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A MODEL THAT WORKS Discover how charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity are making life-changing differences— in the lives of young Noah and others—in the Sarnia-Lambton community SCAN ME!

A one-day conference to inspire leaders & entrepreneurs. Saturday, November 16th, 2019 Lambton College Event Centre, Sarnia

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the launch of Spark, a one-day conference to inspire leaders and entrepreneurs. Through inspirational talks, breakout and workshop sessions, and panels, Spark attendees will learn from

experienced leaders and entrepreneurs from across Southwestern Ontario. Our speakers have overcome adversity, started businesses from the ground up, facilitated change in their communities, and inspired others to take action.

For more information visit: sparkconference.ca

140 Russell Street South, Sarnia, Ontario




A model that works

10 Delivering on the promise 13 No slowing down 15 How our 'most giving'

organizations are a critical element in society 17 Connecting to make

a difference


21 10 years later 22 Continuing to drive value 25 Places to serve...making a

difference in our community 29 Chamber of Commerce


set to bring ‘Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration’ at one-day conference



hen we began thinking about how this issue of Lambton Shield magazine would create as much value as possible—that defined largely with the impact it would have in the community we’ve come to love—it wasn’t long before the idea of focusing on not-for-profit charitable organizations would serve as a great place to start. That was the easy part. Deciding which of the many, many groups that we would highlight was a much harder task. Clearly, not every great example of people at work for the betterment of so many could be featured. But magazines like this one aren’t encyclopedic. Rather they can serve to both inspire and encourage—which is what we’ve tried to do here.

In addition to some great examples of people setting out to make a lasting decision in our community, we’ve crafted a directory—even that likely not as complete as some might hope—which we hope will “fill in the gaps.” Nevertheless, I believe the results will ultimately serve the purpose we intended, including making the point that generosity and caring for one another is part of the fabric that makes Sarnia-Lambton one of the best places to live, work and play. I hope you find the effort worth your time—which is always appreciated. One more note. As Lambton Shield magazine continues to evolve—we’re rounding out our first year in print with this edition—I’m grateful for your words of encouragement and the opportunity to continue in my goal of making this place we live better than it was when I arrived some 34 years ago. J.D. Booth Editor and Publisher jd@lambtonshield.com 519-466-2811

LAMBTON SHIELD Owned and operated by 1886917 ONTARIO INC. and published both in print and online at WWW.LAMBTONSHIELD.COM. DESIGN AND PRODUCTION: CR Creative Co. Ltd., Wyoming, Ontario. EDITORIAL CONSULTANT: L. Sheridan

ADVERTISING & MARKETING MANAGER: Fatema Bhabrawala fatema@lambtonshield.com (519) 381-1140 ON OUR COVER: Young Noah, one of a growing number of “future homeowners” associated with Habitat for Humanity, will undoubtedly remember the generosity of the organization that made this possible—just one of many in our community that’s making a difference. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario.

A proud member of the


A model that works Photo credit: Kerry M. Gabriel

Scalable at its heart, Habitat for Humanity is transforming lives, one home—and one family—at a time


orget about expensive gadgets, fancy meals in high-priced restaurants, or even trips abroad.

When it comes to our most basic needs, articulated by psychologist Abraham Maslow, best known for creating his hierarchy of needs, it turns out that things like shelter are high on the list. For that reason alone, the mission of Habitat for Humanity Sarnia/ Lambton has increasingly taken hold in our region. In essence, the organization operates on a partnership model, first established in 1976, that provides interest-free mortgage financing


for families that commit to some 500 volunteer hours as part of an application process that includes a basic level of income in order to qualify. When executive director Sarah Reaume retired, David Waters, who was serving as chair of Habitat’s board, decided to compete for the position, recusing himself and ultimately resigning from the board when he was successful in the competition. Given his previous experience as manager of Faethorne Place, a Sarnia housing cooperative, Waters already had a good start on maintaining and even accelerating Habitat for Humanity’s mission.

It takes a team to make this happen Champions The Home Depot County of Lambton Blackburn Radio


Habitat Build Community Partners Advanced Building Materials A Village Fireplace Shop Byers Truss C&M Drywall

Libro Credit Union

Carron Electric


Concrete Systems

Hucker Floor Coverings

Dam Excavating


Devries Construction


DSC Plumbing Durston Installation

Supporters RBC Foundation Worley Ontario Power Generation

H Moore & Son Windows Hucker Floor Coverings Lambton Sanitation Mammoet Canada Eastern INC. Monteith & Sutherland Ltd.

Friends McNaughton’s Automotive Limited

North Pole Trim & Supplies Ltd. Robinson Design Sarnia Concrete Products SPM Shades Thornervalley Cabinets VanVer Construction Watson TIM-BR Mart – Courtright

“What we do is provide a hand up, not a handout,” said Waters, echoing a saying that may not be unique but one that is certainly being fulfilled every day at Habitat. Now nearing its 60th project, the organization has developed a pace of construction to the point where the average yearly production is about four homes, which puts it in the upper half of Habitat for Humanity chapters in Canada.

replaced by new stock) and resells them to the public. Restore also provides a free kitchen removal service, which adds to a stream of revenue that fuels the building activity.

