GOOD NEIGHBOUR HERO AWARD
This award celebrates those who put their own needs aside to help others, such as supporting neighbours and vulnerable individuals in need of medication, supplies, and groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
KGO GRASSROOTS LEADERS
RECIPIENT OF THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR HERO AWARD
KGO Grassroots Leaders are a dynamic resident-led network in Scarborough’s Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this self-organized group has worked tirelessly to connect with neighbours, identify their needs and provide support, particularly with food and personal protective equipment (PPE). Leveraging their own resources and connections – they have sourced and delivered hampers for neighbours during the holidays, provided hot culturally and dietary appropriate meals, organized hundreds of large fresh nutritional produce packages and distributed boxes of essential PPE for local families.
LEARN MORE ABOUT AGNES THOMPSON AND KGO GRASSROOTS LEADERS:
Agnes Thompson and KGO Grassroots Leaders feed the Scarborough Community
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Scarborough residents heard plenty of local stories of everyday people rising to the occasion to help those in need. That’s why the leaders of Centennial College, Scarborough Health Network (SHN), Toronto Zoo and University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) launched the Scarborough Hero Awards, to honor those noble members of the community.
The Good Neighbor Hero Award is for those who supported the people around them, and in 2021, it was awarded to KGO Grassroots Leaders. They’re a self-organized group in Scarborough’s Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park area. During the pandemic, they’ve worked to supply local families and residents with food, personal protective equipment, and other essential needs, all sourced through their own connections. Agnes Thompson is a critical member of the group, who helped cook and provide those meals. Here’s her story, and what winning means to her.
How KGO Grassroots got started
“My name is Agnes Thompson, mother of three, grandmother of five,” she says. “I was born in Grenada and grew up in Trinidad and Tobago. I am a grassroots leader in the community of KGO, which is the Kingston Galloway Orton Park area.”
“As a grassroots leader and a local champion,” she continues, “it is my duty to look out for the people in my community. It came to me during COVID that the condition of the people in the community was that they are all mostly people on low income.”
“There was a time in my life, as a wife and mother, it was a struggle for me to feed my children,” she explains. “So knowing what I know, how hard it is to go to sleep without a meal, that inspired me. I love the residents in my community, they give me great respect, and I just feel they inspired me.”
“That's how this came to me, to join up with someone to start serving meals for the people in my community,” she says. “So basically, it's just us doing this initiative to feed the people in the community through donations.”
“During COVID, I noticed personally as a grassroots leader, as a local champion, that I feel like our community has been left out,” she says. “A few people work tirelessly with both myself and Dave to find outside organizations to assist us with food.”
The first meal.
“The most positive moment for me is when I did my first meal, from the kitchen of my daughter,” she says. “That was the first time I started cooking myself to feed the people in my community. I’d got some funds, and I went out and purchased some groceries and I prepared a meal. There's 29 families in that building, and the feedback I got was a memory I will never forget. When I served them that meal, they really did appreciate it.”
Winning means work.
“Winning this award, to me, means harder work,” Agnes says. “It means I have more work to do. It's inspired me a lot.”
“I wasn't expecting it,” she admits, “because I didn't do it with the expectation of receiving anything. I did it from the love of my heart. I'm a Christian, I'm a church-going person, so I learned what it is to be able to do good, and do it from your heart. So winning this award inspired me to do more.”
“We’re not doing it for any praises, we not doing it for any awards or anything,” she adds.
“We’re doing it because that's our responsibility, that's what we supposed to do as leader in our community.” Instead, she’s doing it out of love of the community.
“When I first came to Canada, Scarborough was the first place I came to live,” she says. “I lived in Scarborough for one week. And then I moved to a different community. And each time I leave Scarborough, I find myself coming back into this same community. So in my heart, I know Scarborough is where I want to be, Scarborough is happiness to me, Scarborough brings joy to me.”