Kitchener is celebrating six exceptional citizens through its inaugural city builder awards, designed to recognize volunteerism and service to the community.

The awards were created by Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, and announced to the community during his State of the City address in March of last year. 

"We have a truly incredible story to tell about the smart and caring city we're building," Vrbanovic said is his speech.

"But, sometimes it seems that we're too busy, or maybe too humble, to celebrate our successes. Today, I'm proposing that we share our city building story in a big way – at least once a year."

City staff received 22 nominations highlighting large and small scale work being done by people throughout the city aimed at making the community better.  

Of those 22 nominations a committee selected six residents, and one organization to win the inaugural awards. 

The first recipients of the city builder award are:

  • Fred Bishop

    • Bishop is best known for his work advocating for affordable housing in Kitchener. He's a member of the board of directors for Kitchener Housing and the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. He's also been an active member of city advisory committees and community groups, like the one responsible for organization Victoria Park's 100th birthday party. 
  • Patrick Doherty 

    • Doherty passed away in August, but he is still being celebrated as a city builder in Kitchener. Doherty was a long-time educator with the Waterloo Region Catholic School Board, but where he really excelled was on the ice, instilling a love of hockey in young people across the region. He also spearheaded the effort to install Automated Exterior Defibrillator's (AED's) through out the city. 

  • Mike Farwell 

    • Farwell is the co-chair of the City of Kitchener's Neighbourhood Strategy project and the vice-chair of the Kitchener Public Library Board. But his passion really lies with the work he does for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. He created the Farwell 4 Hire campaign, an initiative he does in honour of his two sisters who died from Cystic Fibrosis.

  • Joseph Fung

    • Fung is a role model for young people developing their career within Kitchener and Waterloo Region's growing tech community. A VP at Net Suite, he believes in giving back to the community that supports him, and volunteers with the KW Art Gallery and the KW Symphony. 

  • Jean Markovich

    • ​Markovich's service to the city comes in many forms, from helping a senior shovel their sidewalk to volunteering with the Hope Spring Cancer Support Centre and Junior Achievement Waterloo, she is doing her part to make Kitchener better. 

  • Julia Spencer

    • Spencer is the youngest recipient of the City Builder award, but no less deserving. She's a member of the Kitchener Youth Advisory Council and works actively to promote mental health awareness. Spencer also volunteers with the Gay-Straight Alliance, Me to We and the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

The organization named a city builder for 2015 was the Lions Club of Kitchener, which has been working in the city since 1927. Some of its key initiatives are the Kitchener Waterloo Santa Claus Parade and Children's Safety Village.