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Our Ambassadors

              title = "Our Ambassadors"; arg(0) = "node"                            

 

SOS Children’s Villages Ambassadors are a vital part of our work internationally. Around the world, significant figures in a number of walks of life, including the Dalai Lama and the late Nelson Mandela, have shown their commitment to the children in our care by lending their name to our charity and helping to promote our work.

SOS Children's Village Ambassadors for British Columbia are:

 


Bob Lenarduzzi
President
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

 
Bob Lenarduzzi has been involved with Whitecaps FC for over three decades, excelling as a player, coach, general manager, director of soccer operations, and now president. Playing with his hometown Whitecaps (1974-1984), Bob was the North American Soccer League's all-time leader in games played with 312. He was the only Canadian to win the North American Player of Year, and in 1979, he was a key member of the Whitecaps championship-winning team. He has represented Canada 47 times as a player, helping them qualify for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. For his efforts, Lenarduzzi was named among CONCACAF’s top 30 players of the past century. As a player/coach, he won four straight Canadian Soccer League championships and was twice named CSL Coach of the Year. He went on to coach Canada's men’s national team from 1992 to 1997.

Lenarduzzi served as the general manager and director of soccer operations of the Vancouver 86ers and Whitecaps from 1988 to 1993, and 1998 to 2007. In 2000, he received the USL First Division Executive of the Year award, while he was also a member of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 Steering Committee.

Lenarduzzi has been inducted into the North American Soccer Hall of Fame, the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, and the United Soccer Leagues Hall of Fame. In 2005, he received the Order of British Columbia – the highest form of recognition that the province can extend to its citizens – for his contribution to the sport of soccer.

 

Lyle Green
Grey Cup Winner - Fullback
BC Lions (Retired)

 
Lyle Green was a first round pick of the BC Lions in the 2001 draft and the 3rd pick overall. He played 10 seasons in the CFL, 9 with the Lions and 1 with the Calgary Stampeders. He is the Lions' all-time leader for games played by a running back with 161. Lyle played in 2 Grey Cup games, one in 2004 and the other in 2006, winning the '06 game over the Montreal Alouettes. He is now retired and working as a mortgage broker with Dominion Lending Centres - Aegis Mortgage Services.

Lyle has been involved with SOS BC for a number of years and appreciates what they do for children in BC. He loves anything to do with helping children and he knows SOS does a great job of that. "The love, time and effort they put into bettering the lives of these children is amazing. They are definitely making a difference in our community."

     

Eleni Georgantas
Teacher
University Hill Elementary School

 
Eleni Georgantas is an Educator for the Vancouver School Board - having worked for Kerrisdale and Carnarvon Elementary - and presently works as a Grade 2 teacher at University Hill Elementary School (since 2007). She is also a Certified Volunteer for SOS Children’s Villages Greece, Deputy Secretary General of the Hellenic Congress of BC, and a travel blog writer. 

Being a dual citizen - Greek and Canadian, born in Vancouver to Greek parents - and seeing first-hand the effects of the economic crisis on children and families, and that SOS Children’s Villages was actively making a profound difference in the lives of children, Eleni decided that by contributing her knowledge and skills she could spread awareness, teach social responsibility to kids in a meaningful way, and raise funds to support SOS children in both Greece and British Columbia. In September 2013, with the support of School Administrators behind her, Eleni created the U-Hill SOS Club.

She's currently involved with promoting awareness for Special Olympics Greece and Special Olympics Canada through volunteer work. Having served as a Team Leader for the World Summer Special Olympics in Athens 2011, she implemented the Special Olympics Canada curriculum into her teaching, raising student awareness, and creating a whole school fundraiser for the Winter Special Olympics BC athletes.

Eleni has also been actively involved in the Hellenic Community of Vancouver, having taught Greek language classes and served as Principal of the Hellenic Community Centre Greek school. Her other great collaboration is with the MAHI Society - Mothers Assisting Humanitarian Initiatives - and founder Mrs. Golfo Tsakumis, working together to support SOS BC, SOS Greece, and other local and global humanitarian initiatives.

Eleni’s goal is the promotion of inclusion through understanding that we all contribute to society,  regardless of our cultural and intellectual differences, and that we all have the right to live the best life possible and to achieve our personal dreams.   

"SOS Villages are giving children the chance to grow up in a loving family, to experience the love and support of a mother and siblings. My mother was a single mother who left a simple, powerful legacy...her smile and the countless people she helped throughout her life. Her love and support, even during difficult times growing up, helped shape who I am today and gave me the strength to tackle life challenges. I am honoured to represent SOS Children’s Village BC as their Ambassador."

