Thank you for the 1000+ votes for local heroes in our community for this year’s Lawney Donaldson Community Builder Award!

Award Sponsor: Tandem X Visuals

Lawney Donaldson may not be a household name to you – unless you’re one of his six Little Brothers and their families. For more than forty years, Lawney was selflessly committed to helping children reach their potential by simply just being there for them. The impact of Lawney’s legacy is not best measured in dollars and cents, but rather in the strengthened social fabric of our community. Six young children transforming into confident, concerned, and motivated young men is a remarkable thing and our community is immeasurably better because of it. People like Lawney are the unsung heroes of our community. They do what they do for their community not because they have to, but because they can. This annual award will forever recognize an individual, or company that is equally committed to quietly building a better community for all of us.

2023 Nominees

  • Chase Shingoose Chase, a 26-year-old First Nations man from Cote First Nation, is a beacon of inspiration and resilience. As a father, community leader, and first in his family to pursue university education and break cycles of abuse, he works tirelessly while reclaiming and passing on cultural traditions. His unwavering dedication to ensuring intergenerational resilience makes him an exceptional Indigenous role model, wholly deserving of this award.
  • Giri Sankar Vadakkedath Raju Giri, a beacon of community unity and leadership, ardently builds platforms for individuals to unveil their hidden talents and gain confidence. Orchestrating cultural and sports events, he merges communities and fosters future leadership with a blend of unwavering honesty, boundless empathy, and resilience. While achieving and inspiring, Giri maintains humility and prioritizes collective growth, embodying the essence of empowerment, innovation, and supportive leadership, thereby presenting him as a distinguished nominee for this esteemed award.
  • Katie & Mark Shmelinksi Katie and Mark, the altruistic duo behind Everyday Kitchen, have woven a tapestry of community support and inclusion. Their generous donations to non-profits during trying times, commitment to employing a diverse workforce, and making all feel welcome—regardless of social or economic status—speak volumes of their character. Consistently seeking ways to uplift their community secretly and selflessly, they are epitomes of genuine Community Builders, they are both truly Community Builders.
  • Michael Lavis Michael, CEO of Creative Options Regina, embodies relentless dedication to support and advocacy for people experiencing mental disability. His leadership, rooted in specialized education, Gentle Teaching philosophy, and personal commitment, has pioneered empowering changes and unwavering support for the vulnerable. His notable roles, like co-leading the Person Centered Culture Committee, underscore his dedication to revolutionizing disability services. A true advocate for change, Michael remarkably represents the essence of community building, meriting him notable award consideration.
  • MJ Deans Beynham MJ is the living, walking, breathing definition of a hero to the North Central community, ceaselessly supporting children, youth, and families with a compassion that is boundless. Sought by children for her unconditional love and by families for her unwavering support, her immeasurable impact speaks volumes. MJ not only defines but embodies altruistic love and support, making her an undeniable and worthy candidate for an award that recognizes genuine, transformative impact in the community.
  • Thomas Benjoe Thomas Benjoe believes in helping all Indigenous people excel. He is committed to building generational wealth through building Indigenous recruitment initiatives, starting sustainable organizations, scholarships, and sharing opportunities.
  • Timothy Abello Timothy, a compassionate soul who always puts others first, created a lifeline for many during Covid by establishing a business to check on those in need. Whether it’s making daily calls to uplift those in tough times or being a staunch supporter of children in his classroom, his unwavering dedication and kindness not only exemplify genuine care but also create impactful, positive ripples in the community, making him a truly deserving award recipient.
  • Venezya Thorsteinson Venezya, a dedicated advocate and psychology student, exemplifies tireless community building. From leading initiatives combating food insecurity and period poverty with the CCUofR to empowering women through mentorship programs at RaiseHER Community, her impact is far-reaching. Venezya's consistent efforts to foster opportunities and uplift various community segments, coupled with her genuine commitment to effecting change, highlight her as a deserving recipient of the Lawney Donaldson Community Builder Award.
  • Whitney Blaisdell Whitney, founder of Project Play YQR, turned a simple concept into a community treasure, providing a comprehensive play resource for Regina’s residents. Beginning in 2019 and evolving through community input, she has curated numerous free programs and resources that have substantially benefited many. Her commitment to fostering playful, accessible, and inclusive environments highlights her as a remarkable community builder and a worthy contender for recognition and honor through the LD Award.

