Sunday, January 31, 2016

HFH Gateway North News 29.01.2016

Serving Orillia Lake Country, North Simcoe, District of Muskoka, Parry Sound District, North Bay and Blue Sky Region and Sudbury District
The opening ceremony for Bracebridge's Winter Village on January 23, 2016 was a huge success. Our ReStore was there giving good skates out for a donation. Skates will also be available from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday January 30, for the Fire and Ice Festival. From left, Kalleen Turchet, Kim Ball from the Town of Bracebridge and Meghan Smith from HFHOGN set up the skates at Memorial Park. (Photo by Bev McMullen, muskokaregion.com)

Habitat in the News

It’s been an exciting week!

On Tuesday morning (January 26) we issued a release to the media in the Orillia area. Within the next few hours David had been interviewed by the two local newspapers. By the end of Wednesday, our story was featured on the front page of The Orillia Packet & Times, the City of Orillia’s website, and two local radio stations. On Facebook the story “reach” was 2,414 users.

The quick uptake and sharing of this one story spoke to a few truths, and displayed some great work from our Chapter members. The truth: Habitat Gateway North’s story is worth telling and people want to hear more. When the story broke, Orillia Lake Country Chapter members went into action. As a result, HFHOGN was featured heavily on the Jack & Carey morning radio show (thanks, Carmen!).

Stories are ongoing in Espanola as well thanks to some great work from the Sudbury District Chapter. The Espanola build is consistently featured in Around & About, and Chapter members produced a release to announce the $30,000 gift-in-kind donation from Home Hardware.

As always, keep checking our website for more storiesevents, and the newsletter archive (in case you missed an issue). Add us on Facebook and Twitter to really tune in (links at the bottom of the newsletter). And never stop storytelling.

It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story. 

Greg Cowan
Communications Officer
In This Issue:
* Habitat in the News
* From the CEO's Desk
* Habitat Heroes
* Taking the Plunge!
* Keeping the “Fun” in Fundraising with Donna
* Brick for Brick Mega Blocks Build
* Putting the Fun in Finance
* NEW DATE: HFHOGN Golf Classic
* Quote of the Week
The Newsreel: Quick Facts to Keep You Informed!
* Habitat Canada has launched the Brick for Brick Campaign. 1 in 5 Canadian families are living in unstable homes. But little by little, a brick for brick, you can help bring stability to the lives of many children from low income families. Because you're not just helping us put a roof over their head, you're helping us put the ground beneath their feet. For full details on the campaign visithabitat.ca/brickforbrick
Know someone who'd like to be involved with Habitat? Share the newsletter with them! Anyone who is interested in staying in touch can sign up for the weekly newsletter here!
Hello Team Habitat!

About mid-week Bobby, ReStore Distribution Centre Manager, was in the office and said "It's January, and people keep saying 'January is when it's slow'. Well it isn't slow here! We're busy every day!" I more than appreciate Bobby's enthusiasm, but it's a fantastic problem to have to be busy in the "off-season". I can also sympathize with being busy at a time of year when many feel its time to hibernate.

Growing up with a newspaper and magazine being designed and distributed from your home gives you a different perspective on work/life balance. Although there was always a general buzz of activity, you also saw the passion of those who loved the work they did. My parents have always worked hard - personally and professionally. My one brother, while recently lamenting his inability to turn-down work shifts to help other employees, said "Thanks for the genes, mom and dad". We all laughed thoroughly, because it was true. Consistently watching how hard our parents were, and still are, willing to work stands as a guidepost for us.

Although I'm not the lead for many of the projects currently underway, as EA I work to stay informed of all activities and goings-on in each aspect of the organization. It's not a matter of keeping busy but of being busy because of the organization's activity. In my role, I think it's necessary to see the whole picture and the details (forests AND trees). It may keep me on my toes but every day is something new. And as Bobby said this week, "we're busy every day"!

As has been the case for the last few months, we finish the week and can see we've covered significant ground in our plans. This weekend our ReStore management team is headed for a retreat. We've announced some big plans for Orillia, and there will be more announcements in the near future. The build rolls on in Espanola with great engagement from the community and the local chapter. And so much more...


So, thanks for the genes, Mom and Dad.

Be well, do good deeds and keep in touch,

Meghan
From the CEO's Desk

Years ago, I taught my first continuing education night class. It was in the early days of desktop computers and I was teaching basic computer literacy. The course was a nightmare. For 14 weeks, three hours per week, I was the “expert” in the room and the sole target for 16 confused computing newbies.

