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SEEN UP NORTH: Barbados’ best for a good cause

Tony Best

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A Bit Of Barbados For A Good Cause; A Bit Of Barbados For A Big Cause.
Those eye-catching headlines, atop a lengthy story in the Ottawa Citizen, one of Canada’s leading daily newspapers, served a dual purpose: they showed how the philanthropic impulses of some of the richest and most generous people in the Canadian capital use their wealth for the public good by boosting health care at a major medical centre, while at the same time showcasing some of the best of Barbados.
As the newspaper story suggested, rum punch from Barbados, the deep pockets of some of Ottawa’s most affluent, the melodious sounds of The Merrymen, and the sophistication of Barbados’ High Commissioner Evelyn Greaves and his wife Fran, were what the doctor ordered for a Barbados-themed gala that raised funds for the Queensway Carleton Hospital’s Care Grows West expansion campaign.
The Rhythm & Rum Ball, spearheaded by Shirley Greenberg, a prominent philanthropist and a property owner in Barbados, seemed to be worth the tremendous effort that went into its planning.
“It was a gala event in the truest sense of the term and it certainly achieved its goal of generating considerable support for the hospital and allowing the guests to have an excellent evening,” said Greaves, a former Cabinet minister.
“We benefited by having The Merrymen there and presenting Barbados to a wide audience in an impressive fashion. It was an excellent opportunity for Barbados to be exposed to wealthy Canadians, to people who have property in our country, who have gone there, are planning to visit or who may be looking at doing business in our country.”
It was an evening of excellent dining, fund-raising auctions, entertaining music by The Merrymen, dancing and an abundance of generosity, as underscored by an anonymous donor who contributed CAN$5 million to the hospital’s CAN$35 million campaign.
With Greenberg serving as the annual gala’s honorary patron, and Greaves as its host diplomat, the hospital’s executive director Melanie Adams and the campaign’s volunteer chairman Dan Greenberg were said to be floating on cloud nine, launched there by the smiles on the faces of the 310 guests at the sold out dinner held at the Casino du Lac-Leamy Theatre for Caribbean cuisine.
“Dan, it’s CAN$5 million and it wasn’t from a Greenberg,” Adams jokingly announced the contribution.
The Greenberg family, described by the Citizen as “perhaps the most philanthropic clan” in Ottawa, has a strong link to both the hospital and Barbados. The medical institution’s Greenberg Family Cancer Centre is named for the late Irving Greenberg, husband of Ms Greenberg, and as Greaves explained, the family owns two properties in Barbados.
Little wonder then that Ms Greenberg, the recipient of the Order of Canada, one of the highest national honours, offered a week’s stay at one of her family’s properties in Barbados as a prize for an auction. The Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) provided an airline ticket.
Greaves donated a dinner for ten at the High Commissioner’s residence.
That was auctioned during the event and it raised thousands of dollars. Each guest received a package of information about Barbados, its attractions and investment opportunities.
Barbados’ association with the upscale event was engineered by Aaron Dean, a Bajan events planner who has a strong relationship with the hospital. Last year’s gala theme was Argentina.
“Dean recommended that the theme of this year’s gala should be on Barbados and the idea was strongly supported by the Greenbergs,” explained Greaves. “The presence of The Merrymen, the role of the BTA, the dinner at the High Commission that was auctioned and the entire atmosphere made it a total Barbados-oriented event. We cannot miss any opportunity that would promote our country. We felt it was a very upscale event and the BTA gave us maximum support, which contributed to the overall success.”
In addition to the dinner guests, almost 200 people attended the after-dinner dance. Among the guests were wealth managers, attorneys and physicians.