Personal support worker (PSW) Sonia Botas from the Bradford Valley Care Community Centre was shocked and surprised on Monday morning when her name was announced as the grand prize winner of a brand new 2021 Hyundai Elantra from a vaccination contest organized by Sienna Senior Living.
The company-wide campaign was part of an extensive vaccination program that began on June 1, encouraging all front-line workers to get vaccinated with the incentive of being automatically entered into a draw for prizes valuing from $5,000 to $10,000.
The grand prize (2021 Elantra Essential) was generously donated by official Raptors Superfan, Nav Bhatia, owner of the Mississauga Hyundai Superstore and founder of the Raptors Superfan Foundation, who presented the car to Botas in person at the Bradford Valley Care Community on Monday morning.
The contest required the company to reach a 90 per cent vaccination rate among its staff; that goal was surpassed by 2 per cent, it was announced before the winner of the grand prize was unveiled.
“When the global pandemic hit, the world shut down, but our employees continued to come in to work,” said Nitin Jain, President and CEO of Sienna Senior Living. “When the biggest worry for many people was whether they could get groceries or not, our team members were worried about keeping themselves, their residents, family members and other team members safe.
"Since launching [this] incentive, our vaccination rate has gone up 20% which we are really proud of," said Jain.
Other winners include PSW Marcia Palmer from St. George Care Community in Toronto, who won $10,000, PSW Tess Morareng from Granite Ridge Care Community in Stittsville, Ontario who won $7,500, and PSW Margaret Black from Kingsmere Retirement Residence in Alliston who won $5,000.
“This is not just an incentive, this is our way of saying thank you – thank you for stepping up, for putting your health at risk sometimes to ensure our family and your team members are taken care of,” he added.
There are approximately 12,000 team members from all facilities operated by Sienna Senior Living and 10,000 of those members were vaccinated and entered into the draw, including Botas, who has been working at Bradford Valley for nearly 12 years.
“I feel like I’m dreaming, I can’t believe this is true,” said Botas, who said she had no idea her name would be called. “I love Bradford Valley… I wouldn’t change a thing about the last 12 years – I love my co-workers, management, my residents – I love you all!”
Botas said she has never won anything. “I don’t feel like I deserve this because there’s so many amazing PSW’s who work here… I feel so blessed!”
Bradford Valley endured a COVID-19 outbreak not once but twice last year, and during the first wave of COVID, the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury’s Mayor, Rob Keffer, allowed some of the centre’s team members to stay temporarily at a vacant house in Bradford in order to remain isolated and safe between shifts.
“COVID was very tough, but Bradford Valley pulled through with an amazing team… thank you so much, I am so blessed!” exclaimed Botas.
“It’s hard to pick a winner because the whole home is filled with winners,” said Cathy Vanbeek, Executive Director with Sienna Senior Living who spoke at the surprise announcement Monday morning.
“I’m so happy for you Sonia! You’re so quiet, you just stay in the background and do your thing, but everyone loves you and you’re very deserving – congratulations!”
Raptors Superfan Bhatia posed for pictures with staff and seniors from Bradford Valley while showing off the Raptors’ championship ring he wore for the special event.
Bhatia launched several initiatives throughout the pandemic to aid communities who were struggling. He partnered with the City of Mississauga and opened four new basketball courts in under-serviced communities; he also invested in a food truck which was used to distribute 15,000 hot meals to frontline workers in 2020.
“I’m here today for the frontline workers,” shared Bhatia. “I always appreciated you because I have parents who spent time in the hospitals… this pandemic really opened my eyes.
"I had the opportunity to visit homes like this all over… and I realized how much you guys sacrifice so that we can be well, so our parents can be well – it’s not just [Sonia] who’s a winner, every PSW is a winner here! Enjoy the beautiful car and make sure you take your friends in the car and give them a ride, too!”
Bhatia shared his mother passed away in 2010 and acknowledged that he is blessed today because of his parents and stressed the importance of taking care of our elderly family members.
“This is the time you can give them the love because we cannot replace them,” he explained.
“Sienna, thank you very much!” said Keffer. “The work that you do in Bradford West Gwillimbury and at Bradford Valley is very, very much appreciated. Management, staff, and residents are a great part of our town… thank you for recognizing our PSW’s and congratulations to Sonia for winning the car.”