Recently, at the 7th Annual Innisfil Rotary Lights and Wishes event, the Rotary Club recognized three very special people with Unsung Hero Awards. An Unsung Hero is a non-Rotarian who goes above and beyond through volunteering in and around the community. There are two awards - one for youth for the ages of 14 to 19 and one for adults for ages of 20 and above.
Three years ago, our Rotary club decided to honour people in our community who help others without looking for recognition for their actions. Rotary’s motto is ‘Service above self’, and we wanted to find and recognize people from Innisfil who have contributed something special to our community and who also reflect this motto, as they go about helping out residents in our Town. We know Innisfil has many Unsung Heroes who quietly make improvements and do ‘good’ for others, and we’ve started asking the community to help us find them. Every year now, we have received several Unsung Hero nominations from people in Innisfil who know someone out there who is doing good things to help others and improve our community.
Each recipient is awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship. When given as recognition to a non-Rotarian it is one of the highest recognition awards that a Rotary Club can give. Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary International, recognized the importance of how individuals could help their local and global community through volunteering, fundraising, and building awareness of concerns. By looking at these areas of focus the Rotary Club of Innisfil wanted to bestow the same honour to local volunteers. Serving others and making lives better, is what Rotary is all about, whether it’s in our own community, or in the worldwide community. So, we feel, an Unsung Hero is really a Rotarian in disguise, doing the kinds of things for others that Rotarians do. That's why, when our Unsung Hero project was born, we decided we would recognize each of our heroes with a Paul Harris award.
The person selected for our Unsung Hero Youth Award is Ryan Harding, young man who volunteers at the library, helping with after school programs like Lego League. He is described by his nominators as always having a positive and caring attitude towards the younger children, always being reliable and willing to help wherever he can, and often going above and beyond to help others. His calm and gentle demeanor makes him a perfect role model for children in the community.   
In addition to a Paul Harris Award, our youth Unsung Hero will receive a $500 Bursary provided by the Town of Innisfil, which he can use once he completes high school and heads off to college or university. He will also receive a free Three Month Pass to the YMCA here in Innisfil.
We also have an Adult Unsung Hero Award. The Rotary Club ran into a unique situation in that two ladies were nominated as a joint submission for the award. The recipients of this year's award were Elaine MacKinnon and Jamie MacKinnon. Both were nominated for the work they do at Goodfellow Public School. 
Elaine is a lead volunteer who spends several days a week helping out. In addition to training other volunteers, Elaine is responsible for organizing and purchasing all the food for the school's Eat Well to Excel Snack program and the Fun Lunch program. She always volunteers for special events held at the school and is a member of the School Council.
Jamie MacKinnon is an exceptional volunteer at the school who runs the Fun Lunch program each week, providing milk and a hot lunch for students. Jamie plans, organizes orders, and works with the secretaries and School Council almost daily. She has built a great relationship with children and provides free lunches for students in need. 
Both Elaine and Jamie work tirelessly throughout the school year and the summer to build connections with the community in order to successfully provide these services at Goodfellow.
In addition to a Paul Harris award, Elaine and Jamie will each receive a gift basket of goodies and gift cards from around Innisfil, as well as a free Three Month Pass to the YMCA.
Youth award winner, Ryan Harding is joined with Jaimie MacKinnon, Innisfil Rotary President Doug Weber, Innisfil Rotarian Anne Kell, and Elaine MacKinnon.
If you know of someone that fits our Unsung Hero criteria, please keep them in mind for next year!