National Philanthropy Day Award Winners

The 2023 National Philanthropy Day Awards luncheon bestowed seven awards on various individuals and organizations across the Golden Horseshoe, recognizing them for their tireless commitment to advancing philanthropy in our community. 

OUTSTANDING PHILANTHROPIST: ADAM DOERING
Adam Doering, a philanthropic trailblazer, has dedicated himself to combating educational inequality. In 2017, he discovered the Halton Learning Foundation (HLF), an organization committed to removing financial barriers to education for students in the Halton District School Board. Touched by the stories of students facing adversity due to poverty, Adam became a donor, launching his remarkable philanthropic journey.

Motivated by HLF’s mission, Adam persuaded family members to join the cause. His young daughter even organized a snow cone fundraiser. Tragedy struck when his brother, Mark, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2018. In honor of Mark’s legacy, Adam and his family established the “Mark Doering Thoughtful Fund” with HLF, providing essential necessities to students in need.

Each year on the anniversary of Mark’s passing, Adam rallies friends, colleagues, and family, to give, and to date he has raised an astonishing $192,000. His personal goal is one million dollars to support disadvantaged children through HLF.

Adam’s story serves as a prototype for philanthropy – a testament to the power of passion, motivation, and community connections. His dedication reflects his belief that helping others in need is an obligation, inspired by
his late brother Mark’s legacy.

OUTSTANDING CORPORATION: WORMALD MASSE KEEN LOPINSKI LLP
Wormald Masse Keen Lopinski LLP (WMKL) stands as a beacon of corporate philanthropy, dedicated to catalyzing positive change in Niagara. With a history spanning over 45 years, WMKL is more than just a public accounting firm; it’s a passionate advocate for the well-being of its community.

WMKL’s commitment to charitable endeavors is exemplified through its multi-faceted philanthropic approach, which has touched countless lives locally, nationally, and internationally.

One of the hallmarks of WMKL’s philanthropy is its unwavering support for Hotel Dieu Shaver (HDS) Foundation. When the Celebrity Ice Cup, a vital fundraising event, was canceled due to COVID-19, WMKL swiftly stepped in with a $15,000 donation, ensuring HDS could continue its critical work. This act of generosity showcases WMKL’s dedication to addressing local healthcare challenges.

WMKL’s caring heart extends to many other organizations, including Niagara Children’s Centre, Gillian’s Place, United Way of Niagara, the Niagara Foundation for Family & Children’s Services (FACS), The Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Project SHARE, Community Care – St. Catharines, The Hope Centre – Welland and the West Lincoln Community Care. Each of these organizations has felt the profound impact of WMKL’s unwavering generosity and commitment.

WMKL’s philanthropic spirit isn’t confined to monetary donations. The firm encourages its staff to actively participate in community events, and volunteer. WMKL’s tireless dedication to solving problems through innovative philanthropy makes them a deserving winner of the Outstanding Corporation award at AFP Golden Horseshoe’s National Philanthropy Day. They embody the essence of community support and exemplify the transformative power of compassionate giving.

OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY PARTNER: BELL MEDIA NIAGARA RADIO
Bell Media Niagara Radio Stations which include NewsTalk 610 CKTB, MOVE 105.7, and 97.7 HTZ FM, have been awarded the Outstanding Community Partner at the AFP National Philanthropy Day awards, and for good reason. For over two decades, they’ve been more than partners to the Niagara Children’s Centre; they’ve become family. Their unwavering support, dedication, and innovative approaches to philanthropy have made a profound impact. Through their Help Kids Shine Campaign, they’ve raised over $1.5 million since 2015, transforming the lives of countless children and families in Niagara.

Bell Media Radio’s passion, care, and genuine empathy have inspired a culture of philanthropy throughout the Niagara Region, motivating others to make a difference. They’ve not only contributed financially but also raised awareness about the Centre’s mission, sharing stories of those served and making sure their voices are heard.

Bell Media Radio’s involvement in community events like the Smile Cookies Campaign and the Plasma Car Race has further demonstrated their commitment to the Centre. Their active participation and engagement have mobilized individuals, encouraging them to join our mission. Bell Media Radio’s dedication to philanthropy is more than just a partnership; it’s a heartfelt commitment that has transformed lives and inspired others to do the same.

OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP & FOCUS ON IDEA: BIRCHWAY NIAGARA
Birchway Niagara, a beacon of hope in the heart of the Niagara region, stands at the forefront of outstanding leadership and
commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA).

For years, Birchway Niagara has been a relentless champion for those facing abuse in the Niagara community, particularly women and children. Their tireless efforts in safeguarding and advocating for individuals escaping domestic violence, coupled with the support they offer as these individuals embark on a path towards a brighter future, have been both vital and awe-inspiring.

Recently, Birchway underwent a transformation, transitioning from “Women’s Place” to its current name. This change was more than a rebrand; it was a conscious choice to be more inclusive in their mission and values. The new name and branding underscore their unwavering commitment to inclusivity, reinforcing what our community knows about their impactful work.

OUTSTANDING FUNDRAISING PROFESSIONAL: PEARL VEENEMA, CFRE, FAHP
Pearl F. Veenema is a distinguished leader in the field of healthcare philanthropy, recognized for her remarkable career spanning over 47 years. As the Chief Executive Officer of Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation (HHSF) for 16 of those years, Pearl has become a true champion for providing exceptional and sustainable patient care. Under her leadership, HHSF has achieved outstanding results, raising over $450 million for patient care, research, education, and capital redevelopment.

Throughout her career, Pearl’s leadership qualities have shone brightly. Her leadership is characterized by thoughtfulness, support, and compassion, which she extends through mentorship and coaching relationships with countless professionals in the healthcare philanthropy sector. Pearl’s genuine interest in people, combined with her kindness and generosity, fosters a culture of positivity and gratitude in her professional circle.

Pearl has been a dedicated member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) since 2007, and not only upholds the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice but has also actively served on boards and worked to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing between AFP and other philanthropic organizations.

Pearl’s contributions to the fundraising profession extend to not only teaching and speaking engagements at conferences and events, she is also a published author and a recipient of the prestigious Harold J. (Si) Seymour Award for fostering volunteerism and philanthropy.

OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER IN PHILANTHROPY: ANGELO PALETTA
Angelo Paletta is a passionate volunteer in the Hamilton-Brant-Halton Region. His commitment to giving back to the community has been nothing short of extraordinary, demonstrating his exceptional leadership qualities, visionary approach, and unwavering dedication to uplifting those in need.

In 2016, Angelo and the Paletta Family committed $5 million to support Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation’s (JBHF’s) $60 million Our New Era Campaign to help fund the redevelopment and expansion of Joseph Brant Hospital (JBH). This generous contribution, one of the largest in Burlington’s history, came with a twist – a matching challenge. Angelo and his family pledged to match every donation made to JBHF, dollar-for-dollar up to $5 million, to raise the final $10 million needed to complete the campaign. Angelo worked tirelessly to inspire others to give generously to the campaign, galvanizing the community to not only achieve, but to surpass the campaign goal. With a total of more than $65 million raised, the Our New Era Campaign became Burlington’s largest and most successful fundraising initiative to date.

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the region, Angelo once again stepped up with a unique fundraising initiative he called MOVID-19. The challenge was simple: he wouldn’t shave until the community donated $25,000, which he and his wife, Darlene, would match. The response was overwhelming, with the community rallying behind the cause. Angelo doubled the challenge to $50,000, and with the matching gift the final tally reached $153,800. This initiative showcased not only Angelo’s commitment to local healthcare, but also his ability to inspire others to support critical causes.

Last year, Angelo launched the HorsePower 4 Hospital (HP4H) event, combining his passion for philanthropy with his love for exotic cars. This family-friendly car show raised over $143,000 in its inaugural year. Building on the success of the 2022 event, the 2023 HP4H, under Angelo’s leadership, went even further, raising more than $200,000 for the critical priorities of JBH. Angelo’s ability to blend his personal interests with fundraising efforts demonstrates his innovative approach to philanthropy.

OUTSTANDING YOUTH IN PHILANTHROPY: JAYDEN POLGRABIA
Jayden Polgrabia, at the age of 13, exemplifies the potential of youth-driven philanthropy, earning him the prestigious title of Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy at the AFP National Philanthropy Day awards.

Jayden’s philanthropic journey started when he was 8 years old, hosting a simple lemonade stand outside his family home. However, his ambitions transcended and he aspired to make a meaningful difference in the lives of other children. After diligent research and with a heart full of empathy, Jayden decided to donate the proceeds to the Niagara Foundation for Family and Children’s Services (FACS). His goal was clear – to provide children with the opportunity to experience the joys of summer camp, just as he had.

