Women in Business: Leading by example earns Community Leader of the Year award

Oak Bay News celebrates with an special supplement in its Feb. 28 edition

She’s known at least one weekend a year as the Baroness of Beef, portrayed the queen and even acted as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

Each costume, including a sausage costume to support the Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation’s Sausage Fest last summer – highlights a cause or makes things more fun for Hazel Braithwaite.

Braithwaite is the Oak Bay News Women in Business, Community Leader of the Year.

“I’m so touched. I was actually very shocked when I heard the news,” she says of the email received while visiting her daughter in California.

Aside from her role as a municipal councillor, after volunteering with United Way of Greater Victoria for more than a decade, she began working with the team as Director of Community Campaign.

“The value of United Way really align with my own values in that they give back to the community so much and that’s one of the main reasons I took the position here. I love it here. It’s thrilling to be able to be involved with all of those different organizations in need in the community,” she says.

The impetus to give back to the organization, providing community leadership delves back into childhood growing up in Alberta.

“I remember when I was very very young and my father and my mother instilled in us at a very young age to always give back,” Braithwaite says.

“My dad would give the shirt off his back. He ate, lived and breathed giving back. People knew they could count on him if they needed anything at all. I think that was really instilled in our family. I tried to install that in my daughter as well.”

It did transcend to that next generation as her daughter volunteered as a teen at Oak Bay High to coach the younger soccer players.

While her work life allows for giving and as a council member she often organizes events, Braithwaite makes time for outside events large and small as well.

Sunday mornings find her cooking up breakfast at Willows Beach Tea House for the Kiwanis Pavilion Foundation Society– which she sits on the board of. The Kiwanis Pavilion is a residential care facility serving frail seniors, with a particular focus on caring for people living with dementia.

“It’s very near and dear to my heart. I have relatives who have dementia and Alzheimers so that was something I really wanted to give back to the community for, that’s one of my big ones,” Braithwaite says.

She also sits on the board of the Oak Bay Tea Party Society where she earned the title Baroness of Beef for running the hot meat sandwich stand at the annual event that rocks Oak Bay the first weekend of June.

“There’s a lot of work I don’t think I sit down from Friday morning to Sunday night,” she says with a laugh. “That will be a lot of fun.”

In between she fills her time with little things, different boards and one-off events such as the Feb. 24 Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser a Monopoly Affair, Operation Trackshoes, Bays United soccer events that harken back to her daughter’s days.

“There was a big disparity between the boys program and the girls program. I really wanted to become involved to give it more equality. That’s why I first became in involved in Bays United soccer,” she says.

That’s how it started, but community leadership is what keeps her there.

“My husband says I’m never home so there you go,” she says with a laugh.United Way of Greater Victoria helps community:

In 2016, United Way invested $4,266,320, aiding more than 111,282 individuals, families, youth and children accessed 109 programs through 72 funded agencies to help them achieve their full potential.

Thanks to the impactful work of our community partners, here are some examples of the life changing results we achieved together:

12,218 Individuals were involved in their neighbourhoods and increased their sense of belonging.

10,958 Individuals were supported to live independently and actively participate in their community while reducing loneliness and isolation.

10,196 Individuals and families were helped to better cope with life’s challenges.



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