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Date updated: October 4, 2019

Seniors of Distinction Award 2019

‘I hope I made someone’s life truly better’

Seniors of Distinction honours five individuals for their lifetimes of service

Celebrating seniors and their decades of service to their respective communities was front and centre Tuesday.

Those accomplishments were handed out to five individuals who have made a difference in the lives of everyone they encounter, and were Lorraine Best of Paradise, Annie Brennan of Marystown, Noreen Careen of Labrador City, Olga Kinden of Green Island Cove and John Mcgrath of St. John’s.

A ceremony was held in conjunction with National Seniors Day across Canada and the International Day of Older Persons globally.


“I hope I made someone’s life truly better,” Lorraine Best said.

“I have been volunteering with Seniors N.L. for the past 25 years, answering the phones, taking information and making referrals,” she added.

Born in 1933, Best has been a longstanding seniors advocate, volunteering her time to make the province a safer and more welcoming place.

She is an outspoken advocate and a well-recognized retired teacher, speaker and presenter on ageism and elder abuse.

“We are in a housing crisis. There are so many looking for housing, not just affordable, but subsidized housing,’’ she said.

“There has to be an answer out there to combat this problem,” she added, noting elder abuse and ageism are issues she has worked to combat, and she hopes elected officials can look at these issues and find ways to make a difference in these areas.


Helping to overcome domestic violence in her community is one of the areas Noreen Careen has been vocal about during her volunteer service.

“The women I have helped through the Hope Haven Women’s Outreach to get through the struggles of family violence is work that I cherish,’’ Careen said.

An active volunteer, something she has done since she was a teenager, she has been involved in community organizations throughout Labrador, including the Status of Women Council, Hope Haven Shelter, Newfoundland and Labrador 50+ Federation, Ioc-labrador West Community Advisory Panel, Labrador West Housing and Homelessness Coalition, and Seniors Pioneer Living.

Careen is a member of the Provincial Advisory Council for Aging and Seniors and is known by the residents of Labrador West as someone who can always be approached to assist and advocate for seniors.


John Mcgrath was an active member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association (including serving as president), and established the Masters Soccer Division for players 30 years and older.

He also supported increased opportunities for women in the sport.

Mcgrath brought international sport to the province with the Canada vs. Honduras World Cup soccer qualifier in 1985, as well as the FIFA U18 World Championship.

He also served as an executive member of both Sport Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame.

Mcgrath was elected as a member of the Commonwealth Games Association of Canada.

In addition to his time volunteering with various sport initiatives, he had a 40-year career as a lawyer and served as a member of the Mental Health Care and Treatment Review Board and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) Complaints Commission.

“This has been a true delight, volunteering for 30, 35 years. I have enjoyed every day I was involved in sports,” Mcgrath said.

“I am indebted to all the guys I played with, coached with, worked with throughout my years. It’s been a true delight.’’

Mcgrath challenges everyone to get involved in something, see it through and see the difference their efforts will make for those participating in each respective activity.

He has a long history of volunteering with various sporting groups across the province. His expertise and services in those areas led him to a reputation as honest, dedicated and hard working.


Olga Kinden is an integral member of her community as a regular volunteer.

As a Girl Guide leader on the Northern Peninsula for over 30 years, she provided options for young people in an area with limited opportunities for recreation.

“I have volunteered for about 30 years and have enjoyed it, doing things to help the community,’’ Kinden said.

“I was happy to take the girls to places they never would get a chance to visit. We went to Boston, to P.E.I.’’

In addition to her work in guiding, she served on the board of directors of personal care homes in Flowers Cove.

Through her work with the Green Island Cove Lions Club, she donated time filling out grant applications for projects to allow people to qualify for employment insurance.

She also took the lead in organizing the town’s first Come Home Year, which drew more than 1,000 people to the area.

These activities are in addition to her roles with the community’s Anglican Church, which included being a Sunday school teacher, treasurer, and co-chair of the parish council.


The humbleness of a small-town volunteer resonated with her community. So much, in fact, that members of the community compiled a long-list of accomplishments of Annie Brennan.

At 88, Brennan still volunteers with the Mercy Associates, a group that maintains a formal relationship to the Sisters of Mercy and assists in their work. She has previously been involved with the Marystown Family Aid Committee, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Catholic Women’s League.

“Serving my community has brought me much joy,’’ Brennan said.

“I received more from them than they did from me,’’ she added, referring to those she has helped throughout her decades of volunteerism.

In recognition of decades of volunteer work, Brennan earned the Citizen of the Year award from the Marystown Lions Club and received citations from the Red Cross and Canadian Cancer Society.

Categories:  Family / Friends    Seniors    Service Providers

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