Conestoga news

February 16, 2024 1:36 PM

Three Conestoga alumni honoured with Guelph Mayor’s Award for volunteering

Three Conestoga graduates were honoured for their outstanding commitment to volunteering by Guelph’s mayor.

Conestoga alumni Mike Darmon, Narine Dat Sookram and Shannon Ostetto were recognized at an event on February 8 where Mayor Cam Guthrie presented awards to five honourees who make the city a better place through volunteer service.

“Hearing that three of the 2023 Mayor’s Awards recipients are Conestoga College graduates shows that Conestoga helps nurture a giving community spirit in its students, in addition to providing a world-class academic education. These award recipients truly make Guelph a better place through their volunteer service,” Guthrie said.

The award winners are applauded by the Conestoga community, as well.

“Conestoga celebrates the commitment and agility these community volunteers have shown in Guelph. Their dedication to making other people's lives better, through actions both strategic and personal, are a source of inspiration for future graduates and the alumni community,” said Melissa Kelly, associate director for Alumni.

Mike Darmon is well known for his volunteering with the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation (GCAT), taking on various roles at the organization to advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the quantity, quality and safety of active transportation in Guelph.

He spends countless hours researching active transportation issues, developing proposed infrastructure solutions, building the city’s community of active transportation users, and liaising with city staff, members of council and other stakeholders.

Darmon also volunteers his time to build the outdoor ice-skating rink in Riverside Park and was an active volunteer participant in the development of Guelph’s Community Plan.

He graduated from the Plumber Apprenticeship program.

Narine Dat Sookram has been an active volunteer since 2002. He volunteers his time to mentor Guelph citizens to achieve their career and academic goals and he helps people craft resumes and cover letters and prepare for job interviews. From 2002 to 2012, he also drove community members with no personal transportation to their workplaces.

During the pandemic, the registered social worker volunteered his time to provide mental health counselling for immigrants, women, people of colour, people with disabilities and international students.

He’s been recognized numerous times for volunteer service with the 2014 Tourism Industry Award of Excellence for Volunteer of the Year, Governor General Caring Canadian Award for Volunteerism, the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Volunteerism from Ontario’s Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, and the Volunteer Impact Helping Hands Award from the Volunteer Action Centre in Kitchener.

Sookram graduated from the Career Development Professional program.

Shannon Ostetto was described as a “ray of hope.” She’s been volunteering with Hope House and their event Hope in the Street for the past five years, helping to serve vulnerable people in Guelph.

Ostetto has been chair of the fundraiser since 2019, successfully pivoting to an online format in 2020 and bringing it back to an in-person event. She leads an organizing committee of upwards of 10 volunteers to bring the community together for this important annual event for a good cause.

Ostetto brings her entrepreneurial spirit and upbeat approach to Hope in the Street, which raises tens of thousands of dollars for Hope House each year.

She is a graduate of the Business Administration - Materials & Operations Management program.