It was back in 2010 that our Annual General Meeting joined up with the Welcome Back Family Feast and succeeded in turning a routine meeting into a community-building gathering that is attended by more than 150 guests every year. The essential business of our non-profit corporation gets done, but now we have a broader representation in the room, and it’s a chance to reconnect after the summer.
An old tradition was resurrected this year. Before 2005 the AGM agenda included “staff recognition.” With the establishment of the Engines of Success annual banquet that year, the ceremony was moved to that event for the next decade. In 2015, Make A Buzz Ottawa replaced Engines of Success, and this combined auction and awards evening has such a jam-packed agenda that the staff recognition ceremony has been returned to the AGM.
Board member Kari Whatley had the challenge of recognizing all 22 staff with just a few words to paint a picture of who they are as an employee and a person. Judging by the smiles, laughs, and a standing ovation at the end, the staff team and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony.
This was also the occasion to recognize staff members who are moving on. Rebecca Coxon is heading to British Columbia in 2017 and is leaving LiveWorkPlay in December. After more than 5 years of service that included helping to define the role of Community Connector, and most recently becoming an inaugural Team Lead, George Kranitis and his partner Veronique will soon be heading to George’s home country of Australia where they will be starting a new organization similar to LiveWorkPlay. George made a heartfelt speech and was touched that of course he is going to be missed, but also by the level of encouragement for his new venture.
Board chair Cathy Velazquez also had many parting colleagues to thank, including Vaughn McKinney who was in attendance, as well as Clem Chan and Andrew Bearss who have retired from the board, and past chair Cecelia Taylor, who completed her one year term on the inaugural Governance Committee. Vaughn and Andrew will both be continuing with the Employment Task Force.
As Vaughn’s retirement came a few weeks before the AGM, that vacancy will be filled later in the fall. Elected at AGM 2016 were returning directors Kari Whatley, Stacey Diffin-Lafleur, Cathy Velazquez, and Daniel Spagnolo, with Brigid Fitzpatrick, and Christine Felteau serving for the first time. None of the newcomers are actually new to LiveWorkPlay. Christine has worked at the local MBNA/TD offices alongside LiveWorkPlay members for many years, and Brigid brings her experience working with LiveWorkPlay and agencies across the region as a manager at Valor & Solutions and Coordinator for the Eastern Region Community Networks of Specialized Care (CNSC).
The LiveWorkPlay Annual Report made available at the event as well as online features reports from the board as well as we as operations and communications reports. This year’s report on operations featured a live presentation by Julie Kingstone as well as a written contribution to the annual report. This included details about present/past/future themes (with the summer employment initiative as a highlight) as well as a breakdown of costs related to human resources, and in particular, fee-for-service. This section motivated parent Madonna Nevitt to provide the following feedback:
I read with interest the LiveWorkPlay Annual Report provided for the 2016 Annual General Meeting. I wanted to draw your attention to the feature called “$50 an hour seems like a lot of money?” as this is something I have been hoping to see. From time to time I have have had interactions with people who have made negative comments about fees, or even questioning staff salary levels.
I have always understood that the fees collected do not go straight into anyone’s pockets and that training, technology, supervision, and basic employment costs and benefits must be covered. I have struggled to explain this because I did not have the specifics. Thanks to this new information presented in the report, I now have a precise explanation that reinforces what I already knew to be true: good staff working as an effective team doing challenging work costs money, and it is money well spent.
The people LiveWorkPlay supports are vulnerable for a variety of reasons. They may be isolated, they may be non-standard communicators, or both. As a parent the quality of the people who are trusted to be in my son’s life is the number one concern. I could find and hire workers on my own. But I do not have a way to train and mentor them or build a team around them with the care and experience of an entire person-centred organization. And I know that LiveWorkPlay will also make changes to their staffing arrangements when needed.
I understand from the report that LiveWorkPlay staff salaries are average or just a little above average for this field of work, and that’s a very reasonable cost for knowing that we are accessing a trustworthy team of people to support my son. These are above average people in an above average organization. To find and keep quality people you need to respect not only their talents, but also the value they bring to the organization and to the lives of those being supported.
Thank you Madonna for taking the time to share your views!
Our auditor Ross Holmes did not escape the evening’s enthusiasm, confiding that in his many presentations of audited statements at Annual General Meetings it is rare that he receives applause, let alone a few hoots and hollers. Well, why not! Our audience appreciates a clean audit!
Last but certainly not least, “member recognition” rounded out the evening. Although awards and recognition are now an important aspect of our Make A Buzz Ottawa event (May 11, 2017) Keenan Wellar explained that over the summer there was some exciting news that can’t wait all the way until May. This included Caroline Matte having celebrated her 50th birthday, Analisa Kiskis enjoying her 39th birthday and 10th wedding anniversary with husband Mark, and Paul Knoll celebrating his retirement after a 21 year career with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. You can catch this action with the video below! Don’t miss the standing ovation at 31:50!