by Betty Bardswich
MINDEMOYA—Community Living Manitoulin (CLM) is a not-for-profit agency that offers residential, vocational and community services to 60 adults with developmental disabilities. The organization operates four group homes and offers programs ranging from supported independent living and employment as well as life skills. CLM also operates a consignment store called Everything Under the Sun which is situated in Mindemoya and offers new and used clothing, accessories, books, kitchenwares and other items for sale.
A new executive director was hired for the agency on December 1 to replace Wayne Janzen, who had served in the interim. Tammie Molenaar, formerly of Timmins, took on the position and, according to CLM board chairperson Melissa Peters, she is a ‘perfect fit.’
“Tammie has had extensive experience with Community Living,” Ms. Peters told The Expositor. “And recommendations given to us from people who had worked with her over the years spoke volumes as well. She has shown, along with her frontline staff and management, that she has what it takes to move forward in a positive direction. She has already established a positive relationship with the ministry who provides our core funding and she works well with the board, management and staff overall. The relationships she has already started building with our individuals with her open door policy, with the concerned parents, guardians and volunteers involved with them, and with the community in general really is a benefit to everyone.”
Ms. Molenaar, nee Tammie Davis, was born in Little Current and lived for 16 years in Gore Bay. Her father co-owned The Recorder along with Jack McQuarrie and Ms. Molenaar grew up around the print shop and loved meeting the photographers and journalists.
“We had to leave the Island and move to Barrie,” Ms. Molenaar explained. “My sister Christy had to have several brain surgeries and we had to be closer to Sick Kids Hospital. Christy gave a lot back to me and she is part of the reason I got into this field as she had disabilities. I also knew Rene Nobel who was a teacher in Gore Bay for children with developmental disabilities and she was our neighbour. She inspired in me that everyone needs to care and help people. I took her words to heart. The Nobles, the whole family, are such good people. Rene also got my mother to foster two kids with disabilities. The CLM group home in Mindemoya, called Rene’s Place, is named after her.”
Ms. Molenaar attended college in Barrie and obtained a child and youth worker diploma as well as a business certificate and volunteered for the Special Olympics. She and her husband Tim then moved to Timmins where she graduated from Northern College with a diploma as a developmental services worker and later obtained a business for non-profits and municipalities certificate. Ms. Molenaar felt that it was important that she study business and said, “we have to show that we are spending taxpayers money in a responsible way.”
Ms. Molenaar and her husband always thought that they would retire on Manitoulin but, as she explained, “this was too good of an opportunity to turn down. I wanted to live on the Island. I love the Island and I love what I do. I think that I am now home. This is home.”
In talking about her role as the executive director of CLM, Ms. Molenaar said, “we will be working towards accreditation. We have really dedicated staff. The Ministry of Community and Social Services knows that. They agree with me on that. We want to be known as a good employer that provides excellent service to the people we support. Our employees are very, very important. This agency has so much potential. We have great staff and the staff forms the basis of any agency. For me, this is a dream job in a dream location.”
Ms. Molenaar’s husband works at the Cochrane Timiskaming Resource Centre and will join his wife in Mindemoya in a few months. They have two daughters, Erika, who has bachelor’s degrees in fine art, education and English, is an artist and is on the teacher supply list for Manitoulin, and Fiona, who is enrolled in nursing at Nipissing College.