MISSISSAUGA – Ontario is recognizing 20 volunteers and volunteer organizations with the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism for their contributions to their communities and to the province.

During a ceremony at the One King West Hotel and Residence in Toronto held on September 27, 2022, Marissa Parker from Mississauga received a June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism.

Together with three friends, Marissa founded Sending Sunshine in 2020 to encourage, collect, and distribute uplifting handwritten cards from youth and community members to seniors in care facilities across Canada. Their mission is to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation on senior citizens through the power of the written word and to promote the values of volunteerism amongst Canada’s youth.

Sending Sunshine and their outstanding volunteers have made a significant difference for seniors throughout the country, while demonstrating creativity, empathy and dedication in their efforts to engage youth and improve the well-being of seniors.

Since 2020, Sending Sunshine has:

  • Partnered with 578 care facilities in nine provinces
  • Distributed over 100,900 cards to senior citizens around the world
  • Registered more than 10,000 high school students to write cards as part of their mandatory volunteer hours
  • Established 38 new chapters by students who are cultivating leadership skills while giving back to seniors in their community
  • Connected students and seniors in more than 150 long-term pen pal pairings to foster intergenerational friendships.

“Volunteers touch our lives in so many ways, making our province one of the greatest places to live,” said Michael Ford, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism. “I want to thank all our June Callwood award recipients for their dedication, compassion, and commitment to helping others in their communities.”

In memory of the late June Callwood, this award recognizes the exceptional leadership, innovation and creativity of volunteers and volunteer administrators who make our communities better places to live and work.

“The incredible efforts of Ontarians like Marissa Parker help to improve the lives of everyone in Mississauga,” said Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP for Mississauga-Lakeshore. “Social isolation has been particularly challenging for our seniors during the pandemic; Sending Sunshine has helped to keep seniors socially connected and engaged in their communities.”

Ontario also thanks the volunteers who tirelessly and selflessly risked, and continue to risk, their lives to support their communities during the COVID-19 outbreak. The province of Ontario encourages everyone to recognize our local courageous volunteers by nominating them for a June Callwood Award or Volunteer Service Award. Visit Ontario’s website for more information or to nominate an exceptional volunteer or volunteer organization.

Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP for Mississauga-Lakeshore, with Marissa Parker and Graham McGregor, Parliamentary Assistant to the Hon. Michael Ford

Quick Facts

  • Journalist, author and Order of Ontario appointee, the late June Callwood was one of Canada’s most well-known social activists, founding or co-founding more than 50 Canadian social action organizations.
  • This year, 10 individuals and 6 organizations from across the province received a June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award this year.
  • Other Ontario recognition programs for volunteering include the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers and the Volunteer Service Awards.
  • Since 2009, 203 individuals and groups have received the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism.

Additional Resources