 

Aman Jina
Youth Ambassador
SOS Children's Village BC

 
Aman is a grade 8 honor roll student who is passionate about children less fortunate than himself. He wants to make a difference and is excited and honoured to be chosen to represent youth for the  SOS Children’s Village in BC.

In grade 5, Aman set up a lemonade stand outside his neighbourhood Choices grocery store to raise money to buy pencils for school children in Kenya. Later that summer he travelled with his family to the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya where he handed out the pencils to children at the SOS Children’s Village.

This summer Aman organized an African school supplies drive at his school, West Point Grey Academy. The initiative was a success and over 5000 stationery items were collected. Eight boxes of stationery items were donated to the SOS Kerrisdale Thrift Store. Later, Aman travelled to the SOS Children’s Villages in Eldoret and Nairobi, Kenya. He also visited Hill School, Eldoret, and Darajani Primary School in Tanga, Tanzania. At these places, Aman and his sister Raheesa distributed the stationery items that they had collected. The experience gave him an invaluable glimpse of the lives of children in developing countries and he was touched most by the happy and hopeful spirit of all the children.

Aman is also an active participant with the World Partnership Walk for the past 7 years. He has made numerous presentations at his school on global poverty. He was invited to participate live on camera during the Children’s Hospital Miracle Weekend, 2012. He is an accomplished pianist having completed his RCM Grade 10 exam and has won awards at numerous piano festivals and workshops. Since age 6, he has been volunteering to entertain and play piano for seniors at nursing homes.

Other activities Aman enjoys doing is reading, playing soccer and being a dedicated volunteer for over 8 years with the Ismaili Volunteer Corps.

"I love SOS because I know I can make a difference. Whether it be in my local community or third world country I am inspired by the children’s happy outlook and beautiful smiles. It takes so little to make change for the better. I am enthusiastic  and excited about raising awareness by sharing my stories and experience of the SOS Villages I have visited. It is truly a humbling experience knowing you can make a small but important impact."

Watch Aman's Video! (password: jenny123)

Visit His Website and Facebook Page!

     

Tom Watson
Founder
Recreation Excellence & Your Better Life

 
A highly successful business leader, and a dynamic international speaker and consultant, Tom Watson has dedicated his life to inspire people to have more fun while striving for excellence in their personal and professional lives. Tom is a customer service specialist and a true entrepreneur, having built a variety of successful businesses from the ground up, including Recreation Excellence, a highly successful recreation services and facility management company in western Canada, and Your Better Life, an international online community dedicated to guiding users toward a complete, fulfilled existence.

Tom attributes much of his personal and professional success to the lessons he has learned through sport. As a young man, Tom was a successful multi-sport athlete with a highly competitive spirit. His passion for sport ultimately led to a successful amateur coaching career, during which Tom coached football, basketball, volleyball and hockey teams to championships. He has worked with elite teams, such as the Vancouver Canucks and the BC Lions, in hosting pre-season training camps and championship games. He has also organized and hosted many provincial, national and international sporting events in curling, hockey, volleyball, swimming, lacrosse and more.

Tom is also an active member of many organizations in which he functions as a board member and team leader. In his travels to Africa, Tom aided governments in Zambia, Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda to establish sport and recreation systems and networks. In addition, Tom and his employees have fundraised and financed the construction of 56 homes in Zambia. Tom’s teams have also helped sponsor well-digging projects in Kenya and sent more than 5,000 pairs of eyeglasses to Haiti.

A testament to Tom's positive attitude, resilience, competitive spirit and commitment to helping people live a better life is his heart-warming life story, Man Shoes. Man Shoes is a book written by Tom that explores his rich, life-brimming experiences with love, tempered by heartache and loss, cemented by traditions, and enriched with laughter and shared stories.

 

Shell Busey
Creator
HouseSmart Home Services Ref Network

 
With a network radio show, TV program, web site, how-to books, hundreds of home show appearances and DVDs under his tool belt, Shell Busey is recognized for the advice he shares with homeowners through his HouseSmart Home Services Referral Network.

Shell’s 50 plus-year career started at the age of 18, when he landed a job at Owen Sound Ontario’s Beaver Lumber store unloading box cars, piling lumber, making deliveries and eventually leading to the sales desk. In 1965, he became assistant manager of a Beaver Lumber in Barrie, one of the first in a series of upward moves within the company. In 1974, Busey and his family relocated to Delta now in Surrey, where they reside today. Over the next three years, Busey used his marketing and merchandising skills with Saveway Building Supplies – A Division of Beaver Lumber, Irly Building Distribution Centre, the Surrey Co-op and Beaver Lumber and setting up the Yukon’s first Beaver Lumber franchise. Late in the 70s, the Buseys bought a Windsor Plywood franchise, fulfilling Shell’s dream of owning a building supply store. Once successful, he bought a second Windsor Plywood and opened a complete hardware store.

