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Antoni Kostka named Port Coquitlam's 2023 volunteer of the year

The BC Polish Festival organizer was recently honoured by Port Coquitlam city council, alongside three others, for national volunteer week.

Antoni Kostka's efforts to bring the Tri-Cities together during times of war and hardship was recognized this week.

The organizer of the BC Polish Festival was honoured by Port Coquitlam officials Wednesday night (April 19) as its 2023 volunteer of the year.

Also known as "Tony," he helped put the free event together that brought thousands of residents and visitors to PoCo's Leigh Square last May for the first time since 2019.

Kostka and the Polonez Tri-City Polish Association also doubled the eight-hour festival as a fundraiser for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine - which borders Poland to the northwest - while celebrating the music, dance, food and arts of both countries.

"[Kostka] is always generous, professional and enthusiastic as he worked to provide opportunities for all ages to showcase their talents at the Polish Festival," a City of Port Coquitlam social media post reads.

"This festival welcomed everyone, which brought a greater understanding of the cultural traditions of many people who immigrated from Poland to Port Coquitlam and the Tri-Cities area."

Kostka was one of four people that were honoured last night as part of national volunteer week in Canada.

Chloe Goodison was named PoCo's 2023 future leader/youth volunteer of the year for her advocacy in decreasing the stigma around safe drug use in B.C.

Goodison, a Port Moody resident, volunteers with the Tri-Cities Community Overdose Action Team (TCCAT) in continuously calling for increased harm reduction services amid the province's public health emergency.

"A student at SFU [Simon Fraser University], Chloe received a grant for a community engagement project and partnered with local organizations such as TCCAT, Share, Fraser Health, Access Youth Outreach and SD43 to design a high-school curriculum about B.C.'s overdose crisis," the city said.

"Thank you for making a difference in so many ways!"

Meanwhile, Bryan Ness and Ann Pratt both received lifetime awards for their years of volunteer service in the city.

This has included their time with the Port Coquitlam Heritage Society and Royal Canadian Legion Branch #133 respectively.

Kostka, Goodison, Ness and Pratt were all recognized at the Port Coquitlam Community Centre, which included an evening of food, music and caricatures.

The Tri-City News was a media sponsor of the 2023 PoCo Volunteer Recognition Awards.