Unlikely Pairing proves promising, raises $140K for Christie Lake Kids

Proceeds to help run after-school and weekend recreational programs at no cost to children and youth living in low-income households in Ottawa

Julie Taggart, Scott Parkes, Adrienne Vienneau
From left, Christie Lake Kids board member Julie Taggart with her cousin, Scott Parkes, honourary gala chair, and Christie Lake Kids executive director Adrienne Vienneau at An Unlikely Pairing: Adventures in Food Trucks + Fine Wines. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Editor's Note

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

Most people know Christie Lake Kids as a free overnight summer camp full of adventure and outdoor fun, but what some people don’t know is that it’s much s’more than that.

The 100-year-old non-profit organization also runs year-round programming, both after school and on the weekends to help children and youth gain valuable life skills through recreational activities they couldn’t otherwise afford. It’s the kind of fun stuff that many parents sign their kids up for without batting an eye, whether it’s hockey and soccer or art and cooking classes.

CLK’s STAR (Skills Through Arts & Recreation) Program was the focus of the 11th annual An Unlikely Pairing: Adventures in Food Trucks + Fine Wines gala held Thursday night at the Infinity Convention Centre. Some 250 attendees came out to help raise a net total of $140,000.

OBJ360 (Sponsored)

Honourary gala chair Scott Parkes remembers a time when his three kids were knee-deep in extracurricular activities. He and his wife, Tracy Rait-Parkes, came to fully appreciate that some families faced financial barriers preventing  them from having the same kind of access.

“We really did feel like all kids should have the same opportunity,” Parkes, president of Tamarack Developments and Tartan Homes, told OBJ.social. “I wanted to support Christie Lake Kids because it’s an organization that’s out there trying its best to really make sure it happens.”

CLK executive director Adrienne Vienneau said it’s been “a blessing” to have the support of Parkes, who’s made a “huge impact” by helping to grow An Unlikely Pairing from a small event, which raised $30,000 in its first year, into the six-figure fundraiser that it is today. “He’s just incredible,” said Vienneau. “He has a really big heart and is a generous, kind human being.”

Parkes became aware of the non-profit organization when the late Toni Guimarães came to speak to local home builders many years ago about the work CLK does in the community. Guimarães, co-founder of Altis Recruitment and ExcelHR, didn’t grow up with much but he did thrive as a CLK camper, prior to becoming a successful business owner with his wife, Kathryn Tremblay. She continues to sponsor the gala each year in memory of Guimarães, who passed from cancer in 2016 at age 51.

Parkes was joined at the event by his cousin, CLK board member Julie Taggart, president of Taggart Realty Management, and two dinner tables’ worth of family members, many of whom are part of the family-owned Taggart Group of Companies. Their non-profit Taggart Parkes Foundation is the presenting sponsor of An Unlikely Pairing.

There was gourmet street food from Angry Dragonz, East India Company, Yakko Takko, Green Papaya and Cinnaholic, matched with a selection of wines.

Spotted in the crowd was former Ottawa Senators player Chris Phillips, who’s the new vice president of operations for the hockey club, hanging out with Deloitte vice chair Mark Noonan. Coun. Tim Tierney from Beacon Hill-Cyrville was supporting the cause. So were such long-time CLK volunteers as Mike McTaggart from natural gas company Enbridge, and Amdocs director Geof Dudding. He volunteers as a mentor with CLK’s leadership in training program (Amdocs was recently recognized with a VOscar Award from Volunteer Ottawa for its long-standing relationship with CLK).

Chris Phillips, Mark Noonan, Adam Smith
From left, Chris Phillips, vice president of operations for the Ottawa Senators, with Deloitte Canada vice chair Mark Noonan, and Adam Smith, director of the ICT sector at Calian, at An Unlikely Pairing in support of Christie Lake Kids. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Elizabeth Nicholds (The Properties Group), Angela Singhal (Richcraft Homes), Julie Taggart (Taggart Realty Management), Lisa Johnson, Natalie Raffoul (Brion Raffoul LLP), Michelle Taggart (Tamarack Homes), Megan McCarthy (BMO Private Wealth) and Jamie Brooks (COPE Well Groups) at the An Unlikely Pairing gala for Christie Lake Kids. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Gary Zed, Liza Mrak, Pat Nicastro
From left, Gary Zed, CEO of Canada’s Forest Trust Corporation, with Liza Mrak, co-owner of Jaguar Land Rover Hunt Club, and Pat Nicastro, owner of La Bottega Nicastro Fine Food Shop, at the An Unlikely Pairing gala in support of Christie Lake Kids, held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Andrew Reeves, Sophie Beaudoin, Chris Schlesak
From left, Ottawa architect Andrew Reeves, owner of Linebox Studio, with Sophie Beaudoin and her husband, Chris Schlesak, co-owner of North & Navy and Cantina Gia restaurants, at the An Unlikely Pairing gala in support of Christie Lake Kids, held Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Geof Dudding, Jane Gibson
Geof Dudding, director of NFV software services at Amdocs, with his wife, Jane Gibson, at the An Unlikely Pairing gala for Christie Lake Kids. Photo by Caroline Phillips

There are currently 600 kids taking part in the STAR Program. It runs out of 10 community spaces located in six hard-hit Ottawa neighbourhoods. The demand is so great that CLK could easily expand into more neighbourhoods, if the funding was available, said Vienneau.

