THUNDER BAY — A proposal to create a new business that organizes social events for seniors took first prize in the Social Innovation Challenge held on the weekend at Thunder Bay's Trinity United Church.
Local writer, broadcaster and activist Nancy Angus will use the $1,500 in prize money to launch and promote a series of events in which seniors—many of whom live alone—can get together with others looking for social contact.
Angus drew inspiration for the project from her 100-year-old mom, Sis Angus.
She told the audience her mother is the dedicated "hugger" at the church, something that says a lot about the social connection seniors want in their lives.
The Social Innovation Challenge is a project of the United Church of Canada, which put up most of the prize money awarded at the Saturday event.
The runner-up pitch was Josh Hewitt and Amanda Walford's StandUp4Cleanup project, a volunteer program collecting litter in neighbourhoods across Thunder Bay. They won $1,000.
Third prize went to Darlene Salvador who plans to use her $500 award to further her education aimed at becoming a life coach for young women who have grown up in the child welfare system.
Prizes were also awarded in special categories to Cherry Stewart ($1,000) for Girl's United, a mentorship program for single moms, and to Lynda Fraser ($500 from the Northwest Innovation Centre) who plans to establish a business that helps families create books of remembrance after a loved one dies.
Rev. Randy Boyd, the minister at Trinity, said he was pleased with all the presentations at the day-long event.
"I see the Innovation Challenge as a unique opportunity to use market mechanisms to solve social problems," Boyd said.