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Sir James Woods Award for Community Development

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, community leader and founder of what was then St. Christopher House, Sir James Woods (1855-1941) served as a conduit for change within the community. He believed nothing was more rewarding than facilitating others in assisting themselves. A progressive thinker embodying the essence of community development, Sir James Woods exercised leadership within the community, giving his time to ensure the faintest voices would be heard.

This award, presented annually by West Neighbourhood House, is a means of recognizing and encouraging contemporary examples of community development reflective of our founder’s initiative.

Award Recipients

On June 25, 2020, at our first virtual Annual General Meeting, Executive Director Maureen Fair and Older Adult Centre Director Isabel Palmar presented the Sir James Woods Award to Mary Khin and Margaret Pereira.

Mary Khin

Mary, who moved to Canada from Myanmar in 1998, is a reliable source of support and connection to her neighbours in Parkdale. She helps her neighbours in the Chinese community and beyond navigate the health-care system, find support, and advocate for themselves. She leads by example and motivates other seniors to get regular exercise and to keep a positive attitude. She often leads dance and exercise workshops!

Mary has worked with Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre’s Chinese Support Group, Parkdale Golden Age Foundation, Working Women Community Centre, Princess Margaret Hospital, the Roncesvalles Neighbourhood Care Team and West Neighbourhood House. congratulations Mary Khin








Margaret Pereira

Margaret has been involved with West Neighbourhood House for many years. She is a very familiar and friendly face in the halls of 248 Ossington. Margaret is always busy volunteering with our Older Adult Members Council and particularly as a leader in Portuguese Women 55+, which merged into the House in 2014.

Margaret is also a long-standing member of our Health Action Theatre by Seniors (HATS). The troupe of actors that has performed before hundreds of diverse audiences, from other immigrant seniors groups to medical students. Margaret has also represented the House at the City of Toronto’s Seniors Forum.

Margaret served on West Neighbourhood House Board of Directors from 2014-2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Margaret has taken on the responsibility of checking on fellow seniors every single day, making sure they have all the resources they need, are safe, and are being supported during this time of social isolation.

Past Recipients

IC Savings branch manager AnaBela Taborda is the 2018 recipient of the Sir James Woods Award. Anabela has greatly contributed to the community, including supporting Toronto Youth Jobs Corp, financial literacy programs for the elderly & Syrian refugee families.

Art Affair Chair receiving Sir James Woods Award for Community Development

Susan Woods and Board President Earl Miller presented the 2015 Sir James Woods Award for Community Development to past Chairs of the Art Affair fundraiser.

Connie's Jam Planning Committee - 2014 Sir James Woods Community Development Award

Connie’s Jam Planning Committee – Winner of the 2014 – Sir James Woods Award for Community Development

Ms. Deany Peters - Winner of the 2013 St. Christopher House - Sir James Woods Award for Community Development

Ms. Deany Peters received the award in 2013

Charlotte Maher (far left) received the award in 2012.


The award recognizes an individual or group who:

  • works at making change and community impact
  • uses creative thinking and goes above and beyond the call of duty towards the betterment of society
  • provides time and labour for the cause they believe in
  • has demonstrated the ability to provide leadership and vision which promotes community development and has a commitment to improving the quality of life in their community
  • shows themselves to be an agent of change, works with the community, demonstrates respect and ensures all voices are heard
  • works with the community to develop the tools and supports for community members to take on leadership roles

Who is allowed to be nominated?

All residents of the city of Toronto, excluding West Neighbourhood House staff and their immediate family. Community groups may also be nominated (excluding service providers). Nominees do not need to live in the West Neighbourhood House catchment area and individuals are permitted to nominate themselves.

Is there a monetary prize accompanying the award?

Yes, there is a $1000 prize that goes to the award recipient. The prize may be divided between the recipient and a charity of their choice, or between two individuals depending on the situation.

Who selects the award recipient?

The Sir James Woods Award committee selects the award recipient. This committee consists of the Executive Director, one board member, one member of the West Neighbourhood House Community Response and Advocacy committee, and two volunteers or members of the community.

If you would like to nominate someone for this award, please email Executive Director Maureen Fair at

Nominations open in March 1 and close May 31st of every year. The award recipient/s are announced at the West Neighbourhood House Annual General Meeting, which takes place in June.