Recognizing employees of United Way Toronto funded agencies
The Bhayana Family Foundation Awards recognize extraordinary contributions made by staff at United Way Toronto funded agencies. They are awarded by United Way Toronto based on peer nominations received in the following five categories: Dedication, Leadership, Team Achievement, Innovation and Creativity, Partnership Builder, and self-nomination for the sixth category, Community Partnership.
The dedication, creativity and team spirit shown by employees of agencies funded by United Way Toronto is essential to advancing the common good, community and neighbourhood building, and creating a better city for us all.
These awards are made possible by a generous donation from the Madan and Raksha M. Bhayana Family Foundation.
The purpose of the Dedication Award is to recognize and reward employees who are dedicated to the mission and values of their agency. These individuals demonstrate unwavering loyalty and commitment to the success of a specific project or to the ongoing interests of the agency
The Good Neighbours Club
Henri is the heart and soul of The Good Neighbours Club. He enables the agency to fulfill their mandate by providing selfless service. Henri is very focused on supporting the individuals he works with. He brings humanity to a stretched and stressed service area, and has the ability to diffuse situations in a meaningful way. Henri has been a consistent, recognizable face to clients throughout the years. He is always willing to train new colleagues and share what he has learned.
To quote his nominators: “For eight years Henri has welcomed, oriented and trained fellow Support Care Workers, those who stand on the very front line of social and community service. He is committed to the work not because it is easy or because he is surrounded by friends and admirers, but because he knows the intrinsic worth of each and every human being. He has never exhibited any kind of jealousy or territoriality, and has never tried to leverage his seniority for privilege. Instead Henri has encouraged his new colleagues to consider the needs of our clients first and foremost. Henry’s unparalleled skill at de-escalating interactions and defusing clients’ anger has made a huge impression on management, fellow staff and upon the members.”
Norm takes his dedication above and beyond his job role. He shows longstanding dedication to the mission and value of the organization. Above all, his own life experiences have allowed him to be an inspiring and impactful worker. He uses a peer-based approach when working with clients and has a unique perspective that helps him to understand issues from a management and a client perspective. Norm is honest, willing to share information and voice concerns with colleagues at all levels of the organization.
To quote his nominators: “After 12 years on the street, Norm managed to work his way out of his addiction slowly by starting to volunteer at neighbouring shelters. When I first met Norm, he had begun to work as maintenance staff at the agency, and was sleeping in the park then coming to work. As he saved his revenue, he was able to get his own place. Through his example, clients were motivated to try the same thing. We have had other clients volunteer with the program to get work experience. He is not a person who stands by and lets things happen without having an opinion. He speaks out against people being treated unfairly in the program, and advocates for changes within the program.”
Times Change Women’s Employment Service
Holly has dedicated 30 years to assisting women in the Toronto community through employment and education counselling at Times Change. She is a selfless person and an excellent example of Times Changes’ collective model. She is one working woman helping other working women to get their needs met and reach their goals. And after 30 years under her belt, Holly still has the energy to lead strategic planning for the organization. She is a forward thinker who is always looking for new ideas to continue the ongoing success of the agency in the future.
To quote her nominators: “Without a doubt, Holly deserves to be nominated. Her tireless leadership to embark on advocacy campaigns on behalf of women’s services, her knowledge and wisdom toward the management of the organization, and her ability to work empathetically with clients makes her an ideal candidate for this award. Holly took the initiative to spearhead our strategic planning process, which had been on hold for a year. She has encouraged, motivated and reignited our energy toward strategic planning. Holly also inspired us by her willingness to take on a new role of Educational Counsellor to help with a restructuring in the organization. She essentially put the needs of the collective above her own, which speaks volumes toward her unwavering commitment to Times Change.
The purpose of the Leadership Award is to recognize and reward employees who demonstrate exemplary leadership capabilities and consistently achieve superior, team-based results. These leaders play an exceptional role in helping others contribute to their organization and advance its mission.
Delisle Youth Services
Enid is a tactical and strategic forward thinker. She uses relevant methods and technology, and always incorporates the value and strengths of youth, families and staff to create meaningful impact. She has an exceptional ability to empower the staff in the organization to make informed improvements to their programs and services. She works collaboratively with staff to ensure they have the tools and skills they need to do their work effectively. Enid has created a positive environment where people can be proud of the work they do.