My second outing as an instructor, and every outing since, I opened with an ice-breaker exercise that paired classmates, had them interview each other, and then had them introduce their partner to the class. Not only did everyone have at least one person to turn to other than me, the act of turning to each other made for a wonderful atmosphere of mutual support and shared learning.

As odd as it sounds, I end this week excitedly looking forward to a working weekend. Thanks to the planning efforts of the always amazing Meghan Smith, our ReStore management team, including our store managers, distribution centre manager, our two procurement officers, and our communications officer will gather at Deerhurst Resort this evening for a weekend-long planning and development program themed “Building a Million-Dollar ReStore.”

Of course an ice-breaker is planned for this evening, the first occasion when our team will be collected in one place. Saturday morning will be dedicated to discussion of HFHOGN’s overall direction, virtual tours of each ReStore, and sharing of experiences and challenges. Saturday afternoon, Emma Platts-Boyle, our former volunteer coordinator, will present an intensive training session on managing an in-store volunteer program.

On Sunday, Rob Voisin, Senior VP of ReStores and Product Support with Habitat Canada, and Marty Robinson, Rob’s Manager of ReStore Distribution Services will spend the day with the team, walking the group through “Ten Keys to a Successful ReStore.”

I’m excited by the learning I know every team member will take away from the weekend. But I’m even more excited by the thought that, come Monday, every one of our ReStore managers will have access to not only the substantial expertise Rob, Marty, and their fellow managers bring to the table, but also the benefits that inevitably flow from an atmosphere of mutual support and shared learning.

I wouldn’t feel right concluding this without mentioning that, thanks to our amazing team, and even before this weekend’s retreat, our January ReStore sales are already up 30 percent over last January. It’s going to be a fabulous weekend with a fabulous group of people!

Have a great week.

David
Habitat Heroes

Volunteers make Habitat for Humanity Gateway North great! So we wanted an opportuntiy to highlight some of the great volunteers in our ReStores across the region. Each month, we'll feature an exceptional volunteer, selected by peers, in our newsletter. Check out January 2016's Habitat Heroesbelow.

Bracebridge - George
What can I say about George - he is funny, outspoken, a great volunteer and a friend to everyone. We can rely on George to make the store look amazing with his great ideas (bags for the hardware!) and keeping the flooring section neat and tidy. George will always be our bag it and tag it guy and Flooring Master.
- Jessie Kozack
ReStore Manager, Bracebridge
Huntsville - Randy
Randy (right) is great volunteer that has put in many hours helping out the store and our wonderful customers. He is a wealth of knowledge and has a great understanding on how all things work, especially electrical equipment and appliances.  Randy is a great asset to the Huntsville ReStore and I know we are just as pleased as the customers to have him in our store.
- Justin Pritchard
ReStore Manager, Huntsville
Midland - Margaret
Cookie Margaret (our Midland ReStore Baker) has been a volunteer for over 2 years. Margaret has a warm smile, is very positive and is always quick to lend a hand.  We always look forward to her “do I have a story for you” statement. Margaret is open minded but not without a cheeky spirit and opinion of her own.
We are so grateful of Margaret’s time, energy and, of course, her cookies. Thank you Margaret, for your many volunteer hours, sense of humour and high spirit.
- Marg Hamelin
ReStore Manager, Midland
Orillia - Kirk
Kirk has been an Orillia ReStore volunteer for several years.  Each week he dedicates roughly 20 hours in store, assisting in all aspects of operations. Kirk is a valuable asset to the Orillia ReStore and Habitat for Humanity. Thanks for all your hard work Kirk!
-Randy Pauk and Christina Micallef
ReStore Manager, Orillia and Sales Associate
Sudbury - Aaron
Aaron always went above and beyond what was asked of him. He made sure customers were taken care of and brought a smile to everyone as soon as he walked through the doors. Aaron recently finished his volunteer term and we will miss him dearly at the Sudbury ReStore.
- Stephanie Long
ReStore Manager, Sudbury
Taking the Plunge!

