Philanthropy in Ottawa: Board members step up for Bruyère Foundation

Mark White and Daniel Fernandes
Mark White, the vice-president of leasing at Colonnade BridgePort, at left with local lawyer and Bruyère Foundation chair Daniel Fernandes. (Photo by Mark Holleron)
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Who: Couples Mark White and Crystal Barrington as well as Daniel Fernandes and Sandra Guttman  

The donation: $124,000

The recipient: Bruyère Foundation

The inspiration: “Bruyère is where people get their life back. The need is great. In my own family, we have experienced the compassion, expertise and innovative programs at Bruyère.” – Mark White 

In 2017, Mark White – vice-president of leasing at Colonnade BridgePort – joined the board of the Bruyère Foundation at the encouragement of his business associate and friend, Ottawa lawyer Daniel Fernandes. White was thrilled to help Fernandes, who also serves as chair of the Bruyère Foundation, raise important funds.  

As White became more involved in the foundation, he realized quickly how important and complex its work was in the Ottawa community. While many people know of Bruyère's palliative care services, the Bruyère Foundation’s mandate is much broader and also includes supporting a family health team, services for seniors and vulnerable populations, rehabilitation and innovative research. 

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Tragedy struck in March 2018, when White’s wife, Crystal Barrington, suffered two minor strokes with devastating cognitive implications. Barrington was referred to Bruyère for outpatient occupational and speech therapy as well as the Bruyère Memory Program, where she was monitored for 18 months before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

White never imagined his family would be so significantly affected by an organization that he had just recently joined as a board member. He became even more determined to ensure the Bruyère Foundation had the resources to care for people today and in the future. 

White and Barrington joined forces with Fernandes and his wife, Sandra Guttmann, to make generous gifts to show their personal commitments to Bruyère. Through the use of flow-through share donations, each couple donated $62,000. 

“People can make financial donations, but if you discover you are passionate about the organization and their impact, that is where you truly make a lasting commitment,” White says. “The need is only growing. Crystal and I witnessed first-hand the amazing work at Bruyère, so our gift was a natural next step.” 

Fernandes says his family has also been directly touched by the care of Bruyère’s staff.

“They are truly amazing at helping patients believe in themselves again,” he says. “In my family’s case, two elderly people are living independently because of the innovative care at Bruyère. Technology, innovation and research are the keys to thinking smarter about health care.”

On Nov. 12, the foundation will host its annual Life Changing Breakfast to raise funds to support the critical role the organization plays in the region’s health-care system.

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