And the award goes to …

Standing ovations are usually reserved for arenas or stadiums. But on Monday night, Laurie Strome brought a council chamber to its feet.

Strome was presented with the Waterloo Award, the city’s highest civic honour, to thunderous applause at Monday’s Waterloo city council meeting, honouring her extensive volunteer work within the community.

“Wow. I’m still overwhelmed,” said Strome after receiving the award. “I want to say thank you to council, to all the people that wrote letters and to Jane Mitchell, who led the charge.”

Mitchell, a Waterloo Regional councillor, was the one who nominated Strome for the award. Strome became the 36th recipient of the Waterloo Award, which dates back to 1997.

Strome was recognized for her volunteer work in Waterloo that spans over 25 years, largely in the Sunnydale neighbourhood, adjacent to the northern edge of the University of Waterloo (UW).

Serving on committees such as the Waterloo community council, the Waterloo Region Prevention Council, Waterloo’s Health and Safety Advisory Committee and the K-W Social Planning Council, and being one of the founders of the Sunnydale Neighbourhood Association, Strome was instrumental in revitalizing the Sunnydale neighbourhood.

And she did all that while raising a daughter, working as part of UW’s library staff and serving as a guide leader and commissioner for Girl Guides of Canada.
“She’s just an incredible person,” said Waterloo mayor Brenda Halloran, whose friendship with Strome goes back “many years.”

“I can’t imagine what our community would be like without Laurie in it.”

“She turned a crime-ridden neighbourhood into a safe one,” added councillor Mark Whaley, who is a recipient of the Waterloo Award himself, being one of the first to have his name engraved on the award’s plaque in 1997.

Though clearly touched by the award, Strome, who was joined by her daughter, granddaughter and the slew of supporters that packed the Waterloo Council Chambers, said her volunteerism was not going to wane.

“A connected community is a safe community,” she said. “I’ve been around the city, I’ve heard the voices and I know there are still places where there’s need.”

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