Philanthropy in Ottawa: Farm Boy gives CHEO Foundation one million reasons to smile

BY: Sam Laprade

Who: Farm Boy and its customers
The donation: $1,000,000
The recipient: CHEO Foundation
The inspiration: “CHEO is accomplishing so much for our community, so it was only natural that at Farm Boy we also make children a pillar of support in the Ottawa area.” – J.J. Hochrein, director of marketing, Farm Boy 

When Farm Boy opened its first store in Cornwall, its owners placed a philanthropic spirit at the heart of their business, agreeing from day one to remain community-oriented and give back to causes that touch the lives of local residents.

The company maintained this philosophy as it grew and expanded into new markets such as Ottawa, where for more than 20 years, Farm Boy has supported the CHEO Foundation through fundraising campaigns, lottery prizes, coupon books, CHEO Bear cookies and much more.

This year, Farm Boy and CHEO are marking a milestone: $1 million in total funds raised through their various campaigns. 

“Farm Boy’s support for CHEO goes far beyond cutting us a cheque,” says Kevin Keohane, president and CEO of the CHEO Foundation. “They want to be engaged and ensure the success of anything they get involved in. They engage their customers, staff, partners and suppliers and show a genuine concern for CHEO and the kids we serve.”

Farm Boy’s support for CHEO dates back to the mid-’90s when it would celebrate the opening of new stores by holding fundraising BBQs and making a donation to CHEO.

In 1998, Farm Boy became the presenting sponsor of the Kiwanis Duck Race for Tiny Hearts at CHEO, a role it maintained through 2004 through financial support, prize donations and ticket sales at all local stores.

In 2002, Farm Boy became a sponsor of the CHEO Dream of a Lifetime Lottery, providing “groceries for a year” as part of the grand prize package.

“When you walk into a Farm Boy store, we want you to experience both a local market and our community spirit. That is why our support of CHEO was so important,” says J.J. Hochrein, Farm Boy’s director of marketing. “When we look back and see the amount of dollars, we are very proud of what we have accomplished for children.”

Read article here.

Philanthropy in Ottawa: Construction community rallies behind The Royal Ottawa

BY:Sam Laprade for the Ottawa Business Journal

Who: Ottawa’s construction industry, led by PCL and EllisDon

The donation: $220,000

The recipient: The Royal Ottawa’s C-PROMPT Clinic

The inspiration: “Everyone I spoke with felt they were a part of something special.” –Matthew Rinfret, PCL/ED project director for the Centre Block rehabilitation project

As the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic came into focus this spring, those working and volunteering in the mental health care sector soon realized another crisis was right around the corner.

Many individuals were struggling with their mental health as they confronted job losses, isolation and a general sense of uncertainty. That spurred Ottawa lawyer Gordon Cudney, chair of The Royal Ottawa Foundation, to move swiftly and engage people who understood the importance of innovative mental health supports.

One of the first calls Cudney made was to Matthew Rinfret, the PCL/EllisDon project director for the Centre Block rehabilitation. The two construction heavyweights formed a joint venture to tackle the massive restoration project on Parliament Hill.

“I reached out to Matt reluctantly as I knew all businesses were going to be under a lot of pressure,” says Cudney. “I was not surprised when the reaction was so positive as people recognize the immediate need for mental health solutions in our city.”

Rinfret quickly reached out to several contractors in Ottawa’s generous construction community. Several conversations over a few days in April brought the total amount of donations to $220,000. Electrical contractors, including Ziebarth Electrical, Wired Synergy and Toban Electric, as well as the local union account for approximately $100,000 of the total raised.

“I thought we may raise $25,000. In the end over 40 companies and 20 individuals stepped up for The Royal,” says Rinfret. “The project galvanized the PCL and EllisDon team. We can be competitive in the construction sector, but in this case it was beneficial to the mental health of the people of Ottawa.”


The funds raised by the PCL/ED collaboration will fund the C-PROMPT Clinic at The Royal. This clinic is made up of a multidisciplinary team of mental health nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers who are using a combination of in-person, virtual and mobile consultations to provide assessments, treatment and access to further care.

The Royal has been a leader in mental health research and care in our community for more than 100 years. The Royal Ottawa Foundation plays a critical role in raising funds to support the lives of patients today and for future generations.


Philanthropy in Ottawa is a new monthly feature highlighting notable donations in Ottawa and  is supported by The Foundation (WCPD), an Ottawa-based philanthropic tax planning advisory firm that helps individuals and foundations increase the size and impact of their charitable donations.

Full article here:

Donald Sobey among philanthropists to back ventilator project

Peter Nicholson & WCPD proud to participate in innovative and life-saving effort

Please read article here:

Philanthropists from across the country are rallying to support a team of Canadian physicists and engineers who are part of an international initiative to create an easy-to-build ventilator that can help treat COVID-19 patients.

The ventilator project has been aided by local philanthropist Donald Sobey who was one of the first to support the initiative.

