Gooderham resident Denise Winder said she was “surprised and honoured” to be given the Gooderham Community Action Group’s 2022 Community Spirit award.

She joined the group 12 years ago and has since served as chair, helped organize a slate of new events and was key in setting up the group’s $500 bursaries, which go to local high schoolers pursuing post-secondary education. She helped grow the group from four members to 14, and introduced the annual Earth Day cleanup, as well as the Gooderham Music Festival.

Highlands East deputy mayor Cec Ryall presented Winder with the award at the community Christmas dinner Dec. 3.

Ryall said Winder was, “tireless in her leadership of the group as she has organized, staffed and photographed just about every Gooderham town event.”

Winder said she is most proud of her work on the student bursary, as well as the town’s Christmas exchange tree at which people leave and take gifts during the festive season.

She added that the group’s website and enhanced social media presence are also a result of months of hard work.

“I think by listening to the people that actually live here, that’s made some of our events quite successful,” she said. “With a larger group of people, it’s wonderful because everybody has different ideas and comes from different backgrounds of work and social lives,” Winder said.

She added that after joining the group she realized how important volunteers are in community life, especially in a small town such as Gooderham.

“There were a lot of things that did go on many years ago and for whatever reason they stopped,” she said. “If you don’t keep things going like this and you don’t get community involvement, [local activities] just disappear.”

Winder said volunteering has been a great way to get to know the community.

“It’s amazing how many people I’ve met, just to keep coming out and supporting everything that we do… it’s just amazing how many people I’ve met that normally wouldn’t come out to events.”

She encouraged Highlands East residents to check out the group’s website at to learn more about future events and to get involved.