Spreading kindness in dark times: Dr. Robert Strang Community Hero Award Winners Part 4

From left to right: Dr. Barry Clarke, Lisa Bond, Crystal Blair, Patricia Bishop, Mathew and Mitch Benvie (photo credit: Jeff Cooke, Cooked Photography)

Nova Scotia is home to many quiet heroes of the pandemic – ordinary people who have done remarkable things to help others cope during these unsettling times. The Dr. Robert Strang Community Hero Award has recognized 20 Nova Scotians who have stepped up to serve their communities. A committee chose the 20 winners from 179 outstanding applications – scroll to the bottom to learn more about the award.

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

Dr. Barry Clarke, Halifax
Dr. Barry Clarke is being honoured for his leadership and dedication as medical director of Northwood during the facility’s COVID-19 outbreak. He coordinated the facility’s response, sourced essential medical supplies and helped the team navigate the emotional, physical and mental challenges, reassuring staff, volunteers and family members that they would get through it together. The work took an emotional and personal toll on him and prevented him from meeting his first grandchild.

Lisa Bond, North Sydney:
Lisa Bond is being recognized for her work with the Caring Closet, an initiative she started at T.L. Sullivan Middle School that provides students with free lunches and supplies. During COVID-19, it became the Caring Trunk, with Lisa delivering food, clothing and necessities to children and families in need in her community.

Crystal Blair, Debert:
While other restaurants and businesses shut down during the early weeks of the lockdown, Crystal Blair kept Glenholme Loop Petro Pass open to provide free meals, hot showers and a safe resting place for truck drivers who had nowhere else to stop. Blair served these essential workers, providing the support they needed to stay happy and healthy on the road. She did the cooking and work on her own to prevent putting anyone else at risk.

Patricia Bishop, Port Williams:
Since March 2020, Patricia Bishop of Taproot Farms has been providing food boxes of fresh fruits, vegetables and other necessities for vulnerable families and individuals in Port Williams and surrounding communities. Her efforts have helped address the food insecurity that many people in the Annapolis Valley are facing, which has worsened during the pandemic.

Mathew and Mitch Benvie, Halifax:
Mathew and Mitch Benvie of Evolve Fitness are being honoured for using virtual workouts to fundraise over $80,000 in support of local businesses that were struggling during the lockdown. They also loaned out gym equipment, hosted virtual socials to keep spirits up and provided free fitness classes to front-line workers.

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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