Renate Davidson’s legacy of caring

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Renata Davidson is one of few Canadians whose virtuous nature of caring has been honoured with an award by the Governor General of Canada.

On June 6, 2013, community volunteer Renate Davidson received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award. Nominated by the Hamilton Community Foundation, Davidson was presented the award by His Excellency The Right Honourable David Johnston during Community Foundations of Canada’s international gathering in Winnipeg.

Created in 1995, the Caring Canadian Award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made significant, sustained, unpaid contributions to their community, in Canada or abroad.

“Renate’s impact has been monumental,” said Terry Cooke, President & CEO of Hamilton Community Foundation, “but her motivation is simple: she is the compassionate citizen epitomized by this award,” he added.

Davidson’s legacy of caring dates far back and her efforts have been recognized at the numerous organizations which she has volunteered for.

In describing Davidson’s personality, Cooke states,

“Smart, caring and engaged are all words that quickly spring to mind when describing Renate Davidson’s volunteer contributions to our community. She has a longstanding record of compassionate involvement that has made a difference both to our community as a whole as well as to its individual citizens.”

Dedicated community volunteer

Davidson has lived in Hamilton since the early 1950s, when her family immigrated to Canada from Germany. She has volunteered with many Hamilton organizations, often taking a leadership role. Her community contribution includes serving on the boards of United Way of Burlington/Hamilton, YWCA of Hamilton, Hamilton Health Sciences, and Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton where she was also president.

Davidson’s volunteer activities at the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton include driving children in care to and from medical appointments, to visits with their family members, to camps, assisting with special events, child care, clerical tasks, knitting squares for baby blankets for children coming into care.

Executive Director of Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton, Dominic Verticchio  speaks highly of Davidson’s dedication to giving back, “No task was too big or too small for Renate. She has been and continues to be one of the pioneers of our community, striving to understand its needs, helping create new approaches to meeting them and rolling up her sleeves to make the vision happen – all with little expectation of reward and recognition”

A legacy of professional excellence

After graduating from high school, Davidson worked for a brief period with the Board of Education before joining Stelco, where she held progressively senior positions in Human Resources until her retirement in 2000. Davidson administered the company’s charitable programs and was awarded Stelco’s Community Service Award in 1989. Davidson also extended her leadership to the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, the Bay Area Arts & Heritage Stabilization Program, environmental programs and social justice. She was also a longtime member of Zonta Club 1 of Hamilton, a service organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls.

Founding members of Women 4 Change:   Front:  Beth Webel, Chair Second row:  Sandy Schwenger, Lori Dessau Tauber, Renate Davidson, Susan Goodman, Sandra Stephenson Third Row: Annette Aquin, Lisa Dalia, Sheree Meredith, Kathryn Lakin Photo: Supplied by Hamilton Community Foundation

Founding members of Women 4 Change:
Front: Beth Webel, Chair
Second row: Sandy Schwenger, Lori Dessau Tauber, Renate Davidson, Susan Goodman, Sandra Stephenson
Third Row: Annette Aquin, Lisa Dalia, Sheree Meredith, Kathryn Lakin
Photo: Supplied by Hamilton Community Foundation

Change agent

Renate has volunteered with Hamilton Ccommunity Foundation for 14 years, serving as Board Chair, and as a member of many committees. As Chair of Hamilton Community Foundation (HCF) from 2004 to 2005, Davidson provided leadership to many innovative undertakings including the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and helping to develop the Foundation’s social justice agenda. Most recently she has helped to found HCF’s Women 4 Change initiative which works to improve the lives of women and girls through philanthropy.

Supplemental content and featured images for this article provided by the Hamilton Community Foundation.

May-Marie is driven by passion and purpose to tirelessly promote social change, diversity, equity and women's empowerment in both her personal and professional endeavours.