The operator of a Surrey recovery house who successfully fought back after word that five of his sites would be shut down and a Fraser Heights 18-year-old who 3D-printed personal protective equipment for organizations across B.C. are being celebrated by the provincial government for “outstanding service and commitment to helping others in their communities.”
According to a news release issued Wednesday (March 31), Cole Izsak – who calls South Surrey home – and Fawzan Hussain are among 14 people from 10 B.C. communities selected to receive a Medal of Good Citizenship.
“This important honour recognizes people who have gone above and beyond to offer help and kindness to others during these exceptionally challenging times,” Premier John Horgan said in the release.
“The latest recipients of the Medal of Good Citizenship make our province a better place through their contributions and provide an example we can all aspire to meet in our communities.”
Izsak is owner/operator of Back on Track Recovery homes – an initiative that grew through his own journey of recovery. After being deported from the U.S. to Vancouver in 2004, Izsak struggled with addiction and homelessness for several years until he finally sought rehabilitation in 2011. He borrowed $5,000 from family to rent a home, and began recruiting other recovering addicts to live with him as he pursued a better life through abstinence.
According to a biography, most of Izsak’s clients come from the Downtown Eastside or jail, and all are on welfare or disability. “He often takes clients in with no funding and his 65 beds are accessible to a segment of society who otherwise could never afford the quality of service Back on Track provides,” it adds.
“Hundreds of young men have turned their lives around because of Cole’s guidance and inspiration,” the biography continues. “Cole has risen from the depths of despair to a place where he can be an inspiration to others who might wish to take his extended hand of friendship toward a better life through recovery.”
Hussain, who graduated from Fraser Heights Secondary last year, is described as a “technology enthusiast, social innovator, and compassionate leader who believes that youth have the power to positively change their communities.”
In response to an appeal for help from Neil Squire Society’s Makers Making Change Program, Hussain self-funded his own 3D printer, and secured grants to purchase 3D printing filament in order to produce 150 assistive devices that were distributed to people disabilities across North America.
The work inspired him to research the role of technology in helping people with disabilities. He showcased his Brain Computer Interface Communication System in Abu Dhabi, UAE in September 2019.
Over the course of the pandemic, Hussain 3D-printed and delivered 1,545 personal protective equipment devices – including visors, goggles and face-mask holders – to more than 30 organizations across B.C.
The Medal of Good Citizenship program launched in 2015 to recognize people who have made outstanding contributions without expectation of remuneration or reward. It “reflects their generosity, service, acts of selflessness and contributions to community life,” the release states.
Selection committee chair Melanie Mark described medal recipients as “unsung heroes.”
Other recipients hail from Victoria (Andrew Beckerman and Robert McMinn), Cranbrook (Irene Bischler), Maple Ridge (Kristi Blakeway), Vancouver (Zeeshan Hayat, Stephanie Quon, George Reifel and Cara Sinclair), Rolla (Donna Kane), Nanaimo (Imogene Lim), Richmond (Farouq Manji) and New Westminster (Gale Stewart).
The medals are to be presented at virtual ceremonies in a few months.
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