Community Living Ontario is actively seeking dedicated volunteers who possess varied backgrounds and perspectives to join its Board of Directors.
The following is David Barber’s reflection of his time as a Member and Past President of Community Living Ontario. We thank David for taking the time to share his thoughts.
After being elected President of Simcoe Community Services in Barrie, I was asked to become the Regional Representative in my area for Community Living Ontario. I agreed to do this and Keith Powell, the new Executive Director, and I started on the Community Living Ontario Board at the same time; it was an amazing partnership that we established together. At the time, Community Living Ontario was required to re-invent itself, moving from a resource rich environment to one of providing broader services to the federation based on a new level of membership assessment.
In 2001, after some 11 years of providing no additional resources to the Developmental Services Sector, Community Living Ontario worked with MCSS Minister John Baird and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to secure 210M in new funding for services and supports to people with an intellectual disability; the largest sum of money allocated to the Sector until the recent 810M allotment in 2014. At the Community Living Ontario AGM/Conference in Ottawa, Minister Baird attended and received a standing ovation from approximately 1,000 elated federation members. This was the highlight of my Presidency at Community Living Ontario and something I am very proud of. We did not do it alone; certainly other organizations supported our efforts to convince government to expand our resources. However, Community Living Ontario and member associations were the leaders. They had BRANDED themselves in the mind of the public and the Provincial Government as the primary voice for people with an intellectual disability and they had successfully lobbied every single MPP to support their work.
The above is only a fraction of what we achieved over my four years as President of Community Living Ontario. The thrill was in working with so many dedicated and committed parents, children, agency Executive Directors and Presidents who bought in to our plan and self-actualized it. Working with some of the brightest people in our Province with vision, patience, passion and a can-do attitude made our success all the more sweet. I made many close friends who stood with me and helped me to make a difference; they were unwavering in their faith and confidence in me and I am eternally grateful for those rich relationships and the sense of accomplishment of a shared experience. It was not only getting the job done, it was the journey and the joy and disappointment shared along the way.
There is still much work to be done and Community Living Ontario stands alone as the chief advocate for people with an intellectual disability. The work can be challenging and the process by which a grassroots organization achieves consensus and the speed with which it makes decisions may be challenging to some. Yet, the rewards of comradery, a shared vison and the ultimate success that is achieved for people who through no fault of their own, find themselves in need of our support, is worth the effort.
Join the Community Living Ontario Board of Directors as a volunteer and make a difference in this province, in this country and this world by advocating for the rights of people with an intellectual disability. You will be glad that you did.
Community Living Ontario
Interested in getting involved and contributing to the direction and success of Community Living at the provincial level? Contact Terri Meshwork at firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you have any questions about the nominations process, contact Keith Dee, Director of Membership at email@example.com.
The election of the Board will take place at our Annual General Meeting in Hamilton on September 30, 2015.