Spreading kindness in dark times: Dr. Robert Strang Community Hero Award Winners Part 3

From left to right: Michael Hatt, Loukman Ghouti, Wayne Ettinger, Kevin Del Val and Jan Coates

The Dr. Robert Strang Community Hero Award celebrates Nova Scotians who have inspired others, raised spirits or helped people cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. A committee chose the 20 winners from 179 outstanding applications – scroll to the bottom to learn more about the award.

Read on to meet five more award winners. During June, we’re profiling the winners on our blog. View the previous profiles: blog one, blog two

Michael Hatt, Port Hawkesbury
Pharmacist Michael Hatt is being recognized for his dedication in making vaccinations more accessible in Cape Breton. After purchasing a retired ambulance online, he converted it into a mobile vaccination clinic that he drives to rural communities to administer flu shots and – currently COVID-19 vaccinations – for seniors and people with mobility issues. His efforts have helped ensure that vulnerable people can share access this essential care. When not on the road, his mobile unit is the base for vaccine clinics in the community.

Loukman Ghouti, Halifax
Loukman Ghouti is being honoured for his dedication providing support to students struggling with schoolwork and online learning during lockdown. Ghouti created “Teach It!” after hearing from a student he was mentoring who was finding it difficult to get help with her studies. The free, Zoom-based tutoring program sees Dalhousie University students tutoring children and youth. To date, the program’s 12 tutors have helped more than 180 students.

Wayne Ettinger, Kempt Shore
Wayne Ettinger is being recognized for the positive impact he has had on the community at L.E. Shaw Elementary School in Avonport. Ettinger went beyond the role of custodian at the school, not only keeping staff and children safe but also being adaptable when cleaning protocols were changed frequently. He was a constant and calming presence for staff and students during COVID-19, helping students create art and teaching them new things, including sign language to the pre-primary class. He helped keep members of the school, and the broader community of Glooscap First Nation, safe and healthy during this challenging time.

Kevin Del Val, Stellarton
Kevin Del Val is being honoured for his unwavering commitment to serving the elderly members of his community. An essential worker, Del Val works long hours cooking meals and serving residents in long-term care. Recognizing that that the seniors where he worked were unable to gather for church services, he began live-streaming and recording the services at various churches in his community, editing and producing videos that were shared with residents in long-term care, helping them through the isolation and loneliness they were facing.

Jan Coates, Wolfville
Jan Coates is being honoured for her dedication to creating and selling face masks for charity. Between April and September 2020, Coates produced 3,700 cloth masks, calling on friends to donate material and elastic. Selling the masks at a local farmers’ market, she raised over $18,000 for local charities, including food banks and school backpack and breakfast programs.

About the award
In December 2020, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, donated some of the zany neckties he had worn to help lighten the mood during the year’s COVID-19 media briefings to decorate a Christmas tree for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia’s annual Festival of Trees fundraiser. Doctors Nova Scotia was the successful bidder for that Christmas tree.

The Dr. Robert Strang Community Hero Award was created so the neckties could continue to uplift and inspire Nova Scotians, in honour of Dr. Strang and the team at Nova Scotia Public Health. Doctors Nova Scotia partnered with Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health to offer this award. A committee with representatives from each organization reviewed 179 nominations and selected 20 winners.

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