David is taking the plunge!  That is… the Polar Bear plunge into Lake Couchiching during the Orillia Winter Carnival. All proceeds raised through the Polar Bear Dip will be directed to the Habitat Gateway North, Orillia Lake Country Chapter. You can witness this spectacle for yourself on Sunday, February 14 at 2:00 pm. For more information and directions, check the website:http://orilliawintercarnival.ca/. If you would like to see David jump in the lake, pledge forms are available through Donna (donna@habitatgatewaynorth.com).Please note: cheques should be made payable to “The Orillia Winter Carnival”
Keeping the “Fun” in Fundraising with Donna

Another first for us all! Yesterday, several of those who wear the fundraising hat within our Chapters, chatted via conference call. This was the first time we had been in one conversation all together! It was truly inspiring to hear what each of the Chapters has up their fundraising sleeve.

From golf tournaments to poker rides to yard sales, some events are planned, and several other ideas were discussed. The conversation reminded me how lucky we are to have such a spirited group of fundraising volunteers. I was happy to be able to share the fundraising programs and events we are working on at our regional office and the one’s we will roll out to each Chapter.

Fundraising is not easy… especially these days. Let’s give each of them credit for the role they have taken on.  We will continue to have scheduled monthly chats. But, please know my fundraising door is open any time. You can reach me at:donna@habitatgatewaynorth.com or 705-646-0106 x209.
Brick for Brick Mega Blocks Build

Mark Rodgers (above right), President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada, welcomes Donna Godfrey, Director of Development and Communications for Habitat Gateway North, to the Interior Design Show in Toronto on Friday January 22 to kick off the Brick for Brick Campaign. It took 35,000 mega blocks and 40 volunteers over 12 hours to build the house.
Putting the Fun in Finance

Sometimes, financial problems are easy to solve. And sometimes, they end up sounding like the photo on the right - complicated and non-sensical.

How can you make sense of your non-profit financial statements? Here are a few of the basics from Charity Village.

Lori Beecroft
Chief Financial Officer
N  E  W      D  A  T  E !

Thursday, June 16, 2016

F   O   R    E

The Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North Golf Classic
Presented by
North Granite Ridge Golf Club

For more information, contact:
 Hilary Kellam at: 705-646-0106x205 or hilary@habitatgatewaynorth.com OR
Graham Polmateer (North Granite Ridge) gpolmateer@northgraniteridge.com
Quote of the Week

"You can't plough a field simply by turning it over in your mind." - Gordon B. Hinckley

Sunday, January 24, 2016

HFH Gateway North News 22.01.2016

Serving Orillia Lake Country, North Simcoe, District of Muskoka, Parry Sound District, North Bay and Blue Sky Region and Sudbury District
In This Issue:
* From the CEO's Desk
* Espanola Build Update
* Midland ReStore Renovation
* Sudbury ReStore
* Save the Date
* Quote of the Week
The Newsreel: Quick Facts to Keep You Informed!
* Habitat Canada has launched the Brick for Brick Campaign. 1 in 5 Canadian families are living in unstable homes. But little by little, a brick for brick, you can help bring stability to the lives of many children from low income families. Because you're not just helping us put a roof over their head, you're helping us put the ground beneath their feet. For full details on the campaign visithabitat.ca/brickforbrick
Know someone who'd like to be involved with Habitat? Share the newsletter with them! Anyone who is interested in staying in touch can sign up for the weekly newsletter here!
Hello Habitat Gateway North!

Since last Saturday's Board Meeting, I have spent a lot of my week in meetings of all different sorts. Board meeting, staff meeting, management meeting, chapter meeting. Each meeting had one common identifiable thread: excitement.

From meeting to meeting, there was tangible excitement and enthusiasm from attendees. Whether it was the Board of Directors discussing mortgage models, the Muskoka Chapter sharing their upcoming involvement with the Gravenhurst Winter Carnival, the build update from Espanola (amazing progress in down right cold conditions!) or management's discussion of the construction project plan for 2016, each meeting had its fair share of passion.

As David will share, some important decisions were made at the most recent board meeting. However, just as important is a local chapter's decision to jump on an opportunity to run an event in coordination with the local community. Decisions, big or small, usually require a dedication of resources - time being a major one. Habitat for Humanity's mission is "to mobilize volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promote homeownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty." Partnership goes both ways and we at Habitat need to be active members of our community, contributing time to our community just as we ask community members to give time to our committees and build projects.

As we journey forward into 2016, I can feel the excitement catching. The positive decisions made in meetings this week and beyond are what allow us to dedicate resources (time, money and hard work) to reach our goals as an organization and as engaged community members.

