How did this all start?
This all started out of my love for three things:
Event planning: I’ve always loved event planning, but never took the plunge to get any formal training in it. Instead, I get a lot of joy out of planning events for myself and for others around me. I’ve been known to plan everything from small-scale things like dinner parties to larger-scale fundraising initiatives. About a year ago, I started organizing monthly ladies’ nights at my day job. Each month we go out for dinner and try to support local businesses in different areas of the city.
Fundraising: The fundraising part came after a major event in my life. In August 2011, at the age of 32, I had a Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy (PTE). It really is as complex and scary as it sounds, I won’t lie. This is a life-saving surgery to remove deadly blood clots from major blood vessels in the lungs. I will be forever indebted to Dr. Marc Carrier, Dr. Rubens and the staff of the Ottawa Heart Institute for saving my life. In September of 2015, I was featured on CTV News Ottawa where I shared my story. Watch it here. This surgery gave me a new lease on life and I really wanted to do something to give back and pay it forward. Soon after my recovery, I started volunteering and supporting fundraising at events like the Ottawa Heart Institute Telethon and CN Cycle for CHEO, and also providing support to other patients considering or going through PTE surgery. In the past year, I have focused my time on supporting and bringing awareness to childhood cancers. There are many great local groups like Refuse2Lose, Gabriella’s Groupies, Gold on the Hill, and Candlelighters, which all work very hard to raise awareness for this horrible disease. They not only raise a ton of money, but also focus on supporting the families of these children.
Food: This one is easy! I really enjoy trying different types of food, and I’m always looking for the next great meal. At our August ladies’ night out, I brought up the idea of trying to partner with local restaurants to host events to raise money for great causes in our city. The ladies were quickly onboard with the idea. We debated the names for this new group, and Ottawa Foodie Girlz was born. We quickly checked for a Twitter handle and tweeted out our first dinner as a group at Evoo Greek Kitchen. The vision of Ottawa Foodie Girlz is to not only enjoy great local food and experience the best of Ottawa dining, but also to host food-related events benefiting local charities. Ottawa Foodie Girlz currently has eight members, including Kristina Henrikson, Roxanne Landriault, Jenny Ryan, Mary Seligy, Lesia Beznaczuk, Tanya Samman, and Vicky Bell. All have committed to volunteering their time to support dinners, events, and fundraising initiatives.