To quote her nominators: “Enid has been instrumental in including people in the decisions and gaining support as the agency prepares for accreditation. She educates her management team about change management so that they can support their frontline staff and help them to understand why the changes are happening. She formalized the on-call policy process to create a fair and transparent method that gave frontline staff the opportunity to participate in on-call rotations to build their on-call response skills. Enid has helped service staff see how important the family component is in helping youth make positive changes in their lives. Enid ensures staff members have the skills to support not only the youth in the programs but build relationships with their families so that youth are not treated in a vacuum. Enid has also been a leader in leveraging technology, most recently refreshing the website, building a solid IT infrastructure, supporting staff to develop computer skills, and applying social media tools. Using texting and technological applications such as Facebook, have allowed us to communicate and support youth in a meaningful way and it increases youth participation rates, which helps our programs succeed.”
Storefront Humber Inc.
Mary demonstrates a long-term leadership commitment. With over 23 years of dedicated service in the community, Mary fosters a proactive, responsive and innovative leadership style that is inspirational to staff across the whole organization. She manages to create an environment, which allows employees to be empowered to lead, grow and make decisions to ensure staff remain productive and have job satisfaction. Mary shares her leadership vision, goals and direction with employees so they feel valued, as they are provided with information for decision making.
To quote her nominators: “Mary understands that an inspired employee gives his or her all to the organization and constantly strives to his or her full potential. Mary’s leadership style has been engraved with an element of ‘Listen to Learn and Ask Questions to Provide Guidance,’ as she feels the power and importance of connection. She connects and constantly communicates with others thereby increasing trust and respect. Mary recognizes staff members for their contributions and demonstrates a strong relationship building ability. She has built strong linkages, partnerships and joint ventures with funders, neighbourhood provider organizations, educational facilities, area-wide community service agencies, and local businesses. These relationships have immensely improved communication between Storefront Humber Inc. and their partners and have addressed service gaps, client advocacy and partnerships in care. Community partners acknowledge that the organization is very accessible, flexible and very responsive to the needs of clients. In her role as Executive Director of Storefront Humber, Mary’s leadership has generated excellent collaboration with care partners and ensures there are quality staff members who are committed and client-focused.”
Downsview Services for Seniors
Susan possesses the key leadership traits of delegation, empowerment and relationship building. Susan promotes transparency and responsiveness to community stakeholders, funders and to other agencies by participating in many committees and working groups. Her ability to introduce and implement effective change management strategies in the organization is truly impressive. She encourages integration through cross departmental teamwork and has been actively working towards making the agency a LGBT-friendly agency through staff training and seeking grants for LGBT-focused client intervention services for seniors in the North York area. Her ongoing support and mentorship to staff in the agency promotes a healthy work environment and staff job satisfaction.
To quote her nominators: “We were inspired to nominate Susan because at a time when community support services is going through a multitude of changes, Susan strategically and gracefully leads the agency and empowers those around her to continue to move forward. Susan is not afraid to deal with changes or any set backs that she may encounter. She leads by example even when her plate is already full and something else unexpectedly lands on her plate. I am always amazed by her intelligence, warmth, sense of humour, and ability to see the big picture. Within the past year, she has taken on additional requirements and an expanded role to meet the needs of the agency and ensure integration between departments. Susan participates in outreach events and has expanded partner relationships in order to continue to build a positive rapport in the community. Susan is a superb leader and inspires me every day to do my best. Not only is she good at what she does, she is also a genuine person with a heart of gold, which is so important in our line of work. She demonstrates strong leadership skills that raise the bar for staff and colleagues to measure up to.”
Team Achievement Awards
The purpose of the Team Achievement Award is to recognize and reward teams who work extremely well together to achieve a common goal. Together, these individuals demonstrate commitment to success through excellent and consistent performance.
