The Orillia Business Women’s Association is so proud and honoured to showcase these five amazing women from our community who are our 2020 Women of Distinction, the nominees for the OBWA Woman of the Year.
Allana George is a young member of our community who has accomplished an incredible amount in a truly short period of time. She is a role model not just for the women in our community but for every citizen, with her grassroots Facebook group called “Give Orillia”. This group was started by Allana a few short months ago in response to her wanting to help a single mother in distress and in need of basic necessities. Allana’s initiative to help has expanded into a 300+ membership of citizens helping citizens within our community; with Allana at the helm organizing and nurturing this community. She has also helped the group evolve from needs for material things to offer spiritual, emotional, and general community love and support for each other. She has singlehandedly created this generous and joyful community and taught many to give and receive with kindness and love and without shame or debt. A leader for these incredibly stressful times, this young woman has been fully immersed (truly 24 hours, 7 days a week) in “Give Orillia” all the while trying to balance a busy life as a wife and mother of two little boys. The incredibly generous impact of Allana’s Give Orillia initiative has been felt immediately and profoundly and there is so much to learn from this amazing young woman.
Carolyn-Marie Goodwin is the sole proprietor of Timberwolf Custom Carpentry, a student of the College of Trades and member of the Union Brotherhood of Carpenters. Being one of only 3% of women in the trades, she has faced a lot of resistance and adversity; however, her work ethic and outstanding personality have allowed her to become a voice and face for women in the Trades. She speaks at high schools, Youth groups and colleges inspiring young girls to follow their dreams. In 2018 and 2019 she represented Canadian women as part of the “Sisters of the Brotherhood” in Vegas. She meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and in 2019 spoke a Toronto City Hall on Behalf of the Carpenters Union. Having always been an inspiration, at the age of 10, Carolyn-Marie and her sister created “Shoe Box Kids Club” for less fortunate children and won the Junior Citizen of the Year Award. Now she hosts countless fundraising events and is the Founder and Operations Manager of Uplifting Blessings. That has now expanded into Uplifting Blessing Bags of Hope which has distributed over a thousand bags containing toiletries and essential items; Uplifting Blessing Suitcases of Love providing vulnerable children with gently used suitcases filled with a range of new items including pyjamas, stuffed animals, books, slippers and bed sheets and also the physical pop-up street shop Uplifting Blessing Street Shop in front of the Lighthouse. Carolyn-Marie has battled and survived cancer, homelessness, mental illness, abuse on many levels and countless traumas. Living openly with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she shares her story with schools, churches and crisis-intervention trainees at North Simcoe Victim Services. She is the picture of resilience by not being hardened by her traumatic experiences. Instead it is her vulnerability and kindness that have allowed her to become one of the greatest women of our time.
Dale McKay has been an important foundational member of the community in Orillia and specifically the women’s community, for decades. She has been supporting women and children in all facets of her life; as a matriarch, friend, volunteer, community, and business leader. As a Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Health Leader Dale has been supporting the women’s community through her many ventures including as a Spiritual Entrepeneur with Windspirit Holistic store, as a Reiki Master and Teacher, an EFT Practitioner (Emotional Freedom Technique) and currently as a Certified Biofield Tuning Professional, helping her clients reclaim health and wellness utilizing the sound energy of tuning forks. She has volunteered with OSMH and continues to volunteer 36 hours a month with the North Simcoe Victim Services which she has been doing for the past 8 years. She has also served on numerous committees and boards including the Green Haven Board of Directors, YMCA, Ontario Healthy Community Coalition Boards and Steering Committees and the Sub Committee to rebrand downtown Orillia. As a spiritual seeker herself, she has always made herself available as a trusted spiritual advisor to help others. She is humble, kind, thoughtful, well respected within our community and so very deserving of this recognition.
Jenna Green is a mother, business owner, and intrapreneur who is committed to creating impact in the business community. She is co-owner of Georgian Chocolate, an artisanal chocolate company providing handcrafted chocolate wrapped in local art, using only ethically sourced and traceable ingredients. As Events and Promotions Coordinator for The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC), where she is involved in the operations of a variety of initiatives that are offered by HBEC and Georgian College, Jenna is a professional, authentic and caring individual who demonstrates a strong work ethic. Jenna is Vice President of Admin and Operations with the Georgian Angel Network (GAN) and ensures that the entrepreneurs are informed, their needs are met, and that the relationship between investor and investee has the best possible outcome. She is both a peer and a mentor to the business community. As curator of Entrepreneurs Connect, a women’s entrepreneurship initiative, Jenna ensures the website is up to date with the most current and helpful advice for those looking to start their own business. Being the driving force behind Central Ontario’s Xcelerate HER which increases the visibility of women from diverse backgrounds and creating connections, Jenna strives to raise the profile of women and to open doors for young professionals. During Black History month she supports events and activities to cultivate conversations of change. Along with her many volunteer commitments, in her spare time Jenna works closely with other entrepreneurs, helping to support the creative culture of communities.
