Photo: Angela e Carlo Baldassarra con Greg Sorbara, Michael Pandis, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Ingrid Perry, Altaf Stationwala e Enzo Morini
TORONTO - There’s Hope. When men and women with the means to do what is best for society, and the will to carry it through, act with generosity of spirit good things result.
Exciting things are happening in Vaughan. One can almost feel the energy coming off Highway 400 at Major Mackenzie. Already four construction cranes are enabling crews assembling the Mackenzie Health Centre.
A hospital, the first in 30 years for the city, will be impressive in size and in scope. The cost is $1.6 Billion and aims to be technologically “smart”, and, clinically targeted. Great as a government project to service a growing population in a dynamic part of the GTA, but it requires $250 Million from the local community to be a functioning partnership. Hence the “Exceptional Care Belongs Here” campaign.
Yesterday, the Baldassarra family stepped up to the plate with a $5 Million donation. Carlo Baldassarra, a Builder-Developer and philanthropist who heads the Greenpark group of companies, together with his wife Angela Baldassarra, made the announcement yesterday (Dec. 12) before a packed house in the atrium of Vaughan’s City Hall.
The Baldassarra are no strangers to hospitals. Angela, noted, shyly, that they are contributors to the Markham-Stouffville Centre and to the Princess Margaret, among others. As a volunteer at Villa Colombo, she was struck by the health care needs of those she served. She insisted that whatever donations, little or large, the family might make these should be directed to hospitals.
“We were not always in a financial position to do so”, she said, “but, now, God has been good to us and blessed our hard work with some financial success. Like every family, we’ve experienced the need for medical attention along the way”, she adds, “and thankfully we’ve been fortunate enough to pull through.”
“But medical services don’t appear out of the blue”, she reflects, “we have to nurture what we cherish and anticipate what we may need tomorrow. Care and compassion are soft investments in our own needs. These financial contributions should be seen as an extension of that.”
Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua, on behalf of the City, in his own manner, fashioned out a statement of collective thanks to the Baldassarra, as did his Campaign Co-Chair for the Foundation, Greg Sorbara. But, Angela’s husband, Carlo, eschewed compliments, preferring to give “a shout-out” to his fellow entrepreneurs to follow the example of Greenpark and others to bring the drive to fruition.
With the Baldassarra donation, the campaign has now reached $80 Million, or 32% of it’s target. Not bad for three years of encouragement when the campaign was basically selling a concept. It has not always been smooth sailing. Provincial and local politicians needed to resolve the issues of the Vaughan Health Campus of Care and integrate its efforts into this larger plan.
They are making progress. CEO Altaf Stationwala was excited about the fact that construction of the 1.2 million square feet, finally started last Fall. “It will feature a fully integrated ‘smart’ technology systems and medical devices when it opens in 2020”, he said.
In a side interview, Enzo Morini, Chair of the Hospital Board reminded others that, ultimately, donors like the Baldassarra family have the end-user, the public, in mind.
“It’s up to us to assemble the team of experts and what they require to satisfy the health needs of our patients. For example, this occasion presents an opportunity to point out that our hospital is home to the York Region Chronic Kidney Disease Program.”
Admittedly, it is a valuable and progressive initiative for “down the road”.
Today though the focus is on the Baldassarra family. It has built over 18,000 homes in Vaughan. This year, it is celebrating its 50th anniversary as an enterprise. And, it is making a social investment equivalent to $100,000 for each of those years to a hospital for the future.
An example to applaud and to follow.