His start in radio soon followed, in 1983 CJOR approached Windsor Plywood about having someone guest on a local radio talk show to discuss home improvement during Renovation Month. His popularity spread around the community as the person you could go to for answers as a builder, a re-modeler and years in working in Hardware Stores. Eventually he landed a regular guest spot representing the building industry on the radio. The interest for a home improvement talk show was evident; when the last caller hung up during his first broadcast, the host turned to him and said, “I’ve never known anything to make the phones ring like that outside of politics!” The rest, as they say, was 25 years of broadcasting history. That lasted up until 2011 when Shell decided to hang up the earphones and spend more weekend time with family.

During the week, you will likely find Shell on the road making public appearances at home shows, media events or working out of his HouseSmart Home Services Referral Network Office in South Surrey, helping homeowners to find reputable products & services companies who will do the best job at a competitive price. 

     

Calvin Helin
President & CEO
Eagle Group of Companies

 
Calvin Helin is a bestselling multi-award winning author, international speaker, entrepreneur, lawyer, and activist for self-reliance. It's an unlikely success story, from someone with an impoverished childhood, growing up in a remote Native American village.

The son of a hereditary chief, Helin's first book, Dances with Dependency: Out of Poverty through Self-Reliance, was based on his own experiences, and written to help eradicate the kind of poverty he faced as a child.

A seven-time bestseller, Helin's landmark guide provided a blueprint to help Native American populations break free from "the welfare trap" of government dependence. During his extensive research for Dances with Dependency, Helin learned that the corrosive effects of economic dependency are not limited to the poor, but apply to other social classes, businesses and governments.

Helin currently serves as president and CEO of Eagle Group of Companies, LLC, president of the Native Investment and Trade Association, and director of the Vancouver Board of Trade, GeoScience BC, and the Canada-China Resource Development Foundation. He has received numerous national distinctions as an entrepreneur, social activist and community leader.

Helin's mission of economic independence and personal growth isn't limited to adults, either: Helin also serves as ambassador of SOS Children's
Village. In addition, as a fourth degree black belt he teaches at the Shudokan Karate and Education Society, a group he founded in 2002 that provides free martial arts lessons to hundreds of disadvantaged inner-city children as a way of teaching them discipline, manners, self-respect, and other important life lessons. 

 

Klaus Kittel
Retired Manager
Lufthansa Airlines

 
Klaus Kittel, now retired, was a manager for Lufthansa German Airlines and spent more than 30 years in various countries around the world. During an assignment in Nairobi, Kenya he learned about the local SOS Children’s Village and started to support it. In later postings he increased his involvement with SOS Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and SOS Daegu, South Korea.

In 2000, during his time in Toronto, he expanded his involvement to SOS Canada and learned about SOS BC. After his retirement in 2002, he and his wife Hideko returned (after a 16 years absence) to B.C. and, apart from his continued international SOS engagement, concentrates his efforts now on supporting and promoting our Children’s Village here in Surrey. 

Watch an Interview with Klaus!

     

Anne Longakit
Miss Teen Surrey
UBC Student

 
Born in the Philippines, Anne and her family immigrated to Canada in 2003. As an only child, Anne’s parents encouraged her to become a well-rounded individual resulting in a bustling schedule throughout high school, dancing both recreationally and competitively. In Grade 8, Anne tried out for Clayton Heights Secondary’s volleyball team, a choice that ignited a passion for the sport which lasted throughout her high school years. Anne was also actively involved in the student leadership clubs at her school. In the spring of 2014, Anne travelled to Ecuador on a Me to We trip with Project Equal where they helped build a school and participated in leadership workshops.

She continues to give back to her community by volunteering at Vancouver General Hospital, coaching Grade 6 and 7 girls volleyball, and volunteering at Pinamalayan Community Hospital in the Philippines in 2015. In 2016, she was crowned Miss Teenage Surrey, and went on to compete for the National title of Miss Teenage Canada in Toronto that same year.

Despite her busy life, Anne’s love for learning allowed her to excel academically; she received honor roll status from Grade 8 – 12 and earned the Governor General’s Bronze Medal for graduating with the highest average in her class. Anne is currently pursuing an Honours Biology Degree at the University of British Columbia.

 

Alexa Loo
Olympian (2006, 2010)
Parallel Giant Slalom, Snowboarding

 

 

       

It Takes a Village

 

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