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Who We Are

Engage and Change is a charity that was created to foster good citizenship and encourage healthy communities by giving back. Engage and Change gives people and companies the opportunities to do hands on group volunteer projects that assemble and build kits to assist in the alleviation of poverty. These kits are then distributed to the local communities through frontline social service agencies and homeless shelters directly to those in need.

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Our Mission

To assist those in need in our communities by promoting, identifying, and developing partnerships between individuals, for-profit, and not-for-profit organizations. We will stand out from other charitable organizations by designing events that will engage individuals, who will contribute their time, and businesses who will contribute money and product. They will assemble kits containing supplies for everyday survival that will be distributed, through not-for-profit organizations, to those who need them. We will inspire people and businesses to engage in a hands-on experience with a tangible outcome that will change the daily lives of people in our communities.

 

Board of Directors

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Jody Steinhauer

Founder of Engage and Change & President and CBO of Bargains Group

As President and CBO (Chief Bargain Officer) of The Bargains Group, Jody Steinhauer has mobilized her award winning discount wholesale and promotional products company to revolutionize the business landscape.

Pioneering her belief of “giving back makes good business sense”, Jody Steinhauer uses her network of resources and leveraged buying power to aid every company and not for profit agency that she touches to maximize their buying dollar. She is also often sought out for speaking engagements due to her 30 years of successful entrepreneurial experience, and has been featured in various media outlets, and is an official Huffington Post blogger.

A tireless not for profit advocate, Jody is the founder of Project Winter Survival and Project Water, two annual initiatives that help thousands of homeless throughout Toronto. Jody and the Bargains Group also supply hundreds of similar projects across Canada.

“Engage and Change” is Jody’s most recent focus which aims to bridge the gap that exists between the growing need for resources in Canada’s social sector and the abundance of this country’s intellectual capital that remains heavily untapped. This initiative will engage and enable citizens of all ages to donate their time to their local community primarily through nationwide integration in school curriculums and sponsored group engagement events.

Jody’s passion for helping others has expanded to include a social enterprise wing: Kits for a Cause. Inspired by Engage and Change’s signature events, with a focus on social impact, Jody has built a model for companies to support their local community. Kits for a Cause provides turn-key solutions for businesses to engage their employees while solving local community services’ needs for resources. Her model of “brokering goodness” has worked with some of the top industry leaders in both the corporate and philanthropic spheres.

Jody’s achievements include:  Rotman Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, Toronto Board of Trade-Business Excellence Award, Kaufman Community Award, FLARE Magazine Volunteer of the Year-two time finalist, PPPC Award for Humanitarian of the Year, Women of Influence Local Hero Award, Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Culture Award-two time finalist, Canada’s Profit W100 Recipient, and recipient of the TD Paul Croutch Award.

 

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Rhonda Best

Secretary-Treasurer, Engage and Change & Retired Partner, KPMG Enterprise

 As a Partner in KPMG LLP’s private enterprise group, Rhonda provided business advisory services, including audit and tax, to privately owned companies in the real estate and consumer market sectors and not-for-profit corporations.  For twenty years, Rhonda was part of the leadership of the GTA Enterprise practice; as the Human Resource partner she was involved in policy and strategic decisions, recruiting, performance management and pay planning in addition to her client responsibilities.   

Currently, Rhonda is an independent consultant to a commercial real estate developer, a former client, and enjoying other personal and community activities.  Recognized for Community Leadership by KPMG LLP in 2014, Rhonda has been involved with Engage and Change from its inception and is currently the Secretary-Treasurer of its Board of Directors. 

 

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Sonia Vaknin

Director of Tax, HS & Partners LLP

Ms. Vaknin is a Lawyer and Tax Specialist with a business degree from York University and law degree from University of Western Ontario. She is the Director of Tax at HS & Partners LLP Chartered Professional Accountants; and owner of Vaknin Law Professional Corporation. Sonia provides strategic business advisory services to entrepreneurial clients. Sonia’s areas of expertise include Business Succession and Estate Planning, Management Consulting and Restructuring, Mergers and Acquisitions. Sonia has appeared on T.V. business talk shows and has been a keynote and/or guest speaker at multiple events on various business and tax topics. Sonia is also President of Charger Foundation (dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged children); and sits on the board of the national charity, Engage & Change (facilitating corporate opportunities to give back to their communities and assist in the alleviation of poverty). Sonia is active in many philanthropic endeavours, including volunteering in a college mentorship program for business and accounting students.

 

Michelle Jursa

Director, Programs – Caldwell Partners

Michelle is the Director, Programs for Canada’s Top 40 Under 40® and Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year®, two leadership awards programs owned by executive search firm Caldwell Partners. An experienced program director, Michelle leads all aspects of the programs which involve the search for and selection of recipients across Canada, as well as media recognition and outreach. She has P&L responsibility, oversees strategic partnership and sponsorship development, manages two independent advisory boards each comprising over 25 industry experts, and is responsible for marketing and communications and all events related to both programs, including two annual fundraising galas.

