It was a truly a memorable night with much laughter and a few tears. With Rogers TV on hand to record the proceedings, we can relive the excitement on June 17 at 9:00 pm when it airs for the first time on Podium. If the date or time changes, we’ll let you know on The LiveWorkPlay News!
In the meantime, check out this fabulous photo-filled article in the Ottawa Citizen online and the newspaper version that appeared on Monday! You can also see how the evening played out on Twitter with this collection on Storify.
From the moment Fraser Maher piped us in and town crier Daniel Harris brought him to the podium, MC Derick Fage won over the audience with his genuine passion for LiveWorkPlay, what it stands for, and what it means to the Ottawa community and beyond.
But in addition to an epic trip down memory lane, this night was about celebrating what individuals and organizations from the community have brought to LiveWorkPlay over the past 20 years.
Guest speaker Al Condeluci from Pittsburgh brought his message of social capital and inclusive communities to town, and the audience listened carefully to every word. His message helped make connections between the daily work of LiveWorkPlay and how it contributes to changing the world. It’s about reducing barriers and supporting reciprocity so what people with intellectual disabilities have in common with other citizens becomes much more important than how their disability label makes them different.
Al was later honoured alongside Mike Coxon from Mills Community Support as Legacy Volunteer Mentor to LiveWorkPlay. Volunteers Kayleigh Wong and Andrea Saldhanha were honoured for their contributions in the modern era of LiveWorkPlay volunteerism, while Pennie Styan was celebrated as a living legend volunteer dating back to the 1990s! Involved for almost as long as Pennie, lawyer Mitchell Leitman got started with an auction donation, which somehow turned into serving as a board member, but also extensive work behind the scenes, providing extensive pro bono legal services and referrals for more than a decade.
There were also two surprises during the volunteer recognition ceremony. Former volunteers Colin Trethewey and Cyndi Edwards, were cleverly “beamed in” to the situation by video from Florida, where they now reside. Former colleagues of the Ottawa media scene, they announced Derick Fage as recipient of the Celebrity Volunteer Award, much deserved for his many years of hosting and auctioneering duties at Recipe for Success and other special events.
The other surprise caught LiveWorkPlay chair Cecelia Taylor flatfooted as our Town Crier announced that a Rabbi was urgently required. Rabbi Bulka emerged and took over the podium, and began providing information about a person that was to receive a United Way Ottawa Community Builder Award. Cecelia’s face evolved from curiosity to dawning apprehension as the facts of her own volunteerism in the community and long legacy of support to LiveWorkPlay were revealed to the delight of a cheering audience.
One of the more random events of the night saw the positive disruption of the Housing Partner awards. As representatives from Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation and Nepean Housing accepted their awards, the stage was suddenly flooded with all of the LiveWorkPlay members who live in their quality affordable homes. The raw enthusiasm was the best possible means of demonstrating what a home of their own means to the people we support.
The impromptu housing celebration transitioned into the awarding of the annual My Own Home $200 bursary to this years recipients Scott Maher and Patrick Doyle. Co-sponsors David Keay Keller Williams Realty and Wellar Consulting (Barry Wellar) were clearly thrilled to see these latest two moves push the total to 41 since the establishment of the bursary 7 years ago.
Councillor Scott Moffatt presented a 20 year certificate on behalf of the Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson, followed by Keith Dee from Community Living Ontario who also shared a brief speech commemorating the mutually beneficial relationship, and MPP Madeleine Meilleur contributed to the celebration by video.
The family member recognition ceremony featuring the Harris, McBride, and Keay-Hudak families produced a few tears with trips down memory lane to remember the early days of LiveWorkPlay, pool parties with broken diving boards, and so much more. This was followed up by a heartfelt celebration of families led by Julie Kingstone with her closing remarks later in the evening.
Selecting just three employers to be recognized for Legacy Employer Awards was a difficult task, but TD Bank, Dow Honda, and The Parliament Cleaning Group stood out for their comprehensive involvement with LiveWorkPlay. They not only provide jobs in an inclusive workplace, but each have been involved in supporting the organization’s mission in multiple ways. With the precedent having been set with the housing awards, employees from the three businesses crowded onto the stage to take part in the ceremony.
Community Partner recognition was the most challenging category of all, given the breadth and depth of organizations that are involved with sports and education and every other conceivable community engagement that does not fit with housing or employment.
The choices of United Way Ottawa, St. Anthony’s Banquet Hall, and Meals on Wheels Ottawa were the wonderful examples chosen to represent this category. In different ways, each has contributed to major transformations in the organization. Perhaps taken for granted over the years, the recognition of St. Anthony’s Banquet Hall was a chance to rectify that oversight. As home to an incredible FIFTY events over the past 7 years, the turnout of some 340 people to Engines of Success definitely has much to do with the welcoming atmosphere and great food we’ve all enjoyed together over the years.
Following an airing of the CTV Ottawa “Amazing People” video the staff recognition ceremony hosted by founders and co-leaders Julie Kingstone and Keenan Wellar was made memorable not only by the great people on the stage and some entertaining references to Star Wars, but also by the lack of space on the stage and the complications of handing out bouquets to 13 people! A highlight was the audience response as Keenan challenged the audience that if the collective of Grace Hudson, Allison Moores, and Jen Bosworth represented Obi Wan Kenobi, then with 15 years of service, who did Daniel Harris represent? The answer came quickly: YODA!
Closing out the evening were the Ambassador and Rob More Good Life awards, to Cooper Gage and Caroline Matte. With a focus this year on those with lengthy years of contributions to LiveWorkPlay, Cooper and Caroline were ideal examples. Cooper has been a spokesperson for the LiveWorkPlay mission for some 15 years, and he’s truly done it all, from helping sell wooden reindeer to media spokesperson.
Caroline has had a life journey that exemplifies what the More family had in mind with the establishment of this award in honour of their son Rob, a former LiveWorkPlay member who died tragically in the Ottawa bus-train crash of 2013. Caroline was joined on stage by Jennifer Cunningham, who shared an apartment with Caroline during her transition out of an institutional residence. Despite many ups and downs, over time Caroline gathered the confidence to move to a home of their own.
Believe it or not, this is just a quick summary! You can see the live photos here, follow these links to see all of the slides from the evening, catch the historic photo show, and get the full explanation of the awards and recipients with the speaking notes!
You can also hear what Al Condeluci and Keenan Wellar had to say on their June 4 media tour with Rogers TV, 580 CFRA, and CBC 91.5.