STAR differs from drop-in programs because the children and youth are exclusively from low-income households and are required to register in order to participate. If they don’t show up, CLK will pay a friendly visit.

Vienneau says CLK enjoys a complementary relationship with other social services organizations, such as BGC (Boys and Girls Club) Ottawa. They each work at making a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable children and youth, she said. “I want them to do their thing and be very successful and I want to do our thing and be very successful because, if we’re doing it well, we’re blanketing all kinds of kids and spreading out our programs and services as much as possible.”

STAR focuses on helping children and youth build life skills that can help them at home, at school, in the community or in their jobs, said Vienneau, who joined the organization seven months ago after years of working in communications at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

“I came from CHEO, which is a beloved brand, and I feel so honoured to be with an equally beloved brand,” said Vienneau, who often bumps into people with a strong bond with CLK. 

“Every single place that I go, somebody knows Christie Lake Kids. When you’re lucky enough to work at a non profit that’s been around for 100 years, you meet so many people who have worked at our camp or have gone to or volunteered in our programs,” said Vienneau, who recently created quite a stir in a grocery store line-up when fellow customers noticed her CLK T-shirt and wanted to share with her their stories and connections to the organization. “There’s a rich history there.”

Crowds gathered earlier this year at Ottawa city hall to celebrate the proclamation of Aug. 16th as Christie Lake Kids Day in honour of its 100-year anniversary.

Lisa Johnson, Howard Silver
Lisa Johnson and Howard Silver, owner of The Silver Group, at An Unlikely Pairing gala for Christie Lake Kids, held Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022, at the Infinity Convention Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Steve Parkes, Jeff Parkes, Scott Parkes
From left, Steve Parkes, general manager of Tamarack Homes, with Jeff Parkes, president of Taggart Realty Management, and Scott Parkes, president of Tamarack Developments and Tartan Homes, at the An Unlikely Pairing gala in support of Christie Lake Kids. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Tim Tierney, Jenny Tierney, Adrienne Vienneau
Ottawa city councillor Tim Tierney and his wife, Jenny Tierney, with Christie Lake Kids executive director Adrienne Vienneau at An Unlikely Pairing  held for CLK at the Infinity Convention Centre on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Kellie Major, Tracy Rait-Parkes, Gill Rowan-Legg
From left, senior corporate change and communications consultant Kellie Major with Tracy Rait-Parkes and Gillian Rowan-Legg at the An Unlikely Pairing gala for Christie Lake Kids, held Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Sachand Anand, Jeff Smith
From left, Sachin Anand, senior director of acquisitions for Regional Group, with Jeff Smith, president of Smith & Reid Insurance, at An Unlikely Pairing: Adventures in Food Trucks + Fine Wines, held in support of Christie Lake Kids. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Diana Mahaffy, Owen Mahaffy
Diana Mahaffy and Owen Mahaffy, board chair of Christie Lake Kids and retired Hydro Ottawa employee, at the An Unlikely Pairing gala held Thursday, November 24, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ken Merkley, Rebecca Merkley, Jeremy Racicot
From left, Merkley Supply marketing manager Ken Merkley with Rebecca Merkley and general manager Jeremy Racicot at the An Unlikely Pairing gala for Christie Lake Kids. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Natalie Benson, Michael McTaggart
Natalie Benson, director of fundraising and communications for Christie Lake Kids, with CLK volunteer Michael McTaggart, quality management advisor with Enbridge, at the An Unlikely Pairing gala held Thursday, November 24, 2022, at the Infinity Convention Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Michelle Taggart, Alex Wilson
Tamarack Homes vice president Michelle Taggart with her husband, Alex Wilson, senior vice president at Ideal Protein, at the An Unlikely Pairing gala for Christie Lake Kids. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Roxanne Bouchard, Megan McCarthy, Jeff Hill
From left, Roxanne Bouchard, Megan McCarthy and Jeff Hill from BMO Private Wealth were out supporting the An Unlikely Pairing gala in support of Christie Lake Kids. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Dave Longbottom, Carrie Colton
Dave Longbottom, owner of Flora Hall Brewing, with Carrie Colton, gallery principal at Studio Sixty Six, at the An Unlikely Pairing gala held in support of Christie Lake Kids on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips

 

Katie Ambler, Kelly Rhodenizer
From left, Katie Ambler, project/construction manager at Regional Group, with company vice president Kelly Rhodenizer at the An Unlikely Pairing gala for Christie Lake Kids. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Some 250 supporters of Christie Lake Kids attended the organization’s An Unlikely Pairing: Adventures in Food Trucks + Fine Wines gala held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline.obj.ca

Get our email updates

Get up-to-date news about the companies, people and issues that impact businesses in Ottawa and beyond.

Sponsored

Sponsored