Selfless spirt keeps recipient from Vernon award ceremony

Jan White Memorial Award winner too busy donating a kidney to accept honour

Selfless spirt keeps recipient from Vernon award ceremony

She was too busy donating an organ to a friend in need to accept the award. That’s Johanna Burko for you.

Burko earned the 2018 Jan White Memorial Award from Vernon Women in Business earlier this month. And in “true Johanna fashion,” her giving and selfless spirit kept her from the event as she was in Vancouver prepping for surgery to donate a kidney to a friend who has polycystic kidney disease.

“She is doing something that’s bigger and truly Johanna,” said Melody Martin, VWIB president.

Burko, 65, was a social worker for 31 who after returning continued in the field but teaching social work classes at Okanagan College. She is now involved in nutritional health as a Usana distributor.

She joined VWIB six years ago as a new entrepreneur and is now the recipient of the organization’s award.

“It’s quite something quite an honour,” Burko said via Facebook chat from Vancouver General Hospital during the awards luncheon.

“Thank you so much for this recognition, I am truly honoured.”

She recalls how she became deeply involved with VWIB when she was asked to join the executive as communications director, producing newsletters and updating social media. She initially said ‘No thank you.’

“I had been sitting on boards since 1970 and I vowed no more boards,” said Burko, who was convinced otherwise.

Serving on the VWIB board turned out to be a tremendously rewarding and fulfilling experience.

“This organization is amazing, so many wonderful women who are tremendously gifted and talented and willing to share their time.

“Thank you for being role models of exemplary leadership, dedicated work and inspirational mentors.”

VWIB member Lacy Donald was almost in tears as she spoke of Burko at the awards ceremony.

“Her energy and her kindness, just her positivity, her willingness to do things like donate a kidney, and her service are part of the reason we chose her to receive this award,” said Donald, adding that Burko recruited her to join VWIB, a group that she too is very proud to be a part of.

The Jan White Memorial Award was created in honour of the VWIB founder who passed away in 2004.

“She was the founder of this organization but I think she contributed in many many many capacities throughout her life,” said Sue Beaudry, a former VWIB president.

“She was always the person that would step up to do whatever needed to be done. She was a hard worker, tireless, she didn’t say no. People recognized that they wanted to remember her and consequently, the Jan White Memorial was put into place.”

Martin adds: “She was a real mover and shaker.”

Last year’s Jan White Memorial Award recipient is Julie Knoblock, Vernon Golf and Country Club general manager.

“Julie was, like Jan, a person who was hard working, I don’t think she ever said no,” said Beaudry.

It is with such women as these that VWIB continues to grow and empower women in their business endeavours.

“I’m excited to see how Vernon Women in Business will evolve to encourage women to build relationships and be given all the tools they need to build successful businesses,” said Burko.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Selfless spirt keeps recipient from Vernon award ceremony

Selfless spirt keeps recipient from Vernon award ceremony

Just Posted

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

The Shuswap River in Enderby draws in people from near and far in the summer months of each year. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
RDNO ends lengthy attempt to bring new boating regulations to Shuswap River

With no consensus among stakeholders or remaining funds, the regional district is moving on

The final phase of Vernon’s north-south travel corridor on 29th and 30th Streets will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, June 18, 2021. (Shawn Talbot Photography)
Vernon’s 39th Avenue rail crossing closed tomorrow for warning system upgrades

The final phase of the city’s double roundabout intersection is starting months earlier than expected

Lake Country home destroyed in large blaze, 11 dogs rescued

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

Fanny Chapman doesn’t just serve up Mexican flavours at the Kal Lake Food concession at Kal Beach, she also teaches Spanish. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernonites asked to share funniest Spanish translation stories

Mexicans living in town holding a contest to offer free Spanish classes

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

This photo of the small wildfire burning above Naramata was taken at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 (Monique Tamminga Western News)
BC Wildfire on scene of small wildfire above Naramata

Smoke has been showing since earlier in the day

Students in the Grade 10 entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School have completed a cookbook with international recipes. (Contributed)
Summerland students create virtual international cookbook

Entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School uses virtual cookbook as fundraiser

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

More flames
Lake Country home destroyed in large blaze, 11 dogs rescued

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

201 First Street West 1980s. Prior revitalization. (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

Most Read