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Announcing 2023 Community Social Services Awards of Excellence Recipients

It is with much pride and excitement that CSSEA announces this year’s Community Social Services Awards of Excellence recipients. Now in their eighth year, this awards initiative continues to recognize individuals at various stages of their careers who have made outstanding contributions to the social services sector. CSSEA thanks TELUS for its tremendous support in sponsoring these awards since the program’s inception in 2015.
On behalf of a member panel who reviewed and shortlisted all nominations, as well as an external judging committee who evaluated and ultimately selected the four winners, we congratulate the following recipients:

Rising Star

Nicole McGowan
Life Skills Worker, Community Integration Services Society Community Living Services

Passion, dedication and perspective. These are three star qualities that colleagues use when describing Nicole McGowan. As a student who was placed at Community Integration Services Society (CISS) on a three-month practicum, Nicole arrived ready to learn and eager to make a difference on day one. She was tasked with finding volunteer opportunities for several individuals and approached the assignment with gusto, reaching out to dozens of organizations to canvass opportunities. Ultimately, Nicole’s persistence paid off, as she made a valuable connection with the City of Coquitlam and secured volunteer positions for several individuals. More importantly, Nicole’s efforts opened a door with a significant new partner that may result in future partnerships and opportunities for CISS. Nicole excelled so impressively that she was offered, and accepted, continued employment following the end of her practicum. As she finishes her program at Douglas College in the fall, her colleagues have no doubt she will continue to shine.


Hugo Velazquez
Senior Manager of Community Outreach and Advocacy, MOSAIC Associate

To call Hugo Velazquez a champion for migrant workers in BC would be an understatement. As Senior Manager of Community Outreach and Advocacy at MOSAIC and formerly, head of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program for the Consulate General of Mexico in Vancouver, Hugo has been a warrior for migrant workers who come to BC for seasonal agricultural work. As an immigrant himself who experienced challenges finding suitable employment, Hugo was keenly aware of the barriers that many newcomers face. Hugo turned his personal challenges into action, dedicating his career to ensuring workers who come to this country are properly supported and aware of their rights. Using his diplomatic and legal background, Hugo forged relationships with both the federal and provincial governments, non-profit organizations, Consular Alliance for the Protection of Migrant Workers, WorkSafeBC, and many others. His work involved over 350 data collection visits to farms and ultimately, resulted in $4 million in funding distributed through MOSAIC to 26 provincial agencies over 18 months. While Hugo’s passion and unrelenting dedication to human rights resulted in tangible improvements, his biggest contribution to date has been instilling awareness and understanding that migrant workers’ rights is not a far-off international issue; it’s also a local issue and one deserving of attention from all Canadians.


Foye Hatton
Program Lead – Arrowhead Clubhouse, Sunshine Coast Community Services Society Community Living Services

Ask anyone at Arrowhead Clubhouse about Foye Hatton and they will likely speak about him with a glow in their eyes. The beloved Program Lead has been a familiar face and support system to 250 individuals who call the space a second home. The Clubhouse is a safe place where individuals living with mental illness can learn skills, receive support and build relationships. Though Foye’s role is to oversee day-to-day operations and lead a team of six, he will routinely perform any task required of him, whether it involves cleaning a bathroom, cooking a meal, mentoring staff or having difficult conversations. Foye has been a constant figure during the highs and lows at Arrowhead Clubhouse, having organized memorial services for 22 members who passed away during his six-year tenure, and also planning a wedding for two members who met at the clubhouse and fell in love. Foye was also instrumental in introducing the larger Sunshine Coast community to the Clubhouse through initiatives that include personally recruiting volunteers to provide free haircuts, massages, dental work and job search expertise. His commitment to interfacing with the community has been instrumental in eroding the stigma that people living with mental illness often face.


Caroline Bonesky
CEO (retired), WJS Canada General Services

In an impressive career that spanned 35 years, Caroline Bonesky is the embodiment of someone who has dedicated her life to social services. As a registered social worker, Caroline started her career on the front lines, working as an Institutional Aid at a geriatric ward, then as a Youth Services Development Worker and eventually, moving into leadership positions at a number of CSSEA member agencies. Caroline is described by colleagues as a leader with no ego, who supports staff at every level and empowers them to deliver great services that focus on what’s best for the individuals served. She has leveraged her extensive experience in social services to partner with government, health authorities, school boards, foundations, private sector businesses and other social services organizations to make remarkable things happen. Case in point was when she worked with Inclusion BC and other community living organizations to plan an expedition for individuals living with diverse abilities to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. The result was not only a life-changing experience for those who participated, but also a heightened awareness of diverse abilities among the community at large.

Early Bird Conference Rate Ends Next Week!

Our four recipients will be honoured at the 2023 Community Social Services Awards of Excellence, which will take place on October 26 from 12:00 to 2:00 pm at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort. The awards will take place as part of CSSEA’s AGM and Conference, Future: Bright, which you can register for here. Individual luncheon tickets can also be purchased through the Registration page. We encourage everyone to take advantage of our discounted early bird rate, which expires at 5pm on Friday, September 15 without exceptions. See you in Kelowna!

Communications Contact

Doris Sun
Director of Communications
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