Top Hero Award

Recognizing an outstanding volunteer contribution.

A social enterprise doesn’t stand a chance of succeeding without significant sweat equity investments from committed social entrepreneurs, most of whom work for nothing. Volunteers are the engine that drives many social enterprises. As a social enterprise takes off and begins to grow, volunteers continue to play pivotal roles be it in governance, as advisors, or on special projects. The Social Enterprise Top Hero Award has been created to recognize an outstanding volunteer contribution.

2013 Recipient



Susan Braverman

Nominated by:  
Melanie Conn, Common Thread Co-op


Anyone who knows Susan appreciates her exuberance, her optimism and her generosity. She is a cheerleader, a go-to-gal and always in Common Thread’s corner. In 2009, the incorporation of Common Thread was announced. At the event, Common Thread, was described as a social enterprise which upcycles street banners into bags made by a network of producers who have employment barriers, but who thrive in an accommodating work environment.  Susan was at that gathering; she asked what she could do to help and she has been a Top Hero since!

She invited us to set up our industrial equipment in a rent-free arrangement.  She has provided direct input since she became a volunteer Director on Common Thread’s board; she brings her experience sales and production to the table, often helping us to trouble-shoot production issues herself or with the help of her staff.

  • Susan makes sure Common Thread has a steady supply of used banners.
  • The Flag Shop printing technology enabled us  brand some of our bags with large labels, giving us a competitive edge.
  • Susan gave us access to her communications team and email platform which helped us develop our marketing strategy and reach co-ops and credit unions across Canada.  The result was beyond fantastic and helped us to DOUBLE our sales from the previous year.
  • Common Thread is weaved into Flag Shop communications.  Every customer hears about Common Thread; Flag Shop staff are encouraged to take Common Thread bags to meetings with prospective clients; they are featured on the company’s website and if you call the Flag Shop, Common Thread mentioned on the “hold” message.
  • The most recent example of Susan’s commitment to Common Thread is our new microretail outlet at the Flag Shop with a display of bags.

It doesn’t stop there – this is a woman who walks the talk!

  • She mentors futures entrepreneurs through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation
  • She is an active member and past President of the Better Business Bureau; she was a founding member of the  4th Avenue Merchants Association and is current president of Kitsilano 4th Avenue BIA.
  • Susan was a founding member and former president of the Vancouver High Spirits Choral Society and its president from 2002-2010
  • She is a teacher for ACIM Gather Radio from 2012- present
  • The Flag Shop also donates flags to organizations across Canada, such as One Epic Journey, Love World Run, Burnaby Youth Sustainability Network, and Students in Free Enterprise at SFU. In honour of the International Year of Co-ops, the company donated $5000 to the Canadian Co-operative Association.



2012 Inaugural Recipient

E. Larry Butler

The inaugural recipient is E. Larry Butler. Since its incorporation in November 2004, Larry has been the Chair of The Cleaning Solution – a contract cleaning social enterprise purposed to provide people living with mental illness work opportunities. In his 8 years in this volunteer capacity, Larry has brought his business acumen, ability to resolve conflict and values-driven approach into the very DNA of The Cleaning Solution. Board meetings with Larry are always filled with laughter, driving questions and an inspirational saying or two. Between Board duties, staff parties, committees and regular mentoring lunches with senior staff, Larry dedicates 5-10 hours per week to The Cleaning Solution: approximately 3,500 hours over his 8 years. We have all benefited from Larry’s volunteer effort; the 45 employees, fellow Board members and the social enterprise sector through the success of The Cleaning Solution.