Lisa Mierins has been involved with The Ottawa Hospital for as long as she can remember – literally. She was born there.
Since then, Mierins and her family have spent countless hours at The Ottawa Hospital (TOH). Her two sons were born at the Civic Campus on Carling Avenue. She and her brother also spent eight years off-and-on helping care for their late father at the General Campus before he sadly passed away in 2020.
“I saw all the people around me sitting and waiting, and I got to see first-hand the experience of being in intensive care unit,” she explains. “My father was on life support twice. There’s a lot of angst.
“We realized at that moment we wanted to make an instant impact on the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit. We wanted to make the process an easier one for patients and their families to go through.”
The family’s first big chance to do just that came during the COVID-19 pandemic when the Mierins Family Foundation — which includes Lisa, her brother Arnie Mierins, sister-in-law Victoria Mierins, and Lisa’s son Patrick Bourque — donated a matching gift up to $250,000 to help the hospital purchase much needed and specialized equipment.
This year, the Mierins Family Foundation have done one better: A $1-million match gift in support of TOH’s Campaign to Create Tomorrow, a transformative fundraising campaign to raise $500 million for a planned 2.5-million-square-foot healthcare facility at Dow’s Lake and to help fund world-leading research.
The New Campus Development will provide world-class healthcare services to the region while also functioning as one of the country’s most advanced medical research centres.
The Mierins family established their foundation in 2018 and felt it was their obligation to support the new state-of-the-art hospital.
“For us it’s really about how we can make an impact now – what can we do now that these hospitals, these schools, these different charitable organizations, can use today?” says Mierins. “I think this hospital is going to be a huge difference from what the Ottawa community is used to. They’ve spent a lot of time and thought on making this a really first-class experience.”
An entrepreneurial – and philanthropic – spirit
After owning and operating retail clothing franchises in Ottawa for over 20 years, Mierins and her brother Arnie joined the family business as co-presidents of Mierins Automotive Group – a company her dad, Arnis Mierins, started in the mid-1950s after arriving from Latvia.
“We are very entrepreneurial family — we’re workaholics,” Mierins says with a laugh. “My father and mother gave us a very strong work ethic. We’re always working and will continue to make a difference in our communities.”
She and her brother have been very involved in philanthropic causes throughout their entrepreneurial careers in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto.
But the deep family and community connections to the city mean the family’s donations in the Ottawa area are always closest to their hearts.
After all, Ottawa is their home. “We all have to do our part to look after our community. Doing nothing is not an option – everyone needs to do something, big or small — to make our community stronger.”
“Nobody thinks about the hospital until you need it. But it happens to all of us eventually and when you do need it, it’s there and you’ll have access to all the best care,” she adds. “It’s such a relief to the family. It’s like a warm hug.”