By: Sheri Andrunyk

Local entrepreneurs Gary and Gina Semeniuk were among fourteen York Region leaders to be recognized as Portraits Of Giving honourees in 2019.

Founded by Richmond Hill photographer Karen Merk, the goal of Portraits of Giving is to showcase the importance of social responsibility and local residents who give back to their communities.

The portrait tour recently made a stop at The Link to celebrate Gary and Gina’s thoughtful contributions to our town and far beyond.

Among several other initiatives, Gary and his wife, Gina, run the annual ONES Car Show and the Thanksgiving Pie Giveaway.

Gary has also been nominated for numerous honours such as York Region’s Character Community for Citizen of Character, Georgina’s Business Awards, and the Community Spirit Award.

Life takes us down many twisting, turning roads, shares Gary. Back in the early 2000s, as luck would have it, he was encouraged by a friend to check out some personal growth programs popular at the time. Gina also joined him on this journey.

They were thrilled to have connected with the organization, Klemmer and Associates. It was life-changing. The opportunity and timing were incredible and what they learned helped shape them both, and subsequently their children.

This affiliation took Gary and Gina out to California for a number of challenging yet empowering workshops. They also spent time in California and Mexico raising large sums of money, then journeyed their way through small impoverished towns where they built small homes, community centres, daycare centres, and the like. Those trips opened Gary’s awareness and stirred in him the need to give back.

Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” has been a driving force for much of what Gary does in life, always stepping up and making a difference where he can.

Forrest Jones nominated Gary & Gina Semeniuk for POG

Gary, Gina, and their family have been deeply involved in Georgina and the greater York Region area, organizing and running community events. Their intent with each event is simple: to gather people with the goal of raising funds and awareness for programs such as Jericho Youth Services, Hospice Georgina, and the Georgina Food Pantry.

“Our lives are enriched by taking a few extra steps to help others,” says Gary. Clearly, the joy they give others is their reward —the smiling faces, the gratitude that they receive for merely lending a hand and befriending those in need in their community.

In the future, Gary and Gina hope to explore the possibilities of creating their own charity, with the goal of leaving an even more meaningful legacy than they already have.

Portraits of Giving, created by Karen Merk of Merk Photography, is celebrating its 10th anniversary honouring York Region leaders who inspire us to help our community through corporate and social responsibility. For more information, visit Merk Photography.

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