Ready, Set, Go! Kindergarten Readiness Program Team
Aisling Discoveries Child and Family Centre
The Ready, Set, Go! Kindergarten Readiness Program (RSG) team is comprised of 15 staff members from five programs across the agency. Each year they come together for six weeks to deliver a kindergarten readiness program to children entering junior kindergarten (JK) and their families in priority communities in Scarborough. Each member of the team assists in delivering the program within selected schools over a given period. Team members work together with either the parents, JK children or the siblings to deliver the program. The team crosses multiple disciplines including counselling, day treatment, child care consultation, and community support services. The basic principles of team work are demonstrated in the strength of this diverse team’s ability to come together quickly, work effectively and deliver the program with extreme professionalism. Team members rearrange their workloads to accommodate this project and do so with enthusiasm. Most have been members of the team for over 15 years. This summer, in partnership with the Toronto Disctrict School Board, over 600 JK children, parents and siblings participated in the RSG in 10 schools across Scarborough. This is a significant contribution to both the agency and the families it serves.
To quote their nominators: “The team brings Ready, Set, Go! out into the community where families live and learn every day. The program helps families bridge a difficult time in their lives and helps them get settled. Hats off to a wonderful team! It couldn’t happen without you.”
Circle of Care Call Centre Team
Circle of Home Care Services
The Circle of Care Call Centre team is a relatively new team in terms of both staff roles and as an entity in the agency. The team is made up of a supervisor, three customer service representatives and four intake specialists. The team was formed in January 2011 and is the first point of contact for all calls, inquiries and new referrals to the agency for all services. The team has purposely and thoughtfully created a sportive team culture of respect, knowledge sharing and support. Prior to the formation of the Call Centre, each team member brought with them a unique body of knowledge and expertise that they were able to bring to the team. The team receives an average of over 400 calls per day. The Call Centre has become the hub of the organization. Its role is instrumental for the success of the agency, as well as improving outcomes for clients. For example, their expertise was able to inform the new subsidy process. This has resulted in improved services and reduced cost for low income clients, who are often vulnerable seniors struggling to maintain their independence at home. Because of the hard work of the Call Centre team, over 60 subsidy assessments were completed in less than two months, and low-income seniors were able to access services at a reduced and more affordable rate.
To quote their nominators: “The team has worked hard at creating a positive culture of support, mutual respect, and high quality service, with client needs at the centre of their goal. The Call Centre team has taken on new challenges with tenacity, and has adapted remarkably well to new technology and processes. The Call Canter team works in a high intensity environment, in which staff are often dealing with urgent calls or stressful situations. Team members have maintained their sense of humour, compassion and caring for clients and exemplify a strong and supportive team.”
YWCA Elm Centre Team
The YWCA Elm Centre team’s work has resulted in creating 300 units of affordable housing; 100 units of the housing are supportive units, 50 units are for aboriginal families and 150 units are affordable. Given the dire lack of affordable and supportive housing in Toronto, the team’s efforts have made a significant contribution to the well-being of aboriginal women, women living with mental health challenges and low-income women and their families. Of course, increasing the affordable housing stock in Toronto improves the social and economic well-being of the city. The team’s efforts have resulted in raising nearly $15-million of philanthropic gifts towards the building of the YWCA Elm Centre. Moreover, the team’s efforts resulted in a mortgage from Infrastructure Ontario’s Loan Program in the amount of $25-million. This mortgage represents Infrastructure Ontario’s first loan to a social service organization, paving the way for other organizations within the sector to engage Infrastructure Ontario. The team’s efforts have also resulted in the creation of an innovative approach to providing housing. Using a trauma-informed model and creating a ‘mixed’ community, the team’s efforts have resulted in a more robust service that is expected to enrich clients’ lives, increase their housing security, improve their health and provide greater opportunity to be part of a community. The team has been relentless in championing their cause.
To quote their nominators: “The team’s efforts have demonstrate to the agency, the sector and the city, that bold and creative thinking is fruitful — and further, that some of the boldest and most creative thinking is happening in the non-profit sector.
Innovation and Creativity Awards
The purpose of the Innovation and Creativity Award is to recognize and reward employees who introduce new ideas, services or practices in new and imaginative ways. These individuals contribute innovative solutions to their organization or make major improvements to agency operations or services provided.
