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They've volunteered for years in the Tri-Cities. Now, these 10 are called 'Community Champs'

A celebration was held at Lions Park in Port Coquitlam on Aug. 6, 2023, to pay tribute to 10 volunteers living in the federal riding of Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam.
Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon (in light blue shirt) with six of his 10 Community Champions, at a celebration at Lions Park on Aug. 6, 2023. | via Ron McKinnon’s constituency office

Ten Tri-City residents living in the federal riding of Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam are now Community Champions.

On Aug. 6, Liberal MP Ron McKinnon named his 2023 batch of unsung heroes at a Lions Park celebration and awarded the recipients with certificates of achievement.

They are (in alphabetical order):

Chris Baxter: A Scout since he was five years old, Baxter has volunteered with the 4th PoCo Scouts for nearly 20 years and works tirelessly to run meetings, camps and events for the members — including taking part in the recent World Scout Jamboree in South Korea. In the words of his nominator, “He is an excellent mentor for kids of all ages, from Beavers all the way up to Rovers. He encourages community service and leads by example.”

Bob Comartin: A French-immersion teacher at Kilmer Elementary who encourages his students to get involved in their community, Comartin saw his class win the provincial government’s Real Acts of Caring contest. Over the years, his students have cleaned up local parks, learned about the importance of bees and made bee houses. Comartin is also a kinesiologist and enjoys coaching students in various sports. He is the head coach with the Port Coquitlam Running Club, which he created in 2012. One of his goals is to encourage as many people as he can to become active.

Tabasom Eblaghie: A refugee, Eblaghie and her family have made a difference in the community. She is a clinical counsellor in private practice, where she has led discussions on how to respond to grief and loss after global tragedies. She has also given numerous counselling workshops, including running a mother’s support group and co-chairing a men’s discussion group weekly over Zoom. In addition, Ebalaghie has also been running a weekly women’s discussion group on Zoom with women.

Gail Flash: An arts champions, Flash volunteers by delivering weekly food hampers to local families in financial need and she helps seniors. As well, she is a dedicated caregiver and healthcare advocate for her older sister. Flash “is the thread of all the communities she touches and her wisdom and grace inspire us to create safe and caring communities of our own,” McKinnon said. “People like Gail remind us to connect and to care about each other.”

Joan Gould: An advocate for seniors programming in Port Coquitlam since 2004, Gould volunteers with the Wilson Seniors by providing support with the kitchen program, acting as facility host, hosting special event lunches and acting as a member (and sometimes president) of the Wilson Centre Seniors Advisory Board.

Karen Hein: A community volunteer for decades in Coquitlam and PoCo, Hein has volunteered at a Coquitlam art gallery as an usher and receptionist. She is also a poet and created a free Poetry Show over Zoom to help bring culture and connection directly into people’s homes. She has volunteered at Parkwood Manor, helping out with resident events and bringing smiles to residents’ faces for the past nine years. Currently, she is also a telephone buddy for a senior through BC211. Hein also spent two years at the Eagle Ridge Hospital auxiliary thrift store to volunteer as a day manager and has worked as a volunteer co-ordinator for The Place drop-in centre.

Catherine Ho: A volunteer with Burke Mountain Naturalists, serving as a member of the education and conservation committee, Ho has helped to remove invasive species at DeBoville Slough over the years. She has also designed many educational programs for the Naturalists including the Colony Farm and Como Lake bird scavenger hunts, which help residents learn about local birds and wildlife. At SHARE Family and Community Services, where she works, she helped to create with the Naturalists the Nature Scavenger Hunt to help young kids learn about and connect with nature in local parks.

Brian Hubbard: A tireless volunteer with PoCo Heritage for more than a decade, Hubbard has served as a director (and later as president) of the non-profit group. Thanks in part to his leadership and advocacy, PoCo Heritage opened a Museum and Archives at The Outlet in Leigh Square in 2013. Today, it has staff and a collection that reflects the diversity and cultural richness of modern Port Coquitlam. Hubbard continues to serve as its IT director.

Preet Pall: The founding director of Global Change for Children, Pall is a director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, a fundraiser for Motionball and a Rotarian. Pall was nominated by her son Bronson, who wrote, “My mom has always taught me the value of community service. She always supports her community by volunteering her time, raising funds and supporting organizations to do better.”

Fatemeh Zakeri: The former chairperson of the Tri-City Iranian Cultural Society who works for S.U.C.C.E.S.S. as part of the multicultural early childhood development team, Zakeri runs Farsi-language programs for parents with young children. She has served families and immigrants in Coquitlam for more than a dozen years. She has been actively involved in organizing numerous social activities for the Iranian community in Coquitlam.