Danby CEO Jim Estill recognized as global hero for sponsoring Syrian families

Danby CEO Jim Estill is being recognized with an international award from the Global Hope Coalition for personally sponsoring 58 Syrian refugee families.

'I’m honoured and humbled and I hope that other people can be inspired'

Jim Eskill has personally sponsored 58 Syrian refugee families — more than 200 people — and is receiving an award for his humanitarian work Monday night in New York City. He is seen in this file photo in his warehouse full of household goods, donated and collected for those families. (CBC)

Jim Estill of Guelph is receiving an international award for his humanitarian work to sponsor 58 Syrian families.

Estill, the CEO of Danby, is one of 10 people receiving the Global Hope Coalition award Hero in the Global Campaign Against Extremism and Intolerance.

"I'm very honoured, and I guess in a sense, I'm blown away by the company that I'll be keeping tonight," Estill said before boarding a plane to New York City where he would attend the awards ceremony Monday night.

Also in attendance at the ceremony, held at the New York Public Library, will be former first lady Laura Bush, former British prime minister Tony Blair, French President Emmanuel Macron and the President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.

"I'm honoured and humbled and I hope that other people can be inspired," Estill told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo Monday.

Recognize those who take risks

The Global Hope Coalition is a network of three not-for-profit foundations in New York, Zurich and Hong Kong.

The group's website says the coalition's goal is to recognize people who "take great risks every day to accomplish their mission" and also to "empower courageous individuals who stand up to terror and violence, preserve our cultural heritage and build bridges across cultures."

Others receiving the award include:

  • Muzoon Almellahan, a Syrian refugee and education activist who advocates for the rights of children — in particular girls — to stay in school.
  • Col. Matthew Bogdanos, a prosecutor for the New York County District Attorney's Office for his work exposing a link between antiquities trafficking and terrorist financing.
  • Latifa Ibn Ziaten, a French-Moroccan activist who works to prevent young French Muslims from being recruited into the ranks of violent extremists. 

'Absolutely incredible'

Since 2015, Estill has sponsored 58 families to come to Canada — more than 200 people — and also helped them find work, in some cases helping them set up their own business. He rallied more than 800 volunteers to help welcome the families to the community. On top of that, he is also helping a nine-year-old Guelph boy and his family sponsor another Syrian refugee family.

Estill received the Order of Ontario in June.

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