For Youth Initiative in Toronto
Lekan is highly innovative and a visionary by nature. He is passionate about the youth sector and is continually re-examining existing norms to arrive new ideas and more effective ways of improving program and service delivery. His bold decisions have moved FYI to the forefront of the youth-led sector. His vision for FYI extends beyond internal growth and stability. He makes sure FYI plays a critical role in strengthening other youth-led agencies across the city in order to build a stronger youth-led sector and better serve our city’s most underserved youth.
To quote his nominators: “Lekan saw the wide range of needs that existed among our city’s underserved youth and felt strongly that youth-led organizations have the capacity to address these issues on the ground. In order to continue making an impact and help support other youth-led agencies’ infrastructure development, Lekan shared FYI’s journey of growth from a small grassroots youth-led agency to a sustainable organization with strong infrastructure. With the support of the Youth Challenge Fund, the Agency Mentorship Program was developed as a program within FYI that supports three youth-led agencies in the Greater Toronto Area. The program develops sustainable methods of building capacity for the youth sector.”
In September 2011, Lekan began his full-time Masters in Social Work degree at University of Toronto, while continuing in his role of Executive Director at FYI. He harnesses the energy for both these roles from the sheer passion he has for continually learning and growing into an impactful social worker and leader. His commitment to learn and grow at every opportunity is infectious and has an effect on all those around him.
Volunteer Centre of Toronto
Jessica is an ideal example of creativity and innovation in the non-profit sector. Her ideas are bold, creative and challenging and her ability to apply theory to her work is very impressive. Jessica truly is a package deal for the non profit sector; she understands the sector needs, and leverages her knowledge and skills to create meaningful impact in a creative way. Her approach to promote volunteerism and share knowledge of the sector through creating and sharing usable digital stories is very refreshing.
To quote her nominators: “Jessica saw the need to promote volunteerism as transformational not transactional. She believes there is value in the human connection that volunteering brings to a person. This year, under the direction of Jessica, Volunteer Toronto embarked on the SharedTime Digital Storytelling Project, which is a three-year project, using digital media to highlight and share over 100 real stories and experiences of volunteers in the city. Jessica secured funding through the Trillium Foundation and gained support of over 30 organizations to bring the project to life to capture the legacy of volunteerism in Toronto, and ensure the capacity of non-profits is increased through access to and education in the latest software. Beyond the SharedTime project, Jessica changed membership from a ‘fee for size’ to a ‘fee for service’ structure so member organizations can pay based on the services they want to use and increase the services they access based on their needs. Jessica also created the ‘Certificate Series,’ which offers a new membership, which allows new members to become fully integrated into the rest of our services for one initial fee. The series has recruited more members in one month than in the previous six months increasing Volunteer Toronto’s stable revenue. Additionally, from reading a book on video game theory, Jessica created the idea of the ‘gamification’ of volunteering. She concluded there is a need to introduce game dynamics to continue to deeply engage volunteers and maximize the impact they have within their organization. She now teaches workshops on the theory in hopes of changing the way volunteer coordinators assign tasks.”
The Cross-Cultural Community Services Association
Eliot is forward thinking and very thoughtful in his approach and strives to improve existing processes. He has the ability to bring people from all walks of life together to work together to achieve a common goal. He has managed to bring a global partner into the project to help solve local newcomer problems prior to their arrival in Toronto.
To quote his nominators: “Eliot looks out for his newcomer client base even before they are clients of the agency. In order to help newcomers from China be more prepared for their settlement process in Canada, Eliot organizes a series of free seminars in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and other cities in China every year since 2008. Eliot partnered with corporate sponsors and the Chinese government Overseas Chinese Affairs Office to make this a possibility. The workshops deliver unbiased information on important current settlement topics to help would-be newcomers and students prepare for their arrival in Canada. Through this project, Eliot has continued to provide innovative and creative ideas to address issues for newcomers.”
Partnership Builder Award
The purpose of Partnership Builder Award is to recognize and reward employees who make outstanding contributions to their community by recognizing, engaging and maximizing the potential of relationships with key external partners, such as residents, schools, associations, other agencies, businesses and funders.
WoodGreen Community Services
Shaida is recognized for her tireless effort to develop partnerships that have a deep impact on the community, agency staff, organizations, and committees. Shaida empowers others and has the ability to influence and build individuals, organizations and communities to become their best. She is passionate about approaching settlement services from a mobile services model to bridge the service gap by providing services ‘where families are,’ instead of waiting for them to come and ask for help. Her approach has increased clients’ accessibility to services and allows counsellors to provide services to those that are most in need and hard to reach.
To quote her nominators: “Shaida has brought her own passion, knowledge and advocacy to Settlement services, especially in the area of newcomer women, children and families. Since Shaida started at WoodGreen in 2008, she has been able to develop 12 new partnerships in local communities. These partnerships have led Settlement Counsellors to work off-site in 12 different satellite offices on a weekly basis to deliver quality programming to individuals and families that are hard to reach. Her approach connects clients to community resources in the area and allows clients to receive services at a place where they already familiar and comfortable with. The partnerships Shaida has built have stood the test of time to show long lasting impact in people’s lives. Shaida supports a team of 19 staff to deliver settlement services to over 3,500 newcomers and their family members in a year. The individual partnerships she shares with her staff to deliver quality programming and services to newcomers are the essence of laying a good foundation for the partnerships to have meaningful impact at the system level. Her accomplishments are not just hers as they are shared with her staff in which she empowers to bring out the best in. The meaningful impact Shaida is building will last beyond her involvement and will be reborn through those she has coached, guided, partnered with and learned from.”
Rabindra Nath Sabat
Settlement Assistance and Family Support Services
Rabindra is recognized for his extensive outreach activities in the community. Rabindra has made a big difference in our community and has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the shared vision and goals of the project. Because of Rabindra’s efforts the partnership was based on innovation and improved strategies to impact the diverse ethno-specific communities in a very transparent and accountable manner.
To quote his nominators: “Rabindra played a key role in the Reunification and Adaption Project (RAP) by organizing community workshops and info sessions to educate newcomers about family separation, reunification and integration, intercultural and intergenerational issues arising from the immigration process. This project, including a consortium of 10 multicultural, multi-ethnic, settlement services agencies in Scarborough, work with families dealing with emotional and mental trauma related to separation and reunification. Rabindra built and facilitated cooperative relationships between the 10 consortium agencies while strengthening a successful partnership model. As a result, the consortium was able to serve 4,546 clients including youth, parents, caregivers, and women in 25 languages from 29 countries. And it enhanced community connection and life skills needed for newcomers to function effectively in Canadian society. Rabindra also ensured professional development for all RAP frontline staff to enhance the knowledge of community resources, further training in peer support model, training in mental health support and other capacity building activities for the partner agencies.”
Community Partnership Award
The purpose of the Community Partnership Award is to recognize a partnership between three or more organizations that commit themselves to working together on a specific project or initiative to produce outcomes that one partner working alone could not achieve. Whereby exemplifying principles of teamwork, diversity, sense of common purpose to address root causes of social problems and make a significant contribution to the community they serve.
Davenport West Bike Project
Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre, The Stop Community Food Centre, CultureLink, Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop, My First Wheels, and Bike Pirates
The Davenport West Bike Project has contributed significantly to the community over the past year by engaging a diverse range of community members, including seniors, youth, newcomers, local businesses, and media, and long-term residents around active living in the inner suburbs. Residents have been directly involved in education, promotion and engagement toward a healthier lifestyle in the community. They have developed and contributed talent, skills, time and resources to help expand bike culture in the community. Some of their accomplishments include: over 50 bikes have been repair and donated to the community; helping those with low or fixed income enjoy the benefits of cycling; 13 clinics have functioned as forums to both help children and adults to get basic bike maintenance and repair knowledge and support; several interactive community workshops were held; and group bike rides to help promote the benefits of cycling and a healthy lifestyle provided the opportunity for families and children to become more engaged and physically active. The response to the Bike Project has been overwhelmingly positive.
To quote their nominators: “If the principles of teamwork mean combining the strengths of individuals and aligning those varying strengths toward a common goal, using open communication and trust, then the Bike Project has passed that test. Let our clients be the judge. The Davenport Bike Project has a clearly defined goal of promoting health and well being in an area where poverty, chronic illness, and obesity abound. The Bike Project itself is a means toward achieving that goal.”