Portraits of Giving honours John Ciarallo

May 3, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Brock Weir
The past 37 years in the grocery industry have given John Ciarallo a pretty good idea of the building blocks that help make a healthy community.
His work to improve the lives of local residents through the King Township Food Bank, as well as the King Chamber of Commerce, were recognized as Ciarallo’s photograph was unveiled as part of the annual Portraits of Giving exhibition.
Portraits of Giving, now in its eighth year, is the brainchild of Richmond Hill photographer Karen Merk, who wanted to shine a light on York Region’s unsung heroes through her evocative black and white portraits and stories written by local writers.
This year’s exhibition, which honours 12 outstanding individuals from all corners of York Region, was formally opened recently at Pfaff Automotive in Newmarket.
“These people take the time out of their busy lives to give back to their community,” said Ms. Merk. “We really hope that exploring the stories behind the portraits will inspire you to continue giving back. We are definitely inspired.”
So too was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who sent a video message to the opening.
“Thank you to Karen Merk for creating this wonderful event and congratulations on bringing it into its eighth year,” said Trudeau. “Congratulations to all the honourees – business leaders, firefighters, police officers and so many others. You all give so much to your communities here in York Region and inspire us all to work harder to bring positive change to our world. As Canada turns 150 this year, it is a great time to celebrate people like you who take such good care of their communities and help make Canada such a great place to live.”
Each portrait was taken in a location near and dear to the subject’s heart and, in Ciarallo’s case, that was just inside the door of his Nobleton No Frills location with a custom-built bin accepting food bank donations.
“He has travelled throughout Ontario and Canada and has yet to see anything more important to families than providing food for their children,” reads his citation. “His most memorable moments giving back happen daily as he observes his customers and staff donating to the King Township Food Bank in a bin he had custom designed and built to assist the volunteers in collecting those food donations.
“John is also an active member of the King Chamber of Commerce, which allows him to interact with many local business owners who share the same passion for community. He supports causes not for the recognition but for the personal goodwill that comes from it. It is John’s hope that his example will inspire others to contribute their time, services or dollars for the betterment of the community.”
Ahead of the formal presentation, Ciarallo told the King Weekly Sentinel he was “shocked” when Ms. Merk asked him to be a part of this year’s exhibition.
“The work I do within the community is to benefit the community and I don’t really do it for the recognition,” he said. “I was a little taken aback that there was so much interest in what we were doing in King Township, but I am very glad because I hope that through this exposure other people will be motivated to help out in the community as well.
“King is a new community with a lot of new people moving in and everyone needs to help build the community. One of the best ways we can do that is to support it. A good, healthy community means a great place to live. I live in the community and I want it to be strong and healthy.”
Portraits of Giving will be on display in the Great Hall at the Region of York Headquarters through May 5. The exhibition arrives at the Skylight Gallery at Aurora Town Hall from May 30 to June 6, before concluding its tour at the King Township Museum from November 25 through December 16.



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