‘Tough times don’t last but tough teams do’ is vision of Blue Door winner of Women of Excellence award
From the resilience of forging a meaningful life following the death of a spouse, to the highs and lows of keeping a new business going during the COVID-19 pandemic while dealing with struggles of infertility, to the announcement of this year’s winner of the Women of Excellence award, Newmarket’s NewRoads Performing Arts Centre was the venue of stories of strong local women this month.
The Newmarket Chamber of Commerce held its annual Celebration of Women at the theatre March 9, as part of the observance of International Women’s Day the day before.
Emmy Kelly, the chief operating officer of Blue Door Shelters, the largest provider of emergency housing in York Region, was the winner of the 2022 Women of Excellence award, sponsored by the NewRoads Automotive Group.
Kelly, who accepted the award in a pre-recorded video, was recognized for vastly expanding the organization’s programming and services and for developing a trades-based employment social enterprise called Construct.
“During the peak of the pandemic, Emmy helped plan, launch and operationalize a merger between Blue Door and Mosaic Interfaith Out of the Cold, the upcoming opening of Blue Door’s new Health Hub and three supportive housing programs called Abode, Forward and INNclusion,” an event statement said.
“The supportive housing programs are the first of their kind in York Region, offering population-specific support for three highly vulnerable and underserviced populations, including senior men, families and 2SLGBTQ+ youth.”
Kelly’s vision is “tough times don’t last but tough teams do.”
Before the award was announced, the audience heard guest speakers Julie Cryns, a grief coach and end-of-life doula, and Shabi Monzavi, founder and CEO of Market Candle Company, who shared her company’s beginnings and her treatments for infertility.
Cryns spoke of husband Mark’s diagnosis of leukemia in 2006 and gruelling treatments before his death in 2011.
During his illness, Cryns focused on her husband while also caring for their two young children.
“My frustration and anxiety threatened to eat me alive,” she said, saying she searched for something good to come out of the painful experience.
She and Mark created the Mad Hatter’s Walk for leukemia research, an annual Newmarket event launched in 2007 that would go on to raise $120,000 over three years.
Following Mark’s death and the death of her father 14 months later, Cryns would later become a volunteer at Newmarket’s Margaret Bahen Hospice and then a grief coach and end-of-life doula to help others dealing with the loss of a loved one.
“We are surrounded by loss,” said Cryns, who married her second husband, also named Mark, eight years after Mark died.
“At any given moment, there will be someone in your life who is struggling with loss. It’s part of life and it does not discriminate.”
Worthy of a standup comedy routine, Monzavi spoke of her ongoing attempts to settle on a career and her unsatisfying time in the corporate world before she launched Market Candle Company in May 2019 from her home.
Throughout the pandemic, she grew her business and now has a store at 1100 Gorham St.