What we do is provide a hand up, not a handout.

While the organization is funded by donations, particularly from national and local partners (see sidebar), a key driver of Habitat for Humanity’s sustainable model is the operation of Restore, which takes in donations (including new items from Home Depot that are

“We probably couldn’t do what we do without Restore, because it contributes to much of the build program,” said Waters.

Indeed, Restore actually funds all the organization’s administrative costs, meaning that those interest free mortgage loans being paid back by Habitat families goes straight back into new build projects. Locally, the organization’s story began when Art DeGroot and a few WWW.LAMBTONSHIELD.COM • 7

of his friends began gathering, apparently in Art’s front yard, to discuss how they could make a difference in the lives of people who could benefit from the model Habitat for Humanity had first created. Eventually establishing an affiliate organization has continued to flourish.



Still, there are challenges, says Waters. “I think the greatest one is in the number of volunteers. As many volunteers as we have, we could use twice as many,” he said. Another challenge donor community.






Waters' response, and that of Habitat’s staff, is to build new relationships and to effectively communicate the opportunities to support the organization. From an operational perspective, Habitat has a focus that includes buying existing homes that need significant help and transforming them into the kind of place to live that creates value in a neighbourhood. “Oftentimes, we start with a shell and go from there, with brand new plumbing, HVAC, electrical, kitchen, floors and obviously all new bathrooms,” said Waters. The other model is based on either buying a lot or taking a piece of donated land and building from scratch. Generally speaking, the reaction from neighbours is a positive one, although at least one project proposal received enough negative response from one of the prospective neighbours that the plans were shelved. The ironic ending to the story was that after the lot was sold, the home that was built, with no connection to Habitat, was seen to be one that definitely did not fit the neighbourhood. As busy as Habitat for Humanity continues to be, Waters makes the point that the mission is one that is highly scalable.

“That’s true in the sense that there’s always more you can do,” he said. “But with what’s happening with Restore, that will be the fuel that allows us to help more people.” With all that Habitat for Humanity does, in and for the community, Waters makes the point that involvement, whether it be from those who can volunteer their time or donate funds, is always welcome. “That’s how we’ll continue to move the needle, and that’s something we very much want to do—to get as many people into home ownership as possible.”



Delivering on the promise Rotary Club of Sarnia has decades-long track record with plans to continue serving


hen it comes to the idea of building community, it would be difficult to find a better example of a diverse gathering of individuals, united in a mission of service, than the Rotary Club of Sarnia. Certainly there are numerous other groups, in various flavours throughout Sarnia-Lambton, who contribute to our collective sense of community. Included in that list would be groups such as Kiwanis, Kin, Lions, and Optimists, clubs whose members continue to add value. But arguably, the Rotary Club of Sarnia, founded on February 24, 1928, has earned a certain distinction, and not just because of monetary contributions that have included a $1 million donation to Bluewater Health, at least $600,000 for Pathways Health Centre for Children, as well as substantial donations in support of the YMCA’s Rotary Aquatics Centre, St. Joseph’s Hospice, and numerous others. A full list can be found on the club’s website—rotarysarnia.com. Rotary Club of Sarnia members have also seen a “spin off” effect over the years, including the birthing of the Rotary Club of Sarnia Bluewaterland in 1990, and the Rotary Club of Sarnia-Lambton After Hours in 2007. Today, there’s also a Passport Club, which includes members throughout the area, and Rotaract, described as a distinctive place for members age 18-30, although those are also eligible for membership in the parent club. There’s also an Interact Club, which has high school students among its membership. 10 • LAMBTON SHIELD SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

And, of course, there’s the Rotary Club of Petrolia, where the shared connection is the larger group of clubs in the region. Sandra Graham, a twice-retired banker who serves as this year’s president of the Sarnia club, makes an important point regarding the impact members of the Rotary Club have made over the years, and continue to make. “Rotary has contributed to the community, not only in dollars, but in what Rotarians have done, and what they continue to do today,” said Graham. “Certainly the dollars are one thing and we’ve contributed to all kinds of non-profit organizations. But it’s also the feeling that we have about giving back.” Graham says it’s the heritage of Rotary that drives what the current membership continues to embrace. “That’s something that has existed from the very beginning, not just this club, but yes, globally, the ‘Service Above Self’ expression that says we can benefit humanity, one member at a time,” she added. In her particular case, joining Rotary in 1995 was initially prompted by her connection to the business community. “I was a bank manager at the time, and I joined for the need to become visible in the community,” said Graham. “Since then, there have been so many people that I have become friends with and so many people that I am so proud to have known.” One of the club’s “signature” events continues to be its Pancake Breakfast, which coincides with the Port Huron to Mackinac Boat Race that occurs in July. “It’s not what I would call a major fundraiser,” says Graham of an event that this year generated at least $10,000 in ticket sales. “But it