Trish Holloway has been the Operations Manager at the Orillia Lighthouse since the fall of 2016. Trish is accountable for all the day to day operations of the Lighthouse and this includes supporting the needs of the participants, staff, volunteers and students that support the program. Trish has been strategically planning for the future for Building Hope, a multi-million dollar project of the organization evolving from being a shelter for men and soup kitchen to a 20 bed supportive housing complex and a 45 bed emergency shelter/soup kitchen with both facilities to serve men/women/youth and families. Trish's expertise of planning, organizational skills and team leading will be a great asset to the organization as The Lighthouse more than doubles in clientele once the doors of the new facility are opened. While busy in her career and as a wife and a mother of one, Trish still finds time to give back to the community volunteering at Connexus Community Church, West Ridge Early Education Centre, with Breakfast with Santa, Violence Prevention Project for Thames Valley District School and charity walks Women's Rural Resource Centre and Walk against Violence. The above volunteerism shows that she engages in her community but this year (2020) Trish also stepped up to help co-lead this year's Coldest Night of the Year in support of the Lighthouse and Building Hope. Her selfless support during the Covid-19 crisis has had her working tirelessly to help get men/women/youth and families off the street and moved into area hotels, creating the noon sandwich meal served outside of the shelter plus moving food daily from the Lighthouse to the different hotels while keeping the participants, volunteers and staff healthy and calm during this time of crisis. As she deals with each situation from a place of genuine concern, Trish's energy and warmth endear her to all whose lives she touches in her work. She is a listening ear and an advocate for the needs of the vulnerable.
We are also so thrilled that the Orillia high schools were able to come through during the trying time of the pandenic to choose their nominees for the Orillia Business Women’s Association’s 2020 Young Woman of the Year. These are three incredible young women and we are honoured to showcase these Young Women of Distinction.
Alyssa Mandarino is, and has always been, an exemplary student throughout her high school years. She has been on the Honour Roll every semester since her start at OSS, accumulating an impressive overall average of 91% for all four years. Post-secondary, Alyssa plans to attend the University of Guelph and study Criminal Justice as the first step towards a career as a lawyer. While being very successful academically, immersing herself in a variety of diversified subject areas and disciplines, Alyssa will also be earning her Specialist High Skills Major Red Seal in our new Arts & Entertainment SHSM with a focus on performing arts. ? ?She has served on the Student Council as a Grade Rep and Vice President. Alyssa has also been a contributing member of the OSS LINK Crew, helping incoming Gr.8’s feel comfortable in their new environment while being a role model as a Building Hope Ambassador. Performing in multiple school musicals, and being a senior member of the school’s Competitive Dance Team, athletically Alyssa trains and competes as a member of the OSS Girls Lacrosse Team. Outside of school, she is a dedicated member of the TAPS Performing Arts Dance Studio, where she trains and studies in dance. Alyssa is a nominee for the SPARK Graduating Dance Student Award for all of Simcoe County. Alyssa is a driven young woman who excels academically while balancing her school activities, with volunteering in her community. She volunteers at Orchard Park Public School with various tasks that provide leadership and opportunities to the students there, offering her kind spirit, goodwill, and exceptional talents towards such things as daycare bake sales. Alyssa re-shelves books at the Orillia Public Library and ushers at the Orillia Opera House, so that in her own words, “things run smoothly for everyone to enjoy themselves more”. Alyssa exemplifies the qualities being sought for the Young Woman of the Year Award in the balance she achieves between modesty and admirable accomplishments.
Emily Hawton is a very busy young woman whom, apart from achieving Honour Roll distinction throughout her four years of high school at Twin Lakes SS has been actively involved in extracurricular activities such as Athletics, Music, School Productions, Photography, Communications Technology, and Environmental Initiatives, as well as finding time to work part-time jobs! She has been an active leader in the community and is a member of the Sustainable Orillia Youth Council—a task force to help citizens become more environmentally responsible. She started the Boomerang Bag Project which are handmade reusable bags made from donated materials. Participating stores can offer this bag instead of plastic and the customer can return it to any participating store. She is also the Minister of the Environment on Twin Lakes Student Council and is aiming to achieve Platinum certification through Eco schools Canada. Emily’s current goals are to continue her photography career by sharing valuable moments with people. Her future goals are to graduate from Lakehead University for Environmental Sustainability, then go to Georgian College for Advertising and Marketing. Emily wants to combine these two and promote how to live a more environmentally sustainable life through photos. She is an exceptional and inspirational young leader in our community.
Julianne Pires is an honour roll student at Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School who is described as driven, creative, mature, insightful, and extremely dedicated to her studies and her community endeavours. She has volunteered as a mentor for incoming grade 9 students and has taken on leadership roles in yearbook production, served as a school photographer and volunteers her time during school and parish events like orientation days, information nights, and graduation to name a few. She has also been instrumental in organizing events like the Fall Harvest Dinner and Market as well as the “Christmas Wish Dinner” which provides a Christmas meal and gift bag of essentials to vulnerable members of our community in a discreet way in order to uphold the dignity of all involved. She has taken on leadership roles in food drives, Me to We fundraising and service learning trips to soup kitchens and shelters in the GTA. Julianne plans to continue to help the next generation of students learn new technology through the Elementary level Robotics program at PF while she is away at university. She also plans to start a summer program on her Reserve that focuses on robotics and the advancements of technology, all the while learning more about her heritage from her Elders. Truly a force to be reckoned with!
Congratulations to all the nominees for the Woman of the Year and the Young Woman of the Year. We will be so excited when we can host the celebratory dinner and awards night.