Each year we present the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award at the Volunteer Manitoba Awards. We look forward to this day because it gives us a chance to recognize one of our volunteers and the impact their work has had on the community, as well as celebrate volunteerism throughout Manitoba.
A number of organizations we worked with this year nominated their Spark volunteer and wished to recognize them for their fantastic leadership and coordination, the outcome and impact of the match on the organization’s work, the depth and quality of their expertise, and their commitment to doing pro bono work for a stronger Winnipeg. So for the month of March, we are celebrating these nominees for the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award, and their contributions to their community through a series of volunteer profiles.
Like fellow nominee George Harris, Jason and IDEATE are some of Spark’s most active volunteers. They enjoy giving back to their community and since joining Spark in 2012, have taken on one pro bono project a year, bringing their total of Spark matches up to five. Past Spark projects include work with the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute, West Broadway Youth Outreach, Broadway Neighbourhood Centre, Koats for Kids, and the match for which they are nominated, Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre.
Jason founded IDEATE in 2002 after graduating from the University of Manitoba with a Master’s Degree in Facility Management. His vision for the company was to offer a unique design experience for his clients, with a focus on creating innovative, inclusive, and collaborative design solutions.
Since then, IDEATE has expanded into a six-person team focusing on several market sectors including corporate, government, retail, healthcare, education, residential, hospitality, and institutional. Despite the growth, Jason and the IDEATE team still hold true to their original vision and the idea that good design is holistic and must meet a client’s physical, behavioural, and emotional needs.
It was IDEATE’s design expertise, focus on collaboration, and commitment to community building that made them a perfect fit for a request from the Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre (FGWRC)
FGWRC is a Winnipeg based nonprofit feminist organization supporting women to engage in healthy life choices for themselves and their families through innovative and responsive programming and services. They envision “a world where women and children are safe, healthy, valued and empowered.” Since opening their doors in 1983 the centre has seen steady growth, and while this meant the ability to increase staff and programs, it also meant the organization was outgrowing its current space.
With FGWRC’s lease about to expire, coupled with the organization’s growth, it was time for them to begin the process of securing a new functional office space.
But where to start?
FGWRC called Spark with the request to help them take all of their ideas for a new space and turn them into something tangible that they could use when searching for a new home. We connected them with Jason and IDEATE to do a space assessment with the organization.
Before the match, FGWRC did not know much about space assessments. According to Andrea Shnider, the centre assumed “it would mostly be just a square foot calculation.”
What they got was so much more.
Jason and the team met with a group of FGWRC staff and board members to get a sense of their work, workplace culture, and opinions of space requirements. They also made sure to “take note of the space [FGWRC] currently had including room measurements, equipment needs, what the functionality of the room was, and what special requirements a room would need.”
Once all the site visits, interviews, and measuring were completed the IDEATE team began combing through the data.
What resulted was a practical document that identified key necessities including accessibility, security, traffic flow, and light “that [FGWRC] are able to present to contractors, realtors, founders, or the broader community to give them a clear vision of our specific needs and the direction [they] are headed in.” The process of finding a suitable space is now much more achievable and as a result, they can begin to move forward in the process of finding.
So, let us recap for a moment. Initially, FGWRC thought the outcome of the match would be a square foot calculation, instead, the actual outcomes of this match went beyond their expectations. Not only did FGWRC received a practical document that outlines specific requirements the centre needs in a new space for their staff and participants to thrive, but with that came a vision for their future and a means to communicate that vision.
Space is so much more than a number.
Thank you to all of our amazing Spark volunteers who have contributed their skills to help make Winnipeg stronger, thank you to our Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award nominees, and congratulations Jason and the IDEATE team win!