Stars of Alberta Recipients - 2007


Amanda, Dennis, and Samantha Brown    

Dennis, Amanda and Samantha Brown (Calgary)

Nominated by Mrs. Heather Forsyth, MLA Calgary-Fish Creek

Giving back to their community has been a part of Dennis, Amanda, and Samantha's lives for as long as they can remember. The siblings can be found Friday mornings volunteering with seniors at the Beverly Centre for long term care, where they first visited with holiday baskets as toddlers. During the past year, together they have volunteered over 1,000 hours with numerous organizations, such as the Alberta Children's Hospital, The Beverly Centre, Big Rock Aikikai Martial Arts, Calgary Disaster Services, Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park, Jewish Family Service Calgary and The Salvation Army Christmas warehouse. These three remarkable young people have shown that they never stop caring for those around them. Amanda and Samantha have donated their hair since ages four and six-a total of over 2 metres-to make wigs for children who have lost their hair due to illness. Their fundraising initiatives have raised over $3,000 for the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta and Angel Hair for Kids. Samantha takes time out of her summer to help children learn about science at the University of Calgary Minds in Motion camp, has developed educational materials for elementary students to learn about emergency preparedness, and is helping to plan the 2008 Youth Multicultural Health and Wellness Conference. Dennis "Shaved His Lid for a Kid" in June 2007, and his wish to share with others at his birthday led to collecting 150 pounds of food for the Veterans' Food Bank. Dennis, Amanda, and Samantha are always willing to lend a hand, as they did recently when helping a friend decorate pens for her "Pens for Pets" fundraiser in benefit of the Calgary Humane Society.


Malika Ladha    

Malika Ladha (Edmonton)

Nominated by Shelley Fenton, Jasper Place High School

Malika Ladha is a compassionate young woman who, at such a young age, has made a difference in her school, the local community and on a global scale. She is an inspiring leader and conveys passion in what she does. Malika has contributed many volunteer hours through several leadership capacities such as co-president of the Jasper Place Leadership Team, international affairs member of the JP Interact Rotary Club, Junior Lieutenant of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps, executive member of Ismaili Youth Association and the Women's Empowerment International Foundation. Malika has organized numerous projects that have benefited various organizations, such as the United Way, Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child Campaign, Oxfam, the Terry Fox Foundation and many others. With such a commitment towards making a difference and the willingness to work hard, Malika looks ahead to a bright future.


Larry Melnik    

Larry Melnik (Banff)

Nominated by Karen Suchowersky, Volunteer Banff

He was born Larry Melnik, but to everyone in Banff he is known as "Crazy Larry". The name was given to him affectionately by the kids and young adults in the Bow Valley over 14 years ago. He is relentless in his efforts and will sacrifice almost anything to encourage youth to leave the world of drugs and drinking and try an alternative healthier source of fun through a series of clubs he calls "Canada's Meet You at the Top Clubs". Larry also helps out at many annual community events such as Halloween parties, Canada Day, Rail Jam, Winter Start, Earth Day, One Hot Summer, Thanksgiving dinners and often plays the role of Santa Claus at Christmas parties. At Christmas time he will be seen handing out custom made grocery bags along with hats, gloves, sweaters, socks and other presents. He distributes small decorated trees around Banff to say "I care". As an avid hiker and cyclist, he is involved in events such as the Melissa's Road Race, Trans Rockies Challenge, 24 hours of Adrenaline Race, the Kid'n Mutt Races and the Annual Isabelle Dube Tribute Bike Ride. Whatever needs to be done in the community whether it is volunteering at local events, shovelling snow for seniors or at the hospital, picking up trash on several mountain tops or lending an ear to a troubled youth, Crazy Larry is there. As the saying on his T shirt says, "I wasn't just born...I was born to make a difference; Who's Stepping Forward? I AM".


Khalid Tarabain    

Khalid Tarabain (Edmonton)

Nominated by Imad Kaddoura, the Canadian Islamic Centre

Khalid is the President of the Canadian Islamic Centre and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Edmonton Islamic Academy. He is also a Director and Co-founder of the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities. Khalid is an impressive, inspiring, task driven, and visionary community leader. His volunteerism extends to religious, academic, political, and social sectors of the community. He spearheaded the Islamic Academy Project, which resulted in the building of a magnificent facility for the Edmonton Islamic Academy the first of its type in North America. Khalid is involved in multiple groups such as the Edmonton Interfaith Centre, The Hate Crime Unit of the Edmonton Police Service and the Political Action Group of Edmonton. He is a recipient of the Alberta Centennial Medal, and involves himself in all charitable projects and is a driving force in the Islamic Community.


Shirley Stephens-Begg    

Shirley Stephens-Begg (Cochrane)

Nominated by Lily Ching, Studio West

As a descendant of pioneers, Shirley is a proud Albertan who has, from a young age, cared for others and has shown leadership in volunteer activities. She is always contributing her expertise to boards, commissions and committees in the communities where she works and lives. She combines her work as a sculptor with volunteer time to benefit the arts and business communities of Calgary and Cochrane. Since 1980 Shirley has assisted the Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter and Discovery House through Soroptimist International of Calgary, an international professional women's service club that works to improve the lives of women and girls. Shirley is currently serving as a Mayor of the Summer Village of Waiparous and has devoted more than 20 years of public service to this unique community. As a talented sculptor, Shirley donated over 1,800 hours to sculpt a statute to honour the courageous ordinary farm women who founded our communities before their lives and names were forgotten. The statue with 52 names of those women was unveiled by the late Lieutenant Governor Dr. Lois E. Hole in 2002. Shirley has also devoted many volunteer hours on establishing a Pioneer Women's Museum.


Helen Ileen Wentz    

Helen Ileen Wentz (Taber)

Nominated by Terri Wilson, Taber Community Against Drugs

Helen began volunteering as a teenager, teaching Sunday school and assisting with the formation of a youth group at her church. She currently devotes her time to various community organizations. What is now the Taber Crime & Abuse Prevention Society (TCAPS) was developed from Helen's involvement in the Taber Children's Services Committee starting in 1987. TCAPS became the governing body for Taber/Vauxhall Victim Services in 1993 and Helen took the training to become a Victim Advocate. In 2003 it became apparent that the community needed to address the growing issue of illegal drug use/abuse so Helen became a founding member of the Taber Community Against Drugs (TCAD). In 1998, Helen joined the Kiwanis Club of Taber and was the only female member for many years. Through this club she assists with the many projects which benefit the community, particularly children. The need for a Food Bank in Taber became obvious and Helen was on the organizational committee to make that happen in 1999. In her late 60s, deciding that it was time to add a little spice to her life, Helen formed a chapter of the International Red Hat Society in Taber, becoming "Queen Mum". Beta Sigma Phi, an International non-fraternal sorority, invited Helen to join the Taber chapter in 1957. She has been active with that group for over 50 years holding most of the Executive positions at one time or another. Helen is supposed to be retired but she doesn't know the meaning of that word!

Last reviewed/revised: December 14, 2012