Spencer van Vloten’s passion for helping others has garnered him accolades from various levels of government.
The 32-year-old former Langley resident, who was recently recognized as an “extraordinary” citizen by the provincial government, is up for a municipal commendation later this month, too.
A recipient of B.C. Medal of Good Citizenship, van Vloten was awarded for his multiple initiatives to help differently-abled people and those struggling with mental health issues.
The award is an “achievement to be proud of” for van Vloten, but what matters most to him is his passion for helping others.
“[The] medal is great, but the thing I enjoy more than anything is helping out people. To be able to pursue my passion was important… and it ended with a medal… that is great,” said van Vloten, who was presented the award from David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing Vancouver-Point Grey, during a virtual ceremony.
From volunteering to raise money for shelter homes in Vancouver to building his websites, van Vloten has come a long way.
Along with working part-time for George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy, van Vloten runs bcdisability.com and youandmebc.ca – the former to help persons with disabilities. The latter is a portal loaded with good news stories from B.C. and beyond.
In addition, van Vloten also serves as the chair of the Community Living BC’s Vancouver council.
His continuous efforts have not only garnered him provincial recognition, but also accolades from Vancouver city council.
He’s set to receive the City of Vancouver’s excellence award on May 30.
The good citizen shared that the foundation of his passion and journey began in Langley, where he grew up and finished his elementary education.
“Langley is a close-knit community and everybody helps each other out,” said van Vloten. “It feels like home.”
A former student of Alex Hope Elementary, van Vloten lived in Walnut Grove for 13 years before moving back to Vancouver, where he was born. The city at that time felt different from Langley – he found people less willing to extend a helping hand.
“It is a big city, but I wanted everyone to have the same feeling I had in Langley,” he recounted.
With that vision in mind, van Vloten began his community service work in Vancouver – including his efforts to help people living with physical challenges.
Growing up, he had seen one of his family members face certain barriers in life due to cerebral palsy. This played a factor in his decision to work in the disability field.
After spending a few years with Easter Seals, running programs for kids and young adults with disability, he launched his own website in 2020.
“The website is a place where everyone could talk, find resources, and learn about the good work being done in the disability sector across B.C.,” van Vloten explained.
He feels that people with disabilities disproportionately live in poverty in B.C., and across Canada.
“They still aren’t fully included as community members,” he added, and through his efforts, van Vloten wants to remove the barriers to inclusion.
One of the ways van Vloten thought he could achieve his goal was by acknowledging those making a difference.
With that thought in mind, in 2021, youandmebc.ca was born, a portal that shares stories of people doing good work in their communities. He wants to now focus on highlighting the work that others are doing and grow his websites by publishing more content and resources.
“When you shine a light on good, it inspires more people to follow that path,” he said. “Giving back and volunteering is my passion, and I want to continue for as long as I live.”
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