Each year, the National Philanthropy Day committee welcomes nominations from the public in recognition of an individual or business that has made outstanding contributions to the community.
This year, because of COVID-19, is very different. The committee decided to postpone their regular six awards categories and come up with something new.
The committee decided to create the Giving Hearts Community Honour Roll, which celebrates the outstanding acts of individuals, nonprofits, organizations, businesses and community groups.
Charlene Smith, the Victoria Chair of National Philanthropy Day, says that the honour roll is an opportunity for community members to recognize and appreciate their neighbours, friends, local changemakers and those who have “really stepped up during these unprecedented times.”
“The Association of Fundraising Professionals is asking the entire community to submit names of generous individuals, groups and organizations to be featured in our video, and online so that they can receive a certificate of appreciation that really highlights everything they’ve done for our community,” said Smith.
Meanwhile, Tanya Smith, manager of community investment for Coast Capital Savings, knows this is a special year for this event.
“Coast Capital has been involved with National Philanthropy Day since 2013, but now it feels more important than ever to really pause, and reflect, and celebrate all of the changemakers in our community that are really helping to invest in building stronger communities,” said Smith.
Nominations are open until Sept. 15. and recipients will be celebrated on National Philanthropy Day on Nov. 15.
Among those who have already been nominated are good friends Joanna Witham and Katharine McCallion.
Witham remembers receiving the news of the nomination, while she was busily managing orders for T-shirts the two had created.
“Next thing I know, I have a phone call from Charlene Smith, saying ‘we’ve nominated you for the Giving Hearts Honour Roll’ and I’m like ‘oh my gosh, thank you so much. That’s just, wow.’ We were both very taken aback, and we were very honoured and humbled.”
Earlier this year, the two women created a T-shirt campaign to honour Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“Back in March, when everything happened, we were all watching Dr. Bonnie Henry basically every single day in her press conferences, and Katharine and I would basically talk about how inspiring she was,” said Witham, later adding. “We had a friend help us with the designs, and then it just took off from there.”
More than 3,000 shirts were sold and both the women were stunned by how much they resonated with the public.
“I honestly expected that my parents would order all of our T-shirts,” says McCallion “So the fact that anyone else ordered them was amazing. We sold T-shirts to different people in B.C., and even across the country. Even some members of Dr. Bonnie’s team contacted us and ordered some T-shirts.”
Both women feel strongly about the important work being done at Rainbow Kitchen and directed all proceeds from shirt sales to the non-profit organization, which provides hot lunch to people in Esquimalt.
“We serve a hot lunch to anybody in need in our community. Every weekday, 52 weeks of the year, no questions asked,” said Rainbow Kitchen’s director Patrick Johnstone.
Rainbow Kitchen was serving up to 120 lunch guests every day, but then COVID-19 hit.
“All of a sudden our guests were finding services in the community limited, so we instantly offered a second portion for dinner,” said Johnstone, adding. “Which, of course, is an extra draw on our in-kind donations, and we’re going through food faster, we’re going through money faster.”
That’s was why the receiving money from the Witham and McCallion’s campaign was such a huge boost, at such a difficult time.
“What an incredible fundraiser. To have a donation of what has come out to be about $60,000 dollars, well, that’s three months worth of revenue for us to keep going,” said Johnstone.