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Annual General Meeting: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Annual General Meeting: Looking Back, Looking Forward

The 22nd Annual General Meeting of LiveWorkPlay took place on the evening of September 8, with attendance of 125 comprised of supported individuals, family members, volunteers, staff, and representatives of partner organizations.

There were no big decision to be made this year, but Third Sector Consulting president Mike Coxon made an important presentation about the Strategic Review conducted in 2016-2017, and Chair of the Board Cathy Velazquez confirmed the strategic directions (see annual report page 3) that will guide the board’s ongoing strategic planning work in 2017-2018.

Independent auditor Ross Holmes delivered the financial report and touched on significant developments as shown in the annual audit (see page 45). There was a small deficit this year, but the organization has significant reserves. This was a “clean audit” and there were no questions. The firm of Mitchell and Holmes was appointed as auditor for the coming year.

The six candidates for the board were all returning, 5 having been elected last year, and 1 having been added during the year. Stacey Diffin-Lafleur, recently retired from the board, was thanked for her service. Two candidates have been interviewed for this position, but the process was not completed in time for the AGM, so position 7/7 for the board is expected be filled in October. Each candidate shared a bit about themselves (see page 60) and what they bring to the board and the organization.

Staff recognition was moved from the annual Make A Buzz community celebration two years ago, and now takes place at the AGM. Board member Kari Whatley did the thanking again this year, sharing one brief unique story (see page 41) provided by each staff member about their work. The enthusiasm from the audience is indicative of the inter-connectivity of the LiveWorkPlay community.

In the Report on Operations by co-leaders Julie Kingstone and Keenan Wellar, Julie touched on developments in housing, employment, and community engagement as detailed in the annual report (see page 6). Of note in 2016-2017, Julie discussed the following highlights:

  • 7 of our members moved into the Haven in Barrhaven (new housing development) thanks to the Multifaith Housing Initiative and a grant from the Ministry of Community and Social Services Housing Task Force to deliver a “Just Enough Support” planning process.
  • Starting in April, after many months of hard work, LiveWorkPlay became a service provider for the Ontario Disability Supports Program (ODSP) Employment Supports, providing for the first time in many years an opportunity for sustainable revenues. The only thing stopping us from developing more jobs? Resources to do the work!
  • With the success of the Employment Task Force model (volunteers helping to champion employment of our members) a new Community Task Force is being developed to support community-based outcomes in arts, culture, sports, recreation, and citizenship.

Keenan talked about communications, and gave thanks to the grassroots engagement that fuels our social media channels as well as local, provincial, national, and international word of mouth that contributes to our strong reputation.

In describing the important of partnerships, he opted to showcase (with permission) two in a series of as yet unreleased (but now public!) videos completed by Hire for Talent, featuring a variety of employers that have benefited from hiring employees with various disability labels. This includes a number of LiveWorkPlay relationships, including Frances Laube and Dow Honda. With Frances and General Manager Andrew Bearss both in attendance, the audience watched closely and erupted with enthusiasm over these excellent videos.

Last but not least, as part of our New Leaf Community Challenge grant, LiveWorkPlay is soon to release new branding and marketing materials. Although these are designed primarily to support our employment activities, we have an updated logo and new tagline that you’ll soon be seeing everywhere! In fact, just look to the top of this communication, and there it is!

Promoting A Welcoming Community: Spark Change

Advocacy for a more inclusive community has always been an important part of what we do at LiveWorkPlay, and this involves learning and sharing with other organizations. The annual conference of Community Living Ontario is an opportunity to engage with what is happening across the province, and also to showcase our own work. This year’s conference on September 13-14 was entitled Spark Change: Raising Awareness and Advancing Inclusion and the sessions were very consistent with this theme.

On September 13, Keenan hosted a panel with representatives of the From Presence To Citizenship project (Maurice Voisin, Chris Grayson, and Lisa Foster), advocate and past-president of the Council of Community Living Ontario Yvonne Spicer, and Ministry of Community and Social Services Director (Community Supports Policy Branch) Barb Simmons. The provocatively titled “Legislating Safety – Are Lives Getting Better?” drew a packed house that stretched into the hallway.

Among the topics that elicited significant passion, Community Living Thunder Bay Executive Director Lisa Foster raised the issue of forcing agencies to train their staff in the use of “holds” (restraint) in order to be compliant with the Quality Assurance Measures (a topic covered in our annual report see page 16). Barb Simmons talked about the origins of this policy and recognized that changes are needed, but cited technical barriers associated with legislation. We hope this will be resolved long before next year’s conference!

Julie joined in a panel representing 5 of the 18 projects funded in 2 rounds of the MCSS Developmental Services Housing Task Force. There were meaningful themes and similarities across all projects, and in particular, deliberate efforts to build natural supports in combination with paid staff, and also using technology to be less obtrusive in people’s lives without losing focus on safety.

At the Annual General Meeting (LiveWorkPlay is a member of the Community Living Ontario confederation) on September 12, Keenan and Julie were thrilled to join in celebrating Orville Endicott Social Justice Award recipient Audrey Cole. Audrey has been very influential in advancing the rights of people with intellectual disabilities, and helped inspire our own guiding statements, as well as those of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.