One of Ottawa’s most prominent architecture firms has drawn up some well-thought-out blueprints for benevolence by matching all new donations made to four local charities that it has identified as vital to the community.
Hobin Architecture is supporting BGC Ottawa (Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa), Cornerstone Housing for Women, Multifaith Housing Initiative and The Ottawa Mission. It has pledged to match donations, up to a total of $10,000 per beneficiary, made by the end of June.
To stimulate new support, the company is asking that the giving comes from individuals who have not donated to these charities in the past. By all means, donors should name-drop Hobin Architecture when they’re donating their dollars in order to double the impact.
The campaign, You Give, We Give, is part of Hobin Architecture’s belief in supporting its community, said founding partner Barry Hobin.
“It’s one of our core values,” he added. “We hold ourselves accountable to it.”
Due to the company’s ongoing success, he added, the mid-sized firm of 40 staff has decided over the past couple of years to "increase our charitable giving" beyond its usual 10 per cent of the bottom line.
Hobin, one of the best-known architects in town, has garnered a long list of awards and accolades over his 42-year career. He was inducted last fall into the Order of Ottawa, alongside his friends and mentors, Rev. Anthony Bailey from his church, Parkdale United, and graphic designer Dave O’Malley.
Three of the four charities that Hobin Architecture is supporting are faith-based and help to provide emergency shelter, supportive housing or affordable housing.
“It’s about recognizing organizations within our community that actually make a difference,” said Hobin. “We’re just doing our part, and it would be great if everyday people might want to come alongside."
"We’re just doing our part, and it would be great if everyday people might want to come alongside."
Charitable giving in Canada has been declining since before the COVID-19 crisis. While some citizens have been “incredibly generous” during the pandemic, said Hobin, societal numbers are falling off, gradually.
“It’s endemic of a popular culture where we tend to focus inwardly, as opposed to thinking about our place on the planet, our obligation to the community."
Hobin and the Hobin Architecture team have been long-time friends to BGC Ottawa, said the organization's chief executive officer, Adam Joiner. The company is doing the design work for the organization's new clubhouse on Heatherington Road. It was also involved with the renovations of the Tomlinson Family Foundation Clubhouse on Prince of Wales Drive and the Don McGahan Clubhouse on McArthur Avenue. BGC Ottawa offers free recreational and skill development programs for thousands of youth living in low-income and marginalized neighbourhoods.
“Hobin is an example of a dedicated community partner, invested in the health and wellness of our city and residents,” said Joiner.
Hobin Architecture was instrumental in helping Cornerstone Housing for Women land the property at 373 Princeton Ave. in Westboro that now provides safe, supportive housing for women at risk for homelessness. Hobin was able to appreciate the work that Cornerstone was doing to help women in Ottawa find housing, said Cornerstone’s resource development manager, Amber Bramer.
“Barry and his company truly understand the importance of community collaboration and giving back in order to strengthen our neighbourhoods and create a welcoming place for all," she said.
The impact of COVID-19 on The Ottawa Mission has been “enormous,” said CEO Peter Tilley. “Both in term of added costs for items, such as PPE to keep employees, volunteers and clients safe while we deliver desperately needed services, and also in terms of the increased number of very vulnerable people who have turned to us for help during this time.”
Matching campaigns like the one launched by Hobin Architecture are “essential” in helping The Ottawa Mission meet the needs of its clients, said Tilley while expressing his gratitude to Hobin Architecture for its support. Gord Lorimer, a long-time partner at the architecture firm, is a board member with The Ottawa Mission, which helps the homeless and hungry through its programs and services.
Steve Clifford, who’s in charge of marketing and communications at Hobin Architecture, said the company normally makes donations to nonprofit organizations on behalf of its employees. The "You Give, We Give" matching gift campaign is a first, he said.
“We’re hoping it becomes something that happens every year. That’s our goal.”
Hobin, who is a proud alumnus of Carleton University's school of architecture, said the firm continues to remain very busy during the pandemic, although projects are moving along more slowly due to pandemic-related delays with construction and the planning and approval process.
“If anything I’d say it’s been stressful,” said Hobin of the inability for team members to collaborate and share ideas like they're used to doing, face to face. “Our staff are generally trying to do the best they can.”