Be well, do good deeds and keep in touch,

Meghan
From the CEO's Desk

In last week’s newsletter, I alluded to the remarkable level of activity we’ve seen in the first weeks of the New Year. I also mentioned the Board of Directors would be meeting last Saturday and I anticipated a couple of decisions that would shape the direction of HFHOGN for the years and generations to come.

Rather than go on at length in this week’s newsletter, I’ve put together a longer update that can be found on our website at www.habitatgatewaynorth.com (click here).

I invite everyone, but particularly our dedicated Chapter volunteers, to read this update. I’m looking forward to visiting with our Chapter committees in the weeks immediately ahead to discuss the exciting changes and plans for 2016. In the interim, I’m always up for comments, concerns and suggestions by phone (705-646-1016 x6).

Have a great week,

David   
Espanola Build Update

Construction continues in Espanola! The deep freeze curtailed backfilling and meant we needed some hay! Local Menonites obliged and gave us a great deal on hay to protect the footings. Approximately 75 bales of hay were used to keep things cozy during the chill.

The Espanola crew has made wonderful progress this week on the trusses for the duplex. The trusses on the both the left and right sides are up as well as the small rooves over the entranceways. Kudos to the volunteers and Jeff for keeping things going during this chilly weather.

For more great photos and regular progress updates check out our website or the Espanola Build Facebook page.
Midland ReStore Renovation

WOW - what a week! The Midland ReStore has undergone a much-needed facelift. A huge shout out to Lori and Lisa who put up with me throughout the process and many thanks for all their hard work and patience.

Although I just welcomed Tom to the team recently, he has already proven invaluable. When I was painting the store at 2 a.m., Tom was right beside me working just as diligently. When I was painting at 6 a.m., so was Tom. Who said all-nighters are just for university! Thank you so much Tom!!

I could not have done this renovation without the support of my staff. Their knowledge and willingness to assist is what helped us reach the finish line. Although there is always more to do the store is now fresh, bright and clean. Bring on the spring rush!

Marg Hamelin
ReStore Manger - Midland
Before
After
Sudbury ReStore

This week, the "Good Samaritan Award" goes to John! A customer had a flat tire in our parking lot (thanks to the crazy pot holes in the Sudbury area!). John went the extra mile with customer service, helped  fix her flat and get her on her way. 
Sudbury ReStore

Alex (below right), a great volunteer at the Sudbury ReStore worked his last day this week. We are sad to see him go but Alex did a great job volunteering while he was here.
 


S A V E   T H E  D A T E!

June 23, 2016

F   O   R    E

The Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North Golf Classic
Presented by
North Granite Ridge Golf Club

For more information, contact:
Hilary Kellam at: 705-646-0106x205 or hilary@habitatgatewaynorth.com OR
Graham Polmateer (North Granite Ridge) gpolmateer@northgraniteridge.com
Quote of the Week

"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions." - Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

HFH Gateway North News 15.01.2016


Espanola Build Update

Espanola Express Junior A Hockey Team Players and Coach McCarthy were on site on Thursday, January 14, helping to stack lumber and shovel snow out of the basement. Due to cold temperatures, construction progress was limited but the team did some amazing work helping us organize the build site. Next week, Jeff Lapierre, Site Supervisor, with our volunteer crew will be getting the trusses in place.
In This Issue:
* Espanola Build Update
* From the CEO's Desk
* Midland Mall Salvage
* Putting the Fun in Finance
* Sudbury ReStore Team
* ReStore Volunteer Hours
* Bracebridge ReStore
* Quote of the Week
The Newsreel: Quick Facts to Keep You Informed!
* Habitat Canada has launched the Brick for Brick Campaign. 1 in 5 Canadian families are living in unstable homes. But little by little, a brick for brick, you can help bring stability to the lives of many children from low income families. Because you're not just helping us put a roof over their head, you're helping us put the ground beneath their feet. For full details on the campaign visithabitat.ca/brickforbrick
Know someone who'd like to be involved with Habitat? Share the newsletter with them! Anyone who is interested in staying in touch can sign up for the weekly newsletter here!
Hello Habitat Gateway North Community!

Time is a funny construct. Sometimes hours pass quickly and minutes seem to stretch for eternity. Somehow, I've spent a lot of time organizing events - in work roles as well as personal ones. There's a phenomenon I've witnessed and I've dubbed it "The Slow-Down, Speed-Up Effect".



