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Building Community: The Importance of Giving Back

By Danette Romard

Building ‘community’ is a passion of mine and it’s been the driving force of my volunteer work over the past 2 decades.

When I started volunteering, I didn’t have the financial means to be a philanthropist. But what I could give was my time. So I sought a way to give back to the community by sharing the business skills I’d developed throughout my career. Recently, I’ve expanded my volunteer activity by becoming a board member for the Family Councils of Ontario (FCO).

Why I got into volunteering

I have a natural inclination to care for people, and to help them make connections to other people and to a purpose. Using this as my guiding principle for volunteering, I joined Management Advisory Services (MAS) almost two decades ago. MAS is a not-for-profit organization that provides pro bono business consulting to other not-for-profit organizations. As a volunteer consultant with MAS, I’ve helped various organizations build capacity and sustainability by leading them through visioning, missioning and strategic planning workshops.

Through my work at MAS I was introduced to the FCO, a registered not-for-profit organization that receives funding from the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care. After leading them through a strategic planning session in early 2021, I was impressed – not only with how they were organized, but by the meaningful work they are doing.

When the FCO reached out seeking new board members in the Spring of 2021, I seized the opportunity to connect my personal interest in supporting the not-for-profit sector with my professional work in the long-term care sector. I am honoured to have been selected to join the board and am currently volunteering with both the FCO and MAS.

I am grateful that Colliers Project Leaders recognizes the importance of giving back to our communities. Many of our projects support critical infrastructure development and range from delivering new water treatment facilities in remote communities to helping long-term care homes navigate complex funding formulas so they can create new, comforting homes that support the best of care for seniors. In addition to our involvement in these great projects, Colliers Project Leaders also provides all its employees with an annual allotment of time to pursue personal volunteering goals.

FCO’s role

FCO works with families of long-term care residents, family councils, and long-term care staff across Ontario to enable them to cultivate positive relationships, build effective family councils, and improve the long-term care experience. FCO strives to create a safe, vibrant, inclusive and respected long-term care system by providing education, training and advice to residents’ families and long-term care staff.

A family council is defined as an organized, self-led, self-determining, democratic group composed of the family members and friends of a long-term care home resident. In Ontario, family councils are included in the legislation governing long-term care homes, and are positioned to advise home leadership of concerns or recommendations to improve the home. Family Council members gather for peer support and education. They also provide advocacy and facilitate communications between staff and families of residents.

By establishing a council at your local care home, you can give a voice to residents and other family members in the form of a structured and collaborative team dedicated to supporting, educating, problem-solving and communicating ideas on how to improve the quality of life and care in your designated home.

If you or your loved ones are interested in learning more about starting a family council, visit the FCO website to access How to Start a Family Council or contact the FCO directly for more information.

Building community

Working to inform and support others with essential community resources is very rewarding for me. Volunteering brings together passionate people with all different forms of expertise. The connections I’ve made through volunteering have also contributed to my personal and professional growth. It’s a great way to learn, share with others, shape the future and give back to a cause that is close to your heart. Whether you can offer financial support or contribute your time, you can make an impact on your community as a volunteer – look into your local community organizations, their boards, councils or committees today!

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