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Cambridge social worker wins provincial award for decades of work in the community

Sharon Livingston recognized by the province for her work making the city an age friendly place by keeping senior residents top of mind

Sharon Livingston was among 20 seniors from across the province recognized for their outstanding work in the community at a ceremony at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday. 

Livingstone has been working in Cambridge for the past 14 years to transform the city into an Age Friendly community based on the World Health Organization’s eight Age Friendly domains.

She has also participated as a volunteer, a member of the seniors' community, as a volunteer facilitator and as a subject-matter expert in consultations with over 60 engaged community members to develop recommendations for various levels of government and service providers.

"I am honestly honoured to be recognized for all my work, but I also know there is always a team behind all of these things," Livingstone said. "I've worked hard to make Cambridge an age-friendly city and that work is not done." 

Since 1987, the Ontario Senior Achievement Awards have recognized those who are 65-years of age and older for their contributions and dedication to helping those around them.

The 2023 recipients are being recognized for their volunteerism, charitable fundraising, advocacy work, and more.

They also support and empower their fellow seniors by organizing educational, cultural, and artistic initiatives.

Having been a part of the Cambridge Shelter Corporation for years and then taking up the positions with Langs Community Center, Livingstone has become a fierce advocate for the aging population and the narrative surrounding them. 

"I think the conversation around the older generation needs to change, because even though I'm 80-years-old I am still trying to better my community," she said. "We oftentimes get written off due to our age and that's not fair." 

Livingstone is already looking forward to the future and what she can do to continue helping seniors in the city. 

She wants to see better supportive housing options for seniors and see the conversation shift around older residents being evicted from their homes. 

"The trauma of being unhoused is difficult at any age, but for older adults, it's even more difficult," said Livingstone. "And the fact of the matter is, Cambridge has a significant number of older women living in poverty and we as a society need to work harder to figure out how to help."

The award is a first for Livingstone, but she remained humble as she thanked the team and individuals around her who have helped her reach this achievement. 

"I'm very honoured to have been awarded the award, but I do also recognize that I'm only a part of the puzzle and that takes a lot of people to make things happen," she said.