In the early days of Broadway in New York City, many stellar productions would never have seen the light of day without the help of what were termed ‘angels.’ These were influential individuals who recognized talent and promise and were willing to fight against all odds to ensure struggling theatrical productions made it to the stage.
This bit of theatre history comes to mind when looking back over Tamir’s long struggle to bring our own ‘production’ to the Ottawa stage – to create an Integrated Living Centre (ILC) here in Ottawa to address the critical needs faced by people with developmental disabilities and their families. As the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin reported in the April 30 edition, the Tamir ILC will be built on the Jewish Community Campus.
Guided by an initial concept developed by members of the Tamir senior management team, the organization worked for years and spent a great deal of energy and resources exploring various designs, locations, program options and partnerships. There were many disappointments and setbacks along the way such as failed partnerships, rejected applications for government funding, and promises of support that never materialized. But, through it all, the Tamir Board and senior staff persevered, refining the initial concept, securing partnerships that were a good fit and, ultimately, adapting the program and overall ILC proposal to satisfy key stakeholders.
But, like a struggling Broadway production, Tamir needed some vital ‘angels’ to help surmount a few critical hurdles in bringing the ILC to fruition. And as fate or luck would have it, a few years ago, Jewish Federation of Ottawa President and CEO Andrea Freedman introduced Tamir to Hartley Stern.
Hartley, who is now chair of the Federation, had just returned to Ottawa from Montreal, where he served as CEO of the Jewish General Hospital. As Andrea described, he “was looking for a cause where he could make a significant difference.”
Every great community cause needs at least one champion, especially when spearheaded by an organization with little access to the “corridors of power and influence.” Hartley’s efforts on Tamir’s behalf raised the profile of the ILC vision, opened doors, and caught the attention of decision-makers.
His sterling efforts were aided and abetted by other angels: Andrea, the Federation Board, and Bryan Keshen, CEO of Reena in Toronto and chair of the International Community Consortium. All of these people played pivotal roles in making the ILC a reality.
In a world where so much of the news is negative, we should celebrate the ILC as a shining example of how perseverance and hard work, coupled with the help of special ‘angels,’ can make great things happen in our Jewish community.
Thanks to our collective efforts, the ILC production will, in the not too distant future, be opening in Ottawa and when it does we are confident there will be standing ovations all round.