THUNDER BAY – A proposal to create a Thunder Bay business that organizes social events for seniors was the big winner at the Social Innovation Challenge held Saturday at Trinity United Church.
The proposal was pitched by local writer, broadcaster and activist Nancy Angus who says she took her inspiration from her 100-year old mother, Sis Angus.
Angus told the audience her mother is the dedicated “hugger” at her church, something that speaks volumes about the social connection seniors want in their lives.
Angus will use her prize money to launch and promote a series of events across the city where seniors who are often living alone, can get together with others looking for social contact.
For her efforts, Angus won the top prize of $1,500.
The Social Innovation Challenge is a project of the United Church of Canada which put up the bulk of the $4,000 in prize money handed out Saturday.
The runner-up pitch came from Josh Hewitt and Amanda Walford and their project “StandUp4CleanUp”, a volunteer program to collect litter in neighbourhoods across the city. For their efforts, they won $1,000.
Reverend Randy Boyd, the minister at Trinity, was pleased with all of the pitches presented at the day-long event. “I see the Innovation Challenge as a unique opportunity to use market mechanisms to solve social problems.”
Third prize went to Darlene Salvador. She plans to use her $500 prize to further her education to become a life coach for young women who have grown up in the child welfare system.
Other winners were Cherry Stewart for Girl’s United, a mentorship program she’s proposing for single moms. She won a special category that included the goal of improving the mental health and well-being of people. Her prize was worth $1,000.
Lynda Fraser won a prize for the best technology innovation. She plans to create a business that helps families create books of remembrance for surviving family members when someone dies. The $500 prize was sponsored by the Northwest Innovation Centre.
The pitches by the local innovators were applauded by Rob Dalgeish, the head of the United Church program behind the Social Innovation Project.
“These are ideas that we need to continue to do together, including with our non-faith partners.”
by Shane Judge