has relaxed rules such as having one member per profession in a club and even attendance rules that at times has handcuffed clubs rather than serving as a way to sustain them. “In order to sustain Rotary, you have to change and that’s been a common theme for us,” said Graham. One of many stalwart members of the Rotary Club of Sarnia is Bill Hoad, a retired electrical engineer who first joined the club in 1980 when he was plant manager of Ethyl Canada’s Corunna site. And while that plant eventually closed in 2013, Hoad, who has now been retired for some 26 years, remained in the club for one of the most obvious reasons. “I enjoyed the people and I enjoyed the work we’ve been doing in the community. And it would have been hard to fill that void.” Another long-serving member is Bill Boynton, who joined the club in 2004 and whose “specialty” in the club is his involvement with youth programs, including one involving the Rotary Youth Exchange. Boynton’s family has been among several Rotarians who have hosted students, one of the most recent being one from Brazil. He’s also taken the time to remain in contact with past exchange students. “I was talking to an exchange student this morning from Brazil that I had 11 years ago. I call them my kids and they’re all over the world.” gets all the Rotarians together for a fun morning. We joke and laugh and it’s a way for us to get together and fellowship. And I think it continues that way because we have so much fun.” Not every fundraiser that has been initiated over the years has lasted, however. “I think all the events run their course,” said Graham. One example was the Rotary Roses campaign, which ended when the florist that participated closed its business. “We’re actually looking at a few ideas for another fundraiser,” she added.

Again, focusing on Rotary’s worldwide impact is an ongoing program to eradicate polio, a disease that at one point was endemic. Today, through a coordinated program involving Rotary Clubs throughout the world, Africa is on the verge of being polio-free and efforts continue, in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, to complete that decades-long goal.

To be a Rotarian is something very special. But it’s also important to remember that our doors are always open. The real value takes shape when we are able to provide opportunities for service to as many people in our community as possible. It really is a special thing that people can do, for themselves, and for others.

There’s also a history among local Rotary clubs for joint projects, including one that involving accessible playground equipment for Canatara Park, funded at least in part through a “Trip of the Month” lottery, tickets for which have been sold by members from all three Sarnia-based clubs. Aside from the vision and energy that continues to drive Rotarians, there’s also an acknowledgment of a need to “reinvent” the club for future generations of those who have a desire to serve.

Regarding ongoing efforts to recharge the Rotary Club of Sarnia, recent changes such as a downward adjustment in membership rates, and specific goals involving the invitation of prospective members to its ranks, continue to inject a certain energy among those who have seen the value of “Service Above Self” manifest itself.

We’ll give the last word to Sandra Graham, the current president of the Rotary Club of Sarnia. “To be a Rotarian is something very special. But it’s also important to remember that our doors are always open. The real value takes shape when we are able to provide opportunities for service to as many people in our community as possible. It really is a special thing that people can do, for themselves, and for others.”

It’s one reason that Rotary International, the formal governing body,


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Pictured left to right are competitive athlete and choreographer Lillian Bates, and coach Cristi Stoican.

Tumblers Erynn Hutchinson (left) and Emily Wilson are watched by coach Alex Bard. Photos by Tricia Babin.


With a renewed vision and focus on the future, Bluewater Gymnastics says its future is bright


tart talking about Bluewater Gymnastics and the mental image that begins to take shape includes young people, many of them female, becoming familiar with the kinds of moves that can be seen every four years during competitions at the Summer Olympics, where elite athletes do their very best to come out on top. But dig a little deeper into this organization and you begin to see much more, starting with what the organization is setting out to do. We talked to Rose-Ann Nathan, the organization’s executive director, who joined the team at Bluewater Gymnastics about a year ago. Her background is a diverse one, which includes running fitness clubs, and serving as a marketing manager for a national mattress company. She also has an MBA in executive studies from Western University.

“Bluewater Gymnastics is a diversified multi-sport organization and it is multi-dimensional in the sense that we hire youth, we develop youth and there are obviously high-performance athletes who are poised to go to the Olympics,” she said. The organization also provides a highly integrated set of options that appeal to those who aren’t necessarily headed to the highest level of competition in the gymnastics field, and that’s something Nathan fully understands. “We have some very well-developed community-based social skills development programs,” she said. “Those help the young people who come through our doors with agility, coordination, balance, strength and endurance. They come here for play and then advance from there into the programs of the recreation program.” There are also day camps, events that take place on a school’s professional development days, and the hosting of birthday parties, all of which make Bluewater Gymnastics’ building, located in Lottie Neely Park just east of Modeland Road off London Line, a very busy place indeed. Adjacent to soccer fields (which is another sport that is incorporated into Bluewater Gymnastics programming), the building that the gymnastics club occupies is owned by the City of Sarnia. The connection with the City has played out in a number of ways, including having consultant Fred Galloway, who was involved in creating a strategic plan for Sarnia’s Parks and Recreation department, develop a new strategic plan for Bluewater Gymnastics. Looking to that strategic plan, Nathan sees the development of


more activities geared toward adults. ‘“We have over 2,000 families here and we’ve done the surveys in the community and with parents here, asking questions like ‘Would you like to exercise here? Would you like to do activities while your children are here?’ And what would you like to do? And so, identified yoga, stretching, pilates, even walking that will be included in our next phase.” On the upper floor of the building, Nathan acknowledges there is “a huge opportunity given that we are currently using just a little over 10% of the space.” Working with the City, which owns the Strangway Centre, appears to be a good fit for Bluewater Gymnastics, especially since that facility is at or near capacity. “They’re supportive of programs that will appeal to adults and that’s something we would very much like to see as well,” said Nathan.

