An honorary degree will be presented to Doug Rapelje, Past Director, Social Services and Senior Citizens, The Regional Municipality of Niagara
Brock University is recognizing Mr. Doug Rapelje for his outstanding community leadership and passionate work in advancing the health and well-being of older adults.
For more than 45 years, Mr. Rapelje has been devoted to the cause of senior citizens. First, during a distinguished career as a public servant and then as a dedicated volunteer. He is a leading expert in all areas of seniors’ care and is recognized locally, nationally and internationally for his innovative vision and leadership in the field.
In 2008, when he received the Red Cross’ Power of Humanity Award, the dedication to him noted that he “has dedicated the majority of his professional career and personal life advocating for the needs of senior citizens in Niagara.”
Mr. Rapelje began his career as an administrator at Sunset Haven Home for Senior Citizens in Welland in 1960. In 1970, he was appointed Director/Regional Administrator, Home for Senior Citizens for the Regional Municipality of Niagara. In 1977, he became Director of the Region of Niagara’s Senior Citizens department, which expanded in 1994 to the Social Services and Senior Citizens department.
During his time at the Region, he led a major expansion of seniors’ services in Niagara. He oversaw an increase in the number of homes for seniors from four to seven. He developed and expanded community-based services for seniors, including satellite homes, supportive housing, respite care, and community intervention and assistance. He also introduced innovative care for the residents and added small, but important, touches like floral gardens, pets and music to improve the quality of life in the homes.
Since retiring in 1995, Mr. Rapelje has worked as a consultant in long-term care and gerontology, and has volunteered his time with a number of local, provincial and national committees, councils and boards.
He was member of the Gerontology Advisory Council for Veterans Affairs Canada, and is current Chair of the Welland Senior Citizens Advisory Committee. He is Past-President of the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services, Ontario Gerontology Association and Alzheimer Society of Niagara; Past-Chairperson of the Ontario Senior Citizens Advisory Council; and served on the National Advisory Council on Seniors.
Mr. Rapelje was the first recipient of the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors Leadership Award. He is also a recipient of the Niagara College “Niagara Award” in recognition of outstanding contributions to the Niagara community, as well as volunteer awards from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Alzheimer Society of Niagara. In 2008, upon retiring, the Region of Niagara recognized his life’s work by naming a Long-Term Home in Welland the D.H. Rapelje Lodge.
Most recently in May 2013, the SAGA Individual Service Award For Geriatric Excellence was presented to Mr. Rapelje for his outstanding service and contribution to “the health, independence and quality of life of seniors.”