Nominated for the award: Philanthropy
Company: Michele Taras Photograpy and Art ; Intelegance Magazine
Biography: Michele Taras is everyone's friend, a wife, mother, flight attendant, award-winning photographer, artist and designer. She believes in living life with kindness and encouraging others to do the same. This has always been her philosophy ever since she was a little girl when she emptied out her entire piggy bank to help others. Michele used her photography to help others in 2004 where she began a photographic project called "The Breast Cancer Project" with aim to help increase awareness of breast cancer. At the time there were not many photographs of survivors on the internet, or images of what it would look like to have a mastectomy. She wanted to show women too that they can be survivors and lose both breasts, but still be beautiful. Over the next several years, she photographed over 100 women survivors and one man. She held exhibits of these photographs with the stories of the women in galleries across the GTA and raised over $20 000.00 for various breast cancer causes. The biggest moment that came from these shows is one woman currently diagnosed with breast cancer came to see the show, read the stories and said: "I had given up on life, given up on the idea of going through chemo and was just going to let go. Now that I have heard these women's stories, I want to do chemo and give myself the chance to live." Being a mother of two boys, Michele also wanted to do a project to help others that would include her children, and the children of her friends. She then set up to make calendars to raise money for SickKids hospital. The first theme was "Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables", "What I want to be when I grow up" "Kids and Pets" and "Children outside" - the calendars over 4 years raised $40 000.00 for Sick Kids hospital and was the most money ever raised for SickKids from a calendar. Michele also spent time in Haiti, assisting with the Air Canada Foundation and Kanpe to help build a school, repair roads and install solar lights so the students would have somewhere to study, and light to study in the evening. She is also a member of a group of flight attendants who go to Kenya to help with Toto Love which is a children's home for orphans who are HIV positive. For her birthdays, she asks her friends to donate to causes dear to her heart, such as the SPCA and last year she asked them all to take part in a "Pay it Forward" campaign where her friends instead of birthday wishes and presents, had to tell them something good they did to help a stranger. All profits made from her magazine intElegance were also donated to the SPCA in her neighborhood. Help her make the world a kinder place.