Another example of activities that would seem to stretch the gymnastics model is the adoption of chair yoga, the local demand for which Nathan says is overflowing in Sarnia. “We can also host book clubs and card games,” she says. “What we’re doing is inviting the community to take advantage of the facility that we have here, which is currently being underused.”

Nathan says the hiring of Cristi Stoican, a Romanian currently based in Dubai, will be teaching coaches at Bluewater Gymnastics the advanced skill sets needed to develop top performers. The connection with the Olympics may not be entirely obvious, but as Nathan points out, having even a couple of very elite performers, which the club has at the moment, provides a level of inspiration for others who are participating in the program. “In an Olympic year, when gymnastics is on the stage, the numbers always go up,” she said. “More people are participating, whether it’s hockey or any sport, when you have that podium, it helps with the motivation. And when the other girls are training with those who are at the elite level, they’re also motivated by that. You can see that those young girls and boys are looking out and watching them.” And while Bluewater Gymnastics does not currently have a men’s program, Nathan is hopeful that the new coach, who is a former world champion, will be able to add that component. Looking ahead, Nathan says the leadership of her board has been essential in developing a vision that she believes will create a much broader profile for the organization in the community.

We have some very well-developed communitybased social skills development programs,” she said. “Those help the young people who come through our doors with agility, coordination, balance, strength and endurance. They come here for play and then advance from there into the programs of the recreation program.

At the same time, Nathan and her team continue to see the ongoing development of core gymnastics activities, including the Xcel Program, developed by USA Gymnastics that runs alongside the Junior Olympic program.

“We’re adding it here because it’s so popular in the U.S., where there’s a Junior Olympic program that’s now in Canada, and which we have had for years. The Xcel Program, which allows for a lot of creativity into a program as long as they have the elements within that routine, is the fastest growing program in the U.S. and it’s going to be the fastest growing program in Canada.” Nathan says this is the first year for the program’s adoption at Bluewater Gymnastics, offering an “in between” opportunity between recreational gymnastics and the Junior Olympic program, essentially filling a hole between the two. In the short term, Nathan and her team are busy developing new curriculum, which is taking place with the help of two new coaches that will be designing the path forward. “Our coaches and our programming are our product,” said Nathan. “Other than this great facility of course. So for us, our top priority in our strategic plan is coach quality.”


“We hope we’ll be at full capacity within two to five years, and either expanding or looking at having satellite locations. So we want to have more access to more boys and girls and to allow more boys and girls to come in at a reasonable price.”

What Nathan also sees is an opportunity to leverage the heritage that’s part of the Bluewater Gymnastics story. “It’s not difficult to go somewhere and talk to someone who will say they went to Bluewater Gymnastics as a youngster and now they’re bringing their own children here.” With issues regarding past coaching staff still not fully resolved with Gymnastics Canada, there are obvious limits to what Nathan can say, but it’s clear that the path forward is one that she sees as a positive one. She also acknowledges the great investment that has been made to get Bluewater Gymnastics to the place it is today. “When you look at what the parents of the past have been able to create, the foundation that they built and the legacy that’s been created, it’s very special. But we’re building this for the long term. We’re also reinventing Bluewater Gymnastics and governance has been a big part of that, making sure that it’s a safe place to be.”

How our ‘MOST GIVING’ organizations are a critical element in society By Helen Lomax


o you ever give any thought to the many ways not-for-profit organizations give back to society? And how many people depend on one or more of these groups to help them live their life? Here’s just a few ways that groups—several of them featured in this issue of Lambton Shield magazine—contribute to making the lives of individuals (and society as a whole) richer in the most basic ways we can imagine. Consider: •

Helping both young and old learn to read.

Providing a place where donations of money can create an everlasting legacy

A food bank that helps people put food on their table

An organization that helps people prepare for and find a job

A group that recycles clothing, furniture or toys for people to buy at reduced prices

An organization that sells household goods and lumber to help build homes for people

Even groups that step forward in times of crisis or emergency to lend a helping had

people face. Without them, the struggles would be mighty and the results poor. Maybe you are one of the people who depend on them or maybe you are someone who donates your time or money to help them deliver the services so needed; or maybe you sit on a board of directors, helping to guide the organization to achieve the best results possible. Whatever you do to help, it is vital and appreciated. Everyone has some capacity to help, whether it is joining a service club, giving your time to be a Boy Scout or Girl Guide leader, volunteering at a specific event to raise funds, helping out at a food bank to sort food or help by purchasing a ticket to something. Not-for-profits are always in need for money, resources, and people to give their time. Whatever you do, you will never know just how many lives you might improve and touch. Others need you and one way our society steps forward is through the many benefits that not-for-profits provide. The real impact begins when. You say yes and move one step forward in doing what you can to support them and our community! Helen Lomax is vice president of &

