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Quintet of 'local heroes' feted by Sustainable Orillia

Group is 'dependent on volunteers to power the change that we advocate for,' says local official, thanking volunteers for their hard work

Sustainable Orillia, from time to time, will contribute stories about 'local heroes' to recognize the efforts that individuals, businesses and organizations in the Orillia area are making — sustainable practices that, when carried out consistently over time, make a positive difference. Today, they shine the spotlight on five volunteers who have been critical to the success of Sustainable Orillia Month.

As Sustainable Orillia Month winds down, we’re proud to salute the great work our volunteers - local heroes - have done from our very beginnings and, particularly, over this past month.

Sustainable Orillia (SO) is an active network of over 70 volunteers from all walks of life and all areas of the region. Volunteers who have come together to share their time and talents in the pursuit of long-term sustainability for Orillia.

The majority of Sustainable Orillia’s volunteers participate on one of the six Sector Teams, while others support and contribute with specific skills, like communications or information technology. From the Board of Directors right through the expanding network, everyone is aligned with our over-arching goal to protect our way of life and ensure a clean, green environment for future generations.

Volunteering, we know, is a part of Orillia’s DNA. Our city has been recognized in the past for the engagement of its citizens on a wide range of causes. There’s a lot of human energy at work in this community, all directed at reducing waste and our reliance on fossil fuels and on preserving the sustainability of our environment. Each volunteer brings their own unique perspective, skills and motivation.

Let’s take a look at some of the folks who have been working on our behalf over the past 18 months.

Audrey Bayens

Since Audrey Bayens arrived in Orillia about six years ago, we have been the beneficiaries of her considerable marketing expertise, her experience in renewable energy, and her purposeful social focus on a variety of meaningful initiatives.

Bayens is a champion for the Circular Economy and currently serves as the Chair of the Goods and Services Sector Team. As an expert on brand development, Bayens' great energy and passion has been a catalyst for many productive discussions around Sustainable Orillia’s planning table.

Bayens gets things done. Just this past week, she successfully coordinated two webinars on the Circular Economy: one as part of our Sustainable Orillia Month series and the other on behalf of the Toronto Chapter of the Circular Economy Club.

Robb MacDonald

Consistent with his experience as co-owner of a yoga studio, Robb MacDonald has demonstrated some impressive flexibility in his Sustainable Orillia volunteer roles to-date.

MacDonald joined more than a year ago, initially as Chair of the Goods and Services team. In the spring, he moved over to take on interim duties as chair for the Health & Wellness sector when ongoing Chairperson, Brenda Armstrong, became fully engaged with the increased public health demands due to COVID-19. 

MacDonald is a Sustainable Tourism Consultant and views his involvement with the Health & Wellness sector as a natural fit. It builds on his personal priorities—the environment, health promotion and eco/adventure tourism. Although there’s an understandable lull in Sector activity at the moment, MacDonald is looking forward to re-confirming priorities and tackling some meaningful Sector projects in the months ahead.

Tim Adamson

They say, “If you want something done, give it to a busy man” and Tim Adamson is certainly a very busy man. After retiring from Enbridge, where he was Manager of Sustainable Energy, Adamson has stayed engaged as a consultant.

Adamson is currently based in Schomberg. However, he and his wife are in the process of relocating to Orillia. In fact, Adamson already serves on Orillia Council’s Environmental Advisory Committee. He has provided tremendous support throughout “Sustainable Orillia Month.”

On behalf of the Infrastructure and Energy team, Adamson coordinated three webinars, all associated with forms of renewable energy. At the same time, he was very involved in the preparation of a grant application on behalf of Sustainable Orillia in partnership with the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA). The grant, if approved, will bring tremendous benefits to homeowners across Orillia.

Adamson sees Sustainable Orillia as a group with a lot of talent and good ideas, contributing towards a sustainable platform that will make Orillia stronger.

Kari Klassen

As we work our way through the pandemic, like most organizations, Sustainable Orillia is limited in what we can do to maintain momentum and continue to broaden our reach. Which is why a Communications Expert like Kari Klassen is such a valuable member of our volunteer team.

Klassen, a freelance writer, has always worked in the not-for-profit sector and brings a rich and diverse background to the team. Klassen arrived in Orillia from Saskatchewan a little more than a year ago and created some initial buzz with an article on spring gardening featuring fellow volunteer, Scott Allin.

Following that widely-read article, one thing led to another and Klassen soon joined our Communications Team. Today, she oversees our social media platforms and does an amazing job expanding Sustainable Orillia’s messaging and reach across our community.

Zac Waite

Zac Waite is the President of the Sustainable Orillia Youth Council. He is a full-time student at Twin Lakes and got involved in sustainability causes as a result of a science project in the spring of 2019. He and school-mate, Luke Parna-Gile developed the award-winning “Just Toss It in a Recycling Bin” concept.

When SO board member John Knapp heard about the project, he approached Zac to join the Education Sector and to work directly with the Board as Sustainable Orillia’s Youth Rep. Since then Waite's role has evolved significantly, and he currently serves as Sustainable Orillia’s webmaster, provides IT support, serves as Youth Rep on the Board and President of the Youth Council.

That’s a lot of roles for one young person, but perhaps his most important role is that, along with his counterparts from Orillia high schools, he truly represents and reminds us of the future—and why ‘sustainability’ must be tackled now.

Stan Mathewson, Sustainable Orillia’s president, is thankful for the efforts of these local heroes.

“A grass-roots organization like Sustainable Orillia is dependent on volunteers to power the change that we advocate for," said Mathewson. "Thankfully, our volunteers have given and given over the past eighteen months and so, on behalf of our community, I applaud all of them for their commitment and generosity. Many thanks.”

We thank Audrey, Tim, Robb, Kari and Zac for letting us profile them in this article. More broadly, our sincere thanks to all our Sustainable Orillia volunteers. We hope to feature many more of you in the months and years to come.

It’s an ever-expanding group with an all-encompassing goal that is nothing less than to keep moving forward and make Orillia a leader among communities in sustainable practices that will protect and enhance our quality of life.