picture of 3 women sitting in an office with blue walls. There is a dog sitting between two of the women

Sheila, Michelle, and Astrid at the match meeting



Every year Spark presents the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award at the Volunteer Manitoba Volunteer Awards Gala. We look forward to this day every year because it gives us a chance to recognize some of our volunteers and the impact their pro bono work has on the community, as well as celebrate volunteerism in Manitoba.


From now until awards night, we are celebrating the nominees for the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award, and their contributions to their community through a series of volunteer profiles. 


Today we are profiling Award nominee Sheila Young of Sooka Design!


Sheila came to Spark in 2021 wanting to do pro bono work because she sees “community service as a vital role of the business community.” Since her short time volunteering with us, Sheila and the team at Sooka Design have successfully completed 2 matches. She is nominated for her most recent match with Spence Neighbourhood Association (SNA). 


SNA “works with the people in the Spence neighbourhood to revitalize and renew their community in the areas of holistic housing, community connecting, community economic development, environmental and open spaces, and youth and family.


In 2023 SNA approached Spark with an interior design request. The kitchen at their Ellice Avenue location was dated and needed updating. Specifically, it “needed to fulfill a variety of functions, including a space to conduct food security training using the produce from [their] community gardens, a space for [their] Youth Crew to prepare meals for [their] overnight youth shelter, and a place for staff to prepare and eat lunch and gather together for informal meetings.” Although SNA had funding for construction they needed pro bono help for the design of the room. 


Sheila began the project by asking SNA staff to “outline all the functions that were required and all the equipment that was needed.” After gathering all this information Sheila spent a month designing different concepts for the kitchen. 


With costs being a big factor, SNA was pleased to say that “Sheila went over and above the call of duty by accessing and considering building plans from previous renovations so that the designs would be as cost effective as possible” allowing SNA to stick within their budget. 


At the end of the project, SNA reported that “if we hadn’t had the design expertise donated by Sheila. Our community kitchen would not have been an effective service provided to the community. By developing creative solutions including storage and moveable furniture, she was able to take a limited space and turn it into a valuable community asset.”


Thank you Sheila for your amazing work with SNA!


For more volunteer profiles check out Danielle Harvey-Wilson!