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Posted by on Apr 2020 in All Stories, Features, Sector voices, Slider, Uncategorized | 0 comments

A check-in with past ONPHA Award Winners

ONPHA Awards winner check-in

The ONPHA Award program works to recognize the amazing work ONPHA members do every day. Whether it’s managing an organization effectively, launching a new partnership or project, or the tenant volunteers whose devotion help to foster community, we believe these efforts deserve to be celebrated.

We’ve caught up with some past ONPHA Award winners to see how winning their award has impacted their organizations.

LOFT Community Services: Bradford House, 2019 recipient of the ONPHA Award for Excellence

Representatives from LOFT Community Services pose with their 2019 ONPHA Award for Excellence

Loft Community Services’ Bradford House provides housing and support services to 54 at-risk seniors living with mental health and addictions as well as multiple physical health concerns. Strong partnerships and social events help residents establish connection and supports in the community.

The LOFT team had this to say about the impact of receiving the Award:

“The ONPHA Award provided provincial recognition that we could promote with Ontario Health and local recognition to encourage support within the Bradford community. It really helped to raise our profile in “circles” we don’t travel in as often related to non-profit housing.

“The award showed us that we have the support of ONPHA and our colleagues to continue to do the important work of our mission and serve people who often fall through the cracks of the health care system.”

Of the Award video and the filming process they said:

“The engagement of residents and staff creating the video provided both with an opportunity to have a voice and celebrate resident, staff, and LOFT success. We showed the ONPHA Award video to our Board, staff and residents and there was a group recognition that we did this together and we are going to work together to continue to expand this sort of resource.”

Ottawa Salus Corporation, 2017 recipient of the ONPHA Innovation Award

Representatives from Ottawa Salus Corporation pose with their 2017 ONPHA Innovation Award

Ottawa Salus Corporation’s project, Karen’s Place is an extremely energy-efficient multi-residential building that houses and supports 42 tenants living with serious mental illness in the Ottawa area. Executive Director Lisa Ker says this about their experience winning the Award:

Being considered for any award is always a thrill.  Being considered for an award based in our sector and being honoured by our peers takes that experience to another level. ONPHA awards are a great opportunity in all categories to learn about innovations and best practices developed by each other, big and small. When you are the recipient of an ONPHA award, it confirms that your hard work and the risks you may have taken were worth it, both to your own organization and to your colleagues. Your organizations feels as though it has contributed to the sector as a whole and that is good for all of us because it encourages us to keep working at new ideas.  Everything counts towards helping move non-profit housing forward, being rewarded for it is a bonus.”

Since winning the ONPHA Innovation Award, Karen’s Place became the first affordable housing development in Canada to be Passive House certified, making it a leader in energy-efficient residential development.

Steve Garrison, General Manager, Housing Cambridge, 2019 recipient of the Sybil Frenette Award for Outstanding Leadership

Steve Garrison accepts his Sybil Frenette Award for Outstanding Leadership at the 2019 ONPHA Conference

Steve Garrison is General Manager at Housing Cambridge and has worked in a variety of roles in community housing providers across the province in his over 30 years in the sector. His compassion and his vision of affordable housing and healthy communities for all Ontarians are an inspiration to those he has worked with over the years.

Steve had this to say about the impact of winning the Award:

The 2019 Sybil Frenette Award caps a multi-year effort to rebrand Housing Cambridge and to create a new and exciting narrative for our organization. The award has certainly raised our profile locally. One concrete example is that, since November, we have experienced significant and tangible political support to move forward with our affordable housing project on Hespeler Road in Cambridge. This support has been particularly strong with respect to City, Regional and Federal politicians.

“On a more personal level, the award has caused me to pause and reflect on my work. Looking back, I have thought about the people that I have learned from and worked alongside over the course of my journey. I have reflected the issues that I am passionate about and the strategies, efforts and accomplishments that have had the greatest impact. This time of reflection has helped me to rekindle my passion and sharpen my focus going forward.”

Blaine Dunlop, resident LOFT Community Services, 2019 recipient of the Tenant Achievement Award

Blaine Dunlop receives his Tenant Achievement Award at the 2019 ONPHA Conference

Blaine began his journey with LOFT as a resident of their high-support site and now lives independently with lower support. Blaine’s work mentoring high needs tenants in their recovery from addiction is an inspiration to his fellow tenants and LOFT staff.

We reached out to LOFT staff to find out about how the Award impacted Blaine and his community:

The award had a HUGE impact on the LOFT community – not just our little community within the Mental Health and Justice program but also LOFT–wide. Blaine as well seemed to be very proud of himself and so happy. It really meant so much to everyone.  Our CEO, Heather MacDonald, was also ecstatic as it reflected the hope that we have for all of our clients.”

Other residents not only also participated in congratulating Blaine on his achievement but also connected with a higher degree of motivation themselves with regard to what they can bring to the already amazing  community….clients are expressing interest in volunteering at [the high-support site]!”

Now more than ever is the time to celebrate what we can achieve as organizations, and as a sector. Click here to learn more about the ONPHA Awards program and to see if your organization or one of your peers’ might be eligible.

Questions about the ONPHA Awards or the application process? Contact us at

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