Daniels:  A Culture of Giving  Image

Daniels: A Culture of Giving

By on Mar 25, 2011

Daniels is an immensely diverse homebuilder that has many layers to it. Over the coming weeks, the Toronto Star’s NewInHomes.com will be looking at those layers in depth, with our three part series on the Daniels Corporation. 

In part one of our three-part look at Daniels, we take a look at Daniels corporate giving philosophies.  

The Daniels Coporation

Culture is a word that can be described many ways.  Defined as 'the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group,’ culture is directly linked to how we live our lives.

At The Daniels Corporation (Daniels,) the corporate culture is focused on two key foundations: providing a great end product to its buyers and a strong commitment to philanthropy.

"I think for us, the giving philosophy is relevant to our day to day lives at Daniels," said Niall Haggart, Executive Vice President.


It started years ago with a program called Second Harvest. At the time, Second Harvest was an established charity in Toronto that made it their goal to feed the hungry all over the GTA. Daniels saw an opportunity to help Second Harvest take their program to a higher level. 

"The whole notion of Second Harvest goes back to us hosting an event many years ago. We took at look at all the food that was not used – and it turned out that it was going to this agency – one that would become Second Harvest."  Said Haggart

Since then, Daniels and Second Harvest have worked hand in hand to make life easier for those in need, and to ensure these people are able to get help.

"At the time they were being run out of a small operation.  Back then they were running around in their own trucks picking up food.  It was the essence of what was a rather simple idea at the time.  Picking up food and re-distributing it within a short period of time to various agencies in need.  Fast forward to today where they service various agencies throughout the GTA without any government funding. The motto of this program is ‘food is life’."

For more information on Second Harvest and its 2011 Taste Toronto – a collection of  Toronto's top chefs – located at the Royal Ontario Museum, click here



Another charity that the Daniels team believes in is Eva's Initiatives.  It works with the homeless and at-risk youth aged 16 to 24. The goal is to get them off of the streets permanently. 


"Eva’s Initiatives is another program that we discovered 12 years ago. It is an organization that does not receive any funding whatsoever.  It started with this great lady Eva.  Her goal was to provide a positive and nurturing shelter for youth who found themselves on the street from a wide variety of circumstances. They are not benefiting from a shelter and need more of a permanent opportunity to help get themselves back into society." Haggart explained.

Daniels offers both financial and hands on generosity to Eva's Initiatives, helping over 2,300 homeless and at risk young people in the process. 

"It is a place that you could stay for a much longer period of time.  People can learn how to make a household budget, learn how to cook, most of the things that we look past.  So this really touched us, and we looked to create a longer association with them."

To learn more about ‘Eva's Initiatives’ and how they help the youth of Toronto, click here


‘Give a Gift Get a Song’ is great concept, conceptualized by Mitchell Cohen, the President of Daniels. The premise is a simple one, the gift of a song in exchange for a donation to a deserving charity. 

"We have fun with this, it is a great program because we can take it forward and incorporate it to any other program." Haggart said

Groups like Second Harvest, Habitat for Humanity and the Regent Park School of Music all benefit from this great program. 

"We begin with the Regent Park School of Music, starting with this great song about 'our place in the city', a testament to the people who were moved out and are now coming back in Regent Park.  Giving that song as a gift for a minimum donation, we are then able to forward that donation to the people who need it."

In this case, all proceeds will go to the Regent Park School of Music, a not for profit community music school that provides young people with an opportunity to study music and build self-confidence. 

Other songs include "Angels of Mercy,” a song composed by Mitchell Cohen and performed by Jackie Richardson and the Regent Park School of Music Choir. The proceeds of "Angels of Mercy" go to Second Harvest. 

Many Hands – another song composed by Cohen – is a soul filled song that speaks to the many volunteer hours that go into the Habitat for Humanity program. All proceeds from this song go to Habitat for Humanity, helping the worthy cause meet their mandate that everyone has a safe place to live. 

The Jerry Giovannone Endowment Fund benefits from ‘He Was My Friend’, a song composed by Daniels’ Senior Vice President Tom Dutton. The song celebrates Giovannone, his life and his spirit.  The fund was created in Jerry's name at George Brown College. It gives students a chance to follow in Jerry's footsteps by providing the necessary guidance, skills and support to enter the building industry. 

For more information on ‘Give a Gift Get a Song’ and to find out how you can help, click here


Habitat for Humanity and the Daniels Corporation have a partnership that goes back to 1995. 

"The relationship between Habitat for Humanity and Daniels is long, deep, and healthy," said Don Pugh, Vice President of the Daniels Corporation. 

"It started in 1995. We built a Habitat for Humanity home on Cawthra Road in Mississauga.  At that point, Habitat for Humanity was at its genesis and they did not have any infrastructure in place.  Daniels effectively took over a project manager position, helping them put those plans in place.

“It was a really cool experience on top of many cool Habitat experiences that we have had," Added Martin Blake, also Vice President at Daniels Corporation. 

"That was a tremendous experience for the organization."

Habitat for Humanity is a not for profit organization that works towards offering safe places to live for deserving families who do not have the resources to own a home. 

"The Lakeshore project was our first with Habitat, and started with a donation by Mr. Daniels to the Habitat program to build 10 townhomes, which we constructed with Habitat," Continued Blake. 

Since then, the partnership has taken off to the point now that with every Daniels First Home Project, a Habitat for Humanity build will be included in each development. 

This was witnessed recently at the Daniels First Home project in Erin Mills

"When we where rolling out the Mississauga experience, we saw the need for that kind of housing – for the first time home buyers – we saw the need for first time home ownership and the types of people who are interested in First Home. It was a natural fit with Habitat for Humanity," Pugh continued. 

“The Mississauga project was our first test to ensure that the project would work, and it did quite well. It’s something that you will see moving forward at future first home projects. “


From their work with Second Harvest, Eva's Initiatives, Give a Gift Get a Song and Habitat for Humanity, Daniels is a company that prides itself on honouring its commitment to corporate responsibility.  It is clear that this commitment starts at the top.

"Second Harvest had its lunch money day and we had a group in the office at 6am participating," Haggart explained.

"People always have the opportunity to spend some time doing what they want, whether it’s with Eva’s Initiative or Second Harvest."

"It’s not just about bricks and mortar, it’s about tangible things."

Look forward to part two next week, where we take a look at the birth of ‘Daniels First Home’.

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