Gerri Charles waves to guests attending the virtual Character in Action Awards on Thursday (Nov. 19), during which she was named a recipient.

Gerri Charles waves to guests attending the virtual Character in Action Awards on Thursday (Nov. 19), during which she was named a recipient.

Character in Action Awards presented to three recipients

Annual awards event hosted virtually by Character Abbotsford Society

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.

Visit for more information.

RELATED: 2019 Character in Action recipients


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


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

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).

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

Just Posted

Mia Skoone (left), with her cousin Gavin Nahal, has donated her birthday money to the ARH pediatrics unit for the past eight years. Now she is seeking sponsorships from local businesses to fund a UN conference she has been invited to. (Submitted)
One of Abbotsford’s most charitable youths seeking sponsors for conference trip

Abbotsford Senior Secondary School student Mia Skoone has been invited to UN event in May

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
COVID-19 outbreaks continue at 2 Abbotsford care homes

Tabor Home and Menno Home still battling the virus

Cottage-Worthington Pavilion
COVID-19 outbreak over at Abbotsford’s Cottage-Worthington Pavilion

Outbreak declared over at Fraser Health-run facility

The Abbotsford Centre hours before tip-off of the Fraser Valley Bandits debut in 2019. The arena saw no games from the Bandits in 2020 due to COVID-19. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford Centre aims to rise from the ashes of 2020

After a strong 2019 and early-2020, COVID-19 hit the Abbotsford Centre hard

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon (Dec. 3) after an inmate escaped from corrections officers. The man was taken back into custody a short while later. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
UPDATE: Escapee in Abbotsford has twice been on the lam from authorities

Stephane Bissonnette escapes from corrections officers, but is arrested a short while later

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read