Saturday, June 20, 2015

BRUCE (and Olive)

The place can be frenetic. The Distillery District on a warn sunny evening is filled with people walking in all directions. Contrasting to that, and keeping long steady strides, Bruce Waithe and his Great Dane, Olive seem to glide through all the people on their walk.

Arriving in 1969, Bruce and his family emigrated to Toronto from Trinidad. At the age of 8, Bruce has spent most of his life here. A fitness instructor and personal trainer, Bruce has a deep warm voice and an elegant air. 

It was when his clients saw what he was cooking that he began to change his career. He began to cook for some fitness clients until his skills in a kitchen were recognized. He has now been a personal chef for the last 13 years. "I cook for people who want to eat properly and healthy. I do all organic and mostly vegan" says Bruce of meals he creates.

When not preparing meals, he is out walking Olive, enjoying the city and is also a spin instructor.

BRUCE FUN FACT: Pointing to a scar beside his left eye  left from a hockey puck, he laughs and remembers he used to tell people it was a hockey injury. But in reality, he hurt himself when he and his younger brother were playing Ice Capades!

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Friday, June 19, 2015

ADAM & MIKE

Adam Jakiela and Mike Hipp, friends from Michigan, are renting a couple of bikes and exploring Toronto. This is Adam's first visit to Toronto, but Mike's father comes from Canada, so he has visited relatives here a few times.

Adam works as a software developer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is only here a few days and has picked a perfect time to come, early enough to miss the heat and humidity of the city in July and August. Adam enjoys traveling with his friends and visiting different cities together to explore.

Mike lives in Northville, a suburb of Detroit where Adam also lives. Mike is going into medical school in the fall at the University of Michigan. This will be the last time in a long while he can enjoy a summer off! Mike has an interest in travel, photography and visiting new places with friends.


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Thursday, June 18, 2015

NATALIE, BRITT & J'AIMEE

Together again, Natalie, Britt and J'Aimee are in Toronto to take part in the Nike women's race series on the Toronto Islands. It is a running series which takes place in various locations around the world. This year these three women have chosen Toronto as the place to meet up and run.

Natalie in an operating nurse at Saint Frances hospital and lives in Brooklyn, New York. www.stfrancisheartcenter.com She also works for Nike, the organizer of the running series. Proud to be half Jamaican and half Haitian, Natalie spent her younger years growing up in Jamaica before moving to New York city.

Britt lives in Atlanta, Georgia where she works at the Emery University Autism Centre. She teaches children with and without autism together in an inclusive environment. Check them out at http://www.psychiatry.emory.edu/PROGRAMS/autism/.

J'Aimee, originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, lives in Washington D.C. where she works for the D.C. government, specifically their Health Benefit Exchange Authority. She helps to implement and develop the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly referred to as Obama Care. She provides health insurance coverage and access to health care throughout the district. www.dchealthlink.com

The women all met at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Though spread around the US, they get together for a run each year. They are best of friends and share an infectious laughs and deep friendship.


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

T.F., JING, JESS & H.F.

Ni Hao ("Hello")! A Chinese mother, Jing, with her daughter, Jess and husband H.F. Also, on left, Jess' boyfriend, T.F. gather for a family photo at Toronto's City Hall.

Jing is a civil engineer, she is here in Toronto with her husband for a short, one-week visit to see their daughter. The parents live and work in Jinan city in Shandong Province, a province on the east coast of the country, not far from Beijing.

Jess is a student at the University of Windsor taking Human Resources. Being a single child, it is especially sweet to have this visit from her parents. 

Tianya Fu (T.F.) is Jess' boyfriend and also lives in Windsor and is studying accounting at St. Clair College.

Father, H.F. is a manager of a pharmacy in Jinan. He is very excited to see his daughter after being separated so long. After shaking hands, they are off. Time is short here, I have taken time away from their visit so they are now off exploring more of downtown Toronto.

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

KIMI, SIMI, CHANDI, SAMIRA & BILOO

A beautiful wife and three beautiful daughters, Biloo (Bill) Ahluwalia is very proud this day. His eldest, Chandi is celebrating her 25th birthday and they have come to Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto for family photos. It has not escaped The Hello Project that Bill is rocking the Elvis look in dressing for the occasion!

Living in east Toronto, The family is originally from the Punjab area of India and now call Toronto home.

Kimi is the youngest of the three sisters works in downtown Toronto at Cira Medical Services. Simi works as a teller at the Toronto Dominion bank in Scarborough in east Toronto. Chandi, the birthday girl is also a teller and works for Scotiabank. 

