Meals on Wheels 50th Anniversary Celebration Event a Big Success

June 21, 2018

When volunteers and special guests gathered for an evening of fun, service recognition and a delicious meal, they were also helping to raise funds to support Meals on Wheels.

The event was an opportunity to look back at all the accomplishments and successes of the last 50 years. Together we celebrated the delivery of almost 4.5 million meals and recognized the contributions of founders, volunteers, partners, sponsors, funders and donors. And most importantly, we shared stories of the impact we make daily in the lives of clients we serve.  We are thrilled to announce that we raised over $11,000 at our event which will go a long way in support of our program!

TD Bank Group employees Danielle Pharand and Brittaney Chivers

We are grateful to have received a generous sponsorship for this milestone from TD bank Group who was also recognized for 20 years of service as a meal delivery team. We know that TD feels connected to Meals on Wheels and recognizes the importance of fundraising for such a worthy cause. Allowing their staff to take time out of the workday to see firsthand the impact of knocking on the door and greeting clients with a hot meal and a smile is a testament to their commitment.

We also received sponsorship from Apetito Canada Ltd and were pleased to have Account Manager for Eastern & Northern Ontario Daren Persaud join us for the celebration.  Thanks also to Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. for their sponsorship as well as meal delivery support over the years. In 2015 we recognized their corporate delivery team for 20 years of service!

Financial support for this celebration was also received from Rowland Lahey Financial,  Allegra  Ottawa-Carling, Hodges Service Center and Car Clinic, and Alterna Savings (Billings Bridge Plaza) as well as individual donations.  Many thanks to all of these organizations and individuals.

Former, current and future Board Presidents! From left to right: Margaret Baxter, Board President Walter Davidson, Charlotte Davidson, Past President Bill Logan, Yolande Cremer, and Vice-President Stuart McLeod

Prior to the Celebration Dinner, we held our Annual General Meeting.  In addition to the usual business, we also had a presentation from volunteer Phoebe McLelland on MOW’s first half-century.  Phoebe, a former member of the staff and now a Board director, delivered meals with her young family at the very beginning of our program in March 1968. Her presentation focused mostly on the first 15 years of our history, from inception to 1982. The meeting was well attended and offered a perfect kick off to our very special day.

Egg Farmers of Canada Volunteers!

As the meeting took place, committee volunteers were busy helping to get ready for the volunteer recognition portion of our evening.  In addition to our own wonderful team, we were also very happy to have the help of an enthusiastic group of volunteers from the Egg Farmers of Canada who joined us through Volunteer Ottawa’s VO Connect program.  They arrived ready to roll up their sleeves and worked hard to create a welcoming and celebratory atmosphere for our volunteers and special guests. Thank you Egg Farmers of Canada!

“It was great to volunteer with Meals on Wheels and help them set up for their AGM and Celebration Dinner. We were given a vision and were able to build it from the ground up. Seeing the end result was very rewarding and we hope that the event was successful!” – Andrea Witney, HR Generalist for Egg Farmers of Canada

Guests began arriving just after 4:30 pm and had a chance to visit our photo booth, grab a drink at the bar, and browse the amazing display of silent auction items. We had over 60 items donated by Ottawa businesses as well as our own volunteers.  Many thanks to all those who supported us! You can see a list of our auction donors here. 

Meals on Wheels Board President Walter Davidson introduced Mayor Jim Watson who offered welcoming remarks to guests.  Mayor Watson knows just how to get at the heart of what our volunteers accomplish and contribute to the community. Having once served on our Board of Directors as well as being the MC at more than one Meals on Wheels event, he knows us well.

We were also very pleased to have George Sparks and his granddaughter Kristilyn Earl join us for the event representing the late Evelyn Sparks who was one of our founders. Kristilyn shared some memories of our humble beginnings written by George and Evelyn’s daughter Wendy McCutcheon.  The first meals were prepared in the Sparks’ kitchen in their home on Elliot Ave.  Evelyn kept large monthly calendars and index cards on the kitchen table and made all the schedules/delivery bookings by hand. There was one calendar for the volunteer drivers and another for the recipients. Evelyn did all the phoning of both recipients and volunteers on a daily basis. It was not a five day – 9 to 5 job, it was all day every day.  There were many dinners interrupted because of last minute changes to the next morning’s schedule.  Sometimes Wendy would help with the schedule after school. Everyone gave a big round of applause for George, now 101 years old, as he was recognized  as one of the first Meals on Wheels drivers!

Delivery volunteer Emily Black, Mayor Jim Watson, George Sparks and Kristilyn Earl

We also recognized our 20 year partnership with LiveWorkPlay with a special framed print. Representing this organization, whose work helps the community welcome people with intellectual disabilities to live, work, and play as valued citizens, were Co-Leaders Keenan Wellar and Julie Kingstone.  Joining them in accepting the print was Lucas Rogers.  As both a Meals on Wheels volunteer and one of the first LiveWorkPlay members, Lucas was key in making the partnership happen. This year Lucas received his 3000 hour pin!

We recognized many volunteers for hours and years of service as well as those who received 2018 Volunteer Service awards from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.  For a full list of this year’s award winners click here.  Though it was their night to relax and be celebrated, we did give them one important job: to blow out the 50 candles on the Meals on Wheels birthday cake!


We enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by chef Frank Bowie and the staff of the Good Companions while magician Kevin Smith delighted guests around the room.

A live auction portion of the evening was great fun as MC’s Yolande Cremer and Lisa Wilson led the crowd in bidding on a great night out on the town as well as our beloved Meals on Wheels bear, Ted, in search of a new home.

Some fierce competition for the bear was helped along by Board Member Maroun Rehayem who showed just how Ted was willing to dance for his dinner!

Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us.