At Govan Brown, community involvement plays a large role in our corporate culture. On Friday, April 25th, we continued that tradition by engaging in the "Clean Toronto Together" program, a yearly event that occurs every spring encouraging Toronto businesses and citizens to clean up their respective neighborhoods. Govan Brown has participated in the annual event since 2011, but this year was the first opportunity to "Clean Toronto Together" in our new neighborhood in West Toronto.
Twenty Govan Brown employees took to the streets of Toronto's Junction neighborhood in the rain to clean-up any loose litter and garbage. Our brigade strolled down Vine Avenue, picking up garbage along the way. We then stopped at the Vine Parkette and completed a wide sweep of the area to ensure all litter was properly disposed of. Our team continued down to Dundas Street West where our solid team of trash troubadours picked the sidewalks clean for two blocks. Upon our return, all twenty of our volunteers had full garbage bags.
The event provided our staff with an opportunity to work as a team to improve our surroundings. The experience was rewarding and allowed us to familiarize ourselves with neighborhood, its buisnesses and patrons while keeping the street clean for all of its inhabitants.
Inspired by the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, Govan Brown arranged a putting challenge of our own to parallel the Masters. Firstly, it has to be said that the event was a smashing success. Attendance for the event set an all-time record for number of people standing around watching other people skive off work and hit a small white ball around the office. With twenty or so entrants, the tournament was hotly contested. Despite rumblings of creative accounting associated with the LeClair/Yilmaz/Hester/Pyne foursome, the event was carried out with the maximum sportmanship and honesty. Honestly! After the five hole regular course was complete, we were left with a five way tie for first place, with Cameron, Darren, Sophia, Nathan and Eric all carding even par 15's. (Due to a confidentiallity agreement signed with the people in question, I am not allowed to comment that three of the above five finalists all came from the same group, and relay the anecdote that they were spotted feverishly erasing their scorecard after the completion of the regular event).
And so we come to the most exciting event in sporting history - a sudden death playoff for the Govan Brown Green Jacket! The playoff hole was selected to be the tricky "Up the handicapped ramp to the mid-landing in front of the Bat Cave" hole. After Eric had failed to negotiate the steep ramp slope, Nathan Naka whipped the normally reserved Govan Brown crowd into a frenzy with a well-placed tee shot to the mid landing, which came to rest some five feet from the hole. After both Darren and Cameron failed to "get it up" onto the top level of the split green, only Putting Masters rookie, Sophia Yilmaz was left to play.
Standing over the awkward putt Yilmaz punched a plucky drive up the ramp. The ball teetered at the top of the ramp, but could find no purchase on the carefully manicured carpet tiles. The ball rolled down the ramp, and with it rolled away Yilmaz's dreams of a tournament win, settling instead for honors as top femaile competitor. After a further series of questionable shots from the other entrants, an emotional Naka, tears in eyes, made a short putt to seal the victory. Nathan Naka: Cinderella story, onetime greens-keeper, now 2014 Govan Brown Masters Putting Champion.
Presented with the Green Jacket by Commissioner (for life) of the Govan Brown Office Golf Association, Oliver Mason, an emotional Naka thanked his family, and gave a hectoring 75 minute speech, peppered with repeated condemnation of cheating by someone who's name rhymes with "Mameron Mester", as the sun set over the Govan Brown offices.
Govan Brown has maintained a close connection with local Queen Victoria Public School in Parkdale for a number of years. In that time, we have implemented many initiatives to assist many kids in the school. Most recently, Govan Brown has begun a new meal program titled appropriately “Breakfast with Govan Brown.” In addition to the many programs that our organization already funds, the Breakfast with Govan Brown initiative allows employees to personally aide in improving the community. On the last Friday every month, Govan Brown employees donate their time to making and serving breakfast to students who may, without our help, go to school on empty stomachs. Previously we have participated in many other programs with QVPS. Past initiatives include the Reading Readiness Program, the Morning Meal Snack Program, Spoon Drive, Backpack Program and our annual Coat and Boot Drive.
