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Around town: Habitat for Humanity 'a perpetual motion miracle'

Hundreds of gala-goers came together Saturday under the magnificent roof of the Canadian War Museum, all with the common goal of ensuring other less-fortunate families also get a roof of their own.

Sponsors, volunteers and donors with Habitat for Humanity National Capital Region (NCR) were hoping to raise $85,000 at the annual Steel Toes and Stilettos Gala. The benefit was held in the museum’s impressive LeBreton Gallery, where massive tanks, military vehicles and fighter jets, all beautifully bathed in red light, were stationed just a few feet away from where everyone sat down together for dinner, catered by The Westin hotel.
First-time attendees included Alexis Ashworth, the new CEO of Habitat NCR. She joined the Ottawa organization in February, having previously been in charge of the Habitat affiliate in Halifax.

“We don’t receive any government funding, so events like this are very important for us, in terms of fundraising,” she told Around Town. “It’s also a nice opportunity for us to get together and celebrate what we do. We build community at our build sites but it’s nice to be able to build community at an event like this, as well.”

On hand were Habitat’s board chair, Ken Merkley, marketing manager at Merkley Supply, and the gala’s committee chair, interior designer Irene Langlois. Among the representatives from presenting sponsor BMO were regional vice president of commercial banking, Victor Pellegrino, and V-P Réjean Després from BMO Harris Private Banking. The evening was MCed by Lianne Laing from CTV Ottawa.

Painting the town red and black was the Redblacks’ quarterback, Henry Burris, with his wife, Nicole. Also part of the evening were such big names from the home building and construction industry as Dennis Laurin, owner of the Laurin general contracting firm, Habitat board member Roberto Campagna from Roca Homes, Rahul Kochar from Phoenix Homes and Giuseppe “Pep” and Caroline Castrucci from Laurysen Kitchens. As well, Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi was spotted in the crowd.

Habitat works with its community partners and volunteers to build safe, decent and affordable homes for low-income families. The organization is currently completing four more homes in Orléans. That means another four families, with a combined 15 children, will achieve their dream of home ownership, with interest-free mortgages.

“Habitat for Humanity is a perpetual motion miracle,” Ashworth told the room in her opening remarks, quoting screenwriter Randy Wallace of Braveheart fame. “Everyone who gives, receives — and everyone who receives, gives.”

The evening featured a wide array of silent auction items to bid on, as well as such live auction donations as roundtrip flights from Porter Airlines; tickets to Redblacks, Fury and 67’s games; an Ottawa Senators package; a hand-carved stone mascaron by Smith and Barber Sculpture Atelier; and a five-course tasting menu from My Catering Group.

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