If you've ever been involved in event or project planning, large or small scale, you'll know what I'm talking about. The first time I experienced it was coordinating a wedding show. Six months out from the chosen date, everything felt slow. Calling potential vendors, caterers. Having drawn out planning meetings and making decisions on layout and flow. As the date crept closer, pieces began to fall into place but it still felt a little like walking through mud - you're getting somewhere, but it's a slow march.


Suddenly, it was the wedding show weekend and a million things were happening at once. Brides were flooding in through the doors. Vendors wanted to switch spaces. One DJ was playing music not during his assigned time period. Only half of the chairs showed up for the fashion show. It was planned chaos. And then it was over. The hours of planning boiled down to two days of non-stop activity. It was all worth it - the good, the bad and the ugly.

As we begin to tackle Habitat's exciting 2016 plans I can feel the Slow-Down, Speed-Up Effect setting in. Circling the issues, asking questions, slowly but surely making informed decisions. My calendar has a few dates circled on it and I anticipate they will be full to the brim of "Speed-Up" excitement.

Be well, do good deeds and keep in touch,

Meghan
From the CEO's Desk

Every week when I sit down to write this note, I swear I’m going to keep it short, but the strong-silent-type thing seems to only work for me in Spanish. That said, this week’s note will becorto!

I went into the Christmas holiday conscious of some mild anxiety around the New Year. “We have to hit the ground running,” I admonished anyone who’d listen, our 6-IN-’16 target needing to make the turn from objective to reality.

I’m not sure why I was anxious. Looking back, it’s almost impossible to believe New Year’s Day was only two weeks ago. Looking forward, it’s almost impossible to believe the year we have ahead.

Tomorrow, the HFHOGN Board of Directors will meet in Bracebridge. The outcome of two key strategic items on the Board’s agenda will set HFHOGN’s direction for the years to come and for generations of the families we serve.

I’ll look forward to filling you in on the Board’s discussion and so much more in next week’s issue.

Have a great week,

David   
Midland Mall Salvage

The Midland ReStore is currently closed for some much needed renovations but that didn't keep the crew from working hard! On January 8, the staff from the Midland ReStore headed to the Mountainview Mall for a salvage. The former Suzy Shier location had all kinds of materials for us to pickup and the team did an awesome job! Everyone’s hard work helped Habitat Gateway North realize thousands of dollars in value of materials both for sale in the ReStores and as displays. Plus, we saved some great items from the landfill! Great job Marg, Tom, Lori and Kevin!
Putting the Fun in Finance

Finance is often the most confused and misunderstood department in an organization. When I started with Habitat, the questions started rolling in... "How do I budget for that?", "How do I read this statement?", "What's the point of a budget?". So, I decided I'd say a few words in our weekly newsletter and dispel some finance mysteries (hopefully!).

Simply put, a budget is an itemized summary of likely income and expenses for a given period.  It helps you determine whether you can grab that bite to eat or should head home for a bowl of soup.  It is typically created using a spreadsheet, and it provides a concrete, organized, and easily understood breakdown of how much money you have coming in and how much you are letting go.  It’s an invaluable tool to help you prioritize your spending and manage your money—no matter how much or how little you have.

Read about the Top Five Most Common Budgeting Mistakes on Charity Village.

Lori Beecroft
Chief Financial Officer
Sudbury ReStore Team

Stephanie Long (second in on the left), Sudbury ReStore Manager, has been working on our team for several months and was excited to share a fun photo. On Janaury 13th, Stephanie had the most volunteers join her to help out in one day since she began working for the ReStore! She couldn't resist giving a big thumbs up and a thank you to volunteers and staff for their support. (Congratulations to Stephanie on becoming an expectant aunt over the holidays!)
ReStores thank volunteers for over 14,000 hours in 2015

“It fills me with pride.”

Justin Pritchard manages the Huntsville ReStore. In 2015, his volunteers worked for 4,726 hours helping customers, processing donations, and stocking the shelves. It is an act he does not take lightly.

“It’s a huge boost,” Pritchard said. “They are happy, always polite, and they know their customers. I am very proud of the effort our volunteers show and just how dedicated they are to their community.”
 
ReStore volunteers are open to explore new tasks every day and take on projects they are passionate about.  They are the pulse of an operation which has quickly become known for its unique shopping experience.

“There is so much more we can do with the help of the volunteers,” said Sudbury ReStore manager Stephanie Long. “We appreciate everything they do, and sticking with us.”
Thank you to all of our dedicated volunteers!

