by Edith Cody-Rice
David and Sharon Johnston have arrived in the neighbourhood. After seven years at Rideau Hall, they have settled into a farm on the edge of Ashton and, on Saturday, October 14, hosted a charity fundraiser for HIPPY on the grounds. HIPPY, which stands for Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, trains peer group home visitors and sends them into the homes of newcomer, refugee, Aboriginal and other families to teach parents – overwhelmingly mothers – how to prepare their children for school. The moms commit to spending 15 minutes a day with their 3, 4 and 5 year old children following a 30 week structured curriculum. HIPPY helps the children become school-ready and gives confidence to the moms.
A crowd of 150 strolled the grounds of the farm, admired the new swimming and boating pond created by Aquatopia from a small stream, explored the acres of woods and fields, interesting out buildings and their wonderful residence. An Ottawa Symphony Orchestra ensemble provided music.
The theme, Celebrating Hope and Home, fits HIPPY’s work in supporting refugee and newcomer settlement in Canada and recognizes the work of the Johnstons in promoting the diversity of our country by welcoming newcomers and refugees from around the world.
Maureen Boyd, Chair of the Board of the Mothers Matter Centre, the home of the Hippy Program, addressed the crowd as did Sharon Johnston. The group was touched by the moving speech from Boushra Janoudi, a Syrian mother who benefitted from the HIPPY program and who now is a HIPPY home visitor giving back to newcomers.
There was a warm local flavour to the event. Noted golf professional Kevin Haime from the Kevin Haime Golf Centre demonstrated golf technique while Ron King from Blueprint Farm and his wonderful horse Drago impressed the crowd with a dressage display. The popular Pembroke caterer, Ullrich’s on Main, served Oktoberfest themed hors d’oeuvres while the Ashton Brewery Company and Whitewater Brewery provided craft ales. Wine was donated by the Chilean and French Embassies and the Australian and New Zealand High Commissions.
Sponsors included the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Toyota, Manulife, Strategy Corp and Sirius Financial Services.