Red & White Foodie Fundraiser for Harmony House a blooming success

Multi-chef cocktail party raises $72,000 for second-stage women's shelter for survivors of domestic violence

Editor's Note

OBJ.social is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors and Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties® Inc. Read their stories here.

It was a night to stop and smell the roses at Harmony House’s 15th Annual Red & White Food Fundraiser: She Flourishes, a sold-out event that offered its 250 attendees a lovely multi-chef cocktail party surrounded by a leafy plant and floral paradise.

After a three-plus year break, the event was finally back on Thursday to raise $72,000 in tickets, donations, auction items and sponsorship to help survivors of domestic violence.

 

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Award-winning executive chef, restaurateur and philanthropist Joe Thottungal in culinary action at the 15th Annual Red and White Food Fundraiser: She Flourishes held for Harmony House at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The evening featured cooking demonstrations, live music, guest speakers, bidding items and plenty of opportunity to soak up the sunset and views of the Ottawa River from this year’s venue, 50 Sussex. Long-time supporter and executive chef David Godsoe, culinary director of the E18hteen Hospitality Group, and executive chef Joe Thottungal, owner of Coconut Lagoon and Thali restaurants, headlined the event. A volunteer group of women consisting of Sue Finlay, Penny Shroeder, interior architecture and design consultant Tania Kratt, Across Ottawa Home Staging & Interiors chief stylist Allison Ross worked their magic and imagination to create a beautiful botanical tapestry.

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and his wife, Ginny, attended. So did Ottawa city councillor Theresa Kavanagh (Bay Ward). Ottawa Board of Trade board vice chair Brendan McGuinty, from Strategies 360, joined his wife, Catherine James-McGuinty, who’s on the board of directors for Harmony House. Also seen was lawyer Iwona Albrecht, a partner at Soloway Wright LLP, enjoying a night out with her close friend Leigh Harris from KPMG and their respective husbands. Finlay’s other half is well-known developer Jonathan WesteindeCEO and founder of Windmill Development Group. It was one of the gold sponsors. Two of their three daughters, Kyla and Savannah,  volunteered at the Red and White event that night. They helped to make the delicate rose flower crowns worn by many of the attendees.  Also helping out was Sammy Moonsammy, CEO of Lucky Book Publishing, as emcee while Ottawa business leader and visual artist Andrew Milne donated one of his paintings to the auction to help raise money for the cause.

From left, executive chef David Godsoe, culinary director of the E18hteen Hospitality Group, with Joe Thottungal, executive chef and owner of Coconut Lagoon and Thali restaurants, at the 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes, held at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Jeff Hill, vice president and senior investment advisor at BMO Nesbitt Burn, with his wife, Leigh Harris, lead partner for the federal government at KPMG Canada, and their good friends, Iwona Albrecht, a partner at Soloway Wright LLP, and her husband, Krys Albrecht, at the 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes, held at 50 Sussex in support of Harmony House. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Sue Finlay, a volunteer organizer for Harmony House’s 15th Annual Red and White Food Fundraiser: She Flourishes, with her daughters Kyla, left, and Savannah, who also volunteered at the gala. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and his wife, Ginny, with Harmony House board member Catherine James-McGuinty and Brendan McGuinty at the 15th Annual Red and White Food Fundraiser: She Flourishes held at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips

From left, Karen Meades with Francesca Davila, fundraising and brand development manager for Harmony House, and Ottawa city councillor Theresa Kavanagh at the 15th Annual Red and White Food Fundraiser: She Flourishes held for Harmony House at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Red and White emcee Samantha Mooonsammy, CEO of Lucky Book Publishing, with her husband, “DJ Flash Prime” Matthew Gordon at the 15th Annual Red and White Food Fundraiser: She Flourishes held for Harmony House at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, singer-songwriters Tara Shannon, Sam Stone and Jessica Pearson performed at the 15th Annual Red and White Food Fundraiser: She Flourishes held for Harmony House at 50 Sussex. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Jonathan Westeinde, CEO and founder of Windmill Development Group, and his wife, Sue Finlay, a volunteer organizer for the 15th Annual Red and White Food Fundraiser: She Flourishes held for Harmony House at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Harmony House hadn’t held its Red and White fundraiser since February 2020, just a couple of weeks before the start of the pandemic. The long pause between galas felt like forever for the organization. “We are so ready, we are so eager to welcome our amazing community,” Francesca Davila, fundraising and brand development manager for Harmony House, told OBJ.social.

The second-stage shelter serves women and their children who are survivors of violence. It helps to bridge the gap between a woman needing a crisis shelter to her eventually being able to live independently in the community.

The organization’s ultimate goal is to help its residents heal and to rebuild their lives after experiencing trauma. “That rebuild takes time, takes effort and takes a community of believers, a community of supporters,” said Davila.

Later in the night, local singer-songwriters Tara Shannon, Sam Stone and Jessica Pearson took to the stage to perform. It was moving to listen to Shannon deliver a soulful performance of her female empowerment single I Know Who I Am.

Some of the more creative touches to the gala included a hanging flower installation that resembled floating flowers. There were floral chandeliers, lounge areas for relaxing and connecting with others, and Plenty of Pretty’s faux flower wall panel. It offered the perfect backdrop for group photos. 

All the fresh flowers at the gala were from Virginia Vince’s Bloomfields. 

This year’s theme, She Flourishes, speaks to the nurturing environment that helps women with their recovery, said Cavelle Lane, acting executive director of Harmony House, during the event.

“We believe that everyone deserves a chance to thrive and to flourish, and we’re dedicated to making that happen,” said Lane. “At Harmony House, and in the wider community, we see evidence every day of women working hard to combat their struggles, to pull themselves up, and to forge on. Tonight we celebrate them.”

From left, Wendi Cibula, Virginia Vince (Bloomfields), Penny Schroeder, Katrin Trost and Renee Sigouin at the 15th Annual Red and White Food Fundraiser: She Flourishes for second-stage shelter Harmony House, held at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ottawa business leader and visual artist Andrew Milne donated one of his artworks, Gabriel Lake, to the auction in support of Harmony House, a second-stage shelter for women and their children who are survivors of violence. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Marieke Westeinde and her cousin Kyla Westeinde, both 18, and Grace Catton, 20, helped to make rose flower crowns for guests of the 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes held for Harmony House at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Elizabeth Kilvert, owner of The Unrefined Olive, with chef Phil Cameron at the 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes held for Harmony House at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Bruce Raganold, director of business development for Welch LLP, with his wife, Giselle Bergeron-Raganold, and fellow attendee Heather Linton, at the 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes held for Harmony House at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Shoppers Drug Mart store owners Kate Swetnam, Jennifer Mulley and Shauna Devison at the 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes held for Harmony House at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, volunteer organizers Tania Kratt (Tania Kratt Interior Architecture and Design), Penny Schroeder, Sue Finlay and Allison Ross (Across Ottawa Home Staging and Interiors), with their floating flowers installation, at this year’s 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes, held at 50 Sussex in support of Harmony House. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Kent Browne, owner of Royal LePage Team Realty, and his wife, Mary Browne, were out supporting the Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes for Harmony House, held Thursday, May 18, 2023, at 50 Sussex. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Former assistant deputy minister Elizabeth Van Allen and James Wright at the 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes held for Harmony House at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
The 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes for Harmony House was held at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
The 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes for Harmony House was held at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips
The 15th Annual Red and White Foodie Fundraiser: She Flourishes for Harmony House was held at 50 Sussex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline@obj.ca

 

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