Susan Venditti receives T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award
The former CEO of Start Me Up Niagara is being recognized for her humanitarian work.
Susan Venditti is the 2021 recipient of the T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award.
She recently retired as CEO of Start Me Up Niagara after founding and overseeing the organization since 1998.
Venditti is being praised for her tireless work to help people in Niagara experiencing poverty, homelessness, addictions, mental health issues, or living with disabilities.
During council last night, Venditti thanked regional councillors, the committee, and everyone in the community who has supported her. "I accept [the award] in the name of many people who have worked and volunteered with me to build a more inclusive, caring community. People who are willing to step up and do what needs to be done. Sometimes, taking the heat, and other times feeling the satisfaction that comes from helping others."
She said it was through volunteering that her life changed. "I was a busy realtor, dabbling at volunteering, fitting it into my schedule, feeling pretty good about the little I was doing," she reflected. "The only problem was, that I did not actually know anyone who was homeless or living in abject poverty. They were just stories. Problems. Statistics. Until on a cold morning when I was completing one of my first shifts at Out of the Cold, part of the Sunshine Crew, AKA The Clean-Up Crew, a lady who'd spent the night confronted me. In a firm voice she said, 'You middle-class ladies have to help us! We are going to die out there.' She then pulled her buggy up the steps and started her day. That was a calling."
She thanked every person who shared their stories with her over the years. "Just remember at the end of each decision or statistic, there is an individual."