Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I had a great visit to Lutherwood in Waterloo to learn about their Social Enterprise initiatives.

Lutherwood is a not for profit organization that provides a wide range of mental healthemployment developmenthousing, and family support services. Lutherwood annually serves more than 18,500 people in Waterloo Region and Wellington County.

As an NPO, it has a full YMCA childcare, 224 apartments, 72 townhomes, greenhouse/ gardening, 30-35 resident groups, day centre for seniors, restaurant open to public, privately owned hairstylist paying rent, fitness centre memberships, pottery classes, facility rental

I met with John Colangeli who explained how their Lutherwood Children’s Foundation is currently under renovation and is funded by commercial real estate revenue. The building was beautiful and is going to be a remarkable leader in the children’s mental health arena.

John has been undertaking social enterprise for the last 13 years and he was starting to give up hope but it is now coming together. He said that people have told him for years that it wouldn’t work. He said it was SO hard but knows the final outcome will change the lives of thousands of children. You could see the passion on his face as he talked. This is what he’s been waiting for.

He declared that while Lutherwood has worked at social enterprise in many forms over the years, children’s mental health remains the focus of the mission. One of John’s success factors was his 22 years in his role of Executive Director and the relationship he had built with his Board of Directors. They are able to take risks and trust that the staff will deliver.

John has a lot to teach entrepreneurs about social enterprise. I recommend his insight for anyone interested in large projects, real estate and health care. Thanks John for letting me come and spend time with you!

If you are a nonprofit leader, social entrepreneur or local business and are interested in more information about social enterprise please contact me.