BGC Okanagan 2024 staff recognition awards

BGC Okanagan recently celebrated the talented, dedicated staff members and showed appreciation for those who have been with the organization for a number of years at the seventh annual BGC Okanagan Recognition Awards.

Among the highlights was the recognition of Ella Wagner, who has worked with BGC Okanagan for 43 years. She started working with the Central Okanagan Daycare Society at the Rutland Daycare and shortly after moved over to North Glenmore Daycare that she helped open. Seven years later BGC Okanagan amalgamated with the society and she continued working at North Glenmore daycare. In 2009, BGC Okanagan moved the North Glenmore Daycare to Martin Avenue where she has been ever since.

Ella has always worked with the three to five age group and is well known and loved by all the children and families.

BGC Okanagan staff member Ella celebrated 43 years with the organization. Standing beside her is Jeremy Welder, BGC Okanagan CEO.

Staff Recognition Awards

 BGC Okanagan staff awards are handed out yearly, below are the winners with comments from the person that nominated them.

Above and Beyond Award

The Above and Beyond Award recognizes someone who goes the extra mile to make a difference at BGCO.  For example, this individual may have spearheaded an important initiative or launched a program. This individual is not necessarily in a formal leadership role, but they make a difference by exuding passion, dedication, and enthusiasm. This is someone all staff can look to for inspiration.

Recipient: Paul Schembri

Paul started with BGC Okanagan in April 2020 and came to us with an extensive knowledge of construction, lumber and automotive industry which gives him the unique skillset required to perform his role effectively. Paul has an amazing work ethic and is very reliable and is always willing to continue learning. Paul is an integral part of the Facilities and Transportation team, and it would be hard to imagine it running so well without him.

“For a period of a few months Paul and (the nominator) were the only members of the Facilities and Transportation Team because filling the two vacant positions was proving to be a huge challenge. Paul constantly put in extra hours beyond his workday just to get the job done and never complained once.  He understood the situation we were in being short-staffed and stepped up to ensure the effect on the clubs was a minimal as possible. Because of his dedication, many clubs didn’t even realize we were so short-staffed,” said the nominator.

“Paul works on projects or fixing faulty furniture in his own shop during his own time to save the agency money and so it can be used when needed. Paul always has a positive, get-it-done attitude and as a Team Lead, this sets the tone for the whole team. I know if I put Paul on a project, he will execute it in a methodical and systematic way. Some examples of this are Radon Tests, First Aid and Evacuation kits and more recently CARF requirements. He makes sure it is completed and done correctly.”


Rising Star Award

This award recognizes an individual employed with BGC Okanagan, who demonstrates achievements, accomplishments, early success, commitment, and promise as a future leader in our organization.  

Recipient: Kiro Cristostoma

Kiro is an Inclusive Childcare Worker working for BGCO for almost two years now and started as a practicum student of the Community Support Worker Program through Sprott Shaw. Since then, Kiro has shown deep compassion and empathy for the children and youth they have been supporting. They’ve shown significant growth in their role, always willing to step out of their comfort zone to learn new skills and help others. Kiro remains one of the favourite Inclusive Child Care Worker’s for a practicum student to shadow. Kiro always goes above and beyond to provide excellent care for children/youth in their care and works with the most complex cases in ICC Program.

“Kiro continues to take on challenges that stretch their comfort zone. For example, they are always willing to support children/youth with high support needs. These are sometimes children/youth that many other staff might shy away from. Kiro appears to embrace our most vulnerable kids. They make it look easy! Kiro’s calm demeanor is contagious,” said Kiro’s nominator. “When Kiro has a practicum student with them, they always model the high level of care, respect, and positivity. Kiro provides an example of what care should look like within our organization. They represent us well.”


Leader Award

The Leader Award recognizes an individual in a leadership role providing mentorship to those they work with at BGCO to achieve a common goal. As a model for others to follow, this individual brings fresh ideas and/or superior problem-solving skills to their work at BGCO, creating positive and lasting change.

Recipient: Kristy Butterworth

Kristy Butterworth grew up within BGC Okanagan. She got her education as a CEA and then came to work for us in programs 20 years ago on April 7, 2004. She has worked in every youth program we have and has been working in leadership within our organization for at least 15 years – in the Youth Employment Program, Penny Lane Transition House, Westside Youth Centre, Downtown Youth Centre, a Youth Manager role, and the Youth Services Director.

“Kristy is the queen of identifying who her staff are and taking a strengths based approach to leadership – adapting her approach to meet the needs of each person she is guiding. Kristy currently leads 3 managers – all staff who grew up and are growing up in our clubs, all staff who are dealing with the challenges of managing diverse programming serving vulnerable youth and Kristy is able to bring out the best in each of them,” said her nominator.

“Kristy is open, honest, accountable and vulnerable in the work but doesn’t just talk the talk. She walks it too and is always first to jump and do the hard work alongside staff and fill in staffing gaps during staffing crises and challenging times.”

“Kristy remains grounded on a very shaky ship and has led staff and programs through the opiate crisis, homelessness crisis, constant contractions and expansions in funding availability. Kristy is a consistently collaborative community partner who always shows up and is regarded so highly by our peers in the industry.”


Volunteer Award

The Volunteer Award recognizes someone who has been an outstanding volunteer at BGCO.  This individual is making a significant contribution to BGCO through commitment, service, and creativity in their volunteer role.

Recipient:  Carolyn Labun

Carolyn Labun has been volunteering with the Youth Restorative Justice Program since 2021. She previously taught at UBCO and began volunteering after her retirement. Carolyn also volunteers at other nonprofits in the community.

Carolyn is consistently cited as someone who is nonjudgmental, sympathetic, and calming. This kind of demeanor allows youth to feel comfortable sharing their feelings about a difficult incident and can lead to a better understanding of where some of their negative behaviors stem from. As such, Carolyn facilitates the creation of an environment in which meaningful and impactful conversations can be had.

“Carolyn facilitates the Community Justice Forums that accompany every Restorative Justice referral we see. These forums allow youth to understand the impact of their actions and help all parties to come to an agreement for how to move forward and repair any harm done,” said the nominator.

“In 2023, our program relied heavily on Carolyn’s abilities. Due to the unavailability of new training opportunities, Carolyn was essentially the only person who could facilitate these forums and help us to close files. Because of Carolyn, we were able to work through a backlog of files and train new volunteers to take some of the weight off of her shoulders. Truly, our program would not have been able to function without her support in 2023.”

“Accountability, meeting deadlines, and community involvement are all skills that Carolyn helps youth to develop through discussions she has with our youth. Carolyn encourages youth to believe that they can achieve what they set out to do and that their actions do not define them. I believe this instills a sense of confidence in our youth and sets them up for success in the future.”


Long Service Awards:

40 Years

Ella Wagner

20 years

Jesie Harms, Kristy Butterworth, Janyce Forbes

25 Years

Will Shepherd

15 years

Christine Crumb, Janet Brown, Diana Doran

10 Years

Caitlin Bannow, Melissa Michels, Tracy Anderson, Lyndsea Mathers, Bethlyn Klassen

Five years

Tiffany Warriner, Becky Kirkham, Sandra Rentiers, Tricia Brewer, Sydney Stradecke, Meghan Ramsay, Kerrie Kennedy. Scotia Hewitt, Celeste Skolfsky, Larissa Gardiner

View the 2023 BGC Okanagan staff recognition award winners by clicking here.

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