Last fall’s Diwali Gala was an extravaganza of lights, music and dance held at a fancy convention centre and organized by members of the Network of Indian Professionals (NetIP) Canada.
The cultural celebration also had a philanthropic component to it by raising money for the Queensway Carleton Hospital. It's working to drastically improve its mental health unit, which hasn't had any renovations or enhancements since the hospital first opened in 1976. Yet, the number of adults needing acute mental health services at the QCH continues to soar.
On Monday, a ceremonial cheque for $7,500 raised from the gala in October was presented by NetIP Canada president Sid Kumar and his team to the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation.
The QCH Foundation's Hopes Rising campaign has reached $3.2 million of its $5-million goal since its official launch two years ago.
Present for the cheque ceremony were Lee Pigeau, director of philanthropy for the QCH Foundation, alongside Dr. Kathi Kovacs, chief of psychiatry, and Domenic Ielo, clinical director of critical care and mental health.
Giving back to the community and having a sense of belonging is good for one’s mental health, Dr. Kovacs pointed out while thanking NetIP Canada for its contributions. As Nobel Prize recipient, Holocaust survivor and legendary psychiatrist Viktor Frankl believed, we find meaning in our lives by helping others, she noted.
“That’s exactly what you’ve done. You got together as a group and you looked to see where you could make an impact and what you could do."
The physical transformation of the mental health unit is slated to begin in September. The renovations will address safety concerns for patients and staff, create a common area for families to come together, and also make it easier for patients to find privacy when they need it.
“It’s really about getting an atmosphere of healing,” Pigeau told the room. “We all know we feel better when we can see the sun outside on a day like today. Imagine being in the worst possible mood you’ve ever been in ... and being in a dark room.
“We want to have natural light. We want to be able to share the outside with our patients.”
Attendees included prominent businessman Cuckoo Kochar from gala sponsor Phoenix Homes. Kochar, who was among the community leaders inducted into NetIP's Hall of Fame, praised NetIP for its dedication and hard work.
Also out to show support were Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health president and CEO Mitchell Bellman and Dr. Zul Merali, president and CEO of The Royal's Institute of Mental Health Research.