosted virtually by Character Abbotsford Society
Gerri Charles waves to guests attending the virtual Character in Action Awards on Thursday (Nov. 19), during which she was named a recipient.

Three Abbotsford residents have been named recipients of the Character in Action Awards, presented Thursday (Nov. 19) by Character Abbotsford Society.

Gerri Charles, Nicole Clarke and Crystal Tran received the awards – in a virtual format – which honour those who have made a difference in the community.

They each receive a $500 gift card, an award sponsored by Prospera Credit Union and presented by Character Council member and Prospera CIO Greg Dyck.

Character Abbotsford board member Sir James Barlow said the trio “have selflessly devoted themselves to bettering our community for many years.”

Jory Smallenberg, lead of the Character in Action Awards, said this is an important time to encourage the community by highlighting some of the outstanding work being done by local citizens.

“Our city is known for its culture of generosity and goodwill. By honouring three individuals who serve tirelessly behind the scenes, we hope to inspire others to continue the good work,” she said. “Character in Abbotsford knows no bounds. It is during times of trial, like this global pandemic, that we get to know the heart of our city.”

Charles, who owned bridal shop Champagne and Lace in Abbotsford for more than 27 years, was recognized for her community spirit and volunteerism, including as co-founder of the Crystal Gala Foundation in support of breast cancer research and programs.

RELATED: Conair in Abbotsford donates $22,000 to Crystal Gala Foundation

She has also been involved in organizations such as the Abbotsford Airshow, the Chamber of Commerce, the police board, the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association, the Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association, and more.

Charles is the past recipient of two Paul Harris Fellows from the Rotary Clubs of Abbotsford, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and, earlier this year, Envision Financial’s Simple Generosity Volunteer Award.

Her nominator described her as “never afraid of hard work, being the voice for those that need her and inspiring others to join forces.”

Clarke was recognized for her work with youth in the community. She is the youth engagement and empowerment coordinator for Foundry Abbotsford, where she organizes youth programs, as well as supervises and mentors peer support workers, practicum students and high school ambassadors.

RELATED: Foundry Abbotsford opens its doors to youth in need

During the pandemic, she has transitioned much of the work to virtual platforms, including yoga classes, zoo visits, tie-dying, candle-making and cooking classes. As time progressed and it became safe to do so, Clarke re-instituted some in-person groups and peer support, ensuring that both staff and youth were safe.

Her nominators said that Clarke “exemplifies daily the values of respect, responsibility, integrity, empathy, courage and service.”

Tran is a student at Abbotsford Senior Secondary who is a member of the rugby team and an “exceptional student and individual,” according to her nominator.

Over the summer, Tran came up with a sticker project to support Black families locally that were impacted by COVID-19/ She got a fellow student to design five images, which she converted to stickers and is selling for non-profit.

“Crystal is unselfish, leads others by example, wants to improve the world she lives in, does little and big things without being asked, and is never looking for experience to add to her resume; she just wants to fill a need,” her nominator said.

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RELATED: 2019 Character in Action recipients

Nicole Clarke was a recipient of the virtual Character in Action Awards on Thursday (Nov. 19).
Crystal Tran was a recipient of the virtual Character in Action Awards on Thursday (Nov. 19).

Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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