News / Halifax

Halifax Heroes: Dartmouth business owner shines spotlight on the bright side of her community

From the Dartmouth Food Crawl to a charity fashion show, Kate Hamilton is always working on new ways to give back on her side of the harbour.

Kate Hamilton poses for a portrait in her store, Bodega Boutique, in Dartmouth on Sunday.

Zane Woodford/Metro

Kate Hamilton poses for a portrait in her store, Bodega Boutique, in Dartmouth on Sunday.

Whether it’s a food crawl, carousel, networking group, charity fashion show, or Father’s Day mini-put tournament, Kate Hamilton takes big and small ideas and helps make them happen.

Described as an “energetic ball of optimism (who) is the source of many positive changes that have taken place in downtown Dartmouth,” the 31-year-old small business owner is often behind the scenes making things happen.

“I just grew up feeling really annoyed when people would snicker or laugh when I’d proudly proclaim I’m from Dartmouth. I would be like ‘You don’t know what we have here. It’s really fantastic,’ ” Hamilton said.

“If you’re really going to be part of a community, you put your money where your mouth is and invest in it.”

Hamilton’s first foray into volunteerism was in 2009, after she returned to Canada from living abroad. She started volunteering with Nocturne and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. 

That’s where she met Sarah Douglas. Their friendship sparked the idea of a Dartmouth art carousel. Hamilton said many major cities have free carousels, and when they floated the idea, the positive response was overwhelming.

“There’s a lot I can’t say because it’s still in closed door meetings but it’s something that is going to set Dartmouth apart from Halifax that doesn’t revolve around alcohol or a certain age group,” she said.

“We envision people getting their wedding pictures taken there and their prom photos and it just becoming a part of the next generation’s life, and that’s kind of what great public art is. It fits into the landscape and into your life and also makes you stop and think.”

In 2014, she founded the Dartmouth Young Professionals, a networking group dedicated to professionals working, living and volunteering in Dartmouth’s downtown. She taps into her contacts and gets people involved.

Last year’s Dartmouth fashion show was orchestrated by Hamilton. The sold out event raised funds for the local hospice society, and the second annual is being planned for this August.  

She is also behind the successful Dartmouth Food Crawl event held every quarter to help local food retailers and to bring people into downtown Dartmouth.

Hamilton is also helping with the second annual community Father’s Day mini-putting event involving a number of local businesses. The overall winner gets to sport a green jacket, complete with the official Dartmouth crest.

She is currently working on bringing an emerging artist film festival to Dartmouth’s downtown in conjunction with the Findlay Community Centre. She hopes to encourage people to shoot short videos outlining what Dartmouth means to them.

“We have really talented people in the community within the film industry who could jury it, then another company could provide popcorn, and so on,” she said.

“There are opportunities for everybody to be involved in it and just come out and have a love fest of Dartmouth on this amazing facility that another group of amazing people put together for us.”

When asked what motivates her, Hamilton’s answer is simple.

“If I don’t do it someone else won’t, and I want to create an environment in the community that my nieces are going to be excited to grow up in,” she said.

Here’s why Kate Hamilton’s friend, Sarah Douglas nominated her for Halifax Heroes.

"This girl is unstoppable. I'm sure there's so much more in that dynamic brain of hers, ideas I don't even know about yet, and that excites me," nominator Sarah Douglas said of this week's Halifax Hero.

"She works with any open and willing neighbour, whether personal or professional, to implement good ideas and projects that make downtown Dartmouth a better place to live and work. Kate has the ability to inspire and motivate those around her and build teams to get things done; she's a force."

Want to nominate someone?

Each week, we will profile an unsung volunteer hero in our community as part of Halifax Heroes. To nominate someone, email, Metro Halifax's managing editor, or Tweet @metrohalifax using the hashtag #Halifaxheroes

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