Matthew Behrens and Jane Hobson
A group of Carleton Place residents have come together under the banner of “Hometown Hearts” to promote and refresh the community and culture of Carleton Place, with a number of summer events on tap designed to attract visitors and locals alike.
“Our mission is to be there as an emergency relief group to support people in times of need, to help bring some positive energy and fun to the town, and basically work to bring a whole new vibe to Carleton Place and surrounding area,” explained Hometown Hearts member Lisa Occomore in front of the town’s policy review committee on April 11. The group wants to “show members of our community what our town has to offer and how there is no need to go to the city.”
Hometown Hearts formed after Occomore posted on her personal Facebook account, asking if anyone was interested in helping her organize some local fundraising events. “I have always wanted to create a non-profit foundation that’s able to support our community members in emergencies like fire, accidents or medical hardships,” she said. “In my own experiences there are few options in town for instant support.”
The group’s ambitious agenda includes a series of “Night on the Town” events on the second Thursday of each month from May to September, employing a variety of themes to transform the town into a “spot to be,” with vendors, live music, classic cars, and entertaining activities.
The inaugural May 11 evening features a “throwback to the oldies” brand that will transform Bridge Street into the feel of Ottawa’s Byward Market.
On June 14, the group will host a charity barbecue at Beckwith Butcher from noon until 7 p.m. to raise funds and awareness about those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Looking ahead, Hometown Hearts plans to organize a 2018 Carleton Place People’s Choice Awards to recognize those who daily make contributions to the community.
“Our motto is ‘without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community’,” Occomore said, asking Carleton Place residents and town officials to collaborate with the group as it spreads its mutual support message.
“For me, giving back and supporting my town and the people in it is a no brainer,” she said, previous to the meeting.
There are currently 14 volunteers on the board of the organization with many other volunteers sitting on subcommittees. Those wishing to get involved can email firstname.lastname@example.org or find the group on Facebook.