For the past 10 years, Graham Macmillan has dedicated his time and energy to giving all kids in our community equal access to opportunities and possibilities, through his leadership as chair of the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.
His valuable contributions to the non-profit organization were recognized at its 8th annual fundraising breakfast held Thursday at its Ron Kolbus Clubhouse in the city’s west end. It brought more than 250 business leaders and supporters together and raised more than $175,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.
Macmillan, who was managing director at RBC Capital Markets for the majority of his career, followed by several years as president of Walton Asset Management, has raised millions of dollars and led three capital campaigns for the cause. The club has also experienced phenomenal growth over the past decade. The number of children and youth who are part of the BGC of Ottawa family has nearly doubled to 4,500, and the number of annual visits by kids has grown from 10,000 in 2009 to 114,000 in 2016. As well, Macmillan was part of the rebranding of the organization's new tagline: Belong, believe, achieve.
Macmillan, who’s been the head of the board for the past nine years, will pass the baton at the end of this month to one of our city’s most prominent restaurateurs, Stephen Beckta. He, too, is a passionate supporter of the Boys and Girls Club, having benefitted from its support and programs while growing up in Centretown.
“I know the power of this very special place with really caring people who truly want to see its kids succeed,” Beckta said of an organization dedicated to providing a safe and supportive environment where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life.
He credited Macmillan and executive director Colleen Mooney for helping the Boys and Girls Club evolve from being only a place to keep kids out of trouble after school “to one of the most profound vessels for delivering positive social change in our community. Kids who visit the club today are given the mentorship and tools they need to succeed socially, academically and physically in the most powerful years.”
Looking ahead, the organization is planning to rejuvenate its Police Youth Centre location on Prince of Wales Drive. It was originally built as a fire station more than 50 years ago but has become too cramped for the 120 kids who visit daily (it only has one bathroom stall for the girls).
Breakfast attendees included Liza Mrak from presenting sponsor Mark Motors, Mike McGahan chief executive of CLV Group, award-winning architect Barry Hobin and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, MP for Ottawa Centre. Harley Finkelstein, COO of Shopify, turned out. So did Fiona McKean, owner of Opinicon Resort and wife of Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke, who was at home on daddy duty at that early hour.
Guests weren’t required to buy tickets but were encouraged to make a pledge in support of the cause. Over the past eight years, the breakfast has raised $1.3 million.
Gary Zed, managing partner of EY and a board member with the Boys and Girls Club, offered to personally match all special gifts made in honour of Macmillan, up to $50,000. His generosity proved contagious; Macmillan and his wife, Katie, then offered to do the same.
During the breakfast, the crowd was entertained by a slick-looking rap music video based on an original song written and performed by some of the kids from the Boys and Girls Club and recorded at the clubhouse studio, with professional help.