Many changes still ahead for Manitoulin Community Living

MINDEMOYA— The Community Living Manitoulin (CLM) Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on September 23 at the Mindemoya Curling Club with board members president Melissa Peters, Ron Kenney, Karlene Scott, Tyler Madahbee, Janyn Towns, Karen McGraw, Terry MacKenzie, Sam Bondi and Steven Clark present.

Ms. Peters began the meeting with approval of the minutes from the last AGM and told those in attendance that the auditors were unable to present a completed audit for the 2014/2015 fiscal year as they were waiting for supporting documentation from the bank and the audit would then be completed and the report made available to members as soon as possible.

Ms. Peters began her report by noting that it is hard to believe that so much has been accomplished over the past year. “We had recently lost an executive director, a finance manager and a program manager,” she said. “and we were dealing with numerous complaints from our individuals, their friends and caregivers, our staff, our management as well as former staff, management and board. There were over 50 complaints at the time.”

Ms. Peters went on to talk about the appointment of Wayne Janzen to the position of executive director and how he spent his time listening to and healing the rifts throughout CLM with the result that there was only one complaint in October.

“Meanwhile,” Ms. Peters said, “we were forming a new and stronger board, one who could work with the ministry and with CLM. Karlene and Janyn, along with Megan (Wickett), planned our harvest celebration. This year’s is October 16 at the church. Wayne fulfilled his commitment to bettering the relationships throughout the organization and we cannot thank him enough for that. We interviewed our present executive director. To state we were a little nervous in doing so would be an understatement. However, with a little time we hired Tammie Molenaar. She stated she was a hard worker, could work well with the ministry, and loved the search for money and innovative projects. She has succeeded in proving herself to all of us.”

“Our Christmas dinner organized by Steve and his lovely wife Brenda was again a success,” Ms. Peters continued. “Ron found Santa Claus and convinced him to come out for the party.”

The finalizing AGM was held in March and Ms. Peters stated that it was great to see everyone out and that it is hopeful that they liked what we’re trying to do. “Throughout all this,” she added, “Janyn, along with former board members Stan Drystek and Judy Olacke and staff member Kerri Lattimer, have been working diligently on our garden project. And they are always looking for more help.”

“Karlene organized our volunteer appreciation for all our amazing volunteers and in May we had a visit from Community Living Ontario (CLO) president Keith Dee,” Ms. Peters said. “To celebrate, everyone got together and enjoyed a community barbecue which is hoped to become an annual event. He remarked on how great a place we had.”

“We received one complaint in June,” she continued. “The ministry was impressed by our staff and how quickly it was resolved. Everyone on staff knows how to deal with incidents and occurrences; it was noted and commended.”

The ministry did a compliance review of CLM earlier this month and Ms. Peters explained that there were 24 non-compliance issues. “Tammie and her staff resolved them all and actioned one for October within 10 days. Kudos to all.”

“Throughout the year, all of our board members have worked hard,” Ms. Peters continued. “Sam (Bondi) in donations and attending the ministry compliance meeting, Ron with contract talks, Karen (McGraw) and Terry (MacKenzie) with their lending a helping hand and for the many words of wisdom they’ve shared. That goes for everyone. And Tyler (Madahbee) is our expert; always willing to help and share his knowledge, and always standing up for his fellow individuals. We hope to be joined by two more staff members after tonight.”

Ms. Peters also had good words to say about the CLM board and commented that  it was composed of truly giving people and that the organization is also lucky to have great management with Ms. Molenaar, Ms. Wickett, Bonnie Closs, Wendy Friesen and Leanne Hayward. “We have terrific front-line staff that truly cares as much as the parents and caregivers of our individuals and we have our amazing individuals; each with their own quirky little personality that give more to us than we can ever do for them. In total, we have a great organization with truly wonderful people throughout. Thank you everyone for all you do.”

Ms. Molenaar then presented her report as executive director of CLM.

“On behalf of CLM, I thank you for your membership in our organization,” she said. “It is because of your trust and involvement that our agency is able to thrive and provide so many important supports and services not only to the individuals supportive of our community, but also to the entire communities of Manitoulin.”

“As many of you know, CLM was started back in 1960 by a group of parents who did not want to send their children away to institutions,” Ms. Molenaar explained. “They wanted to see their children grow up in a community and be part of that community. For the past 55 years, we have been striving to help people live their life to the fullest as part of their community.”

Ms. Molenaar then talked about the many changes for Community Living overall and noted that, although change is good, it can be hard and stressful and though changes are still going on, the focus of CLM is on the people the organization supports first. “This will not change,” she said. “It’s our people-first philosophy that motivates us to work hard and provide better services and supports. It is why we are here.”

In an effort to have CLM stable, Ms. Molenaar explained that a neutral third party had been hired to provide an Operational Stabilization Review and Plan and, with the support of the ministry, help the agency address issues, plan how these issues can be dealt with and move forward and at the same time do not lose sight of providing support and services to people with development disabilities.

Ms. Molenaar also talked of the goals and opportunities the agency is pursuing. These include inviting CLM members to consider volunteering with the garden project, the board bylaw review and the updating policies group. She ended her talk by thanking staff, volunteers, board of directors and committees for their heartfelt commitment and unified effort. “Their passion is truly inspiring,” she said, “and I am continuously moved by their steadfast desire to serve the people we support.”