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Burlington 2021 Key to the City Recipients Announced

Key to the City 2021_group shot

Today, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward was pleased to announced the two recipients of the Key to the City for 2021: Jean Longfield, founder of The Gift of Giving Back, and Lisa Lunski, of the Friday Night Community meal bag program at Wellington Square United Church.

A small intimate ceremony that followed all current government COVID-19 pandemic protocols was held at The Pavilion in Spencer Smith Park at noon (12 p.m.).


On behalf of myself and City Council, I am thrilled to honour and recognize both Jean and Lisa’s amazing work and impact in our community, and their lasting contributions to the people of Burlington by giving them a Key to the City. Please read more about these two amazing individuals below.


Jean is so well known in our city for her tireless efforts creating and leading The Gift of Giving Back. She’s also just as well known for her beaming smile and unlimited positive energy.

Founded in 2005, and the brainchild of Jean herself, The Gift of Giving Back is a program that inspires, supports, educates and empowers the children of our community to give back to the communities they love and are privileged to live in through local minor athletics associations and school systems.

Community events and food drives are held throughout the year in multiple communities across the entire Greater Golden Horseshoe Area (GGHA), benefiting local partnered agencies like food banks who help those in need. Their mission is to demonstrate the lasting, positive impact we can all have through the power of giving back. As the largest community food drive of its kind in Canada, their efforts have resulted in more than 4.6 million pounds of food collected and donated since inception — and that has had a direct community benefit of more than $1.8 million.

From the Burlington Food Bank to Food For Life, Carpenter Hospice, Halton Women’s Place and The Compassion Society, The Gift of Giving Back truly touches all the corners of our city and all those who need support. What is really remarkable is the way the program teaches the youth in our city to work together for the benefit of the greater community — to think beyond themselves and foster a sense of responsibility and light the spark of volunteerism. Those are the real long-term benefits as they build caring, compassionate people.

Learn more about The Gift of Giving Back here.


Lisa is a champion for our community who truly lives the “nobody left behind” philosophy in her words and actions. Her work over the past decade in building the Friday Night Community meal bag program at Wellington Square United Church positioned that program to be a vital support when we were faced with an unexpected global pandemic.

Food scarcity has been one of the pandemic’s key challenges and the fact this program was already so strong gave our entire community significant leverage in addressing that problem. Its reach grew even further during the COVID-19 pandemic and truly supported every corner of our city. Even before the pandemic, Lisa’s hard work and commitment helped grow a community with the in-person hot meal program that fostered many positive relationships and decreased the feeling of isolation for our most vulnerable residents.

Her work through Wellington Square Church is not where her impact ends. Lisa has been a member of our Burlington COVID-19 Task Force throughout the pandemic, contributing ideas and solutions to this group of local leaders to ensure we are aligned in our efforts to help our community through this challenging time.

Lisa also uses her extensive network of social support superstars to advocate for affordable housing, food security and positive social change. Her contributions to our community have also been recognized by the Women of Distinction Pandemic Innovator award she received earlier this year from the YWCA — and deservedly so.

Learn more about the Wellington Square United Church Friday Night Community Meal Bag Program here.


Designed and created by local stained glass artist Teresa Seaton, the multi-coloured glass key incorporates elements of Burlington’s natural landscape and the City crest, all within the shape of our well-known blue city clock that stands proudly outside City Hall as a gift from our twin city, Itabashi, Japan. The key is housed in a textured glass box that adds to the timeless beauty of this work of art.


*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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