Ottawa’s Great Pumpkin Charity Ball
Funds Raised to Date: $72,750
Ottawa’s Great Pumpkin Charity Ball (GPB) is dedicated to the memory of Julie Lachance who lost her battle with cancer on October 10, 2006.
The Great Pumpkin Charity Ball was started in 2005 by Lise Lachance to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society while her sister Julie was sick. Matt Stepchuk joined Lise to work on the 2006 event which was subsequently cancelled due to Julie’s passing.
After a string of larger and more successful events, Matt Stepchuk took over exclusive organization of the event in 2010. At the beginning of 2014, Matt decided to fulfill other passions, and pass the torch to an awesome team of event planners.
Charities We Support
As Matt has been an active volunteer and advocate for the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing since 2004, proceeds from the charity ball are split evenly between the Canadian Cancer Society and CADS-NCD. To date the Great Pumpkin Charity Ball has raised over $70,000 for these charities. A food bank drive was also initiated in 2013, and to date over 1000 lbs of goods was donated to the Ottawa Food Bank.
St. Brigid’s Haunted Castle
The Great Pumpkin Ball moved permanently to St. Brigid’s Haunted Castle (Centre for the Arts) in Ottawa’s Byward Market in 2009 where it has become Ottawa’s premier Friday night Halloween party with 750 colourful guests who enjoy an incredible venue with a big rock show on the main level and the Disco Dungeon, photo souvenir booth, psychic services, and “Crypt” lounge on the lower level. The beautifully restored stone work, historical artifacts, and decorations makes this an unbelievably perfect venue for this gigantic Halloween party. It’s like Dracula’s castle only brand new.
Student Volunteer Staff
The GPB has been staffed by Carleton and Ottawa University TKE fraternity and various sorority partners since 2008. These young men and women set-up, staff and tear down the event and help collect prizes to satisfy mandatory volunteer hour requirements.
Algonquin Great Pumpkin Culinary Bursary
Algonquin College joined the GPB in 2012 with its first volunteer security team from the Police Foundations Program and incredible finger foods prepared by students from the Hospitality program.
The $500 Algonquin Great Pumpkin Culinary Bursary was established in 2013 in recognition of Algonquin’s strategic alliance with the charity ball organization. The TKE Prize Collection Award was also established in 2013 as an incentive program for prize collection from the business community by the students.
St Brigid’s Centre for the Arts and Humanities
Before becoming St Brigid’s Centre for the Arts and Humanities in 2009, St Brigid’s was a Roman Catholic church located in the Lowertown neighbourhood of Ottawa, Canada which was built to serve the English-speaking, Catholic population of the area. Until the opening of St Brigid’s, this community, largely of Irish heritage, had formed part of the parish of Notre-Dame, the Cathedral of Ottawa. By 1870, the Irish percentage of the population had declined relative to that of the French Canadian. As a consequence, the Irish played an ever diminishing role in the life and management of Notre-Dame.
Discussions to establish a distinct anglophone parish and church for Lower Town began in March 1888. A committee of parishioners from Notre-Dame Cathedral held meetings with the Archbishop of Ottawa, the Most Rev. Joseph-Thomas Duhamel. It was agreed to create a new parish; a site for the church chosen; and by May 3, 1888, James R. Bowes had been chosen as architect. The plans called for a substantial structure at the corner of St Patrick and Cumberland Streets.
Built in the Romanesque Revival style (generally called Norman at that time), the principal façade has three heavy round headed portals and paired towers of unequal height and detail. The taller (eastern) tower is capped with a stylized bishop’s mitre placing the church and its Irish parishioners squarely in the Ultramontanist tradition of the Catholic Church. Work began on St Brigid’s in 1889 and the Blessing of the completed Church took place on August 3, 1890.
In May 2006 Archbishop Marcel Gervais announced that the church would be closed, as the shrinking congregation did not justify the several hundred thousand dollars in needed repairs. The parishioners objected vehemently to this, and even took the archdiocese to court in an attempt to keep it open, but these efforts failed.
The deconsecrated building was purchased by four investors in the fall of 2007 for $450,000. After extensive structural renovations, the building has been transformed into an Irish-Canadian heritage centre and social venue hosting art exhibitions, plays, and concerts.
Click here to visit the website for St. Brigid’s Centre for the Arts and Humanities.