Enthusiasm Transitions.

at She

Pathways can


reached through her website—

There are many different kinds of not-for-profit and every one of them play a key role in helping our world to resolve some of the problems




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Connecting to make a difference For 35 years, youth in Sarnia-Lambton have been getting help they need through Rebound


very organization has its origins story and for Sarnia-Lambton Rebound, the date to remember is 1984, when three individuals—Barry Symington, Dee Cox and Terry Fitzgerald—took the initiative to create what was then called a “diversion” program, designed to help keep youth out of the justice system, a second chance if you will that would, the founders believed, would generate dividends for decades to come. While Barry Symington, now retired from his position as a police officer, remains on the board of directors at Rebound, the other two founders have since passed away. The three were honoured, however, with plaques that the organization installed nearly two years ago in three of its rooms at its Dow Centre for Youth headquarters on Lorne Ave. in Sarnia. Their first group meeting, in a neighbourhood high school, formed the foundation for an organization that today operates initiatives that are recognized province wide. Still, the very early days weren’t necessarily without challenges. In fact, Symington recalls that first week when a group of kids went outside for a cigarette break and never came back.

Eventually, as the story goes, they did return and 35 years later, the organization is continuing to make the kind of difference that Carrie McEachran, Rebound’s executive director, says speaks well for the future. “Rebound is an organization that supports youth ages 8 to 24 in all areas of their life,” she explains. “We teach them resiliency skills, empowerment, social and life skills, with programs that help youth in early intervention and prevention around drug and alcohol use.” The programs, says McEachran, allow youth to practice new coping strategies that fit with real life. “We offer a variety of programs and services designed to empower youth. From individual support to 10-week group programs to after school drop in sessions, youth can always expect to find a safe, caring and accepting space when they come to Rebound.” Continuing to serve well means creating a healthy relationship with youth-focused volunteers, adds McEachran. “That happens on many levels — from frontline coaching to building maintenance; we rely on volunteers to help youth succeed.” Aside from the 19 programs the organization

has developed and continues to run, many of them recognized provincially and even nationally, Rebound remains committed to honoring the voice of youth, which it does in part through a youth action committee that McEachran says “helps to shape and inform our mission and goals.” That success has been contagious, with Rebound programs having been adopted in some nine different communities across Canada, among them Thunder Bay and Scarborough. In fact, the organization has built a youth engagement model at the core of what drives its efforts to make a difference in the lives of Sarnia-Lambton youth. “Certainly, times have changed,” says McEachran. “Today the trends are much different but you know, back then they were dealing with very similar things to what youth are experiencing today. For us, we’re evolving very rapidly here at Rebound, trying to keep up with what’s happening in the community, where youth are telling us what they need.” And to be sure, youth are very clear about what they need to succeed in life, says McEachran. WWW.LAMBTONSHIELD.COM • 17

Much of that comes down to the basic needs of life and then building on that to deal with issues that may not have existed in the early days—cyberbullying for example. Ask McEachran and her team whether Rebound is winning the game and she’s quick to point out that the organization is committed to taking a proactive approach to helping today’s youth be as successful as they possibly can. She’ll also tell you that there’s a continued sensitivity around the misguided idea that Rebound is “for the bad kids.” “The fact is, there are no bad kids,” McEachran says. “There are lost kids and there are kids that just need the opportunities an organization like Rebound is committed to provide.”

Carrie McEachran will admit that when she

McEachran would very much like to grow, in response to a need she already knows exists for Rebound’s services. “It’s really a significant need,” she says. “We have a waiting list right now and transportation is a huge issue. It’s unfortunate, because what that means is that youth in the County are currently falling through the cracks.”

We offer a variety of programs and services designed to empower youth. From individual support to 10-week group programs to after school drop in sessions, youth can always expect to find a safe, caring and accepting space when they come to Rebound.

Indeed, McEachran can tell at least one story, involving a current staff member—a program coordinator—who once had a run-in with the law and who now credits Rebound for changing his life.

“He went away to school, got the training to be a social worker and came back here to help us make a difference,” says McEachran. “We hear about those stories all the time and we tell those stories to the kids today that are using our programs.” An interesting fact about Rebound is that its services are open to any youth in the area, a point made by Anita Minielly, the organization’s fund development manager who spoke to a service club recently. “If you have children and within your network

10 weeks later...


of people that are maybe interested or maybe just need some help learning some different things, how to work with bullying, maybe there's some drug use that you're aware of, let them come, contact Rebound, and we can put them in touch with the right coordinator,” she said.

arnia-Lambton Rebound’s core programs, each one running weekly for 10 weeks, are not only run out of the organization’s Dow Centre for Youth offices on Lorne Cres., near Wellington and Indian Road, but are available as school based programming.

first connected with Rebound (she’s been executive director since May 2016), she knew very little about the organization she now leads.

But McEachran is forever hopeful that the work Sarnia-Lambton Rebound continues to do will make a real difference for the future of youth in the area.

“This community has been so supportive of Sarnia-Lambton Rebound and countless people that we’ve connected with not only believe in what we’re doing but share our vision of what’s not only possible but what they have seen accomplished in the 35 years we’ve been making a difference. We know that has to continue and having the very strong support in the community will drive our vision and what we do every day.”

“I discovered Rebound was really a hidden gem in the community,” she says. “And I don’t think people realize the effect and the impact that Rebound has in this community with our youth.” While a staff of about 40 is mostly based in Sarnia, Rebound also has satellite offices in Forest, where it rents space from the North Lambton Community Health Centre, and Petrolia, where it rents space from Lambton County Developmental Services. It’s a presence in Lambton County that

Life Choices - helps youth improve communication, decision-making, goalsetting and learn social skills to help them achieve their full potential. (Ages 12-17) Thrive - a resiliency-based program for Grade 7-8 youth focused on overcoming obstacles, building on strengths, coping strategies and encouraging self-discovery and confidence (Ages 12-14). STAGE (Strategies Towards Achieving Girl Empowerment) - focuses on building body image and confidence, addresses


female to female aggression, bullying and cyberbullying. (Ages 8-14). TAG (Tools for Achieving Growth) works with young males to develop skills and techniques to address impulse control, aggression, positive decision-making, bullying and building healthy friendships. (Ages 8-12). Choices - Focuses on substance information and prevention techniques to help youth make more informed decisions. (Ages 8-17).



10 years later Having seen the need, St. Joseph’s Hospice continues to deliver compassionate end of life care Maria Muscedere, fund development and community relations manager at St. Joseph’s Hospice, is pictured at a “Donor Tree of Life”—there are several in the area adjoining the residence.


eople don’t come here to die, they come here to live the rest of their days.”

The quote is one that Larry Lafranier first heard when he became executive director of St. Joseph’s Hospice in March 2014. Lafranier, who had already been on the board of the organization for two years and who came to Sarnia to oversee construction of the new Bluewater Health facility, says he’s found that for residents who spend their last days in the care of hospice staff, “sometimes it’s their happiest days of their lives.” While that may seem somewhat incongruous, Lafranier acknowledges that part of the disconnect comes from the fact that we live in a world that tends to be in denial about death. “When we have people come through our doors and they get support from the staff and volunteers, and physicians, it makes that transition a lot easier for them.”

been instrumental in setting up palliative care beds at the former St. Joseph’s Hospital, which eventually was divested, becoming part of Bluewater Health. As Murray explains, the Society began looking at the community with a view to identifying what gaps existed when it came to health care, which was an ongoing interest the Sisters of St. Joseph shared. That was about 2004-2005 and one of the areas the study identified as being needed was end of life care, which aligned with the initiative the Sisters had done earlier with palliative care at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Those who do come through our doors will say they can feel the warmth, the compassion that flows through the people here. That’s something we want to continue to offer to the people of Sarnia-Lambton.

The story of how St. Joseph’s Hospice came into being is itself a remarkable one in that it paints a picture of a generous community, one that saw a need and responded. Bob Murray, a retired lawyer who continues to serve as president of St. Joseph’s Health Care Society, the organization that owns and sponsors various institutions, including St. Joseph’s Hospice Sarnia Lambton, recalls the steps leading up to its creation. Part of the story includes the fact that the Sisters of St. Joseph had

“In December 2005, we opened an office on Water Street, where we offered a directory of services,” said Murray. “If you got news in your doctor’s office that you had a life limiting illness, where do you go in the community? Who can you reach out to? And so we offered that resource as a kind of referral.”

That organization, known as the St. Joseph Hospice Resource Centre of Sarnia Lambton, also began offering bereavement programs. Around the same time, Murray recalls, Bluewater Health had announced a $14 million deficit, which prompted its executive to recommend the trimming of its palliative care services. A resulting outcry in the community led to the realization that a formal hospice was needed and a response to that end the organization Murray was leading. Continued on page 30 WWW.LAMBTONSHIELD.COM • 21

Continuing to drive value Sarnia Community Foundation has created a legacy opportunity that can’t be overestimated


o fully understand how an organization like the Sarnia Community Foundation operates, it would be helpful to start with its beginnings and that’s a story that someone like Jane Anema, who has served as executive director since 2008, is best qualified to tell. That “origin story” began in 1982, two years after Marceil Saddy had replaced Andy Brandt as mayor, but it was actually city staff who got the idea for what became the Sarnia Community Foundation, mostly because they weren’t keen on having to administer various grants and gifts that would otherwise flow through the City. “The city was starting to recognize that they were starting to get money coming in from estates and other sources and they didn’t really want to have to deal with the granting process,” said Anema. “So Marceil Saddy and Andy Brandt, who was then the MPP, put their heads together, and came up with a solution, which was to have the Ontario Legislature create the Sarnia Community Foundation.” In that respect the organization is unique among the 191 other community foundations in Canada, although for most practical purposes, the Sarnia Community Foundation operates much like those others. “But the legislation does allow us to have a broadened scope,” says Anema. “For example, if I have a donor who lives in Ottawa, who grew up in Sarnia, and wants to support something here but also wants to support things in Ottawa, I can work with them. We don’t have a geographic restriction, so in some ways it was very forward thinking in terms of the legislation.”


