By ERIN HORROCKS-POPE
Members of the Beach community gathered at Millennium Garden in Woodbine Park on Saturday, Oct. 21, to celebrate Robert (Bob) Gore, the 23rd Beach Citizen of the Year.
This annual award, founded and presented by Community Centre 55, the Beaches Lions Club, and Beach Metro Community News, has recognized outstanding local leaders since 2001.
Though the day was chilly and clouds filled the sky, the event was heartwarming and joyous as past recipients, community leaders, and residents honoured Gore’s advocacy and philanthropy.
The ceremony began with a procession of past winners and community leaders, led by a piper, all sharing laughter and smiles, reflecting the strong sense of camaraderie that defines the Beach community.
The event was hosted by Reza Khoshdel, Executive Director of Community Centre 55 and Gene Domagala, the Beach’s “unofficial mayor” and the inaugural recipient of the Beach Citizen of the Year Award.
The ceremony was highlighted by the words spoken by various community leaders and past recipients about Gore and the award’s significance within the community.
Domagala expressed, “Without people like them (Beach Citizens of the Year Award recipients), there would be no Beach. They make the community of The Beach and East Toronto what it is today.”
His words emphasized the role that individuals like Gore play in shaping the community’s identity.
Khoshdel highlighted the profound influence of Gore’s volunteer work and his unwavering commitment to community service.
“The unwavering passion and selfless dedication of Robert Gore to the well-being of this community has left an incredible mark. Through countless hours of volunteering, fundraising, and organizing, he has made a significant and lasting impact on the lives of those in need, and we are thrilled to celebrate him today,” said Khoshdel.
Beaches-East York MPP Mary Margaret McMahon praised the community work of Gore and individuals like him.
“I grew up in a small town, and I feel like I live in one here, and it’s thanks to all these people, people like Robert Gore. Wherever he goes, he brings a sense of calm and compassion that inspires people to work together.”
Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine Smith and Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford, although unable to attend, sent their regards and commended Gore’s dedication to community service through his ongoing work with the Neighbourhood Group and his role in founding the Beach Business Improvement Area (BIA).
Laina Gibson, Vice President of Philanthropy and Communications at the Neighbourhood Group, praised Gore’s longstanding commitment to the community.
“He has been giving back selflessly to the community for a quarter of a century,” she said, highlighting the tangible impact of Gore’s work on the lives of countless individuals.
“His foresight, leadership, and quiet calm have made it possible to provide more than 50,000 vulnerable people access to housing, food resources, and vital community services.”
Throughout the ceremony, Domagala invited past recipients to speak, each reflecting on the vibrancy and close-knit nature of the Beach community. Carole Stimmell, the 2014 Beach Citizen of the Year, shared her neighbourly relationship with Gore, emphasizing the importance of friendships in bringing the community together.
During his address to the attendees, 2012 recipient of Beach Citizen of the Year, Thomas Neal, urged everyone present to “Be Like Bob.” With its fundraising campaign potential, this slogan brought joy and laughter to the audience..
Gore was named the 2023 Beach Citizen of the Year for his exceptional and enduring commitment to community support and improvement. Over a lifetime of selfless dedication, he has made significant contributions to various organizations, advocating for the most vulnerable and volunteering for causes such as affordable housing, tax clinics, and fundraising for improved healthcare services.
A commemorative plaque added to the Beach Citizen of the Year Walk of Fame now serves as a reminder of the power of compassion, commitment, and the belief in the value of community exemplified by Gore.
For Beach Metro Community News’ earlier story on Gore, please see https://beachmetro.com/2023/10/04/robert-gore-named-beach-citizen-of-the-year-for-2023/