Chet Greason email@example.com
Richard Kneider was named Stratford's Senior of the Year at last night's Community Recognition Awards at the Rotary Complex.
Established in 1994, the award goes to an individual who has enriched social and civic life without the prospect of personal gain.
Mayor Dan Mathieson, who presented the award, cited numerous examples why Kneider was nominated, including work organizing the To Stratford With Love Banquet, an annual free Christmas meal offered to hundreds of families.
The popular event will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year on Dec. 14. Organizers are currently looking for volunteers to help with the event.
"We're truly blessed to have Richard and his family in Stratford," the mayor said before introducing the man of the hour.
Kneider was also recognized for Simple Dreams Stratford, the charity he founded with his wife Ruth to help meet the basic needs of local families. The organization annually holds pool and pizza parties for kids and a turkey giveaway at Thanksgiving.
The Kneider's annual trip to Russia to help disadvantaged children was also highlighted. Almost every year since 2000 the couple has traveled overseas to visit several orphanages and cancer hospice centers and take the kids out for a holiday meal. Kneider notes there are currently 750,000 orphans in Russia, plus many more living in extreme poverty.
Special recognition was also given to Ruth, who shares credit with her husband for many of the community initiatives. However, as Ruth is not a senior citizen, she is not eligible to share the award.
Kneider said he was "humbled and honoured" to receive the award, "… although I'm having some trouble with the 'senior' part," he laughed.
He cited the Bible when explaining why he pursues his charitable acts, specifically a passage from Matthew that mentions glorifying God through your actions.
"It's not to give honour to ourselves, but to honour God," he said.
Other award winners
Kneider was not the only person recognized at the ceremony. Fifteen awards in total were handed out to teams and individuals who excelled in their given pursuits this year. Below is a complete list of last night's Community Recognition Awards winners:
Stratford Indians Baseball - Stratford Junior Indians and Stratford Indian Midgets
Chief Scout Award - William McDonald
Pathfinders: Canada Cord - Margaret Johnston and Zoë Peters
Bowling - Senior Boys Team
Baton Twirling - The Festival City Twirlers
Special Olympics Curling - Team Nicoll
Golf - Al Glosnek and Dave Mewhinney
Volleyball - Anna Feore
Track and Field - Michael Johnstone
Music - Karen MacLachlan
CNE Ambassador to the Fairs - Claire Milton
Wrestling - Clayton Pye
Martial arts - Michael Viani