Samira, the mother and wife, is equally proud of her daughters and works as an educational assistant for a grade two class at a public school in Scarborough. Bill works for the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) as a Spirit Advocate. He has one of the coolest jobs we have had on the Hello Project! Together with his refined palate and the flavours of the various spirits, he guides customers in choosing the right drinks for the foods they wish to serve.

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Monday, June 15, 2015

KATHY

Waiting alone at Toronto City Hall, shivering in the damp cold, wind and threatening skies, Kathy Penner is scared out of her mind. So frightening is the idea of what she will be doing that her three team mates did not show up. Kathy is alone in her team venture, but like many today, her bravery will help others.

For many months, Kathy has raised money in support of Make-A-Wish's, Rope For Hope event which will grant wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions. She, and many other will be harnessed and helped over the edge of the dizzying 325' drop to rappel down the concrete side os the city hall building.

Born in northern Greece, Kathy's family emigrated to Canada when she was five years of age for a better future. Given her Greek background, she worked in a restaurant for a while, "Its just like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I was that girl." she laughs remembering that part of her past. After the restaurant, she applied for a part-time media job and has been working there that last 32 years. 

Her company Newcom Business Media, has raised over $152,000 for charity through golf tournaments. This year however, they have changed it up and went for the lofty idea of rappelling! "I'm terrified and petrified of heights! I'm probably going to throw up." Kathy says, worried eyes looking up to the top of the building where she will confront her fears.

KATHY FUN FACT: "I'm the humour relief at work." she says of her jovial nature and getting coworkers laughing and feeling good. She will be doing this rappel for her company, but more importantly for children, "I'm going to go up to the top and do it for all the kids at Make-A-Wish. I really believe in supporting them, I think everyone should give. Facing my fears for 15 minutes is nothing compared to what those kids and their families face every day.

(NOTE: Kathy did rappel and did it with style and a smile. See photos below)

PHOTOS: SPENCER WYNN










Sunday, June 14, 2015

HUMBERTO

The first time I saw Humberto Cox, he was at the Pottery Road exit of one of the Toronto ravine trails and appeared to be asking for directions. His three-wheeled scooter looked more like a lost, bright red Christmas ornament against a verdant backdrop of lush green forest. We eventually met a short time & distance later in our common destination, the Toronto Brick Works.

Now 51, Humberto was born in Mexico City to a Canadian father and Mexican mother and moved to Canada in the early 1970s. "You are the only person who speaks English with a Spanish accent and goes, "Eh". " A friend of Humberto's in Florida says of him. With that anecdote, he rocks with laughter – again!

Humberto took actuarial science in school. After graduating, he worked in this capacity, predicting insurance costs for the insurance industry. Now retired, he loves to read a lot, travel and explore. His travels have taken him all over Europe, South America and Asia.

When one travels and has an electric scooter, one has to think of accessibility and logistics. "You just have to do a lot of planning and you never can do too much. Now with the internet its easier but still you might face last-minute challenges at the location." Humberto describes as he recounts some of his travel stories.

Visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing, China was one such example of a mobility challenge. Forget the uneven cobbles that are difficult for everyone to walk on, Humberto found other unique challenges. To get from one building to the other there are ramps, but to exit a large building to the outside, there are particular obstacles! "...the next thing you know, there are these giant doors, and in the bottom they have a beam which most people just walk over, but I can't," he describes of the large red doors found throughout the Forbidden City. "There are people ready to carry me, but I go, "No, no, no! I look at it and it looks like you just lift up the beam and then you should be ok." He tells as he figures out a solution. He found people who will simply lift the beam up and out of his way, replacing it after he passes. Such is an example of a local mobility challenge not necessarily found during online trip planning.

HUMBERTO FUN FACT: While visiting Aukland, New Zealand, he found the Sky Tower is exceptionally accommodating! At 328 metres (1076 feet) it is the highest man-made structure in New Zealand. Similar to Toronto's CN Tower Edgewalk, Aukland's tower offers walks around the exterior of the top of their tower – and they are able to accommodate wheelchairs! "They put all this stuff around me, these harnesses around me, that was the hard part," he motions, describing how the Sky Tower staff secured him so his chair would not fall off the top of the dizzying height. "So there I was flying over Aukland! My mother and aunts though I was crazy!" he laughs remembering their reactions to the safe, but scary stunt!

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN