H2O is a small group of dedicated, passionate people making a difference in kids' lives. Get to know us a little better!
Benjamin John, Executive Director
H2O founder Benjamin John, a plumbing and construction owner, originated from South Africa. Benjamin grew up under the Apartheid regime of South Africa and was subjected to the abuses of an oppressive government. Growing up in poverty in a small township in South Africa, owning a toilet and having access to potable water was a luxury few could afford. As Ben grew up, he decided to become a plumber so that he could provide his large family with their first flushing toilet. The pride that this gave Ben, and the dignity it provided to his mother and sisters was a defining moment in his life. In 2013, Ben had the opportunity to go to Sierra Leone with an aim of making a difference to the children of that country. Moved by the appalling conditions in schools in Sierra Leone, Ben returned to Canada and founded H20. Ben combines a passion for social entrepreneurship and a unique hands on skill set enabling him to make a tangible, practical difference in the lives of people.
Paulette Melanson, Board Member
Originally from Scoudouc, New Brunswick, Paulette moved to Halifax in 1985 to pursue a career with the federal public service. She has a B.Sc. in biology from the Université de Moncton, a B.Ed. from the University of New Brunswick and a M.Ed. (adult education) from Dalhousie University. In the workforce since 1977, Paulette has worked for the NB government, Health Canada, Parks Canada, Michelin Tires and has had a private practice as an EAP counsellor and workplace mediator. She retired form Parks Canada in 2011 to pursue a full time art career. Paulette was President of the Aspotogan Arts and Crafts (registered non-profit society) 2011-2014 and has served as Registrar for the Peggy’s Area Festival of the Arts events 2013-2016. Always a social justice advocate in spirit and in her work, Paulette looks forward to helping ‘Help2Overcome’ attain its goals.
Carole Robinson, Board Member
Originally from Birmingham England, Carole received her teaching certificate from Liverpool University and taught in the UK for three years. In 1975 she and her husband John emigrated to Nova Scotia. She obtained a BA and Bed from Mount St Vincent University and a Med from St Mary's in Halifax. She continued to work for a further 30 years as an elementary teacher and administrator with the Halifax Regional School Board. Now retired for a number of years Carole substituted, volunteered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation and also the simulated patient program for Dalhousie Medical School. She continues to work when needed as a simulated patient at the Collaborative Learning Centre. She has also been a background performer in several film productions in HRM.
With her strong organizational and communication skills as a teacher, and her willingness to help others in the field of education and expand her volunteering, Carole is eager and enthusiastic to help with this important undertaking.
Marianne Arab, Board Member
Outstanding Lebanese Professional of the Year
Marianne graduated with her Bachelor of Social Work from McGill University and her Masters in Social Work from Dalhousie University. She worked as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Oncology and Palliative Care at the QEII Health Sciences Centre from 1996 to 2009. She also developed the Grief and Bereavement Program for the Capital Health Palliative Care Program. She is presently in the role of Manager of Supportive Care and Psychological Oncology at Cancer Care Nova Scotia.
Marianne has been a strong advocate and champion for persons with cancer and hospice palliative care, serving on the Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association Board for many years and co-chairing numerous initiatives to improve services. She is co-lead of numerous initiatives including training paramedics to provide palliative care at home for patients in crises who do not wish to be transported to their local emergency department.
Marianne has also used her professional skills to help give back to her Lebanese community. Whether it is helping children at the IWK crisis centre or helping families cope during times of serious illness, Marianne is one person that the Lebanese community can count on.
Marianne has volunteered over the last 30 years with Diman Association Canada, where she was the first female president from 1996-1998. With her leadership and strong work ethic, the very first Lebanese Festival in Halifax was started in collaboration with The Canadian Lebanon Society. Also, for the last 20 years, Marianne has played an integral role for the Lebanese Consulate. She has written many articles for the Lebanese Consulate Magazine and has been the emcee for many official Lebanese Consulate events.
John MacRae, Board Chair
John grew up and was educated in Westville, Nova Scotia. He graduated from college in 1976, majoring in Business. John’s career started in the commercial mortgage industry where he worked for several financial institutions. Eventually, along with partners, he started his own commercial mortgage brokerage and real estate development company. Since 2001 John has been active with church organizations in both fund development and real estate development/management.
John is married to Cheryl and has three grown children and two beautiful grandchildren. He currently provides consulting services to Avison Young (Maritimes) Inc. Brokerage in Halifax.
Ron Smith is a founding patron of H2O, assisting with development of the concept and early funding. Ron is a former CFO of MTT (now Bell Aliant) and Emera Inc. He served as Interim CEO of Nova Scotia Business Inc. from 2013 to early 2015 and has been involved in local and national not-for-profit governance for many years. Ron’s experience includes a current term as National Chair of The Arthritis Society, five years as Chair of the Acadia University Board of Governors (2004-2009) and a term as Chair of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council in the 1990’s.
Tim Moore, a business owner, believes in an environment of transparency, hope, respect, integrity and fun. This belief led our founder Tim to create several highly successful national and local businesses in Canada. First in 1971, Tim borrowed $2000 to purchase a small moving truck and a quarter century later he presides over several industry leading firms including his most recent venture Moore Suites.
Tim’s background including his stint as a teacher in northern Ontario in the early 1970’s. Here he learned to connect with young people and engage them in learning and trying to do their best. Attributes that he carried forward into the business world.
Tim talks about character, attitude, work ethic, respect, dignity, accountability, morality, quality service and the importance of family and friends.
In 2009, Tim was lauded in their special feature “Ask the Legends” which explored his entrepreneurial career in a variety of successful businesses. Similarly, Atlantic Business magazine recognized Tim as one of the top 50 CEO’s in Atlantic Canada at least 5 times.
Tim believes in giving back, and Help 2 Overcome is a recipient of his good will.
Jack Flemming grew up in a house which is now The Trail Shop on Quinpool Road in Halifax. Flemming clearly recalls those early years and the impact they had on his later life.
This care for others spills over into all aspects of Flemming’s life. He is widely recognized for his philanthropic activities, having been the recipient of numerous community and professional awards. He received an honorary Doctorate in Science from St. Mary's University, which he followed up with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2003 he was awarded the prestigious Order of Canada.
Flemming has received the DalTech Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding contribution to the community and profession and was similarly recognized by Mount Saint Vincent University with its Anniversary Award for exceptional volunteer contribution. Dalhousie also recognized him with an Honourary Doctorate in Engineering.
Professionally he has received the Association of Professional Engineers Gold Award, which recognizes exceptional achievement in the practice of professional engineering. He is also an honorary life member of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA); past-president of the CCA, Nova Scotia Road Builders Association, the Construction Association of Nova Scotia (CANS) and the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia; and has served as a member of the Board of Governors for Mount Saint Vincent University, DalTech, Dalhousie University, the IWK Health Center and Maritime Medical Care.
After establishing a successful construction business, Oceans Contractors Limited, Jack and Marion Flemming had the desire to “give back” to their community.
The Flemming Charitable Foundation was created in 1999.
Jack and Marion’s sense of caring and genuine concern for others has provided the base for the mission of the Foundation, to assist the less fortunate on a local basis. This spirit of care has been cultivated in the next generation. The board membership includes Jack, Marion, and their four children, Karen, Colleen, John, and Scott. Annually, The Flemming Charitable Foundation supports over twenty organizations in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Jack Flemming believes and supports the work of Help 2 Overcome.
Growing up in a small village on Vancouver Island, Cynthia was acutely aware of the lack of opportunity in rural communities in Canada. She also felt constrained by the typical corporate office setting and took broad swaths of time off to see the world. After a long career spanning sales, management and consulting for IT firms like IBM, Telus, CGI Group and Cisco, Cynthia accepted an opportunity in 2011 to take over a small virtual project management company in Nova Scotia.
Combining her passion for keeping families in their communities with helping bright, talented individuals escape under-employment, Cynthia has grown Sales Beacon, based in Chester, Nova Scotia, into a completely virtual, fast growing consulting company. Serving clients like Dell, Cisco, CDW and other Fortune 500 companies across North America, Sales Beacon increases productivity and accelerates revenues by completely rewriting how large global teams are managed. Everyone at Sales Beacon, after an intense training and mentoring program, can work anywhere in the world while enjoying earnings and lifestyle unheard of in rural Canada. Sales Beacon is a strong supporter of numerous non-profits and small businesses in Nova Scotia.
As an ardent 3rd world adventure hiker and trekker, Cynthia has seen first-hand the appalling conditions that children endure – and she’s happy to support the important work done by Help 2 Overcome.
Curtis is a proud father, husband, entrepreneur, and President of Action Consulting Group Ltd. He lives to challenge the status quo and is obsessed with solving customers’ problems. He was born in Saint John, NB and is a graduate of the University of New Brunswick.
As a Business Development Specialist, Curtis is a customer-first, relationship-driven leader who has over 20 years of experience across many industries including the global Fortune 500 company Philip Morris and the legendary Canadian company, Stanfield’s Limited. His curiosity and need for continuous improvement have led him all over the globe working on unique projects in every major city in Canada and over 30 countries globally, building iconic brands and partnering with some of the world’s largest suppliers. He is passionate about the "why" and, since moving back to Atlantic Canada from Toronto in 2015, he has dedicated himself to the growth and sustainability of the Atlantic Region.
In his spare time, Curtis volunteers for St. Ignatius Church as a connector with the Halifax Partnership and with Universities and their students to help develop our future leaders.