Pillar Nonprofit Network unveils community innovation finalists

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.50.51 PMThe Pillar Community Innovation Awards program is now in its 10th year of sharing stories, inspiring people and recognizing those who are making the London community brighter.

In a shared statement from co-award chairs Harry Joosten and Kathleen Murphy, the stories generated by the nominees speak to the spirit of volunteer service and the accomplishments of a “truly inspirational” group of individuals and organizations.

“While one purpose of these awards is to recognize them,” according to the statement, “Pillar also hopes to stimulate and motivate the rest of us to follow their lead and expand on their contributions, each according to our own capacities and passions.”

At an announcement on Aug. 30, three finalists in each of the four award categories — Community Innovation, Community Leadership, Community Impact and Community Collaboration — were unveiled.

Award recipients will be announced at the awards ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at the London Convention Centre.

Award recipients will receive $2,500 to be directed to their registered charity of choice and a custom-designed award. They will also have their names engraved on the perpetual plaque in the Hudson’s Bay Passageway at the London Central Library.

Details and tickets are available at www.pillarnonprofit.ca.

Community Innovation

  • Parkwood Institute Outpatient Acquired Brain Injury Program

To manage the year-long wait list, the team created a number of innovative treatment groups and educational resources to improve timely access to care at Parkwood and in the community.

  • SafeSpace

Founded in 2009, SafeSpace is a local organization run by volunteers and peer mentors with lived experience of sex work operating a drop in centre in the evenings to provide a safe environment.

  • TVDSB’s GENTLE Reception Centre

Guided Entry to New Teaching and Learning Experiences is a response to the challenge of managing school intake for an unprecedented surge of arriving Syrian families displaced by political, social and economic crisis in their homeland.

Community Leadership

  • John Leitch

Through his work and volunteerism Leitch consistently strives to make the London community safe, vibrant and full of opportunity for everyone.

  • Rachna Sharma

As a youth leader Sharma works to empower others to become involved. Her leadership and dedication to create sustainable changes in underserved communities is inspired by personal experience.

  • Shelley Yeo

Yeo’s leadership spans the sector as she is widely known and is respected as a community leader. She has made positive contributions for addressing issues of homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, family services and more.

Community Impact

  • Coming Out Over Coffee – Family Service Thames Valley

The COOC Support Group started in response to the lack of groups open to LGBT communities’ individuals seeking support to come out to friends, family, neighbours and co-workers in a safe environment.

  • Pathways Skill Development and Placement Centre

For more than 25 years, Pathways has helped individuals in the community overcome multiple barriers to find meaningful employment through job services, placement, skill development programs and social enterprises.

  • The Rotary Club of London

By providing support across dozens of organizations, Rotary inspires groups to be innovative and launch initiatives that address the gaps in the community.

Community Collaboration

  • Intergenerational Choir Project: Alzheimer Society of London & Middlesex, Medway High School and Sisters of St. Joseph

The intergenerational nature of the collaboration brings together youth, seniors and those suffering dementia.

  • London and Area Works

This collaboration builds upon multiple partner strengths, and provides co-ordinated, broad marketing support for employment, training and education organizations.

  • Syrian Family Programming

A collaboration with Cross Cultural Learner Centre and the Boys and Girls Club to provide day-time programming for newly arrived Syrian refugee families and children.




London Convention Centre opens doors to showcase newly renovated space

LCC open houseAfter nine months of renovation work, and almost $5 million spent, the London Convention Centre (LCC) is nearly ready for its close up.

On Aug. 17, LCC opened its doors for a sneak peek open house to allow clients and partners to take a stroll through the newly renovated first floor.

“We really wanted to make sure what we did was leading edge and focused on all the right things,” said Lori Da Silva, LCC CEO and general manager. “From all the research from the event organizers, they’re saying flexibility, natural light, and multiple opportunities for people to connect and share. We’re delighted, especially because we were able to do that.”

October 2015, the LCC began renovation aimed at creating more modern, flexible and accessible spaces.

In just nine months, according to Darrin Pollard, LCC director of business development, the space has been transformed into a space that will impress local, provincial, national and even international audiences.

