Stories from St. Paul's GreenHouse

Fall 2015

A PASS Kit for students

PASS Kit prototypePictured here is a prototype of the 'PASS Kit' that St. Paul's GreenHouse student Tina Chan has developed. The PASS Kit, which stands for Panic, Anxiety and Stress Support, is designed to help university students cope with mental health issues. It's like a 'mental health first aid kit.' In the pilot phase of her project, all first-year students living at St. Paul's will be receiving a PASS Kit around mid-terms. Tina's venture won a GreenHouse Social Innovation Fund prize last summer.

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Helping Students Cope With Anything

Throughout the end of her high school years and into first-year university, Tina Chan struggled with panic and stress. She sought help in her second year, but found that between long wait lists for appointments with health and psychological services, co-op terms, and other inconveniences, she was often left with a lot of waiting time between sessions. Her counselling appointments, Internet research, and support from friends helped her to develop tools, but there were still significant gaps.

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Kicking it in the bootcamp competitions

Renishaki Kamal and Rachel Thompson have only recently graduated from GreenHouse and the university, but they're making the case for their social ventures and convincing juries of their value.

Renishaki Kamal(BA ‘14) won $25,000 and second prize for her venture, Fidget, at the Communitech Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp pitch competition this month, while Rachel Thompson (BSc ’15) received $2,500 for her venture, MarlenaBooks, from SoJo’s recent #SOCENT Idea Bootcamp.

Renish and other winners with their 'cheques'

Renishaki, second from right, with her 'cheque'

Renishaki's venture develops tools for children with autism, but the businesses Renishaki competed against were from a variety of sectors, including travel, construction, and financials. There were a total of eight contenders for the $100,000 prize money, chosen to compete from across the country – coming in second place was a significant accomplishment.

The SoJo Bootcamp had a total of $5,000 to award, and was a six-week training program for aspiring social entrepreneurs that used a blended learning approach, combining in-person programming with online learning. Rachel's Marlena Books, which provides reading materials for adults with dementia, was one of 2 winners of the pitch competition – also a big achievement.

Rachel and the other SoJo winners

Rachel, second from the right, holds up her certificate

“We are very proud of both Renish and Rachel’s recent accomplishments as they pursue their social ventures full-time, said Tania Del Matto, Director of St. Paul’s GreenHouse. “To know that they got their initial start with GreenHouse is a source of inspiration for our current GreenHouse innovators.”

​Harnessing passion to make a difference 

Trishala Pillai

When Trishala Pillai attended the popular and thought-provoking TEDxUW lecture series last year, she was trying to figure out what to do with her life.

The talk that was most helpful to Trishala was the one given by St. Paul’s GreenHouse alumna and founder of Full Soul Canada, Christina Marchand, who talked pushing yourself to find the gaps that you see in the world.

Trishala decided to do just that. She joined St. Paul's GreenHouse herself, and applied to be and became  the co-chair of TEDxUW 2015, which will be held on November 14 at the Centre of International Governance and Innovation in Waterloo. (Visit for more information and to apply to attend the conference).

Today, at GreenHouse, she is working on a social change initiative that uses media to empower people (both men and women, girls and boys) in developing countries to overcome low self-esteem or obstacles they face through the power of positive stories, role modeling, and honesty.

One of the key values Trishala appreciates most about GreenHouse is that everyone wants to help out  – whether it is mentors, students helping one another, or program advisors.

"Nobody hesitates or thinks twice when it comes to seeing someone else’s idea grow.”

Would you like to be a mentor?

Our students are tackling a wide variety of social issues, which means we would like to connect with a variety of mentors. If you're at a stage in your career where you can give back by helping a student get their social venture off the ground, or advise them on how to make an idea become a startup, please contact Brendan Wylie-Toal.

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Successful Pilot Reduces Local Food Waste

GreenHouse Alumna Elle Crevits received seed funding from the Social Impact Fund to run a pilot program this summer. The results have been eye opening.

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