In her spare time, Michelle is an artist and supports many charitable fundraisers through donated paintings, workshops and live demonstrations, some of which include United Way of Greater Toronto, Soldiers Memorial Hospital Foundation, Grocery Foundation Night to Nurture Gala and the Teddy Bear Affair supporting the Children’s Aid Foundation.  A recipient of several “Best in Shows”, she is a member of Toronto West Arts Collaborative and the Columbus (Georgia) Artists’ Guild. Michelle is also a volunteer trainer with the Mississauga Girls Hockey League.

 

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Sue Mercer

Event Manager, Engage and Change & Founder, Step In Marketing & Event Solutions

As a natural connector, Sue is passionate about connecting people together to think, build and execute with excellence. Recognized for innovative solutions and calm execution, Sue approaches everything she does with unmatched enthusiasm and dedication.

Her Mom instilled in Sue a need to give back to others, which was reinforced every year during the “Family Orphan Christmas”, when Mom and Dad would invite everyone they knew who would be alone during the holidays to share a feast on Christmas Day! As a result, Sue grew up dedicated to giving back and has been involved in many charitable causes including:  Chair of a Corporate United Way Program; Wish Grantor for the Make-a-Wish Foundation; Volunteer for Easter Seals, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Daily Bread and Second Harvest Food Banks; and now … Engage and Change!

Sue is an active member of the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CanSPEP) where she serves on the Board of Directors as VP Marketing. She has also been the recipient of the Heinz Excellence in Marketing Award, Culinary Federation President’s Award and the CanSPEP Volunteer of the Year Award.

Champions of Engage and Change

Chef Corbin Tomaszeski

Corbin Tomaszeski is a chef with a unique vision: to bring meaning back to the world of food. In every endeavour he has taken up, whether being executive chef of key Toronto restaurants, hotels or through his popular Food Network shows- The Incredible Food Race, Dinner Party Wars, Restaurant Makeover and Restaurant Takeover, Chef Corbin strives to keep the focus on food as a conveyance to shared joy, and away from fussy, rigorous rules. 

“We’re so removed from where our food comes from and how to make it properly, because we’ve stopped making time to make food and spend that time with our families. Kids don’t learn how to cook anymore. I learned a lot on our farm as a child, and even though I’m raising 3 boys in the city, we cook. Teaching your kids to cook is an essential life skill, and the time you spend with them teaching them how to cook is never wasted.” 

Corbin is a passionate advocate for charities, and has worked with Canadian Cancer Society, Prostate Cancer Canada, Canadian Heart and Stroke Association, Crossroads International, Emily’s House and Engage & Change. Corbin’s first cookbook, “In Good Company” was released in the Spring of 2018.  “In Good Company” teaches us EASY RECIPES FOR EVERYDAY GATHERINGS and reminds us all of what cooking is all about. 

“No matter where you go, everyone celebrates with food, and no matter who is hosting you, they are proud to have you sit and enjoy life with them over their favorite dishes. The best part of my job is meeting amazing people and getting to know them over a home-cooked meal.” 

Corbin lives in Toronto with his wife and three sons.


Anthony Farnell 

Global News Chief Meteorologist

Growing up on the West Island of Montreal, Anthony Farnell developed a love for weather early on. At elementary school he remembers spending most of his time looking out the window at developing cumulus clouds. In 1998, his love for weather grew further as he lived through the “Ice Storm of the Century” in Montreal. Anthony brings his weather knowledge and experience to Global News where he recently celebrated his 10th year.

Highlights of Farnell’s career include covering the record-breaking winter of 2014 and the 2013 Christmas ice storm in Ontario that left thousands of GTA residents without power for weeks. As Global National’s top weather expert, he reported live from Gravenhurst, Ontario, just hours after one of the largest tornadoes in Canadian history struck. He has also covered many hurricane’s including the devastating effects of hurricane Sandy in 2012.

After graduating with a BSc. in Meteorology from Vermont’s Lyndon State College in 2003, Farnell began his on-air career at KPAX in Missoula, Montana as a morning meteorologist. Farnell returned to Montreal in 2005 where he worked briefly at Bellator Energy trading weather derivatives. That same year, Farnell joined Global Montreal’s evening newscast but quickly moved to Global Toronto to become their Chief Meteorologist in 2006. Since then, Farnell has expanded his reach and now brings his weather forecasting skills and personality to all four Global News markets in Eastern Canada, from Halifax to the GTA. He can also be heard giving his seasonal forecasts across the Corus Radio Network.

Anthony Farnell has been a long time supporter of the Michael Garron Hospital, formerly TEGH. He helps out several local charities, including Muscular Dystrophy Canada, H2O4All, HOPE, Safehaven Project for Community Living and Engage and Change. He also makes time to visit schools and local libraries where he and his sidekick, Storm the Weather Dog, teach kids all about meteorology. Besides being a great friend of Farnell’s, Storm is famous in his own right; he’s been featured on numerous national newscasts like CNN & Good Morning America and even made the late-night rounds on Jimmy Kimmel and Conan.

Off-air, Farnell loves to hike, bike and ski and often visits his parent’s cottage in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. His hobbies also include beach volleyball, water polo and drinking craft beer, but his number one hobby will always be the weather.