Web Sponsor: StratLab Marketing

2022 Lawney Donaldson Community Builder Award

2021 Lawney Donaldson Community Builder Award – Talitha McCloskey and Skylar Gerard 

Skylar Gerard and Talitha McCloskey, along with their mothers, Gwen Keith + Dr. Marlene Smadu, founded RaiseHER Community in the spring of 2019. RaiseHER Community is a for-impact movement where all profits are reinvested back into the business to enable continuous empowerment activities. The movement brings together people who are passionate about supporting other women to become leaders in our community. The mission of RaiseHER Community is to unleash the leadership potential of women through meaningful connections, professional growth opportunities and inspiring experiences.

A BIG thank you to Talitha and Skylar for their dedication to connecting, celebrating and serving our community.

2020 Lawney Donaldson Community Builder Award – Heidi Vogel

Heidi has been a Big Sister to Kia since 2016 and in that same year she facilitated her first Go Girls Group. Since then she has been the mentor for 13 Go Girls Groups and mentored 92 young people!! In 2019, Heidi became Elijah’s Big Sister too.

During the pandemic Heidi has shown us exactly why she is worthy of this award – not only did she find creative and meaningful ways to stay connected to Kia and Elijah, she facilitated our first ever Virtual Go Girls Group and our first Socially Distant Go Girls Group. Along with mentoring young people, she has also mentored new Go Girls mentors. What Heidi has to say about her time as a mentor: “My favorite part about being a mentor is the genuine connections I have made, the heartfelt conversations, and the great times we have together! Watching them grow, and being able to support them in any way I can is what keeps me committed. I absolutely cherish the kids I mentor and I feel very grateful to have them as a part of my life”.

Heidi is a selfless and giving individual and we are grateful for her everyday. Please join us in thanking Heidi for her long standing and meaningful contribution to the next generation.

2019 Lawney Donaldson Community Builder Award – Mo Bundon

Mo Bundon was presented with the 2019 Lawney Donaldson Community Builder Award at our 31st Annual Business Dinner. Mo is the type of person who is always willing to give, always there to help, and committed to creating a stronger future for our community. He does this, not because he wants to be recognized for it, but because he knows it’s the right thing to do. We greatly appreciate the work that Mo Bundon, and the people he influences around him, do for our community.

Please help us thank Mo for his commitment to our community.

2018 Lawney Donaldson Community Builder Award – Jason Drummond 

Jason Drummond was presented with the 2018 Lawney Donaldson Community Builder Award at our 30th Annual Business Dinner on Friday, October 12, 2018. Jason, a very successful entrepreneur and investor has a long standing history of philanthropy -both professionally and personally. He is has been committed to building both business and community right here in Regina.

One of the most inspiring parts of Lawney’s story is how pure it is – Lawney never did anything for recognition or to advance himself – he simply saw a need, found his passion, and made time to serve others. Jason is very similar in my view – he’s involved in so many community efforts, both giving of his time and expertise and also financially, and you’d really never know it unless you got to see it first hand. He is one of a group of people that work tirelessly behind the scenes to make this a better place to live – and we wanted to celebrate that” Jeffrey Boutilier, President & Chief Strategist of Ascent Strategy -sponsor of the Lawney Donaldson Community Builder Award.

You can also witness Jason’s community values in the businesses he has had a hand in building – from the Leo’s group to the Regina Pats, his business interests have made giving back to the community a major part of their culture.

Please help us thank Jason for his dedication to our community and congratulate him on being the inaugural recipient of this auspicious award.