The Reading Readiness Program was introduced to help kids with their reading abilities. Since the majority of students at QVPS are 1st generation Canadians, they are primarily speaking English as a second language. To assist their development, Govan Brown employees donate their lunch time to help students improve their reading skills. In a one-on-one setting, the kids get to read to an audience –greatly improving their literacy skills in a casual setting. In an effort to promote healthy eating habits and choices, Govan Brown implemented the Morning Meal Snack Program. It is an initiative that provides breakfast to students who may not have sufficient food for any given day. Furthermore, the meals provided are nutritional. As is the case with the “Breakfast with Govan Brown Program,” this initiative was founded on the belief that students learn better on full stomachs.
The Spoon Drive is a program that was developed in conjunction with many of our onsite practices. We donated over 4,000 spoons to the 800 student-school in an effort to eliminate unnecessary waste. Previously, many of the kids were being given plastic cutlery to eat their meals. Thanks to the Spoon Drive, we were able to eliminate the superfluous waste that the plastic cutlery presented. The Backpack Program has been one of our most successful programs in recent years. We donate backpacks and school supplies to new students who may not have the proper learning tools.
Donated to children on a must-need basis, the Backpack Program ensures that all of the students at QVPS have the proper equipment to excel inan academic setting. Our Annual Coat and Boot Drive is by far one of our most important QVPS programs. As previously mentioned many of the students at QVPS are new to Canada and as such are not properly prepared for our harsh winters. We collect gently used winter garments and donate them to students in need to ensure that they are properly prepared for the winter months.
At Govan Brown we are not only interested in building projects but also building communities. Our involvement with Queen Victoria Public School has been as beneficial to us as we hope it has been for the students. We look forward to a continuing partnership with the important Parkdale institution.
On Thursday, March 20th, Govan Brown and BJC held their annual charity casino fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The event was held at the Hilton Suites in Markham and was attended by many of Toronto's industry leaders. The CBCF fundraiser is a highly anticipated event held annually to raise money for research and creating a future without breast cancer. The evening was casino-themed and featured many different games for the 775+ guests to enjoy.
The 'casino' even provided custom currency at the unbeatable exchange rate of 1000 casino dollars for mere $20 Canadian dollars. Guests had the opportunity to try their luck at the roulette table, black jack, poker, craps and many other games with all house-won money going towards the charity. The night also offered silent and live auctions for a variety of exquisite prizes. Fantastic items such as an authentic slot machine from Caesar's Palace were up for bidding. Other prizes included large screen televisions, iPads, Toronto Maple Leaf tickets, sports memorabilia and kitchen appliances
It was an evening of fine food, drinks and good company. The fundraiser managed to raise over $85,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Govan Brown has maintained a strong relationship with the CBCF since Jon Taylor, Govan Brown partner was asked to sit on the board in 2011.
Since then, Govan Brown has raised over $418,000 towards the CBCF, which includes proceeds from this annual event, (co-hosted by BJC and Deloitte), along with other fundraising initiatives Govan Brown participates in on a yearly basis.
On Friday, February 21st, some of our employees in our Toronto office, geared with enthusiasm, made a trip to the Mississauga Golf Club for an afternoon of curling. Organized by team leader Sarah Paul, Govan Brown took to the ice just hours after watching our Canadian men win curling gold in Sochi. The majority of our staff had never held a stone before but took to the 44lbs pieces of granite like veterans. After an hour of being taught the basics by the resident pro, we took to our own matches-pitting co-worker against co-worker.
Despite a couple of slips an falls, and the accompanying bruises, our fellow Govan Brown staff competed vigorously. Our sweeping attention was only stolen from the button when it was time for lunch. Feasting on poutine and watching Canada beat the United States in the Olympic hockey semi-finals complemented the already great Canadian day in progress.
After a short respite, we returned to the sheet for another few hours of curling. Unfortunately, afer an afternoon of yelling "hurry hard," we were dragged off the ice kicking and screaming. We climbed back on the yellow school bus with a new found appreciation for a great sport; some thining of purchasing their own brooms.
