Saturday, May 23, 2015


Leaving the deck, his board spinning below him, Ryan Arica is in his element at Underpass Park – a feature of Toronto's downtown east. He is the only one here, he has all the rails, spines, launch boxes and ramps to himself this Friday afternoon.

Born in north Toronto in 1994, Ryan recently graduated from George Brown College in Architectural Technology. Before launching into 3-d modeling, floor plans and working with architects, he is enjoying a bit of well-deserved free time while he also looks for work.

Ryan discovered Underpass Park online watching skateboard videos on YouTube and hearing about it from friends. "I think it's kinda cool, not a lot of people here, a little fun place for myself", he says, still breathing heavily from so many board runs.

RYAN FUN FACT: A creative kid, Ryan enjoys drumming and art but also collecting dead earphones and cables. Collectively, in boxes, the look is one of technology at its end. "It makes me look like a techie guy, all those gadgets, realistically they don't even work," he laughs sheepishly before heading off for more boarding.


Friday, May 22, 2015


Surrounded by green moving bins, Rita 'Reets' Daly is on the move. They have sold the house and she will soon be driving from Toronto, Ontario to Victoria, British Columbia – a drive which will take her a week.

Born in Edmonton, Rita and the family of nine moved to Toronto by train in 1969 when her father was transferred. Thinking back on the journey, Rita recalls she had a big 15-year-old teenage crush on the porter, Doug Borden!

After completing a history degree at the University of Waterloo, Rita discovered she had a love for writing. She got a job at the Cobourg Daily Star (now, Northumberland Today) as a writer and photographer. After a bit of traveling, Rita moved closer to Toronto and worked at the Scarborough Mirror before landing her final job at the Toronto Star in 1981.

Looking back over her career at the Star, she is most proud of an 8-month, in-depth series on spousal abuse for which she and her other team members won the Governor General's Award for Public Service. The series also went on to win a National Newspaper Award for a special project.

Beyond Rita's talents as a journalist, she enjoys tennis and now golf. She is also a painter. Recently she had a show in Toronto where one of her pieces sold before the show was even hung. She comes by this honestly, as her mother was an artist and always encouraged Rita to draw and paint.

RITA FUN FACT: Humming and hawing, Rita sifts through many stories which could be her "fun fact" before settling on one which drew the attention of the police! When she was putting herself through university, she had a summer job as a bank teller in Banff, Alberta. In those days, the summer students had lodging in the back of the bank. One late night, after Rita and her friends were robustly sampling beverages at a party, they discovered they had forgotten their key. The key to the bank! Determined to have a good night's sleep, there was really only one thing to do... The bank's alarms rang out the police came, but the girls were forgiven for throwing the rock through the bank's front window to get inside!


Thursday, May 21, 2015


Born in Etobicoke, not far from where we are meeting, Robert Meinzer's career thus far has been about helping others through social enterprise.

A sales person for Options Printing in Mississauga, Ontario, Robert is one of the staff who works with co-workers with intellectual disabilities. There are 40 co-workers in Options' social enterprise programme at any given time who are being trained and helped to become job-ready. "Empowering and showing people that they can be part of the work force even when people say they can't" is how Robert sums up the year-long programme.

Before Options, Robert worked in other social enterprise organizations. It is an important part of his life and one which he wants to show his family. "I want to show my kids that you can make the world a better place and still make a living – that you don't have to be all about the money"  Robert say of his experiences.

Beyond his work in social enterprise, Robert is a family man who enjoys spending time with his family, yelling at sports on TV and "trying to do home improvements"!

ROBERT FUN FACT: He is currently laying a stone patio in front and back of his house. He has no idea what he is doing but loves the work! 

( To learn more about Options and their business, please visit: )


Wednesday, May 20, 2015


More comfortable working tirelessly behind the scenes, Heather Truemner takes a moment to chat with the Hello Project. She is one of many residents of Bala, a small town in Muskoka who are fighting against the construction of a proposed hydro plant at the falls. The Bala falls are beautiful, and a draw for tens of thousands of visitors annually. 

Born in Kitchener, Ontario, Heather and her husband now split their time living at home in London, Ontario for six months, and in Bala for six months. Retired now, Heather spent 25 years as an elementary school teacher teaching grades 4-6.

Passionate about the outdoors, Heather loves hiking, wilderness camping, canoe tripping and swimming. She always has swimming fins with her in the car - for those moments where she feels like a fish out of water! "You never know where a swimming opportunity might come up," she says laughing.

HEATHER FUN FACT: Once while bringing in the dock for the season, Heather swam across Bala Bay and back, a distance of about two kilometres with her husband paddling behind her. Even today, she still enjoys a good hearty lake swim when out canoe tripping.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Enjoying the stellar Victoria Day warm weather, Fred Tang stops to chat with The Hello Project. He is here taking his two dogs for a walk in Corktown Common, the 18 acre park in the West Don Lands of Toronto.

Fred, a native Torontonian has been a self-employed accountant for the last 8 years. When he is not out walking his dogs with his girlfriend (not pictured), he is enjoying many sports including basketball, hockey and was an avid cyclist. 

Laughing, Fred says he has had to scale back his cycling a bit due to a knee issue. "Its more being active and trying to be healthy," he says about getting older. "I look really young, but I'm actually getting up there in age! Today's my birthday, I'm 39." He laughs and says he is sometimes mistaken for an intern or a summer student!

FRED FUN FACT: A few years ago, on another birthday, Fred went skydiving. A gift from his girlfriend, "I was more nervous the day she told me, as opposed to the day I did it." Happy birthday Fred!


Monday, May 18, 2015


Born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1976, John Macdonald is up in Bala Ontario with his girlfriend, helping her inform visitors to the area about the threat to the Bala Falls. A soft spoken guy with an observant gaze, John is easy to speak with and very friendly.

For the past seven years, John has worked for Google in Toronto in sales. He is an avid soccer player, loves to ski, snowboard, wakeboard, pretty much any sport out there. He also enjoys playing his guitar.

JOHN FUN FACT: John used to be deathly afraid of public speaking. At his grade 13 year end assembly, he was asked to sing a song he didn't know, "I screwed it up three times, and had to re-start each time. By the third attempt, the audience was singing along with me. That cured me of my fears".


Sunday, May 17, 2015


13 years beyond Ontario’s legal drinking age, Erin is sometimes still asked to provide proof of her age! Old enough to be a mother of an adolescent, she embraces the gift of youth, enjoys an active life and loves to visit the Bala family cottage in Muskoka, Ontario.

Erin was born in London, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto where she is doing business planning and I.T. for the social services for the Ontario government. Her last eight years with the Province began on the ‘front lines” as a disability support worker for children with severe disabilities. 

As demanding and challenging as her day job is, she balances her professional life with many interests including keeping fit with running, playing the guitar and making an effort to learn to cook more healthily. “I was always eating healthy-ish, but just trying to cook full meals were beyond what my skill set was before”. Active, she also spend time at the cottage boating and wake boarding.

ERIN FUN FACT: Her fun fact was contributed by a third-party contributor!: “It is my experience that Erin smiles at least 80-85% of the day”. Erin, hearing this, laughs… and smiles!