These efforts, led in Canada by Arthur B. McDonald, an emeritus professor at Queen’s University and the co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics, are harnessing the talents of physicists who would normally be spending their time trying to solve the mysteries of dark matter. Since both tasks depend on the precise regulation of gas flow, Dr. McDonald and the project founder, Dr. Cristiano Galbiati in Italy, felt their fellow astroparticle physicists were perfectly positioned to help build up the world’s ventilator supply.

In Canada, Dr. McDonald got instant and continuing participation from the lab directors and teams at TRIUMF Laboratory, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories at Chalk River, SNOLAB, and the McDonald Institute.

The collaboration, now called the MVM Ventilator project, has gained national attention.

This work at such a difficult time for the world has captured the imagination of a dozen Canadian philanthropists who have stepped forward to support the project financially with donations through Queen’s University to the Dr. Art McDonald Ventilator Research Fund.

Sobey is a Queen’s alumnus and the chair emeritus of Empire Company Limited, who made his donation less than 24 hours after receiving a call from fellow Nova Scotian Dr. McDonald.

“Dr. McDonald’s leadership and brilliance in developing a Canadian solution to the global ventilator shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic is inspiring,” says Sobey. “He is one of the leading scientific minds in the world, and a source of pride for all Canadians. But when we spoke about the urgent issues facing his project, I was compelled by the voice of a true humanitarian.”

Sharing Sobey’s enthusiasm for the project are the Lazaridis Family Foundation, The Garrett Family Foundation, Josh Felker, Dan Robichaud, Patricia Saputo, Peter Nicholson, Salvatore Guerrera, and Nicola Tedeschi, as well as four anonymous donors.

“The very generous donations by Donald Sobey and the other philanthropists have been crucial for us to maintain our research at a very critical time in the project. I have been amazed and extremely grateful for their very timely support, as it has enabled our team to push past obstacles towards our goal of producing large numbers of cost-effective ventilators with strong capability for saving lives.”

The MVM Ventilator project is proceeding well toward its goal through successful testing of the ventilator in Italy, Canada, and the US for certification, guided by medical experts. The collaboration team is working with manufacturers who are capable of production at rates up to 1,000 per week in the near future. In Canada, the production companies will be Vexos in Markham, Ont., and JMP Solutions in London, Ont. The development work is published openly and is being carried out with an open source licensing concept, enabling companies around the world to manufacture this design to help with shortages in other countries.

“We are thrilled that so many Canadian philanthropists have been inspired to contribute to the ventilator project,” says Queen’s Vice-Principal, Advancement, Karen Bertrand. “Their generosity is ensuring that more ventilators get in the hands of health-care professionals, and more people receive the treatment they need. This is a graphic illustration of the impact that both research and philanthropy can have on our world.”

Philanthropy in Ottawa: Mierins Family Foundation donates $250K to The Ottawa Hospital Foundation in support of COVID-19 relief efforts

BY: Sam Laprade for the Ottawa Business Journal 


Who: The Mierins Family Foundation
The donation: $250,000 match donation
The recipient: The Ottawa Hospital Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund
The inspiration: “We knew it was not an option to do nothing. We want to show our gratitude to the frontline health-care workers at The Ottawa Hospital.” – Lisa Mierins, Mierins Family Foundation 

When you talk to donors about their generosity, they usually tell a story of human connections and strong relationships. Lisa Mierins is no different.

Mierins, the co-president of the Mierins Family Foundation, has seen the impact of The Ottawa Hospital first-hand through the experiences of her father.
“Since 2013, our father has been in and out of The Ottawa Hospital. Like everyone else seeing globally the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and test kits, my family and I could not imagine the extra pressure this puts on health-care staff,” Mierins says. “It is important to give during a crisis.”

The gift of up to $250,000 is a match donation opportunity for the community. This element of the gift is important to the Mierins family.

“I have always found people in Ottawa to be generous and, during these unprecedented times, we wanted to inspire family, friends and business associates to show their support for frontline health-care workers,” says Mierins. “Whether it is a big or small donation, we all need to step up and make a difference.”

The funds will help patients and staff directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes funding the efforts of researchers to contribute to the global fight against the virus, developing innovative treatments, supporting frontline medical teams and purchasing equipment and supplies as well as contributing to the care and comfort of patients.

“We are absolutely grateful to Lisa and her family, who have been supporters of the hospital for a while now, for their leadership at this challenging time,” says Tim Kluke, president and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. “Lisa’s family acting so quickly and stepping up in a significant way was inspiring.”

Established two years ago, The Mierins Family Foundation is led by Lisa and her brother Arnie as co-presidents and includes her sister-in-law Victoria as well as one of Lisa’s sons, Patrick Bourque. The goal of the foundation is to provide an immediate and lasting impact on the lives of others by supporting programs that challenge the status quo with an innovative approach to caring for others and those with a compelling ability to help people in need.

Philanthropy in Ottawa is a new monthly feature highlighting notable donations in Ottawa.
Share your stories of philanthropy in our community with And be sure to read the latest edition of OBJ’s Giving Guide.