Having opened its doors on January 1, 1983, the Foundation shortly thereafter received its first donation of $25, a cash gift that continues to generate value for the community. Anema explains how that works. “We operate on an endowment model, so that $25 got placed into an investment account and what we do on an annual basis is take the income that we’re able to earn on that money and pay it back to the community in the form of grants, with a smaller percentage going to pay our operating expenses here at the Foundation,” she said. The first year of the Foundation’s operation attracted about $2,500 gifts, which Anema acknowledges was a “very, very slow start.” Late in 1983, the Foundation initiated a capital campaign, reaching out to some 50-60 people, each of whom was asked to contribute $500, which created an endowment pool that some two years later had ballooned to a quarter million dollars. One of the first projects handled by the Foundation was a gift directed to produce what is known as the MacPherson Foundation, located on the downtown waterfront and crafted by artist Ron Baird.

While the Foundation worked with Suncor on the purchase of the St. Lawrence House Centre for the Arts, another significant event was the donation of Mayor Saddy's home upon his death. Subsequently, the funds from Saddy’s home became part of an endowment that continues to pay most, but not all, of the Foundation’s operating costs. “The more funds we have at the Foundation, the closer we come to having this nice balanced budget, which was very close when I started in 2008,” said Anema. “We had about 30 funds at the time and had just started with donor advised funds, and agency funds, directed by charities that didn’t want to run their own foundation anymore.” One of the first examples of those was (and is) the YMCA Sarnia Lambton Legacy Fund. Anema herself has had a lifetime of volunteering, having done so since her early teens. She recalls a conversation with the Director of Community Investment at the United Way of Winnipeg, who turned to her one day and said “you know, you’d be a great executive director of a not-for-profit, because you really get how all of this works together.” What Anema took from that insight was the realization that what’s required to bring money through the door is to build relationships. “That’s actually what the Foundation is all about,” she adds. “It's about listening to people's hopes, listening to what they dream for their community, and helping them make that possible. And they can do that right now with gifts today, in terms of what they see as a community need.” One of those key needs has a lot to do with mental health, something Anema acknowledges is a huge issue in the community. “We have three funds that are actively working right now to build back end monies for mental health initiatives in the community,” she said.

time Foundation position she know holds (she’s also coordinator of volunteer services at the Sarnia Jail). But back to the Foundation. “It really is about stories that are as yet unfinished,” said Anema. “And the opportunity for someone to come to us and work on building a true legacy for the community. The things that they care about are at the core of what we do. I think about Marceil Saddy, who left us his home with the intent that this Foundation would grow. Well, the Saddy fund is still part of our operation, his legacy. If the house had burned down, we'd have nothing. But we have this fund, still in his name, that continues to create value for the community. And it's the same with some of the other fundholders that we have. It's creating value to the community in their name.” When Anema came to her current position, endowments totaled about $1.2 million, a number that’s now just short of $8 million. As that total grows, the result in part of what Anema says is an investment strategy that is “pretty conservative” in nature, it means more money goes back to the community in the form of grants, the result of a formula that is governed by Canada Revenue Agency rules, currently about $325,000 annually. Add in the so-called “flow through” gifting that comes to the Foundation for direct dispersal and that total last year was closer to $500,000. Another benefit of working with the Foundation, albeit not entirely obvious, is the choice of being anonymous. “There are funds at the Foundation that are only known by acronyms,” said Anema. “I know who the donor is, and my treasurer knows, but that’s it. Not even the board knows. They don’t need to know. Others of course, want people to know, and that’s fine too. But it’s their choice, not ours.” By February, a call for grant proposals will be well underway, followed by meetings of a committee to review those requests, with board decisions made in June. For donor advised funds, grants begin generally as soon as the Foundation’s year-end numbers are finalized. What that means is that the funding activity is spread throughout the year. So what would Jane Anema like to see if she could wave a magic wand? “I think awareness of who we are and what we do. The other thing is that some people have the perception that this is just for rich people. It’s not and it isn’t. Our smallest donation was 57 cents. A little boy came in and wanted to donate to one of the funds. And he dumped his piggy bank on my desk. 57 cents. Now that money is working just as hard as the $1.2 million. And actually we probably made more of a fuss because it had come from a five year old.”

That early conversation in Winnipeg may have been the nudge Anema needed, not only to acquire her MBA —which she earned through Royal Roads University — but to ultimately go after the partWWW.LAMBTONSHIELD.COM • 23






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Liwordson Vijayabalan, creative director and co-founder of TMRRW Inc., a creative agency in Sarnia-Lambton, is a confirmed speaker at the Spark 2019 one-day conference coming on November 16.