His fundraising efforts began with a solitary lemonade stand and then blossomed into a community-wide initiative now known as Mountainview LemonAID Day, named after its title sponsor, Mountainview Building Group. Jayden’s vision was to inspire fellow youngsters to host their lemonade stands, all with the purpose of raising funds for FACS Niagara, the Children’s Aid Society of the Niagara Region.

Jayden’s philanthropic contributions are nothing short of remarkable. In just two years, the LemonAID initiative has raised over $185,000, facilitating more than 800 children’s participation in over 2,000 weeks of summer camp experiences. Jayden’s exceptional capacity to mobilize and engage his community, coupled with his relentless advocacy including making presentations to City Councils and doing media interviews, has been pivotal to the initiative’s success.

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: Hernder Picasso Foundation
Outstanding Corporation: Paul C. Armstrong Insurance Brokers
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Pravin Sharma
Outstanding Philanthropists: Doug & June Barber
Small Organization Award for Excellence in Fundraising: ComKids
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Alicia Rolke & Nathan Manners

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: Wise Guys Charity Fund
Outstanding Corporation: Mountainview Homes
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Katherine (Kate) Cressman
Outstanding Philanthropists: Pasquale & Anita Paletta and Bob & Joanne Wordham
Small Organization Award for Excellence in Fundraising: The Darling Home for Kids
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Connor Withers

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: The Hospital Auxiliaries of Niagara Health
Outstanding Corporation: Walker Industries Inc.
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Joseph Mancinelli
Outstanding Philanthropists: Ron & Nancy Clark
Small Organization Award for Excellence in Fundraising: Georgetown Hospital Foundation
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Alex Hilson
Chapter Achievement Award: Roger Ali and Pati Greenwood

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: The Esch Foundation
Outstanding Corporation: Longo’s
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Terry & Bonnie Jackson
Outstanding Philanthropists: Dr. Ronald P. Schlegel and Mr. Ron Joyce
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Jessica Wilson

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: Scleroderma Society of Ontario
Outstanding Corporation: CARSTAR Automotive Canada Inc
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Don Fell
Outstanding Philanthropists: Michael Lee-Chin & Family
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Ethan Golden and Ayden Soares
Outstanding Fundraising Professional: Anissa Hilborn

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: Lyle S. Hallman Foundation
Outstanding Corporation: First Canadian Title Limited
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Ron Foxcroft & Susan Busby
Outstanding Philanthropists: Ken & Marilyn Murray
Small Organization Award for Excellence in Fundraising: Robbie’s Rainbows
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Megan MacLeod

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: The BRIGHT Run Committee
Outstanding Corporation: Tim Hortons Restaurants of Elfrida, Binbrook & Cayuga
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Marilyn McCulloch
Outstanding Philanthropists: The Menich Family
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Braden Marshall
Outstanding Fundraising Professional: Rob Donelson

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: Rotary Clubs of Burlington
Outstanding Corporation: Great Wolf Lodge
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Eve & Peter Willis
Outstanding Philanthropists: Ian & June Cockwell
Small Organization Award for Excellence in Fundraising: Stratford General Hospital Foundation
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Christina Joynt
Outstanding Fundraising Professional: Michael Farrell, FAHP

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: The Zonta Club of Hamilton
Outstanding Corporation: Pioneer Energy LP
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Peter Wilson
Outstanding Philanthropists: Peter Gilgan
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Michael Berlin
Outstanding Fundraising Professional: Tina Triano

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: Rankin Cancer Run & Burlington Caribbean Connection
Outstanding Corporation: Losani Homes Ltd
Outstanding Philanthropists: Viola & Scott Harrison; Brian Humphrey; Bill Watson & Jeanne Elgie-Watson and
The Branscombe Family

Outstanding Foundation or Philanthropic Group: Junior League of Hamilton Burlington & The Madge Group
Outstanding Corporation: The Madge Group
Outstanding Philanthropists: Betty & Bruce Birmingham and Thérèse & Kent Newcomb and The Walker Family and Mary Bales
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: Taylor DeCoste

Outstanding Corporation: Burlington Professional Firefighters Association and Pearson Dunn Insurance
Outstanding Philanthropists: Don Smith and Teresa Cascioli
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy: In Memory of Michael VandenDool