It was a historical year in more ways than one. It was of course our 20th anniversary year, and yes, that story makes our list below. It was also a year in which those two decades of hard work positioned the organization for the significant growth that was experienced through our ability to help more individuals, to develop more community partners, and to contribute in particular to helping people in situations that are complex and perhaps not best served by more traditional systems approaches. That’s a mouthful, and you won’t see it in our top fifteen – at least not directly – because it is embedded in our daily work, and is now a part of the internal and external identity of LiveWorkPlay for 2016 and onward.
Our top fifteen methodology comes from analytics taken from our blog, Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter account, LinkedIn page and group, and mailing lists. These yield statistics such as the number of likes, shares, and opens, which Keenan Wellar synthesized into a ranking system. “Remaining unchanged this past year and for the foreseeable future, when it comes to online engagement, it’s all about Facebook for LiveWorkPlay supporters,” says Keenan. “For example, as many as 6000 users have viewed individual photos on our Facebook page. But it all works together. Our Facebook page is often a launch site to other channels, and vice-versa.”
Tim Becomes Shopifolk
Tim Siebrasse joining the staff team at Shopify in December created the most single-day buzz of the entire year. In addition to Shopify being a unique and celebrated local success story, Tim clearly has built up a ton of social capital and people were in the mood to celebrate his achievement. A day to remember.
Not all news is good news, and we mourned the passing of Emma Jean Francis Berringer on July 28 at just 24 years of age. There are no words or actions to reduce the pain of such a tragedy, but the celebration of Emma’s life demonstrated (in ways that surprised even her own family members) the breadth and depth of the relationships that Emma had developed and the positive impact she had on the lives of others.
Alqonquin PR Students Make A Buzz
This adventure is not over yet, but the initial team of Algonquin College Public Relations students did such a great job competing throughout November with fellow students that LiveWorkPlay has already received significant new public exposure. After winning the competition, a broader team is now in place and will be developing awareness and fundraising events for later winter and early spring: stay tuned!
Memories Made At Engines Of Success 2015
It was an epic evening, and the media tour with headliner Al Condeluci as well as the publicity aftermath kept this story going strong for several days in a row. Certainly having 350 in attendance at this June 4th celebration of our 20th year helped, but active tweeting prompted by the lively MC work of Derick Fage, the Caroline Phillips write-up in the Ottawa Citizen, and airing of the event on Rogers Television “Podium” ensured that the story was shared with thousands of others. There were many highly celebrated awards, but certainly the presentation to volunteers (includes surprises!) was one of the highlights of this glorious night.
Book Launch & Open House
Based on the enthusiasm of the Engines of Success 20th anniversary celebration, a commemorative book “The Courage to Fail, the Will to Succeed: Twenty Years of the LiveWorkPlay Experience 1995-2015” was published in August and celebrated with a book launch event on September 8th that doubled as an open house for the new LiveWorkPlay office at 2197 Riverside. What was expected to be a small gathering turned into a packed house with Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Jean Cloutier getting the party going, and plenty of laughter and applause after Keenan Wellar delivered a reading from the book entitled “What I learned from Paul.”
The announcement of Alex Darling’s job title change in February from “Volunteer Coordinator” to “People Connector” generated a surprising amount of interest, but our search for the best way to explain her role in facilitating relationships between LiveWorkPlay members and other citizens resonated strongly, especially with others doing similar work. “It’s proven a great conversation-starter for orientations and presentations because it sends the right message a great conversation-starter for orientations and presentations because it sends the right message,” says Alex.
The annual supported travel excursion to Club Med Turkoise (Turks and Caicos) back in January had our Facebook page statistics spiking all week long! And why not, the photos are great, and the smiles are unforgettable. The best news of all, our travel FAQ has inspired other organizations to explore travel support options for their members. The trip video received 1000+ views on YouTube alone.
Wishing Wafer Well
It’s great when sharing news about inclusion champions from outside of our organization attracts attention. Although the name Mark Wafer would not be new to anyone who has been following issues related to employment and people with disabilities, our story about Mr. Wafer’s receipt of the international Henry Viscardi Achievement Award was shared widely on Facebook and LinkedIn, as Mark’s many contacts jumped on board to congratulate him on this well deserved recognition as an employer who leads by example. Mark also made the unofficial Top 20 for this contribution in the Toronto Star that generated 5000 views on our Facebook page.
Exposing Sheltered Workshops & Segregation
This story was a year-long saga, and yet, it’s really just the beginning. After initial exposure related to one of Ottawa’s biggest sheltered workshops, there was an awakening within the Developmental Services sector and the broader community. It started with questions about $1/hour wages, but soon grew into a broader conversation about segregation and exclusion, and ultimately to the landmark announcement that the front door to Ontario’s sheltered workshops is now closed! LiveWorkPlay was one of the few Developmental Services organizations in Ontario that spoke out publicly about these issues and we are pleased to have contributed to this ongoing social change.
Amazing People Popular
The CTV Ottawa Amazing People feature might have been a tad embarrassing for Julie Kingstone and Keenan Wellar, but there was no denying that it helped many new people and organizations discover LiveWorkPlay. It’s always great to make new friends! Between the television features and the live event, it was a lot of positive attention. “I was on my way to a conference and the security staff at the airport stopped me,” remembers Julie. “I thought I was going to be searched but he just wanted me to know that he saw the Amazing People feature with Leanne Cusack and congratulated me on 20 years of great work. I was flabbergasted!”
A Blast In Beantown
NORM! That’s an inside joke that will live on forever for any of the 60 passengers on the Ottawa Valley Tours trip to Cape Cod and Boston in May. Ten of those passengers were LiveWorkPlay members, and they can confirm that bus tours are a great way to explore new sights and cities while at the same time making new friends. Check out this short video for a taste of what it’s all about!
Pool Party Grand Finale
Along with the annual New Year’s Eve party, the annual BBQ Blast-Off Pool Party was one of our longest-standing traditions. You will note the use of “was” because the Harris family announced that the 2015 edition will be the last – their pool had reached the end of its lifespan and they decided to expand the lawn. This year’s June 13 event was popular not only with attendees, but also with Facebook observers with more than 5000 views!
Gratitude For The Life Of Judith Snow
Although not a formal member of the LiveWorkPlay community, anyone interested in the cause of inclusion and many other positive social change initiatives mourned the loss of Judith Snow with her passing on June 1. After we posted a tribute quotation from one of her blogs it was circulated widely across all internet platforms and generated significant awareness in the Twitterverse.
Heather Goes Federal
A snapshot of Heather McAdam taking a new job with a branch of Employment and Social Development Canada and then a second photo from HRSDC Service Canada celebrated her pioneering spirit in employment, not only as an individual, but as a tremendous ambassador for the LiveWorkPlay employment team in working to build the already strong case for inclusive hiring practices.
An AGM? Really?
Yes, you know you are truly blessed as a non-profit organization when your Annual General Meeting is not only well-attended, but is pretty joyful experience that generates a lot of internal and external interest. That said, it was still a bit of a surprise to find 3000+ views of the AGM photo album and to see that our AGM materials have been downloaded by hundreds of people!
One reservation from Keenan regarding the list above: it doesn’t mean any stories or people or events not mentioned are unimportant or without value. “If we put together a list of honourable mentions, it would go on for many pages. This top fifteen provides some examples of stories that generated a lot of attention, but in fact there are many very important stories that for reasons of confidentiality cannot be shared publicly. With all that in mind, it is useful to reflect on the year gone by and these stories were certainly representative of important themes we are sure to see again.”