Brianne Cullen Sherk
Nominated for the award: Philanthropy
Company: The Verge Insurance Group
Position: Insurance Broker
Biography: Growing up in Niagara philanthropy was as similar to our family as breathing. I started volunteering in elementary school working with the local toy drives at Christmas organizing and sorting toys for the children. I also would send toys to kids my age in Africa and pen pal with them. Then as a preteen I started working with Out of the Cold serving food and handing out socks. I quickly become infinitely moved by the people and how it made me feel to connect with them, take in their world view, perspectives on live, and that I was lucky enough to make even just a little impact on their lives. I was hooked. In grade 8 I made it my project to raise awareness for an organization in Niagara called RAFT. RAFT supports thousands of youth, helping them to become independent and self-sufficient individuals. I wanted to help kids just like me. In grade 10 I started working with the Alzheimer’s society which has personally moved us, given our families experience with the disease. I would visit with the residence, play games and organize events for them to enjoy. I would listen to their stories and take in their personalities. I think the Alzheimer’s Society and their members gave me so much more than I could have ever given them. At the University of Guelph I signed on to work with adults and children with autism. When I was 21 I spent my summer going door to door raising money for the Save the Children program. During University I would come back home to work with the Niagara Health System. For 5 years I was a volunteer for our The Big Move Cancer Ride. I also helped for many years with the Niagara Health systems annual gala. In my early 20s I started working with my dad. We had the pleasure of organizing an annual charity BBQ. I would help with our main Charity Hospice Niagara. In 2014 we were able to raise $ 3, 381, 000 for the United Way. My beautiful sister Caroline is on her way to outdo our previous efforts to raise 5 million for United Way this year. We were able to help by donating to the new hospital in St Catharines cancer Centre, raising money to put a new roof on a local church and donating to help build St Catharines first Sportplex. We were also so happy to help with our community’s family doctor shortage by partnering with McMaster University to bring the DeGroote in McMaster Niagara Family Health Centre to St Catharines. 10 years ago, I was elated to become a founding member of Toronto’s AGOnext program at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Where I later became part of their committee for 4 years. Now I volunteer my time to their annual gala AGOMassive and have for the past 3 years. 5 years ago I became a member of Toronto’s St George society and quickly became part of their committee helping with their young membership division where I have been ever since. In the past year I have joined The Junior League of Toronto which is an educational and charitable women's organizations aimed at improving their communities through volunteerism and building their members' civic leadership skills through training. We just finished putting on a brunch for the residence of Youth Without Shelter in Toronto and I secured a substantial donation. In the past 10 years I have been a part of the Royal Ontario museum’s Young Patron Circle (YPC), and the National Ballets Turnout program. I am a part of the program that Mayor John Tory started the Emerging Leaders program for the Toronto Arts foundation, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Toronto symphony orchestra program Impresarios. I am going into my 2nd year of being an ambassador for the Young Insurance Professionals of Toronto (YIPT). Although I am still very young, I take it as a personal challenge to do so much more. I have my family to thank for being such superior role models and being superbly supportive in every aspect and endeavor I have come across. Without them I don’t think I would push myself to do so much and take so much satisfaction in the work I do, do.