Chamber of Commerce set to bring ‘Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration’ at one-day conference

First annual Spark event aims to inspire entrepreneurs from across the region

ith news that the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is launching “Spark,” a one-day conference aimed at bringing entrepreneurs and business owners together for a series of presentations and workshops, members of our business community—current and future—can look forward to incorporating some of the best innovative ideas going. The event, which will take place on Saturday, November 16 at the Lambton College Event Centre on London Road in Sarnia. Events like Spark, which we fully expect will be an annual event, is part of a long-term strategy for the Chamber to both recharge and reinvent an organization that has already been responsible for spearheading many of the progressive changes in our community, not just for businesses, but in a myriad of quality of life issues that many of us now take for granted. Without the initiative of our members—those from the past and those who still serve with distinction—our community would simply not be the best it can be. And now with an enthusiastic next generation of leaders, the reinvention of an organization that continues to set new targets for excellence and innovation is beginning to take shape. Clearly, an example of this is Spark, where we’ll be featuring sessions on topics such as work-life balance, increasing sales, developing a vibrant presence online, attracting and engaging with youth, and other business-related topics to help today’s (and tomorrow’s) entrepreneurs grow or start their ventures. We’re looking forward to welcoming business owners from across southwestern Ontario to learn what our wide variety of speakers

have gone through to get where they are today. And we anticipate that our attendees will leave the conference feeling inspired and energized to pursue their goals and aspirations. In short, Spark aims to inspire innovation and ideas amongst business owners and leaders across southwestern Ontario. Your $99 ticket will include meals, presentation materials, swag bag, entry to all workshops and presentations, exclusive invitation to a pre-networking party on November 15 in downtown Sarnia, and a professional headshot. We’ve lined up several speakers and workshop leaders to bring their insights to Spark, one of them being Liwordson Vijayabalan, cofounder and creative director at TMRRW Inc., a homegrown agency that continues to bring both value and vision to Sarnia-Lambton. Liwordson—Li to those who know him best—will bring life to the Spark Interest category of this event. At Spark 2019 Attendees can look forward to a full day of learning opportunities, meals, and access to an exclusive pre-networking party in downtown Sarnia on the Friday night before the conference. To learn more about Spark 2019, visit sparkconference.ca or visit the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce on Facebook.

Shirley de Silva, President and CEO Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce WWW.LAMBTONSHIELD.COM • 29

Continuation of 10 years later from page 21 “When the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care said its funding would be limited to nursing costs, St. Joseph’s Society put up our hands and said we’ll do it.” The organization embarked on a $6-million capital campaign, which was successful, in great part due to the generosity of Ron Gordon, who donated his mother’s home on Christina Street, where the administrative offices of the hospice are today along with two lots behind the property, where the hospice residence is now located. An additional gift of $1 million from Karr Securities, owned by Larry Ciccarelli, Robert Ciccarelli, and John Iannozzi, was seen as being instrumental in bringing the facility to life. On an ongoing basis, the Hospice operates several programs that speak to the need for bereavement counselling, both directed to children and adults, delivered by trained professionals. Once an assessment is made, if a person in need can receive counselling in a group setting, that can be provided. Otherwise, a referral is made to a professional in the community with whom St. Joseph’s Hospice partners. Another key part of the Hospice service is the pain management program led by Dr. Glen Maddison, who, along with other palliative care physicians, plays a central role. It’s a program that has expanded over the years, now to the point where additional space is occupied at another office on Christina Street. Lafranier will say that the role of volunteers at St. Joseph’s Hospice is a critical part of what keeps the organization fulfilling its mission, with some 23,000 hours of volunteer service typically logged in a year. And with some 180 residents passing through the Hospice annually, the demand for the 10 beds that are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, remains steady. Beyond that, there is also a day hospice program, especially designed to provide respite care to caregivers. Some of those who participate in the program may return to the hospice at some point or either pass away at home or in hospital. In the meantime, however, they are able to participate in art therapy, and even enjoy a luncheon, something that helps deliver a better quality of life. Additional services include a volunteer visiting program. Throughout this 10th anniversary year, St. Joseph’s Hospice will be hosting a number of events, including speakers familiar with end of life issues, including childhood grief. Even now there are numerous examples of people “discovering” how Hospice operates. “We had a gentleman here not long ago, who’s given very generously through the Sarnia Community Foundation and he had no idea that we even existed,” said Lafranier. “He was amazed. We ended up giving him and his daughter a tour and they were very impressed with what they saw.” In short, the ongoing opportunity is to continually tell the story of St. Joseph’s Hospice. 30 • LAMBTON SHIELD SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

TOP: St. Joseph’s Hospice executive director Larry Lafraniere (left) and Bob Murray, president of the sponsoring St. Joseph Health Care Society. MIDDLE: A soothing garden scene lies just steps from the Hospice residence. BOTTOM: A library of resources dedicated to helping grieving families, including young children, is part of what makes the St. Joseph’s Hospice such an impactful organization.

“There’s a lot of people who know about it, but there’s also a lot of people who don’t,” said Lafranier. “Those who do come through our doors will say they can feel the warmth, the compassion that flows through the people here. That’s something we want to continue to offer to the people of Sarnia-Lambton.”

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