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Philanthropy awards in Abbotsford presented in four categories

Abbotsford Community Foundation hosts 11th annual luncheon
Steve Willems of Assante Wealth Management presents the Volunteer of the Year award to Gagan Phulka during the recent Philanthropy Day luncheon hosted by the Abbotsford Community Foundation. (Submitted photo)

The Abbotsford Community Foundation (ACF) recently presented its 11th annual Philanthropy Awards at a luncheon at Evered Hall at University of the Fraser Valley.

The theme of this year’s event was Give Where You Live, with community leader and veteran broadcaster Tamara Taggart as the featured guest speaker.

Awards were given out in four categories: youth philanthropy, business philanthropy, school group of the year and volunteer of the year. Each recipient received $500 to donate to the charity of their choice.

The Alan and Vivian Trethewey Youth Philanthropy award was presented to Saniya Kaushal, a medical student who volunteers at Abbotsford Regional Hospital when she is not studying and attending school.

Kaushal strives to spark conversations and raise awareness about name-calling, bullying, self-image and mental health. She released a poetry book titled You are Not Ugly, which was based on her own negative experiences.

She recently launched her “you are not ugly foundation” and will be offering workshops to empower individuals who have or are experiencing negative social labels. Her aim is to improve self-image for local youth.

The Business Philanthropy award, sponsored by the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, was presented to Abbotsford Chrysler by chamber executive director Katerina Anastasiadis.

RELATED: Three awards presented at National Philanthropy Day lunch

Managing partner Matt Shirlaw accepted the award on behalf of the company. Abbotsford Chrysler is a generous corporate donor to numerous charities in Abbotsford such as the Crystal Gala Foundation, Run for Water, Canuck Place, Abbotsford Police Foundation, Abbotsford Community Foundation, Abbotsford Minor Hockey and Abbotsford Hospice.

The School Group of the Year award was presented by ACF board chair Andrea Senft to Godson Elementary School.

The school raised funds for Canuck Place through the Cookies for Canuck Place Campaign. The Godson community came together and raised more than $1,700 through a donation drive.

In addition, they contributed their time and talents to create signage and artwork for the Summer Family BBQ Drive-thru.

Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by Assante Wealth Management, was presented by Steve Willems, wealth advisor with Assante to long-time volunteer Gagan Phulka.

Phulka, a registered nurse, has volunteered with Big Brother Big Sisters of the Fraser Valley, starting as an in-school mentor volunteering hundreds of hours. For the past three years, she has been vice-chair on the board of directors for the organization.

She also sits on the Immigrant Advisory Table through Archway Community Services to improve outcomes for newcomers and immigrants to Abbotsford.

In addition, Phulka has volunteered more than 1,000 hours educating community members on COVID-19, hosting virtual health promotion workshops, and raising more than $5,000 for care packages for local youth centers.

ACF’s community grants committee was tasked with selecting the winners from the many nominations received. Community Grants Chair, Denise Thandi said,

“The number of organizations and individuals in our community that believe in giving back is inspiring. It was very difficult to pick one winner in each category from so many deserving nominees,” said Denise Thandi, community grants chair.

Visit or call executive director Wendy Neufeld at 604-850-3755 for more information.

RELATED: Four awards presented at National Philanthropy Day lunch

Katerina Anastasiadis, executive director of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, presents the Business Philanthropy award to Matt Shirlaw on behalf of Abbotsford Chrysler during the recent Philanthropy Day luncheon hosted by the Abbotsford Community Foundation. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford Community Foundation board chair Andrea Senft presents the School Group of the Year award to Godson Elementary. (Submitted photo)
Saniya Kaushal, who released a book of poetry titled You are Not Ugly, recently received the Alan and Vivian Trethewey Youth Philanthropy award from the Abbotsford Community Foundation. (Submitted photo)

Abbotsford News Staff

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