Here’s hoping the local business community looks back at the 2020 Forty Under 40 Awards not as the year that the in-person gala had to be cancelled but as the year all the distinguished winners banded together to raise $40,000 for the community.
The fundraising efforts were led by Katharine Im-Jenkins, chief programs officer at WUSC (World University Service of Canada) and Patrick Nadeau, executive director of Ottawa Riverkeeper. They received a much-welcomed helping hand from one of their fellow Forty Under 40 winners, professional fundraiser Melissa McGuirk McNeil, director of advancement at the Ottawa Network for Education (ONFE).
As of this week, the group had hit its target.
“We’re so excited, and it feels good to do it right before Thanksgiving,” said Im-Jenkins in an interview. “I think we have a responsibility, as leaders, to care about the community. I’m just really proud that everyone came together around the idea and made it happen, one way or another.”
The group set its sights on $40,000 in keeping with the numeric theme of Forty Under 40. The annual event recognizes rising young business leaders and trailblazers and is jointly produced by Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Board of Trade.
“This effort represents what the award is all about: Fostering community connections and leadership that is about business excellence, as well as contributions to the Ottawa-Gatineau community,” said OBJ publisher Michael Curran.
The Forty Under 40 recipients were celebrated this past June 25 through an online and television broadcasted, followed by a Zoom afterparty. The current coronavirus pandemic prevents the holding of large in-person gatherings. The recipients did take into consideration, when raising money for charity, that they were saving money by not having to purchase corporate dinner tables, formal attire, alcoholic beverages and other costs associated with attending big galas like the Forty Under 40 event.
The recipients raised $30,000 over the summer months through personal contributions and support from employers, family and friends. It was Nadeau who got the group to the final number through the generous support of an Ottawa Riverkeeper friend who wanted to support both Nadeau's efforts and the chosen charities.
Forty Under 40 recipient David Coyle, of PCL Construction, also did an impressive job, raising more than $3,000.
“We really embraced this community effort," Coyle said. "PCL, our sub-trades, suppliers – it was a total team effort."
The money will go along way to assist the community, McGuirk McNeil said in an interview.
“Many organizations are suffering and many have had to rebuild all their programs because of COVID – ONFE included.
“Our needs are greater than ever before, and these funds will make such an incredible difference at this time.”
The four charities were selected based on the results of a survey conducted with the Forty Under 40 recipients. The beneficiaries are:
The Royal is Eastern Ontario’s largest and one of Canada’s foremost mental health care and academic health sciences centres. Its mandate is to get more people living with mental illness into recovery faster. Funds raised by the Forty Under 40 will support the future Gender, Health & Sexuality Care and Resource Centre.
Minwaashin Lodge is an Indigenous Women's Support Centre that provides a range of programs and services to First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and children (regardless of status) who are survivors of domestic and other forms of violence, and who may also be suffering the effects of the residential school system. All programs and services are provided in the context of cultural beliefs and values to ensure a holistic approach is used as part of the healing journey.
ONFE runs seven educational programs, reaching 81 per cent of Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools in all four Ottawa school boards. Every school day, it feeds more than 13,500 students, teaches kids to plant and harvest food, and help students prepare for their future careers.
Moisson Outaouais (Gatineau Food Bank)
Moisson Outaouais provides food to all of the Outaouais region, including the City of Gatineau, Pontiac, Petite-Nation and upper Gatineau regions.
The award winners would have preferred to have toasted each other face-to-face but being able to work together to give back to the community made the Forty Under 40 experience very rewarding, said Im-Jenkins.
"It was a way for the group to get to know each other a little bit and be part of a common, collective effort."