On November 20, 2013, industry leaders and guests joined Govan Brown to celebrate the grand opening of their new National Headquarters located in the Junction at 108 Vine Avenue. The historic brick and beam building was transformed into a true event space as spotlights lit up the stage where local roots-rock icons The Skydiggers performed a medley of their hits. Lounge areas were scattered throughout providing relaxing areas where guests and employees could mingle and catch up.
The evening was filled with great food, cocktails and entertainment. The iconic Junction industrial buildings originally built by Roman Meal Baker in the early 20th century, were most recently home to the Canadian Rogers Eastern Limited, an architectural metals manufacturer that moved into the space in the 1930's and remained the owners until it wase purchased by Govan Brown in 2012. The new open concept office space consists of a carpenter's shop and a raised main boardroom with elegant themed finishes throughout.
Employee satisfaction was a high priority when creating the second floor staff lounge uniquely named The Govan Brown Clubhouse, which consists of a full servery, TV's with seating areas, ping pong tables and a full roof-top deck for parties and BBQ's. Giannone Petricone Associates Architects embraced the building's long history of metal manufacturing and took into consideration the nature of Govan Brown's business and incorporated blackened steel, corrugated metal paneling and clear-coated plywood into the playful industrial-themed finishes.
Govan Brown's new office occupies 1,674 square meters of the 3,862 square-metered building space. The other 2,188 square meters will be leased out by Ashlar Real Estate. Govan Brown was very proud to showcase their new space.
On November 6th, 2013 the Govan Brown staff banded together to take on an extreme physical challenge at the first annual Real Estate Climb in support of the United Way. The team climbed from street level to the top floor of 4 of Toronto’s highest buildings, totalling over 200 floors!
This year, with the help of the Govan Brown team and several other Real Estate professionals, the event raised over $67,000 for the United Way. The United Way Toronto works to build better cities through focusing on building stronger communities, moving people from poverty to possibility, and helping kids reach their potential. We are proud and honored to be involved in such a worthy fundraising event, and look forward to participating again next year!
This year, during the month of November, Govan Brown is once again joining a month-long, nationwide initative to do their part in the fight against prostate cancer. Get ready to see Govan Brown employees sporting moustaches (mo's) of all shapes and sizes. "Movember's vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men's health. During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of millions of moustaches around the world. Through the power of the moustache, vital funds and awareness are raised to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges." (Movember.com)
At Govan Brown, we make it a priority to be involved in our community and take great pride in supporting important causes such as disease awareness. We are thrilled to be taking part in such a worthy cause, and can't wait to get these mo's started in the fight against prostate cancer.
What is Prostate Cancer?
According to Prostate Cancer Canada, "Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect Canadian men. One in seven men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. Prostate cancer is a disease where some prostate cells have lost normal control of growth and division. They no longer function as healthy cells. Prostate cancer can be slow-growing and some men who develop prostate cancer may live many years without ever having the cancer detected. It is important to get screened regularly so that if you do develop prostate cancer, the appropriate action can be taken. A significant proportion of prostate cancers, if untreated, may have serious consequences."
During the month of September, Govan Brown staff across Canada participated in the 3rd annual Charity Challenge in an effort to raise money for the fight against breast cancer. 11 teams in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver held different events, from bake sales to concerts, engaging friends, family, clients and vendors to participate in the 3 week-long fundraiser. In total, over $50k was raised and donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Leaders for the Cure.
Over the past 3 years Govan Brown and their staff have raised over a quarter of a million dollars for the CBCF Leaders for the Cure. Govan Brown partner Jon Taylor sits on their board. "Currently, one in nine women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer. We are working to change those numbers. All the money raised will be used for research, having a positive impact on our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, and working towards a future without breast cancer." Since 1986, the CBCF has been a the forefront of a nationwide movement to raise awareness and mobilize action on breast cancer.
Today, the Foundation is the leading organization in Canada dedicated to creating a future without breast cancer. Their investments in vital research, education and health promotion programs have led to progress in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Govan Brown is proud to contribute.