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By BERNIE BELLAN
Among this year’s winners of a Lieutenant Governor’s Make a Difference Community Award is Phil Spevack. (The ceremony during which award recipients  received their awards  took place April 14.)


Following is the letter that nominated Phil Spevack for the award and which lists his many contributions, both to the Jewish community and the general community:
Phil volunteers more than anyone I know. Wherever and whenever he has seen a need, he has stepped in to help. He also has always had an extraordinary knack for gathering people together and creating fun and fellowship.
“With respect to addressing community needs, most of Phil’s volunteerism has been just that... the work with Habitat for Humanity, the support for so many people in such a variety of ways and his social activism through email campaigns and meetings and demonstrations illustrates this principle... it is a better world because of his work in it.
“Phil has organized and run a coffee house for many years which brings together people who love music with people who create it, in an intimate setting. He has given young and upcoming musicians a venue where they can showcase their talent and earn a little money. He has helped many to develop their skills and over the years has seen several launch musical careers. The coffee house began in his home with a variety of people coming to sing and play instruments once a month. Eventually it outgrew the space and he rented the social hall at Temple Shalom and it has grown so popular that professional musicians now play gigs there as well.
“There are other venues now that offer similar opportunities for young musicians but Phil’s predated them and remains popular because it is respectful, alcohol free and friendly. He has created a warm and welcoming environment. The coffee house provides inexpensive entertainment to many people in the area; there are many apartment buildings with people who don’t drive and as it is within walking distance for them, it is convenient. There is a seniors’ residence in the building attached and many of those residents attend.
These are some of the other ways he has volunteered:
    He has worked for the past 10 years on the Habitat for Humanity builds in Winnipeg.
    He repaired houses in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church {Steinbach.}
    He spent 25 years on the Tuxedo Tennis Club Executive; 3 years as president
    Phil was the Competition Chair for the Valour Road Curling Club
    He does the set-up for the monthly presentations of the Health & Wellbeing gatherings sponsored by the South Winnipeg Faith communities and has performed concerts for them.
    He is an ‘on call’ pall bearer for the Chesed Shel Emes Burial Society and for Temple Shalom Winnipeg as well as for anyone in need that he becomes aware of.. He also visits the house of mourning.
    For several years he has represented Temple Shalom at the Chesed Shel Emes in helping with ritual bathing and preparation of the body for burial and now as well sits on the Chesed’s Board of Directors.
    Phil has been the ‘go to’ person at Temple Shalom for many years doing a variety of tasks: helping with clean-up following the basement’s being flooded, twice; fixing pews; troubleshooting technical challenges; covering the office when the administrator was ill or on bereavement leave; providing cantorial services when the cantor is not available; making hospital visits to congregants; picking up and driving home people wanting to attend evening services who are not able to drive.
    He holds the emergency phone line for Temple Shalom for family emergencies such as a death or if people are locked out of the building. He is on the call list for the alarm company when someone has to go and check the building.
    He participates in a number of inter-faith gatherings at several churches, often contributing a Jewish perspective upon request. He has also participated in the Sunrise ceremony at the Forks on the Summer Solstice and at Autumn Equinox ceremonies in the Star Chamber at the MB Legislative Building.
    He performs music at seniors’ residences and at hospitals.
    He attends the community “Death Cafe” workshops, assists as a discussion facilitator and provides intro songs.
    He has acted as a support to a mentally and physically challenged senior for the past seven years via shopping trips, weekly dinners out, repairing things as needed, outings, helping him to keep his apartment clean and neat as well as sharing music and camaraderie.     
    He has taught tennis, curling, baseball, bridge, guitar, computer skills and technology to numerous people including inner city youth
    He has organized fund raising concerts: one for a family where the father became a quadriplegic following an accident and another to raise money to help pay legal fees for a young refugee. He also was involved as a support witness in the Refugee Board Hearing and in the appeal, [which was successful.]
There are many other people in our community who volunteer an extraordinary amount and are worthy of recognition but I hope you will consider Phil. He has himself struggled in many ways in his life and knows how important a helping hand can be. Phil is now 68 and it would be wonderful if he were to be acknowledged for his lifetime of helping others.

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