The gavel is passed at Community Development Halton

By Staff

September 30th, 2021



Another virtual Annual General Meeting.

The type of thing you attend because you have to – the Community Development Halton AGM was a little more relevant because it brought to a close the term of office for President and Chair Jan Mowbray who served for more than ten years starting out as Secretary and serving as President for the past four years.

It was a bumpy ride that included the retirement of an Executive Director after more than 20 years of service; dealing with a couple of rogue board members who didn’t understand what it was to be a Director of a not for profit organization.

And like everyone else – adapting to Covid19 and the restrictions it brought to everyone.

Community Development Halton President presiding over her last meeting as Chair – working from her kitchen counter – just like everyone else weathering our way through the pandemic.  It was one of the few occasions when the pearls came out of the jewelry box.

Community Development Halton (CDH) has served the community for a long time.  It was an incubator for agencies that now provide needed service to the Region.

The three pillars of CDH are:

  • Volunteerism – a hub for those wanting volunteer opportunities or needing volunteers.
  • Age-Friendly initiatives that encourage and promote active aging by optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.
  • Social Planning – data driven using many different resources to focus on economic and social conditions that influence individual and group differences in health status.

CDH is a source of useful data on changes that are taking place in how the wider community works.  They publish Dispatches on a regular basis as well as Community Lens, a publication that digs down deep and takes a tighter look at what the data tells us.

In her last set of comments to her Board, President Mowbray said that ” If you can’t let go of certain particulars, you can’t divine larger patterns.  If you can’t shake off the pains of yesterday, you can’t be open to the possible joys of tomorrow.”

Adding that “This has been a tumultuous year – actually, it’s been a difficult three years with the pandemic taking its toll through the last 18 months. However, my comments today reflect on the past year not the least of which is the pandemic effect.

” That physical hug, the act of holding someone as hard as you can and being held onto in return is the physical reminder that we are together in whatever life threw at us.’

” ‘But it’s not just for the hard times. Most days, it’s a simple, physical reminder that we’ve still got each other, and we’re grateful.’

“I’m not saying staff and board members should all break into hugs – although I would willingly give everyone a hug if I could.

“As a society, we must find some way to safely return to physical, face-to-face meetings. Board and staff need it, we all need it.

“Interaction and discussion is far better, more meaningful, in person than on Zoom. Being in person provides a more supportive, more instinctive, more spontaneous interaction. It energizes and refreshes each of us – we play off each other in a way that doesn’t work on Zoom.

“Zoom is a stop gap meeting space at best –those radio lags really don’t contribute to good discourse.

“American Sign Language is dependent on facial expressions, so you can imagine the deaf community is impacted by the wearing of masks. However, let’s go farther – body language also speaks volumes – and you don’t get that on Zoom. (That we can’t see below the shoulders may well be a good thing from what I’ve heard about the way some people have been dressing at home during this pandemic.)

“Bottom line is we need to find a way to meet in person. Safely. Emotionally, mentally, and intellectually – we all need it.  My one vote of thanks for zoom is that every meeting eliminated a two-hour drive.

“About the CDH board?  I am proud to say that CDH has the best board ever. It has grown, matured and diversified.

Consultations with the overall community told us the changes the wanted to see at CDH, for example –

  • That the board have representation in all four municipalities. Check.
  • That we increase board membership – Check – we have a full complement of 12
  • That we increase diversity on the board – check! But diversity wasn’t the focus during recruitment, it came about as a result of good qualified people applying for board membership. It bears mentioning that diversity isn’t always visible. But this board is diverse in its talent, professions, backgrounds, and interests.
  • That we rotate meetings throughout Halton. Sort of Check We started that process with a meeting in Milton, but the pandemic brought that to a halt.

As Chair Mowbray challenged her colleagues to ask: : Where are we? Where is CDH really?

The Pandemic forced the cancellation of workshops and fee-for-service projects.  Sustainability for CDH is through those avenues and staff is working hard to regain lost ground but the threat of burnout is ever-present.  More financial resources are needed.  She urged the Board to take ownership of this task, a task mandated for all NFP boards – to support the work of the organization.

“To substantially increase our output – workshops, fees-for-service events, we need more staff, to get more staff we need more money.

“What I am saying is that it’s a matter of outreach. We each need to utilize our contacts, reach out, make sure they understand exactly what it is that CDH does; create opportunities for engagement, opportunities where our Executive Director might be of help, perhaps to close a deal.

“To that end, the single biggest issue is trying to explain what CDH is, what it does, what we do.

The volunteer side of things is easier – though I wouldn’t want Heather Thompson or Heather Johnson to think that I think their jobs are easy – far from it.

We need new ideas for increasing our resources. We don’t have the sob story that pulls at the heart strings and makes people empty their wallets. CDH is unique. Can we turn that uniqueness into an asset?

On that note, if you haven’t already, I would remind everyone, to be sure to pay your 2021/2022 membership fees before the end of December.  (CDH Board members are expected to join the organization and pay a membership fee)

They are financially supported by the Hamilton-Halton United Way  and the Region of Halton.

And with that Jan Mowbray said thank you and then almost burst into tears.

The 2021-2022 Board consists of:

Ann Lawlor, president
Joanne McKiernan, Vice President
Ancilla Ho-Young, Secretary
Juan Barangote, Treasurer
Andrew Falls, Nominations & Governance
Nilo Yousof
Fawzia Patel
Steph Nguyen
Gay Loveland
Marg Connor
Bolu Babatope
Jan Mowbray, past president


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