YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards … Like a Candy Grab Bag?

By Cara McCutcheon, Communications Consultant

il_570xN_109749204I was in a variety store recently and saw one of those mystery candy grab bags and a flush of childhood memories, wonderful memories, came to mind.

I remembered riding my bike to the local “corner store” with some change in my pocket for penny candies and while I had my favourites (swedish berries, sour keys, fuzzy peaches) every single time the store was selling the mystery penny candy grab bag – I went for it. When I was in the variety store remembering these moments from what feels like a lifetime ago it got me thinking about what exactly the appeal was for me? Why go for the mystery when I could just choose my favs? I closed my eyes for a moment, picturing myself at age five with my mystery bag of candy in hand and I instantly remembered the excitement of the unknown, feelings of being pleasantly surprised and eager to experience something new … and then it hit me. I’m still going for the mystery bag.

While I reflected on the appeal of the mystery candy I remembered a conversation I had recently with a friend. I had asked my friend to come with me with to the YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards alumnae reception; an event held every year to celebrate past award recipients and introduce new award winners ahead of the official gala. My friend, who is very familiar with the awards; her mother-in-law is a past-recipient and she works for one of the financial institutions that sponsors the gala, asked me on the way in why I cared so much about this event?

For context, I attended my first YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards in 2002 with my boss at the time and past-recipient, Nancy Smith of The NextMedia Company Ltd. I was new in my career and VERY eager, so I naturally jumped at this invitation. While Nancy gave me some history on the gala, I wasn’t quite prepared for what the evening had in store. And, quite honestly I still feel that way today. I’ve had the privilege of sitting in the YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction audience many times over now and been a part of the planning committee (on/off) for several years but after all these years, what the evening holds for me remains a mystery that unfolds a little differently each year.

That first year I attended, I was in pure awe. I laughed, I cried, I clapped and I learned. I got an insiders glimpse into the lives/careers/thoughts of seven remarkable women that I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to cross paths with. I left that awards gala a different person. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I’m hooked.

The YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards is my grown-up mystery candy grab bag. It brings excitement, an element of surprise and opens my world up to new people and experiences. The only difference is I walk away with way more than you can ever fit in a bag and the wisdom and inspiration I take in each year lasts a lifetime.

The YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards is held on May 21 at The Carlu. Individual tickets: $195; table of 10: $5,000.

If you are on the fence about attending and want to talk more about what the night could hold for you and your staff get in touch with Sasha Manes at YWCA Toronto: smanes@ywcatoronto.org.

Hope to see you at this year’s YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards May 21 celebrating seven women who will have you on the edge of your seat as they accept their awards for their contributions to women and girls in Toronto and around the world.

For more information visit www.ywcatoronto.org and get social with YWCA Toronto on Twitter @YWCAToronto #YWCAWODA