The LiveWorkPlay Festive Family Feast of December 6, 2013, was a night that many will remember for years to come. Although traditionally this is an event that is mainly about dressing in holiday jumpers and enjoying a social dinner, this year there was simply too much to celebrate to put off formal ceremonies until the Engines of Success banquet in June.
First on the agenda, MPP Madeleine Meilleur was joined by Mr. Chikwa Zahinda from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to congratulate LiveWorkPlay for a $62,000 grant awarded in support of our new employment initiative that started in June
The one year funding agreement, which commenced in June 2013, will enhance the organization’s capacity to secure meaningful employment suited to the interests and abilities of persons with an intellectual disability. Members of service clubs, professional associations and corporations in Ottawa will be recruited to assist with outreach to prospective employers. In fact, the newly formed LiveWorkPlay Employment Task Force has already met on two occasions and is taking action to build relationships in with local employers.
“Everyone in Ontario benefits, when we remove the barriers that get in the way of people participating fully in society. The work that LiveWorkPlay will be doing, with these OTF funds, to promote equitable access to social and economic participation in community life for people with an intellectual disability, will help to make this happen” said MPP Meilleur
Next came a very special announcement in memory and in celebration of the life of Robert More, a former LiveWorkPlay member who passed away tragically in the Ottawa bus/train crash of September 18, 2013.
Family members Mike, Julie, and Becky were called to the stage where they were joined by Robert’s IBM colleagues Rob, Pete, and Donna for a reveal of the Rob More Good Life Award. The award is in the form of a trophy cup meant to pay tribute to Rob’s love of sports. Formerly known as the Good Life Award, it will continue to be presented annually to up to four LiveWorkPlay members who have reached important life milestones.
As the cup was revealed to Rob’s family and co-workers to thunderous applause, co-leaders Keenan Wellar and Julie Kingstone joked about whether or not the cup should be awarded with beer or champagne inside. The group looked at each other and quickly responded “Fill it with cookies!” This is because Rob was known at IBM for a unique human resources perspective: “If they complain, give them cookies.”
The Rob More Good Life Award will be given out for the first time at Engines of Success in June, and it will indeed be filled with cookies!
The third planned ceremony saw the launch of a new employment video developed by United Way Ottawa, featuring LiveWorkPlay member Matt Suttie and his supervisor Cam Legault from Imperial Coffee. Matt completed a 2013 summer job placement and through his dedication and willingness to learn, earned himself a continuing part-time position with the company.
The video briefly documents this journey and does a wonderful job of explaining how Imperial Coffee and LiveWorkPlay worked together to support Matt’s development and ultimate success as an employee. Get the full story on the United Way Ottawa website.
Matt’s parents Steve and Alison were on hand to watch the video release alongside Matt. Steve shared with the audience that when Matt was born they were told he would never walk or talk. Alison did not take to the microphone, but she later shared that beyond the terrific outcome of obtaining paid employment, she has observed major changes in Matt’s personality, as demonstrated by public speaking in front an audience of 170!
There were also a couple of surprise announcements. Dana Brunelle took to the mic eager to share with everyone that she is starting a volunteer position with a local animal shelter.
The timing was perfect for an announcement by David Keay (a LiveWorkPlay supporter and real estate agent with Keller Williams) that the Realtors Care Foundation is contributing over $2400 to LiveWorkPlay. “I’ve got a cheque for you, and hear it is!” said David, in a speech greatly appreciated by those anxious for the next course of their delicious meal.
Mr. Keay did go on to explain that the grant is to help LiveWorkPlay support access to on call emergency supports to members living in homes of their own. It was a a lovely surprise to round out an evening full of great news heading into the holiday season.