Helping impoverished children in Ottawa and Chile

| April 2, 2020 | 0 Comments
From left, Brendon Ridgewell, Sonia Diaz (CCWA president), Ambassador Alejandro Marisio Cugat, Kimena Nanculeff (CCWA vice-president), Sissy Ridgewell (CCWA social relations co-ordinator.) (Photo: Niloo Madani)

From left, Brendon Ridgewell, Sonia Diaz (CCWA president), Ambassador Alejandro Marisio Cugat, Kimena Nanculeff (CCWA vice-president), Sissy Ridgewell (CCWA social relations co-ordinator.) (Photo: Niloo Madani)

Two autistic children in Chile are getting therapy this year thanks to the hard work of the Chilean Canadian Women’s Association of Ottawa.
The funding for the therapy came from a wine-and-cheese event that’s hosted annually at the Chilean ambassador’s residence and features Chilean wines, cheeses from around the world and a large silent auction of Chilean delicacies, among other treasures.
Ambassador Alejandro Marisio Cugat has hosted the event twice and his predecessors hosted it before that.
Claudia Chacon, association secretary and silent auction organizer, says some of the money from this event always goes toward a project in the Ottawa area.
“Our aim is to support low-income families,” she says
The group decides what to support on an ad-hoc basis. It often supports a breakfast program at Philemon Wright High School in Gatineau.
“In 2018, we gave bursaries to four students in Hawkesbury,” Chacon says. “The principal chose them by need and merit. We knew about the need because one of our members lives in Hawkesbury. Her son was attending that high school and she became aware of the need.”
Although the wine and cheese proceeds are always devoted to an Ottawa cause, the group also raises money for projects in Chile. They’ve funded, for example, the building of ecologically friendly play structures in rural schools.
“The kids had [only] dirt,” Chacon says. “Now they have a playground. We also paid for an awning at a school in the south so children could play outside.”
For the wine and cheese, Chacon says the ambassador’s willingness to host really increases the group’s profit margin because they don’t have to pay for an expensive rental space.
“There’s also the appeal of going to the ambassador’s residence,” Chacon says. “It’s a lovely space and there’s free parking and little perks.”
Tickets for the event — $50 — can also be reduced a little in price because they’re given the venue and the ambassador donates almost two cases of wine.
“We work really hard to give good value. Our vice-president is a master baker and cook so she does the bread, the crackers, some of which are gluten-free. -She also makes all the jams and jellies. She sets up all the platters [of cheese.]”
The ambassador has been very pleased with the way the events have turned out.
“We let them use the residence to offer this interesting wine and cheese so they can help children in Canada and in Chile,” he says. “It’s also a very good opportunity for us, as diplomats, to share with Canadians who live here, and to establish new links. We also provide some wines, and [organizers] get help from some wineries. We’re very happy to do it.” The ambassador plans to host the event again this autumn.
The group takes its funding commitments seriously. In March, association president Sonia Diaz visited Fundación TEAamamos in Chile to follow up on the group’s sponsorship of the therapy for the two autistic children.

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