Community planning: Caledon Community Services weighs in
by Monty Laskin/Caledon Community Services
Caledon planning. It’s got everyone’s attention these days. Understandably so. It’s an important conversation in these parts. So it makes good sense that I exploit your interest and have you read Caledon Community Services’ approach to Caledon planning. Throughout, I’ll stay arm’s length from the conversation in Regional and Town Council.
It’s standard fare for us charitable organizations to offer a disclaimer on these kinds of conversations. We note we are apolitical, we don’t get involved, we have no opinion. But when charitable agencies come together, we sure don’t talk about widgets. Because we don’t produce them. Our product is service and our service is community building. It’s pretty much all we do. So when we gather, we talk about our community because it’s the core of our commitments. Truth be known, the Caledon community is CCS’ main client. If it gets engaged, good things happen. When a community turns its attention to need, to challenges, to intractable problems, solutions emerge. Just look at any successful community in Ontario and/or all of Canada. When people within the community are engaged, solutions emerge.
So it makes perfect sense that CCS treats the Caledon community as its primary client.
Quite frankly, I know of no other group more invested in the Caledon community than the charitable organizations of Caledon that serve this community. Staying completely silent on the highly politicized community planning conversation is such a shame for community charities that invest all of their resources into community. It’s almost like asking a priest not to talk about God. Or a farmer not to talk about free trade.
Sure, there are good reasons for community charities to stay out of politicized conversations. But I know of none that support community agencies not talking loudly about building community.
To ensure that Caledon’s community planning conversation includes the stories of all residents, please allow this small picture of a charity’s role in supporting Caledon planning. The picture best emerges through peoples’ stories that are respectfully at arm’s length of any manner of politics.
Jennifer is 23. She completed high school and is living with her parents in Caledon East. She’s had six jobs since high school, none capturing her heart. She is bright, hard working and unfailingly kind. She had no idea how to set a course for herself that could provide good opportunities ahead. Then she found CCS’ Life for Youth Program and a four month tour of duty. Following her graduation, she found her way to college and is now studying to be a dental hygienist. She’s also holding down a job in a dentist’s office. And CCS continues to plan with her for her next steps.
Sam and Anne were married 58 years. Theirs is a story of tremendous courage in the face of adversity, building a family and raising four strong children, honouring their vows and supporting their community in many ways. When Anne could no longer care for herself, Sam needed help. He found CCS’ Assisted Living Program. The daily services of Personal Support Workers now keep this loving couple together in their cozy and well-equipped apartment. They still play cards, they still entertain their grandchildren, they still support their community. And CCS continues to plan with them for their next steps.
Dan sometimes felt that he was completely alone. Adopted as a teenager, then alone since 17, he lived in nine different cities in three different provinces. He volunteered three times weekly in the Exchange and developed quite a following of people who noticed his obvious skills and abilities. He worked with groups of children, cooked for seniors and developed computer systems for the Exchange’s Food Support Program that offered him support as well. Slowly but surely Dan chose a new path for himself. He’s now taking correspondence courses for admission to university. And CCS continues to plan with him for his next steps.
Anil and Hussein came to Bolton, sponsored by a brother. Their English was spotty at best and they had never seen snow before. Their first winter was an eye-opener to say the least! They found everything they needed at Chez Thrift. And the ReUstore furnished the bedroom given to them by their host brother. Hussein has just started a business. And CCS continues to help him plan his next steps.
Jennifer, Sam, Anne, Dan, Anil and Hussein are all examples of CCS’ take on Caledon planning. It’s an approach to which we’ve been true for more than 45 years. Throughout our history, we’ve always been aligned with a simple yet compelling mission: Helping people help themselves. So there you have it: Our approach to community planning is to do our part and ask you to do yours. It’s particularly relevant at this time of year as we all focus on our own families while also asking how we can help others focus on theirs.
The Caledon Santa Fund has just launched. It’s the perfect thing for you to include in your own planning this holiday season. If you are able to help, please check it out at www.ccs4u.org or by calling Nicole at 905.584.2300, ext. 236.
Monty Laskin is the chief executive officer of Caledon Community Services