Published: May 2024

From now until August 31st, Waterdon will match the donation of each new monthly donor for a year. 

“There is a story to every donation that we make,” Russell Grass explains.

He and his wife Linda have been supporting local charities and initiatives in the community, both personally and through their companies, for many years, and there is always a story behind the good work they do.

Like making sure there are enough Toys R Us gift cards to go around during the holidays, because “I can’t imagine a child going without presents at Christmas,” says Russell. Or answering a call for help from The Ottawa Mission to make sure they had the downpayment for the van they desperately needed to carry out their vital work.

Russell and Linda Grass and family at the ribbon cutting for the Grass Family Men's Health Clinic

Their philanthropy spans across many other organizations, including Ronald McDonald House, Dreams Take Flight, Candlelighters, the Stittsville Food Bank, and The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. And their businesses, Waterdon Construction, Merlin Door Systems, and Alloy Fabrications, have also been making a difference in the lives of countless members of their community.

But it’s their support of healthcare that tells a deeply personal story, and it’s why they are issuing a match gift opportunity through their company, Waterdon, for new monthly donors to The Ottawa Hospital.

Linda was treated at the former Breast Health Centre, and Russell is receiving care through the Division of Urology. Both of Russell’s parents died of heart disease, and Linda’s father died from cancer.

“I also lost my sister — my best friend,” says Russell. “My brother had cancer twice, and he had a heart attack. I have good friends who are patients at the Men’s Health Clinic.”

"To me, supporting healthcare in Ottawa is incredibly important.”

— Russell Grass

When they opened the Grass Family Men’s Health Clinic at The Ottawa Hospital in 2021, creating a dedicated space for excellence in men’s healthcare and research, it was those personal stories that inspired them. “It can be difficult when facing a health scare,” Russell said at the time. “We know this from personal experience. From research to diagnostics and testing to ongoing care. — we wanted to be part of ensuring the people of Ottawa had access to this kind of excellent care.”

When it came to supporting the Campaign to Create Tomorrow, it was yet another story that inspired Russell and Linda.

As he considered making a donation, Russell’s thoughts kept turning to a friend who had undergone cancer treatment and had experienced anxiety over a lack of privacy during some parts of that treatment.

He learned that when the new hospital campus opens, it will open with additional beds, all designed with patient well-being in mind and using evidence-based design principles to create spaces that go beyond medical care, fostering an environment conducive to healing.

A key feature of this approach is the one-patient, one-bedroom, one-bathroom model. This ensures better infection control, greater privacy, and a more restful environment for patients.

The Ottawa Hospital welcoming the apheresis machine in 2023, thanks to the generosity of Waterdon and Merlin Door Systems. From left to right: Jennifer Van Noort, Mike Kennah, Julie Renaud, Russell and Linda Grass, Tom Warford, and Sheryl McDiarmid.

“Every time I thought about those one-patient rooms, I thought about my friend."

— Russell Grass

When it came time to make the decision to donate, it was these thoughts of his friend that inspired him. “I think we should do this. We should get in on the front end of this.”

Though Russell and Linda are community philanthropists, it’s not something they’ve often spoken about. “We’ve always been behind the curtains,” explains Russell. “It’s only in the last two years and a half that we’ve become vocal about our support.”

By coming forward, they’re hoping to help instill a community-minded spirit in everyone around them.

“Ottawa has been very good to us, and we want to give back to this city we love and call home. Our kids are here, and their families are all here,” says Russell. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Employees shaved their heads in support of colleague Isaac Mackie and gave generously, with a $10,000 match from Waterdon.

With this sentiment top of mind, Waterdon is hoping to inspire others with a special gift-matching opportunity. From now until August 31st, Waterdon will match the donation of each new monthly donor for a year.*

Russell and Linda hope sharing their story — and the stories that have moved them to make their community a better place — will inspire others to support the Campaign to Create Tomorrow and ensure a better healthcare future, right here in Ottawa.

(*up to $100,000)

Monthly gifts provide a predictable source of much-needed funding and offer donors the convenience of evenly distributed automatic payments.