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Marjorie Bencz, CM

Marjorie Bencz

Community Builder

Marjorie Bencz started as a volunteer with Edmonton’s Food Bank in 1987 and joined the administration shortly thereafter. She was then appointed to the position of Executive Director and the rest is history.

Today, she oversees a food and operating budget of $20 million, a staff of 34, and more than 50,000 volunteer hours — which supports more than 16,000 people through hamper programs and 410,000 meals and snacks monthly. Additionally, she works with donors and 214 partner organizations. More than 1,100 food drives and fundraisers are held each year to support the Food Bank.

Marjorie is acknowledged as an outstanding leader in the food banking community across Canada. Her past roles include membership in and Chair of the Board of Directors of Food Banks Canada (formerly the Canadian Association of Food Banks). She is also a founding member and Board member of the Alberta Food Bank Network Association.

One story in particular symbolizes Marjorie’s work with Edmonton’s Food Bank. In 2006, she was invested into the Order of Canada as being a voice for the poor and working poor in fighting hunger in Canada.

“When I got back to Edmonton, we took the medal around and shared it with our volunteers. One gentleman held it in his hand and said: ‘We have an Order of Canada!’ I loved his use of the word ‘we’. It’s true – our work is collaborative and it is about being a team.”

Marjorie has received many other distinguished awards over the years for going above and beyond her dedication to the Food Bank and those in need. They include the Queen’s Diamond & Gold Jubilee Medals, YWCA Woman of Distinction, Global Television Woman of Vision, and Grant MacEwan College Distinguished Alumni Award.

“I am very fortunate and very spoiled, to be truthful. I have had staff and volunteers with me for a long time. I have a committed Board. Many Edmontonians are engaged and want to make a meaningful contribution to our community. The Food Bank has developed excellent relationships with people and organizations. Many of our supporters we see regularly while other friends we see only once a year. It has been a very special journey.”

David Majeski

Dave Majeski

Community Leader

Dave Majeski admits he finds it hard to say no to good causes. It was a major gain for Edmonton when he arrived in 2004 as RBC’s Vice President, Real Estate & Construction Services, continuing a 46-year career with the bank that had posted him in Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary along the way.

Dave had been active in the various communities in which he worked, but never on the scale of his volunteer work in Edmonton. It all started with the Canadian Finals Rodeo. 

“I had arrived here after 10 years with RBC in Calgary and didn’t know anybody in Edmonton. Then I saw a news story about Calgary wanting the Canadian Finals Rodeo. I decided to get involved to make sure the CFR didn’t leave for Calgary. I was a fan of the sport of rodeo, but I was mainly interested in terms of its economic impact on Edmonton, and I was determined they weren’t going to take it away from us.”

It wasn’t long before he was engaged as a volunteer, event organizer, board member, chair, or director with a host of community organizations: the Edmonton Police Foundation, Edmonton Film Fund, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Edmonton Northlands, MacEwan University, United Way, and Miss Rodeo Canada — just to name a few. For the past several years, he has chaired the Gold Medal Plates dinner, an annual sell-out that raises thousands of dollars for Olympic athletes. Dave credits his wife Laura for her supportiveness, who is ever-understanding when Dave hears the call to join yet another volunteer endeavour.

“People here are very gracious and supportive of community and they want to find ways for themselves and others to get involved. What drives me is seeing an opportunity and knowing we can move the needle to make some progress and make an organization more relevant. I want to be engaged and to help them succeed.”

Sandra B. Woitas, B.Ed, M.Ed, LLD (Hon)

Sandra B. Woitas

Community Builder

Sandra Woitras' extensive professional and volunteer work has been dedicated to ensuring that all children and youth receive the best society has to offer. As principal of Norwood School, she engaged businesses and agencies to help feed, clothe and support her inner city students, beginning a network known as Partners for Kids. The City Centre Education Project (CCEP), with Sandra as Director, worked with seven inner city schools to ensure students had access to the necessary resources to realize their full potential, both academically and in life. The CCEP was recognized by Today’s Parent magazine as one of the Top Forty Schools in Canada. It was also honoured by the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development for its collaborative practices.

From 2004 to 2009, Sandra was seconded to Alberta Education/Children and Youth Services as part of the Family Violence and Anti-Bullying Initiative. She worked with Alberta’s parents, communities and schools providing the supports required to reduce bullying. Collaborating with the Alberta Mental Health Board, she assisted 18 school jurisdictions in piloting integrated mental health services for children and youth. In 2009, she returned to Edmonton Public Schools as Executive Director of the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation, raising funds and resources to enhance teaching in early learning and establishing full-day kindergarten classrooms for under-privileged children.

Sandra has been a member of the University of Alberta Senate and currently is an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education. She also sits on the Capital Zone Health Advisory Council. She was named one of the 100 Edmontonians of the Century in 2004. In addition to numerous other honours, in 2014 she received the Lions Club International Foundation Citizen of Distinction Award for Dedicated Humanitarian Services and an Honourary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Alberta.

“I grew up in a family that volunteered, and I just thought volunteer service is the price we pay for our space on earth. My mantra is simply ‘be helpful in the best way you can’. I am a woman of average intelligence who wears sensible shoes. I have a great work ethic and the common sense to surround myself with good, smart people.”

For More Information

Salute to Excellence Awards

PO Box 2359
Edmonton AB  T5J 2R7

Telephone

780-496-5805

Fax 780-577-3525
Email lynda.leederpaull@edmonton.ca

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