Orillia ReStore: 2844 hours
Midland ReStore: 2000 hours
Huntsville ReStore: 4796 hours
Bracebridge ReStore: 4732 hours
Sudbury ReStore:  unavailable

Read the full article on our website.
Bracebridge ReStore

Fiona had a great time filling her cart with goodies at the Bracebridge ReStore! Thanks to the hard work of the Bracebridge ReStore staff and volunteers the newly moved and reorganized toy section is a treasure trove for shoppers, old and young alike!
Quote of the Week

"How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it." - George Elliston
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Friday, January 8, 2016

HFH Gateway North News 08.01.2016

Serving Orillia Lake Country, North Simcoe, District of Muskoka, Parry Sound District, North Bay and Blue Sky Region and Sudbury District
In This Issue:
* From the CEO's Desk
* Welcome Greg Cowan
* Espanola Update
* Meet Christina
* Midland ReStore Update
* Fundraising with Donna
* Quote of the Week
The Newsreel: Quick Facts to Keep You Informed!
* On New Year's Day, a group of brave fundraisers took part in the annual Huntsville Polar Bear Dip. To view photos, check out the Facebook page. To donate to the brave souls who took the plunge, visit the online fundraising page.  Start practicing now and prepare to take part in next year's dip!
* Habitat Canada has launched the Brick for Brick Campaign. 1 in 5 Canadian families are living in unstable homes. But little by little, a brick for brick, you can help bring stability to the lives of many children from low income families. Because you're not just helping us put a roof over their head, you're helping us put the ground beneath their feet. For full details on the campaign visithabitat.ca/brickforbrick
Know someone who'd like to be involved with Habitat? Share the newsletter with them! Anyone who is interested in staying in touch can sign up for the weekly newsletterhere!
Welcome to 2016 Habitat Gateway North!

As we take our first few steps into 2016, I hope everyone had a chance to stop and enjoy time with family over the holidays. Although typically holidays are a flurry of activity and travel, I always like to appreciate the little moments of calm and joy - the quiet before the storm of the new year, so to speak.

I spent some of my quiet time over the holidays having a yearly review of 2015; going through experiences I'd had, accomplishments, places I'd been. I'm not really a resolution-setter. If you want to make a change, you have to want it, whether it's January 1st or any other day of the year. If you are not willing to dedicate yourself to a change, small or large, it won't happen. So I didn't set a resolution... other than a promise to take each day as it comes.

While going through my "annual review" it came to mind that starting January 4th, we would have a full-time Communications Officer in Greg Cowan. Having Greg join our team speaks to where we are at as an organization and also where we are headed.

For me, it's also a point at which I will be handing off one of my hats, which feels freeing and yet also unusual. Since I started with Habitat for Humanity I have played a role in communications (I'm still writing this newsletter though... so I guess I'm not completely out of it!). Starting the new year with a new focus is exciting, intriguing and mildly nerve-racking. I'm out of my comfort zone, as it were, and a whole new set of tasks to complete and questions to answer are beginning to come forward.



Whether you're resolution driven or routine-focussed, ask yourself, when was the last time you did something for the first time? Let's make 2016 a year to remember! Habitat Gateway North has a few more "firsts" planned and we will be delighted to share them with you in the coming weeks.

Be well, do good deeds and keep in touch,

Meghan
From the CEO's Desk

This time last year, I was up to my brain cells in a project for Habitat Canada. CEO Mark Rodgers had asked me to develop a whitepaper – essentially a state-of-the-union – on “national realignment,” a.k.a.  “regionalization” within the Canadian Habitat federation. HFH Ontario Gateway North is, of course, a product of that regionalization initiative.

In the research phase of the project, I phone-interviewed a sampling of Habitat ED/CEOs across the country. There was something immediately peculiar about the interviews, which took me awhile to identify and even longer to articulate. In the background to the answers to my interview questions, I was hearing strikingly different versions of the Habitat story.

Stories are remarkably powerful, and none more powerful than the one that quietly loops in our head day in, day out, colouring our every sense of the outside world. In organizations, the predominant stories told and heard are reflected in the organization’s culture, which, like the voice in our heads, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In the final version of the whitepaper, I identified four archetypical Habitat stories, ranging from those affiliates who see themselves forever more serving one family every two or three years, to those like HFH Edmonton and Manitoba that are determined to change, if not the world, then at least the sliver of it in which they operate. The key observation offered in the whitepaper was that transformative change within the HFH federation will be challenging unless and until affiliate members are drawn to a common story.

