The Strength of a Community

BK Cornerstone and In Honour of the Ones We Love Come Together

Story by Michael Seguin
Photography by Michael Pietrangelo

On Wednesday, October 7th, beneath the hesitant sunlight, a small, masked, socially-distanced crowd gathered underneath the cross outside Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.

The attendants were sparse, spread out. It was a varied group—hospital administrators, journalists, the owners of BK Cornerstone and the founders of the grassroots charitable organization, In Honour of the Ones We Love. But, despite the early October chill, the atmosphere was warm.

Bill Marra, Hôtel-Dieu’s Vice President of External Affairs and Executive Director of the Changing Lives Together Foundation, took to the makeshift podium first.

“Good morning everyone,” Bill began. “Thanks for attending. Luckily, the weather cooperated for us. Given the environment that we live in, we’ve made some creative arrangements to celebrate a very important partnership, an important investment and an important recognition for a family that cares deeply about mental health and addictions.”

Bill turned to acknowledge the two figureheads of In Honour of the Ones We Love, Anita Imperioli and Teresa Silvestri.

“A few quick words for those of you who may not know—which I admit, is nearly impossible,” Bill jokes. “In Honour was established 23 years ago by the Imperioli family, who found it within themselves to create this organization to raise funds and awareness about cancer, due to a difficult loss they’d experienced. The resiliency of this family was to take that loss and do something about it.”

Bill identified In Honour of the Ones We Love’s key achievements over the past two
decades—specifically, what they’ve done for healthcare itself.

“As I’ve said many times, they’ve changed the landscape of healthcare in Windsor and Essex County with the millions of dollars they’ve invested in hospitals, healthcare organizations and programs and services,” Bill affirmed. “In Honour is a force to be reckoned with. They’ve really made a difference in the lives of people. And today is another great example of that.”

The crowd agreed. Today, they have gathered to celebrate the fruits of labor achieved by the partnership between the Klundert family of BK Cornerstone and In Honour of the Ones We Love.

The Klundert Family: Chantelle, Brent, Ben Klundert and Gina Read pose in front of a birdhouse by local artist, Michael Difazio, designed to replicate the home built for the Dream Project.

“The Klunderts are very successful corporate citizens,” Bill stated. “They’re a wonderful family. And they have been seeking an opportunity to make a difference in healthcare themselves. They reached out to In Honour of the Ones We Love and said, ‘We have an idea to raise money. We want to invest it in mental health. So, they relied on In Honour and Anita to find a community partner. Therefore, Anita reached out to Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, given our long history. She felt that this long partnership was the right fit for this event.”

Next, the Klundert family was invited to take the stage.

“It is our pleasure to join In Honour of the Ones We Love with this donation to Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare,” Brent Klundert states. “A couple of years ago, alongside In Honour and our industry partners, we launched the Dream Project, with high hopes of raising funds to help mental health initiatives right here within our community.”

The goal of the Dream Project, Brent explains, was to build a beautiful home and use the proceeds of the sale for these campaigns.

“At the onset of the project, we were very optimistic about the participation and support from our industry,” Brent continues. “And they didn’t disappoint. They blew us away. We believe Hôtel-Dieu Grace, through it’s various mental health initiatives, both here and at the Downtown Crisis and Wellness Centre, plays an integral role in delivering our community’s mental healthcare.”
Brent explained that these services are now more important than ever, in what he calls “today’s isolated COVID world.”

“We hope that this donation will help Hôtel-Dieu in continuing to lead our community’s mental healthcare,” Brent stated.

Finally, Anita Imperioli and Teresa Silvestri approached the podium.

“In Honour of the Ones We Love is so proud to play a part in donating these funds to Hôtel-Dieu Grace,” Anita states. “We can’t thank BK Cornerstone and their family enough. They’re just amazing. They worked continuously to make this happen. And this is going to have an unbelievable positive impact in our community. So, thank you again to BK Cornerstone. We couldn’t be more proud to be by your side.”

At that, Anita and the Klundert family presented hospital administration with a cheque for $190,000 to go directly towards mental health services.

Above left to right: Janice Kaffer President & CEO, HDGH, Ben Klundert, Teresa Silvestri, Anita Imperioli, Brent and Chantelle Klundert, Gina Read and Bethe Jarcaig.

And according to Dr. Andrea Steen, Vice President Medical Affairs, Quality and Chief of Staff, these funds couldn’t have come at a more pressing time.

“I’m one of the physicians that works in Toldo Neurobehavioral Institute (TNI),” Andrea states. “We help people that need longer care, more rehab and more time in the hospital. We have complicated cases with people who are struggling with homelessness, they’ve been evicted and are living on the streets. We help with the social work and getting them a place to stay and help them secure funding.”

These services are incredibly important to our community’s most vulnerable population, Andrea explained.

“We have clients that we know well,” Andrea states. “They start doing better, then they go out, then life happens to them again. A lot of our patients have been struggling with mental health issues for a long time. Certainly, this donation will potentially allow us to hire more service providers. We’ve also been looking into expanding our addictions program. More counselling, more services. It’s all important. There’s so many good causes that are out there right now that this funding can go towards.”

After the cheque presentation, hospital administrators guided a small group inside to reveal a gift of their own: a plaque commemorating BK Cornerstone and In Honour’s achievement.

“We know that organizations like In Honour and the Klundert family are not into this for signs and recognition,” Bill explains. “That’s never been the tone of our conversations. Our conversations have always been around mental health and how they can improve healthcare. However, recognition is an important part of this. First of all, it’s our humble way of saying thank you. Secondly, it’s a way of reminding our staff that there are organizations and families and companies like BK Cornerstone and In Honour that are making a difference.”

Most importantly, Bill stressed, it’s a way of demonstrating to others that there is
always—always—a way that anyone can make a difference.

For information about volunteering please call 519-972-0083 or Anita at 519-791-8633

Add comment