Rotary Club honours six Kingstonians for ‘Service Above Self’

The Rotary Club of Kingston’s 2019 Paul Harris Fellow Awards recipients are (L to R): David Cupido, Brenda Hunter, Allan Dunlop, Wilf Sorensen, Laurie Labrie, and Cris Vilela. Submitted photo.


At its annual evening of acknowledging the contributions of Kingston residents to humanitarian causes, the Rotary Club of Kingston honoured six outstanding Kingstonians last night.

The presentation of the 2019 Paul Harris Fellow Awards took place on Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019 at the Harbour Restaurant, awarding the six local individuals the highest honour a Rotary Club can bestow upon a person. The Paul Harris Fellow Award acknowledges “Service Above Self,” the local Rotary Club said, and highlights the appreciation for the substantial contribution towards humanitarian causes the honourees have made in their community, nation, or the world.

The award is named after one of the founders of Rotary, Paul Harris, a Chicago lawyer, who created Rotary along with three of his business associates in 1905. Following Harris’s death in 1947, the Rotary Foundation received significant donations in his name. Today, the fund has become one of the world’s leading humanitarian foundations.

“Over the past 100 years, the Rotary Foundation has allocated $3-billion to life-changing, sustainable projects that support our six primary causes of promoting peace, providing clean water, saving mothers & children, supporting education, growing local economies, and fighting disease,” said the Rotary Club of Kingston, which contributes $1,000 US to the Rotary Foundation for the privilege of recognizing each individual with the Paul Harris Fellow Award. “In 2018 alone, the Foundation awarded $86,677,399 in funding to 1,306 grants worldwide.”

The following are the 2019 Paul Harris Fellow Award recipients, along with the Rotary Club of Kingston’s reasoning for bestowing them this honour.


David Cupido

David Cupido co-founded Cupido Construction with his father, Ernie, 40 years ago, and has exemplified ‘Service Above Self’ through his support of many community projects. Cupido led the first kitchen construction project at the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston and Area in 1995. He was heavily involved with the Syl Apps tournament and remains a key supporter of the Cat Fore! Kids Charity Golf Tournament. Cupido has also served over 20 years in the Knights of Columbus, led the Dawn House restoration project, founded the Share the Care Golf Tournament in support of Breast Cancer Action Kingston in 1998, and is guiding the construction of the new residential hospice in Kingston. He and his wife, Maxine, also participate in humanitarian missions in the Dominican Republic.


Allan Dunlop

An RMC grad, Allan Dunlop joined the Navy and, over his 25 year military career, he commanded submarines and travelled extensively. Following his retirement and while helping care for his mother-in-law in a retirement home, he recognized that the guests needed additional support. He set up a company called Golden Independence to help improve seniors’ quality of life. A Rotarian since 2003, Dunlop was recruited to manage the club’s Preferred Practices, a job he still holds. He also volunteers extensively at the Robinson Community Garden, helped coordinate last year’s Rotary Beer Tent at Artfest, and strongly supports Plan Canada.


Brenda Hunter

A former teacher and the Director of Education at the Limestone District School Board, Brenda Hunter spent 34 years in the education sector, which included endless volunteer hours organizing everything from Christmas baskets to assisting different choirs and musicals. She is currently a member of the national Educational Resource Development Initiative and sits on the Board of Directors of the Kingston Health Sciences Centre. Hunter also co-chaired the United Way’s Success by Six, was a board member of the Kingston Community Health Centre, and was instrumental in bringing Pathways To Education to Kingston. A Rotarian for nine years, she was active with several committees and hosted many Rotary Youth Exchange students.


Laurie Labrie

Laurie Labrie is a teacher in the Student Services department at La Salle Secondary School. She voluntarily runs many youth leadership initiatives (Student Council, Leadership Camp, Student Mentorship, and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards) and is the teacher advisor for the La Salle Interact Club. Since 2012, Labrie has led the Interact Club, which currently has 78 members. They run food drives, visit senior homes, collect warm clothing, recycle e-waste, and send care packages to indigenous communities. She also organizes mission trips – 40 Interactors are leaving soon for a Literacy Centre in the Dominican Republic. This will be the club’s fourth volunteer mission trip.


Wilf Sorensen

Wilf Sorensen joined the Rotary Club of Kingston in 1959 and, after nearly 60 years, remains an active member, especially related to any environmental projects and initiatives. An architect by trade, Sorensen refocused his life work in the early 1990s to environmental inventions, which he continues to reinvent and improve on to this day. As the club gears up for its centennial celebrations in 2021, Sorensen is spearheading a tree planting initiative in Kingston that will involve thousands of trees being planted in the city.


Cris Vilela

A mortgage broker by day, Cris Vilela is probably best known in Kingston as the ‘Make It Home Kingston guy.’ He started @YGKTraffic on Twitter in 2011 and, while the feed started out as traffic-based, it grew organically into something much bigger. Make It Home YGK (@MIHomeYGK ) now has a combined following of over 60k on Twitter and Facebook, and is a conduit for reporting community safety issues, missing pets, lost items, power outages, missing person, scams, and requests for public assistance. Vilela is also co-publisher of the Kingstonist, a revamped online community-driven news site, which has over 400k page views per month! Outside of his social media contributions, Vilela was a founding trustee of Awesome Kingston, and a board member at Volunteer Kingston and Sustainable Kingston.


From all of us at Kingstonist, congratulations to all of the 2019 Paul Harris Fellow Award recipients, and thank you for your contributions to making this community a better place.

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