When I stepped in as interim CEO of HFHOGN in mid-July, I knew little of the affiliate, but I walked in the door with two priorities. The first was to extinguish any “forest fires” (there weren’t many) and the second was to dominate story-telling.  

Thanks to our always amazing editor Meghan Smith, this newsletter appeared within two weeks, not because newsletters are nice to have, but because drawing the HFHOGN community to a common story was critical to overcoming the challenges we were facing at that time, critical to our realizing the full benefits of the “realignment” that created HFHOGN, and will remain critical in the years to come as we achieve our potential as a major contributor to Habitat’s mission in Canada.

I mention all of this because we took another major and exciting strategic step forward this week with the recruitment of Greg Cowan, introduced elsewhere in this issue, as our full-time story-teller (okay, his formal title is Communications Officer).

Internally, Greg will take the lead in telling the stories that will foster an organizational culture of which we can stand proud. Across the region, Greg’s multi-media telling of the Habitat story, from a regional and local chapter perspective, will be the foundation upon which we mobilize community fundraising, friendraising, and volunteer recruitment.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be a page-turner!

Have a great week,

David 
Welcome Greg Cowan

David Morris, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North, announced today the appointment of Greg Cowan as the regional organization’s Communications Officer. Cowan formerly served as the editor of the Pincher Creek Echo in Southern Alberta.

Morris said he is excited to welcome Greg into the fold at Gateway North while the organization continues to gear-up its capacity to serve more families each year. The role of communications officer will be essential in helping to share the great stories which arise from the dedicated work of the volunteers, builders, donors, and partner families in the region.

“Habitat for Humanity is recognized worldwide,” said Cowan. “It is important the work we do in our own backyard is equally recognized and understood.”

Cowan said he is looking forward to partnering with local media and community members in an effort to help promote  the organization's exciting plans for 2016.
Espanola Update

The floor is in and the walls are on their way up at our Espanola Build!

As you can see the basement, and floor fame are complete. The basement is made of pressure treated wood. If you think it looks a little high, you would be correct. When spring arrives we will be able to backfill and complete the grades to the proper level.

The party wall, (tall framing structure in the center) will divide the two homes. The perimeter framing will be completed early next week. Then, Jeff and his team will move on to roof truss installation, fly rafters and sheeting.

We are receiving great support from the community and we are delighted. One day there were ten volunteers on the build site! Thank you to everyone who has joined our efforts so far. We look forward to many more great days to come! 

 
Meet Christina 

Working within a community based foundation is truly an honour.

Growing up in a single parent home, my family and I were blessed by a foundation similar to Habitat for Humanity. Not only did it allow for us to grow up in a safe and healthy home; it enabled my Mom to provide my brother and I opportunities we may not have had otherwise.

I am looking forward to this new adventure and being involved with Habitat for Humanity and the ReStore. Stop by and say hello any time!

Christina Micallef
Sales Associate
Orillia ReStore
Midland ReStore Update

The Midland ReStore would like to extend a warm welcome to Tom Dion. Tom comes to us with a wide range of experience that will be a great benefit not only to our shipping and receiving department but for our clients as well. Welcome to the team Tom!

Renovations are under way. We are very excited about all of our changes and having fun while cleaning things up. A big, huge shout out to all of the staff and volunteers who are giving their all to make this happen!! See Lori and Lisa (pictured below) having some fun while we renovate.

We look forward to reopening on January 18th with more floor space and a new look to better serve our customers.

Marg Hamelin
ReStore Manager
Midland ReStore
Fundraising with Donna

Believe it or not but I’ve had a request from one of you out there to do a regular fundraising column.  In fact it was a particular person in one of our Chapters… in fact, it was north of Bracebridge … that’s all I’m saying!  So, now that you’ve asked for it, you’ve got it!  I will bring you fundraising news and updates from Ontario Gateway North including any highlights of fundraising efforts within our Chapters.  Or, I may share a fundraising idea or story. 

In order to do this, I will need your help. Send me your fundraising plans, ideas, suggestions and questions.  If you have a Chapter fundraising event, let me know how it went.  My hope is to share ideas with everybody.

Stay tuned for my next update the last Friday of every month!

Donna
Quote of the Week

"And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been." - Rainer Maria Rilke