Sandra Richardson, vice principal at Penticton Secondary School, was chosen by the Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise for the Paul Harris Fellow and the Unsung Citizen Award. (Submitted photo)

Humanitarian work earns Penticton teacher Unsung Citizen award

Sandra Richardson was awarded the humanitarian award for decades of work bettering other countries

For two decades, and across three continents, a Penticton vice-principal has been instrumental in orchestrating impactful humanitarian projects.

Sandra Richardson has impacted students at Princess Margaret, Summerland and Penticton Secondary School as they work to make the world a better place.

READ MORE: McLelland recognized for his selfless acts

“its an honour to receive such an amazing award by an organization which does so much for the community. As i’ve said to the colleagues who have congratulated me on receiving this award, I am proud of the work I do and wish everyone could have a passion for their work they do on a day to day basis,” said Richardson who was recently honoured with the Paul Harris Fellow and the Rotary Unsung Citizen Award.

Her signature project for the last eight years, was the construction of two orphanages in Arusha, Tanzania. She has taken upwards of 300 students, 20-25 at a time, on 12 trips to developing countries. This includes a trip to coastal villages in Ecuador.

“Her leadership was visceral and heartfelt. In her dealings with all those involved — organizational staff, students and villagers — she was respectful and genuine. She left an indelible impact on all of us. One that resonates still today,” said Chris Terris, a Pen High colleague.

Fundraising drives, totalling over $100,000, have been used to feed kids and build a classroom, dining hall, library, dormitory and kitchen at the Tanzania orphanages. At least 10 of her students are now working in developing countries and many others have chosen humanitarian-orientated career paths because of their experiences with Richardson.

The Unsung Citizen Award is given bi-annually and aims to recognize unsung citizens who have quietly gone about undertaking humanitarian acts that serve to enhance the social fabric on which our community’s vitality rests.

READ MORE: Two decades of volunteering recognized with Rotary Unsung Citizen Award

Linda Beaven, Richardson’s teaching mentor, said that “the classroom-without-walls teaching strategy is Sandra’s greatest gift.”

Their friendship dates back to Summerland Secondary when, in 1999, they founded the Good Will Shakespeare Festival. This annual event, which was moved to Vernon Secondary in 2016, has provided 4,000 students from throughout B.C. with a performing arts experience.

READ MORE: Fehr receives Rotary’s Unsung Citizen Award

“It is impossible not to be transformed by the experience. Sandra is a catalyst for change who has literally made the world a better place. She drives herself and challenges others to do the same because, in her words, ’It’s all about the kids,’” said Pen High teacher, Shaun Johnston.

READ MORE: Unsung Citizen Award recipient named by Rotary of Penticton Sunrise

Rotary members said Richardson is the consummate role model for youth. Her students have hosted community service projects including 10,000 Tonight Food Drive, Toys for Tots and Teens at Christmas and the Maggie Colours for Kids Run. Before mental health in youth became a major public concern, she developed awareness days for students on these issues and recently instituted a “Be kind … just because” program to promote mindful compassion in daily life as an anti-bullying measure.

“Armed with inspirational principles and a passion to infect others with her noble beliefs, she displays commitment to community, resilience and adherence to Rotary’s ‘service above self’ motto. Simply put, for humbly going well above and beyond her formal teaching duties to help needy kids, at home and abroad, she truly epitomizes an Unsung Citizen whose exceptional humanitarian deeds are in fact global in scope,” said Malcolm Paterson in a news release, on behalf of the Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise.

READ MORE: Dawkins chosen as Unsung Citizen

The five previous awardees, since its inception in June 2016, have been: Ivan McLelland, the late Alan Dawkins, Tracy Fehr, Bob Anderson and Jean Kearney.


@LarynGilmour
laryn.gilmour@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

WildsafeBC comes to the Okanagan to reduce wildlife conflict

Bear activity on the Westside has been an issue in the past few weeks

Column: A solar pioneer in the Okanagan rides among us

This Summerland octogenarian has been producing his own electrical energy for more than 20 years

93rd Okanagan music festival wraps up with gala celebration

The 2019 Penticton Kiwanis Music Festival finish with gala celebration and awards evening

Woman in hospital after being thrown off horse

She was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital from Okanagan Falls

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: cloudy

Environment Canada is calling for a similar day tomorrow.

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

North Okanagan tests out two $10/day childcare sites

Katrine Conroy came to Vernon to tour universal child care prototype sites, including the one at Maven Lane

Penticton sets cap of 14 cannabis stores, removes buffer zone

The city previously relied on a buffer zone and scoring matrix to limit number of stores

Okanagan medical cannabis shop shutting doors

Herb’s Health Centre has been operating without a city business licence for nearly a year

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Witness says Kelowna man on trial for murder admitted to the killing

Steven Pirko is charged in the killing of Christopher Ausman in 2014

Bucking bulls return to Okanagan raceway Sunday

Bull Riders Canada returns to the South Okanagan with some of the top riders in Canada

Most Read