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Tri-City residents earn B.C.'s highest civilian honour for putting community first amid COVID-19

Amber Gregory and Jeff McLellan were able to bring people together in more ways than one during an unprecedented time.

Hope and humanity.

Two virtues exemplified over the last two years by Amber Gregory and Jeff McLellan as both were able to unite communities during the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the Tri-City residents were each awarded B.C. Medal of Good Citizenship — the province's highest civilian honour given annually to those who demonstrate the values of generosity, service and selflessness.

AMBER GREGORY

In a release to the Tri-City News from the B.C. government, Gregory has been involved in a number of initiatives with local non-profits.

According to her medal description, the Coquitlam resident "never took no for an answer" when it came to breaking barriers for struggling students, seniors and those with disabilities in equipping them with the right resources during COVID-19.

This included negotiating with a "major restaurant chain" to purchase and distribute meals to the community for those who could not get to local food banks.

Gregory also created a campaign that helped more than 100 nursing students earn the hours and training they needed because there were no practicums available to meet graduation requirements.

"The students gave back 5,000 hours in porch side visits, attending and supporting individuals who were grappling with deteriorating mental health," Gregory's profile reads.

"Materials and resources were made available by another team of practicum students. Amber used these resources to help prepare training on compassion fatigue for frontline health care workers."

Gregory's recognition also stemmed from her work in engaging young people with mental health services amid the pandemic, including connecting a group of basketball coaches to 300 teens.

"Amber brought networks together so actions could be taken, not just discussed."

JEFF McLELLAN

"Because I can."

That's the mantra for Jeff McLellan says he's living by after creating resources and fundraisers to better the lives the those heavily impacted by the pandemic.

The Port Moody resident started a Facebook page that provided multiple services for the elderly and those in isolation, including transportation, as well as an avenue for anyone that just needed to chat.

Using I Love Port Moody, McLellan also encouraged the public to shop local by posting about restaurants and food trucks.

"Jeff's connected network also engaged volunteers and local businesses to help build a new sustainable garden on the community's oldest resident's property. Jeff also started a fundraiser for SHARE and picked up and delivered hanging baskets to raise money for the food bank.

"Jeff does so much more for the City of Port Moody than anyone sees or even knows."

McLellan's medal description adds he and his daughter, Madison, sang carols outside Eagle Ridge Hospital for staff and patients as a way to spread positivity.

He and Gregory are two of 31 good citizenship medal recipients from 2021.