Senior Islanders of the Year recognized
Vance Bridges, Evelyn MacLure, Mary Ann Nelligan, Jack Sorensen and Chris Wells have been named Senior Islanders of the Year for their outstanding contributions to Island communities.
Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy and PEI Seniors’ Secretariat Chair Paul H. Schurman honoured the Islanders for their work in areas such as volunteering, artistic achievement, leadership, mentorship, fundraising, community participation, and career achievement.
“Congratulations to these five exceptional senior Islanders who are role models to all of us and outstanding members of our communities,” said Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy. “As minister responsible for seniors I am excited to honor them for their contribution to enhancing the lives of others every day.”
“The Seniors’ Secretariat is very pleased to recognize the important contributions that seniors make in improving our Island communities,” Paul H. Schurman said. “These awards recognize the valuable role that Island seniors play in enhancing our way of life.”
Vance Bridges - Summerside
Vance Bridges has a long standing involvement with civic affairs. He is a former representative on city council, president of the Summerside Lobster Carnival and a strong supporter of numerous local organizations including Meals on Wheels where he served as a volunteer; the Red Cross; the College of Piping as a past president and volunteer; and the Salvation Army. Vance has been engaged in local and international projects for over three decades as a member of the Rotary Club of Summerside.
He is an avid supporter of the cooperative movement and was involved in the Summerside Co-op, Co-op Atlantic, Consumers Community Co-op, East Prince Co-op Funeral Home and the Consolidated Credit Union. He is a recipient of the Order of Red Cross, the Queens Jubilee Medal and was recognized as Member of the Year by the Consolidated Credit Union, and as Summerside Citizen of the Year.
Vance is described by nominators as a person with a fearless take-charge attitude, strong problem solving and decisive leadership skills, mixed with insightful humour.
His nominators noted ,“When Vance Bridges believes in something, success is inevitable…a shining light to the older generation and at the same time a spritely white-maned mentor to young Islanders, Vance Bridges is a man for all seasons.”
Evelyn MacLure - Charlottetown
Evelyn MacLure is an active volunteer with several community organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, Special Olympics and Tremploy. She offers a very special outreach to the guests of the Salvation Army. During a typical week, Evelyn can be seen making early morning visits to various coffee shops to pick up donated baked goods for distribution at the Salvation Army’s Friendship Room. Regardless of the weather, she is on foot with her pull cart.
Evelyn cheerfully prepares beverages and snacks and welcomes guests at the Friendship Room. On a weekly basis Evelyn serves hundreds of the city’s most vulnerable citizens. She also supports other Salvation Army projects including Stuff for Students, a donation program for back to school supplies, Coats for Kids, the Christmas Hamper program and has donated countless hours raising money through the Christmas Kettle program.
An avid crafter, Evelyn creates gifts out of a variety of materials to offer others and shares her creativity with children at the Salvation Army’s Kid’s Club and camps.
Her nominators noted “There seems to be very few minutes out of the day that Evelyn is not doing something for someone. She is always helping the most vulnerable Islanders and children. She is a team player, consistent in her commitment and always cooperative and enthusiastic in carrying out her volunteer activities.”
Mary Ann Nelligan - Tignish
This community leader and activist always seeks opportunities to improve the lives of fellow Islanders. Mary Ann organized her community’s first Alzheimer’s support group where people could meet monthly to learn and support each other. As a caregiver to her husband, she has remained a positive and supportive role model even during challenging and difficult times of her own. Throughout 2016 and 2017 she spent countless hours advocating for increased long term care beds in her community, collecting over 2000 signatures on a petition.
She is also a volunteer with the Golden Slipper Friends of the Tignish Seniors Home - a group of ladies who work to raise funds and plan activities to help residents remain active and healthy. Mary Ann has been a dedicated member of the Tignish Catholic Women’s League for more than 30 years and helps to prepare and serve food at local receptions and lending a helping hand at many community events.
Her nominators noted, “Mary Ann, with her determination, has truly inspired all of us to become more involved in our community and to reach out to those who are in need. She has also enriched the lives of many family members of those who are affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
Jack Sorensen - Tryon
Jack Sorensen is an avid supporter of local heritage activities in his community. As founding member and president of the Tryon and Area Historical Society, he has created a website, Facebook page and virtual tour of the Tryon River Trail highlighting the history, flora and fauna of the area. He has organized walks, lectures, concerts and intergenerational events focusing on the Tryon River, its history and environmental significance.
He was instrumental in organizing local celebrations for the 250th anniversary of Captain Samuel Holland’s Survey of Prince Edward Island and most recently organized celebrations Remembering Millie Gamble – a local educator and photographer (2016) and Canada 150: The life and contributions of Mr. Edward Sharkey (2017).
Jack is the caretaker and chair of the board of the Tryon Cemetery. Each August, he prepares a memorial service of music and spoken word to honour all those interned in the Tryon Peoples’ Cemetery.
He is a past director and secretary of the Community Museums Association of PEI and curator of the Tryon Museum for the past 17 years. A retired electronics instructor at Holland College, he has a keen interest in collecting vintage radios.
His nominators describe him as, “a person of thoroughness, commitment and attention to detail and we can always be assured that if Jack accepts a responsibility in any endeavor it will be fulfilled beyond expectations.”
Chris Wells - Charlottetown
Chris Wells has volunteered at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital since 2003, providing nearly 2,500 hours of volunteers service to patients and their families. Every Monday, Chris volunteers at the Cancer Treatment Centre where he helps to make patients comfortable during their treatments. His great sense of humor helps many patients cope with their illness at a time when a positive attitude is particularly important for healing.
He is a strong team player and his opinion is respected and sought after by those he works with. No job is too much for Chris; he is an unsung hero who quietly goes about his volunteer work with discretion, peacefulness and kindness – making a difference to so many.
His nominators noted, “He is a role model for us all with his caring attitude, positive outlook, and gracious leadership to others on his team… and thoughtfulness to everyone around him.”