AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards celebrate some of Ottawa's most tireless supporters

Annual dinner hands out awards to seven outstanding individuals, groups and businesses

Three sisters raise awareness over youth homelessness after the oldest comes face-to-face with a teenage girl begging for change outside their neighbourhood grocery store.

A man toils away at a car dealership for 59 years while quietly serving as a shining example of service to his community.

Thousands of students and their teachers champion Catholic social justice by gathering money, food and clothing, while also donating their time, year after year, to help the poor and needy.

These are just a few of the beautiful and inspiring stories shared with a crowd of more than 350 at the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 23rd annual Ottawa Philanthropy Awards, held at the Shaw Centre on Tuesday.

The dinner hands out awards to individuals and businesses who generously give so much of their time, money or resources in order to make Ottawa a stronger community.

“Nobody has to make a donation, nobody has to volunteer, nobody has to stand up for the underprivileged, and yet we have the privilege of witnessing this every day,” Jennifer Van Noort pointed out during her passionate acceptance speech for 2017 Outstanding Fundraising Professional. She’s vice-president of philanthropy and leadership giving for The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, which she thanked.

“My cup runneth over. There are no words to express how grateful I am to all of you.”

AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
2017 Outstanding Fundraising Professional recipient Jennifer Van Noort, from The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, is flanked by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation's president and CEO, Tim Kluke, left, and award sponsor John Bouza from Global Philanthropic Canada, at the 23rd annual AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards, held at the Shaw Centre on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

As challenging as the job of professional fundraiser might seem -- what with having to ask people for money all the time while competing with other multimillion-dollar campaigns -- you’d never know it listening to Van Noort.

“I will tell anyone who will listen: I have the best job in the best city in the whole world, and I witness miracles every day because of all of you."

The awards dinner included such special guests as Mayor Jim Watson and television personality Sarah Freemark. Returning as presenting sponsor was WCPD Foundation, represented by Peter Nicholson.

The evening also saw the official launch of OBJ’s collaborative Giving Guide, a new printed and online publication that's intended to be a central resource in helping the business community better connect with local charity groups.

AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
Mayor Jim Watson at the AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards, held at the Shaw Centre on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
Sarah Freemark from CTV Ottawa Morning Live emceed this year's AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards Dinner. Photo by Caroline Phillips
AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
Peter Nicholson, president and founder of presenting sponsor Foundation WCPD, at the AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The crowd rose to its feet with applause after hearing how Outstanding Youth Award recipients Hannah, 16, Sophie, 14, and 12-year-old Cece Weider helped to create a unique fundraiser called SleepOUT for Youth for the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa. The sisters, who attend Glebe Collegiate, Ashbury College and Turnbull School, wanted to raise awareness over youth homelessness by sleeping outside City Hall for a night with their parents. The initiative started after Hannah had a chance encounter with a homeless girl in her neighbourhood. A subsequent family conversation turned into a call for action.

The grassroots movement that started in 2012 has created a ripple effect, growing into a mass overnight sleepout involving hundreds of youth and community members. It’s also raised more than half a million dollars.

“It turned out there were a lot of youth who were eager to make a difference; they just didn’t know how.” 

"We stand here today as simply three of the hundreds of youth that made the sleepout such a success, and of the thousands of Ottawa youth who want to contribute positively to their community," Hannah also told the room.

Then came the reality-check, from middle sister Sophie.

“Don’t get us wrong; working with teenagers isn’t easy,” she good-humouredly told the room. “They’re not organized at all, and every year we get at least five people asking to sign up the day of the sleepout or asking if we have an extra tent because they totally forgot.

“And, yes, it takes a bit of work to get them moving at the start but, once they get going, youth are a force.”

AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
Kate Weider and her husband, Mike Weider, received a big shout out from their daughters, from left, Sophie, Cece and Hannah, as they received the Outstanding Youth Award at this year's AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards, held at the Shaw Centre on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The sisters thanked their parents, Kate and Mike Weider, who’s the CEO at Clearwater Clinical, and made sure to invite everyone to join them at this year’s SleepOUT happening on Nov. 30 at TD Place stadium at Lansdowne.

“Though you might want to wear something a bit warmer,” Sophie suggested.

Cancer survivor Tom Spence received the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser award for raising more than $250,000 over the past 15 years for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s Do it for Dad. The room heard how he’s no stranger to commitment, having been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa for 40 years and an employee of Surgenor Pontiac Buick for 59 years. In accepting his award, Spence thanked his former employer, friends and family, particularly his wife, Terry Spence, whom he described as “my rock."

AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
From left, Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser recipient Tom Spence with his wife, Terry, and John Ouellette, vice president of philanthropy at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at this year's AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards, held at the Shaw Centre on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline

The Ottawa Catholic School Board received the Outstanding Philanthropic Group award for having raised more than $3 million in goods and monetary donations over the past 10 years for the Shepherds of Good Hope. PBC Group, represented by president and CEO Paul Bouzanis and his wife, Celine Bouzanis, was awarded Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist for its support of the YMCA-YWCA National Capital Region.

AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
From left, Deirdre Freiheit, president and chief executive officer of the Shepherds of Good Hope, with Tom D'Amico, associate director of education with the Ottawa Catholic School Board, and Joanne MacEwan, vice chair of its board of trustees, and Neil Leslie, vice president of the Shepherds of Good Hope Foundation, at this year's AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards Dinner. The school board was recognized as 2017 Outstanding Philanthropic Group. Photo by Caroline Phillips
AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
Jack Silverstein, vice president of financial development for the YMCA-YWCA National Capital Region, with Celine and Paul Bouzanis, recipients of the 2017 Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist award presented at the AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Shoppers Drug Mart landed the Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist award for its work with the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, particularly in the area of women’s health.

AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
From left, Lisa Gibbs, director of community investment at Shoppers Drug Mart, with Josée Larocque-Patton from human resources, Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health president and CEO Mitchell Bellman, and Jennifer Mulley, associate owner of the Shoppers Drug Mart stores at Bank and Sunnyside, and on Dalhousie Street, and Tracey Welsh, director of events for The Royal, at this year's AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards Dinner. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The evening wrapped up with the presentation of Outstanding Individual Philanthropist to Cuckoo Kochar from DCR/Phoenix Group. In 2013, he donated $1.2 million to Carleton University to encourage outstanding students from India to come to Carleton.

AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
From left, Corrie Hobin, director of major gifts with Carleton University, with Madhu Kochar and Cuckoo Kochar, recipient of Outstanding Individual Philanthropist, and Jennifer Conley, chief advancement officer at Carleton University, at the AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards, held at the Shaw Centre on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards
Cuckoo Kochar, founder, president and CEO of DCR/Phoenix Group of Companies. on stage during the AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards to accept his 2017 Outstanding Individual Philanthropist award, on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips


- caroline@obj.ca