If you were looking to have an intimate conversation, The Starling Restaurant & Bar would not have been your first choice on September 12.
The welcoming brick-and-plant-themed eatery and bar on the Byward Market was host to the first-ever joint meeting of 100 Men Who Care Ottawa and 100 Women Who Care Ottawa, and the mood was, well, buoyant.
More than 100 members from the two groups made new connections, chatted with old acquaintances and laughed a lot before settling down as Ron Smith, from 100 Men, and Sueling Ching, from 100 Women, spoke briefly followed by presentations from the evening’s three charities: Children at Risk, Vista Centre Brain Injury Services and Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Centre.
Children at Risk’s executive director Brenda Reisch explained that the organization provides services to families of children with autism across Ottawa. The pandemic seriously impacted the organization’s ability to deliver programs so important to these children and their families, and financial support has become more important than ever.
Tammy Kuchynski, program director of Vista Centre Brain Injury Services, and Donna Lee Holly, a client, spoke on behalf of that group. The Centre provides an “opportunity to socialize with people with the same challenges as me,” said Holly. “It gets me out of my house; it’s like a family.”
“Where have all the birds gone?” asked Sandra Sawers, executive director of the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Centre, which cares for injured, ill and orphaned birds and advocates on behalf of birds. She said the world has lost billions of birds since the 1970s because of climate change, loss of biodiversity and other causes and that their voices tell us about the health of nature. Ignoring their plight means we run the risk of “silence forever,” a chilling thought.
The centre has purchased a much-needed 17-acre property in the west end of Ottawa and fundraising is helping to pay for the expanded operation.
Eager to lend a hand to others
Among those listening to the evocative presentations was Doug Cody, a long-time member of the men’s group.
“I connected with 100 Men through an old high school buddy who was a member and told me about it,” said Cody before the presentations began. “It’s a chance to learn about charities I don’t know anything about and who deserve help. It’s nice to make a difference.”
The quarterly meetings are also an opportunity to network a little on behalf of his business, he said.
Nearby, Linda McCallum was sitting with a group of ladies. She’s been a member of 100 Women Who Care almost since the group’s inception in 2014.
Echoing Cody’s words, she said she’s been exposed to charities she would never have known about had she not signed up. Referencing the financial struggle so many charities have endured over the course of the pandemic, she added, “We need to speak up more. If government won’t do it, we will.”
A great turnout for three good causes
“The evening was a real success,” said Smith after the crowd dispersed. “I spoke to Sueling and we agree that all our members enjoyed themselves and we know our three charities appreciate our efforts. We look forward to doing something like this again in the future.”
Smith also mentioned the next gathering of 100 Men Who Care will be held at Trattoria Caffé Italia November 15 and that members will receive more information in the coming weeks.
Donations to the September 12 charities by members of 100 Men Who Care can still be made by going to the Events page on this website and using the CanadaHelps link, which ensures the total receipts are accurate and provides an immediate tax receipt. The money raised for the three charities by 100 Men Who Care will be reported to members and added to the grand total since the group launched in 2014.