Valued Elder Recognition Award (VERA)

Since 2000, the institute’s Valued Elder Recognition Award (VERA) has honoured volunteers who, over their lifetime, have given exemplary service to helping others in the Capital Regional District (CRD).

Starting in 2016, the Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health and the Eldercare Foundation began partnering to present the VERA. With the Eldercare Foundation’s support, the VERA will recognize those who make a difference each and every day. Agencies and individuals are invited to make one nomination each year.

We are pleased to announce the Valued Elder Recognition Award recipients for 2020:

Eleanore Arkesteyn

Eleanore was nominated by Thrifty Foods Sendial Program, Sidney 

Eleanore was nominated by Thrifty Foods Sendial Program, Sidney, Sidney Historical Museum, the SIdney/North Saanich branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library as well as the BC Aviation Museum. She has also volunteered with St Vincent de Paul and the Sidney/North North Saanich RCMP.

Andreé Galbraith


Andrée was nominated by the Mental Health Recovery Partners BC. She a founding member of the BC Schizophrenia Society Victoria Branch, established in 1984, now called Mental Health Recovery Partners South Island. Andrée has remained committed to the organisation for over 40 years. She was on the board of directors for several terms and when she retired in 1999 and became an office and event volunteer. 

Mary Gidney


Mary was nominated by the Island Sexual Health Clinic. Mary volunteers with the Island Sexual Health Clinic,  Metchosin Day, Metchosin Arts and Cultural Association (MACCA), Metchosin Fire Department and Emergency Operations Centre, and Refugee Sponsorship. 

Suellen Guenther


Suellen was nominated by the First Unitarian Church of Victoria. Suellen volunteers with Victoria Hospice in the Bedside Singers Program, First Unitarian Church of Victoria, and the Single Parent Resource Centre.

Marg Palmer


Marg was nominated by The Land Conservancy - Abkhazi Garden. In addition to volunteering with The Land Conservancy, she also volunteers at Kildonen (De Mezey Memorial Abbeyfield House), Oak Bay Heritage Foundation, and the Victoria Horticultural Society.

Dick & Diane Payne


Dick and Diane Payne were nominated by the Oak Bay Emergency Program. The Paynes have been active members of the Oak Bay Emergency Program (OBEP) for 28 years. Diane has been a member of the Emergency Support Services (ESS), Emergency Preparedness Education (EPE) and Amateur Radio (Comms) teams since she joined the program, and Dick has been with the Comms team since he joined OBEP and recently joined the ESS program

Janice Poulin

Janice was nominated by the Metchosin Community Association. A community girl at heart, Janice also volunteers with the Metchosin Heritage Committee, Metchosin School Museum, Metchosin Museum Society, District of Metchosin, Heritage Advisory Select Committee, Metchosin Arts & Cultural Association and St Mary’s Church

Beverly Unger


Beverly was nominated by the Victoria Symphony, where she supports programs of music for children in schools, and the Composer in Residence (CIR) program, which consists of members of the Symphony working with high school student. These students compose music and play a public concert at the end of the project. Her attendance at one of these concerts in 2009 lead her to make her first of many contributions to the Victoria Symphony.

Trudine Wilson


Trudine was nominated by the Ladies Auxiliary (LA), Prince Edward Branch 91, of the Royal Canadian Legion where she volunteers her time with several tasks and events. She is also a life time volunteer with the Girl Guides of Canada since joining Brownies at the Colwood Children's Hall in 1962. Trudine strongly believes that Guiding provides learning benefits, team building, social skills, and peer guidance to youth.

Donna Zwiers


Donna was nominated by the Saanich Volunteer Services Society. Donna has been volunteering with the Saanich Volunteer Services Society for 23 years.  Volunteering for at least two hours each week, she has completed over 830 "jobs" for the agency to date.   


Eligibility criteria for the Valued Elder Recognition Award:

  1. The nominee must have made an exemplary contribution within the Capital Regional District (CRD)* for a minimum of ten years and must not have been paid for the contributions for which they are being honoured

  2. While the contributions must have been made within the CRD, the individual need not reside in the CRD at the present time.

  3. The individual must agree to stand for the nomination (due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, agreement can be provided via the nomination form, email, or mail).

  4. The contributions made by the nominee must be supported by at least 3 letters of support from individuals in the community (see Guidelines for Letter of Support). The nominator must provide one of the letters of support.

  5. The nominee has not received this award in previous years.

  6. One award nomination per agency.



Past VERA nominees and recipients

*The 2011 VERA was not presented due to organizational restructuring.