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Breaking bread and building community

Daniel Grzymisch
Lucio Di Clemente and his network of friends and family are an example of what is possible when you identify a need, hatch a plan and jump in with both feet to make it happen.

Together they formed the Luce Initiative. Born out of shared experience, the Luce Initiative and its Founding Board of Directors are committed to improving the mental health of individuals and families in need. They support the growth of programs that provide critical mental health support services and meaningfully address gaps in our mental health care system.

“You get tired of feeling like a ‘victim.’ We came together as the Luce Initiative to do something positive rather than feel sorry for ourselves,” says Lucio, a business advisor and expert on corporate governance who has worked with such iconic Canadian companies as Brewers Retail Inc., Mattamy Homes and The Second Cup Ltd.

Guests support the cause by joining in fundraising dinners Lucio calls “Dine-a-Rounds” and then hosting their own intimate dinners with groups of 10 to 12 friends.

For its inaugural year, the Luce Initiative selected Sunnybrook’s Family Navigation Project (FNP) as its fundraising recipient. Funded solely by the donor community, FNP is a free service that helps families and youth navigate the complex mental health and addictions system. It is the first of its kind and largest navigation program in Canada that improves access to and transition through the mental health care system.

Lucio Di Clemente and his network of friends and family
Members of the Luce Initiative and Sunnybrook’s Family Navigation Project team celebrate the initiative’s success in raising funds for youth mental health.

In just one year, the Luce Initiative raised more than $200,000 at 12 Dine-a-Rounds and a gala celebration on September 23, 2022. FNP plans to use the funds to respond to the growing number of youth reaching out for help. The number of calls to the service nearly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to help FNP expand their footprint to help more youth,” Lucio explains. He plans to continue building on his winning model with the addition off a new cycling event, Luce Ride, taking place in June 2023.

His ultimate goal is raising more than a million dollars annually for youth mental health – all while enjoying great food and friends. “Those conversations while breaking bread are what build community and show us all that we can do something positive,” says Lucio.