Nothing is impossible with community support

Giovanni, inspiration for the Giovanni’s Passion project, and Anna Marcuzzi celebrating with family 1980

A few months ago I had the opportunity to attend the Social Venture Institute (SVI) where like-minded people from socially responsible organizations and businesses gathered together to look at case studies, participate in workshops, networking and eat amazing Hollyhock cuisine. The opportunity provided me with some amazing connections, insights and an affirmation: When you put action into your ambitions and goals, people will support the movement.

On Friday November 19, 2010, thanks to the amazing organizational skills of Vanessa LeBourdais and Andrea Curtis, I had an opportunity to do a two-minute marketplace pitch to about a hundred people at Hollyhock founders Joel and Dana Solomon’s house. The pitch was about a new social enterprise called Giovanni’s Passion. The idea came to me after talking with my Nonna about my Nonno’s dream of a place for people to eat and celebrate community. It also came from the knowledge that I was able to embrace from SVI and from being involved with the Young Women in Business SFU Project Give as a mentor and from various other professionals like Judy Brooks and Jay Carvalho.

The pitch was a hit. My ambitious goal is to create Giovanni’s Passion, an old New York-meets-Euro style pastry shop. We will train young women on front- and back-of house operations. We plan on opening in Fall 2011. Now, I must prepare for all the hard work and capital-raising that goes into creating something like this.

Thanks to Hollyhock, I met Beverley Pomeroy, founder of Global Currents and PNC Giving. We have started to use the company's amazingly easy online donation system. She also has connected us with people who can help get the ball rolling for Giovanni’s Passion.

Next week I have a meeting with David Le Page of Enterprising Non Profits with the goal of moving the idea into the first steps of a reality.

In addition to this initiative, Passion Foundation has made connections and partnerships with two other movements in the New Year:

PassionToAction, a six month pilot project for girls 15-18 years of age will kick off in the early spring. Lead by SFU graduate Jennifer McRae, the project will take approximately 12 young women and immerse them in leadership and dialogue workshops with a focus on holistic systems of sustainability. The project will call on girls interested in sustainability and invite them to participate in experiential learning while increasing their social capital.

The other exciting development for the Passion Foundation is the B.C. Road Show, in partnership with the Strength Within Girls Group. SWIGG is a dynamic, Ontario-based organization focused on sharing, learning and leading. Girls in different organizations and schools in B.C. will have an opportunity to take part in a Passion Project coaching series to build leadership qualities. We will then assist the girls in creating a conference for other young women in their area.

Our aim is to increase holistic literacy, social development and provide an opportunity for girls to connect. They will have the chance to share experiences, learn skills for development and act as leaders along with their peers to make change. As part of the project, I plan on educating girls on the benefits of using Lunapads in both Canada and in developing countries. Our kick off will be in the Metro Vancouver area in February.

Our wonderful volunteers and supporters will see some truly amazing results in 2011. It is with our community that we are able to reach out to more young women in support of their well-being.

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