The Mayors’ Dinner has evolved into a yearly community wide fundraising event that has successfully raised money for the projects of The Working Centre and St. John’s Kitchen over the past 24 years.
It started with Will Ferguson’s idea to hold a public dinner to celebrate Dominic Cardillo’s 25 years as an elected local politician. Dom was a popular mayor and the event’s 400 tickets all sold. The evening was a huge success, more like a roast, with lots of speakers and topped off with comedian David Broadfoot’s performance.
Working Centre staff and volunteers were satisfied to have pulled off a successful public event. We thought of expanding the idea. Dominic Cardillo agreed to call it the Mayor’s Dinner.
Jonas Bingeman was chosen as the next Guest of Honour. Another sold-out event told us that people in KW wanted to gather together to publicly recognize individuals who were making substantial community contributions.
A community committee was gathered to help us select each year’s Guest of Honour. Bingeman’s helped us significantly in the planning and in keeping ticket prices reasonable. Neil Aitchison joined as the Master of Ceremonies.
The Ninth Mayor’s Dinner honouring Anna Kaljas spoke directly to the work of serving those marginalized in society. It was a special celebration of Anna’s life work, but attendance was down.
The Mayor’s Dinner had created its own momentum. Ken Murray, Guest of Honour for the 10th Mayor’s Dinner, was determined to raise for The Working Centre enough money to pay off the mortgage on our 58 Queen building. When Peter Hallman died in a motorcycle accident, his wife Brenda and brother Jim created a wonderful community celebration of Peter’s life.
In 2002, for the 15th Mayor’s Dinner, then Waterloo Mayor Lynne Woolstencroft joined the organizing committee, forcing us to leave an apostrophe hanging, and creating the first joint Mayors’ Dinner.
The Mayors’ Dinner has created memories and has honoured an outstanding group of KW citizens. The majority of dinners have attracted over 700 guests, but more so, a spirit of good will and community commitment has been emphasized and celebrated.