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I was truly honoured to be a guest at The Hope in the City Breakfast this morning Friday, November 22, 2019, from 7:30AM–9:00AM. Essentially, “Toronto’s business community join together to kick off the holiday season, raise funds and awareness while celebrating the work of The Salvation Army.” I think Sasha Stoltz opened the door to let me in today because in my heart I believe after talking to me online that she loved my energy and positivity.
When I walked into Fairmont Royal York, I met Sasha in the lobby and I was informed to make my way to Level C. On the elevator, you can hear the beautiful brass instruments playing in the background and when the doors open, it was like being a kid again. You get to experience love in a room while you listen to your favourite holiday music played by a fantastic brass band. It was truly sensational. After hearing the beautiful sounds, I made my way down the hall and I entered a small room. Inside the room, there were beautiful up-close portrait shots of homeless people in black and white. I greeted a wonderful family that was standing next to the photo exhibit and they told me their story. About a second later, I let them know what I do. A relationship was quickly formed. I nodded my head, smiled and informed them to touch base during or after breakfast. I made my way over to my assigned table.
The Royal York Hotel was established in 1929 and the rooms are truly sensational. They have retained the original features such as hand-painted ceilings and travertine pillars. Do you ever have a moment where you are just stunned? I think I had that moment when I sat down in my chair. As a freelance writer, I had to just take a moment and put my head down just to say thank you. In the corner of my eye, the wonderful family was making their way towards my table and they sat down. My brain had to process all of what was happening. We had a quick conversation before breakfast was served.
You get to start off the day with a hot served breakfast & coffee. The Salvation Army works diligently throughout the Greater Toronto Area to help over 1.6 million people in Canada and Bermuda last year. Today, over 400 wonderful people are in a room supporting one another and trying to change the world. Today’s Keynote Speaker was Jeremiah Brown. Jeremiah Brown is an Olympic silver medallist, world record breaker, bestselling author, former athlete wellness and transition leader at the Canadian Olympic Committee. I felt like I had the opportunity to not only be entertained but learn more about his mission to share his thoughts on teamwork, resilience, and leadership lessons. He instilled me to re-think what is possible.
A young lady entered the room during the keynote and joined my table. She happened to be another member of the wonderful family. Her name is Leah Denbok. What I didn’t know at the time was that Leah was a photographer and a writer who moments after the keynote speaker was finished was called up to the stage. She was the artist of the photo exhibit and was being honoured by the Salvation Army for not only her photographs but her stories of people experiencing homelessness. I was stunned but in the same breath, I was truly blessed.
After breakfast, I met Jeremiah Brown in a small room. Everyone was taking pictures. Honestly, I just wanted a conversation. I felt so small standing next to Jeremiah but I have a voice. I told him about my mission. “My stories are about positive and informative stories. Can we talk?” He smiled, I was so pleased. Out of nowhere, the silver medal was introduced. I asked politely if I would be able to hold it. He obliged and I got to hold the silver medal.
I grabbed a copy of ‘Nowhere to Call Home by Leah Denbok with Tim Denbok Volume 1 and Volume 2’ on my way out the door. In my opinion, if you want to read and see something truly sensational this holiday season, please try to get your hands on these books.
I think essentially what I learned today. I can’t change the world on my own but I need to have the confidence to share my thoughts so that others understand what I am trying to do. I would like to thank the sponsors who put this wonderful event together. Thank you KPMG, RBC, Ivan S. Franco Architect, Cooper Gordon Construction Managers, Dime-Air HVAC services Inc., Edelman and Grey. For more information about Hope in the City, please check out https://www.hopeinthecitytoronto.com/
Just a heads up, mark your calendars. The Salvation Army is bringing Christmas in the iconic Yonge and Dundas Square (1 Dundas St. East, Toronto) on Friday, November 29, 2019. This is a Free Event. Bring your family and join the Salvation Army family for musical performances, guest appearances, pizza, donuts and hot chocolate. The excitement will start at 11:30 am and the live entertainment will begin at 5:30 pm. This year’s free event will be hosted by Juno Award-winning R&B artist Dru who will also be taking the stage for a special performance.
If that doesn’t entice you, maybe this will. The Salvation Army Band, The Salvation Army Choir, Jades Hip Hop Academy and the Rolling Stonz Band will also be taking the stage with Dora the Explorer. How cool is that? The Salvation Army Kettles will be on hand for donations. If you are able to donate, your generosity would be greatly appreciated. https://salvationarmy.ca/