2017 Stouffville Honouree
As John Bouwmeister (aka “JJ”) reflects back, he recalls some deep philanthropic roots in his genes. In the early 1980s, John’s mother, Catherine Bouwmeister, was one of the founders of the hospice movement; and in the 80s and 90s, his cousin and business partner held a number of fundraisers in support of MS. To carry on in a similar manner, John initially served on the Gala board for Evergreen Hospice.
In August 2012, John encouraged a group of local guys, passionate about their bar-b-ques and socializing, to join him in sponsoring the Special Olympics Provincial Summer Games with a Meatfest fundraiser. This event eventually became The Taste of Stouffville, and from its humble beginnings that drew 150 people, it has grown to where an amazing 2,000 were in attendance in 2016. On several occasions, athletes have spoken about how much they appreciated the funding for their sport, and everyone involved has been so moved by their stories.
In 2014, John approached Evergreen Hospice to form a committee for The Taste of Stouffville, which had already become a popular annual event held at Memorial Park. It was a natural fit, and since then, Evergreen Hospice has been the grateful recipient of the funds received each year from this very successful fundraiser. John finds this heartwarming to know his mother’s legacy of giving lives on. John’s philosophy is to give back to a community that has given so much to him, and his portrait photo outside Evergreen Hospice is very fitting.
It’s been an amazing process for John to witness his passion for barbequing and festivals ultimately evolve into this huge annual Taste of Stouffville event. He encourages others to do what they love, certain that they will experience similar benefits. “It’s therapeutic,” John said.
Time is just as valuable as money for business and charitable causes. Make the time, and donate it in lieu of, or in addition to, dollars. Find a common interest, and give it a try. Follow the example of students, retirees, and others; it’s easy to get started, and once you get involved, you will never turn back.
Recently, John started the annual Jingle Mingle, a festive atmosphere with appetizers, music, and more, to benefit The Stouffville Foodbank. Along with great support from neighbours and friends, this event will continue to raise money and awareness, as will other endeavours John is anticipating for the future.