The new space will be put to the test in early September, when the LCC plays host to the Canadian Country Music Association.

“The exciting part is we were able to take our space and make it more flexible, more accessible, more modern, upgraded style really,” Pollard said. “With this renovation, our first major renovation since we opened in 1993, this is 23 years into that, is making us more competitive. We will have more options for our clients.”

The transformation of the LCC’s ground floor includes many highlights.

The former theatre was completely transformed in what Pollard calls “one of the major project spaces.”

The formerly tiered seating theatre was levelled flat into one fixed room with space for 150 people. It can also be divided — through the use of the new inflatable air walls — into two breakout spaces, holding from 50-75 people in each.

The ground floor now has a central foyer, which had previously served as administrative offices and smaller boardrooms.

The space can be converted into three separate boardrooms, each completely enclosed. The whole area can also be closed off for a private event, such as a cocktail reception or tradeshow.

The rooms on the ground floor, which we used to call Salon A and Salon B, used to be about 12 ft. smaller. Now, Pollard said, LCC has the flexibility, with the new air walls and layout, to divide into four rooms with extra lighting features, upgraded wood trim and sound protection.

“It’s been a fun and challenging nine months for our team, but we’re really happy with the results,” he said. “It has a modern, big city feel. It was a very functional building; a very well built building. We’ve just elevated it to the next level.”

That next level was achieved with a price tag of just under $5 million.

The project included a $700,000 grant from FedDev Ontario, about $2 million of the LCC’s own funds and a $2 million loan from the City of London.

For Da Silva, it was money well spent.

“Obviously we needed to modernize the look and feel. People are paying for what they see and feel and touch,” she said. “We’re comparing ourselves to some buildings that are brand new. It’s an expensive capital investment to maintain a building like this, but that’s how you stay in the game.”

The official ribbon cutting ceremony will be hosted during the LCC’s annual Ambassador Awards on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

Golden Globe winning actor Idris Elba headlines Leaders in Innovation Dinner

ElbaAcclaimed actor Idris Elba is the featured guest for the 2016 Leaders in Innovation Dinner, hosted by Western University’s Robarts Research Institute.

This year’s dinner, which celebrates research excellence in the field of chronic lung disease, takes place on Thursday, Nov. 10, at the London Convention Centre.

“Leaders in Innovation will provide us with an exciting opportunity to recognize and celebrate important research advances being made in asthma research right here at the Robarts Research Institute,” said Marlys Koschinsky, executive and scientific director at Robarts. “I am confident that Idris Elba’s viewpoints on this disease will motivate us to continue to push ahead with leading edge research to improve asthma diagnosis, management and treatment.”

The UK superstar continues to captivate audiences and secure his position as the one to watch in Hollywood, with a string of well-received performances in high-profile films as well as multiple critically acclaimed television series.

Elba showcases his versatility both on-screen in television and film as well as behind the camera as a producer and director.

His most notable roles include John Luther in the crime series drama Luther, drug baron Russell “Stringer” Bell on the HBO series The Wire, and Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

He most recently appeared in Zootopia, The Jungle Book, and Star Trek Beyond.

At the dinner he will be in London, not to promote his latest movie, but instead to share his story as a chronic asthma sufferer to help bolster awareness and advocate for research into chronic lung disease.

In 2013 Elba was rushed to hospital after suffering an asthma attack on a plane.

He will shed light on this complex disease as part of an armchair discussion with Heather Hiscox, the evening’s Master of Ceremonies and an anchor with the CBC News Network.

The Leaders in Innovation Dinner also includes the presentation of the 2016 J. Allyn Taylor International Prize to renowned asthma researchers Dr. Stephen Holgate from the University of Southampton in the UK and Dr. Malcolm Sears from McMaster University’s Department of Medicine.

The Taylor Prize is named after the founding chair of the board at Robarts, and includes a cash prize of $25,000 and a medal bearing the likeness of J. Allyn Taylor. The C. H. Stiller Memorial Foundation, and the family of the late J. Allyn Taylor, support the award.

Tickets are $250 per person or $2,000 for a table of eight. Tickets can be purchased online at www.robarts.ca/leaders-innovation.