Nearly fifty years ago Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his powerful speech about a dream in which he envisioned equal treatment and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all. I remember studying Dr. King in University and was deeply inspired by his commitment to change through love. Despite a constant uphill battle and social atrocities and tragedies that were captured recently in the best-selling novel, “The Help”, Dr. King taught us to never stop dreaming of a better tomorrow.
Much like MLK Jr., our long standing commitment to the community is fueled by a similar dream and many of our programs, in particular, our Healthy Relationships groups promote his vision of equal opportunity for all. Unfortunately like Dr. King, we are facing our own uphill battle with reduced funding to social services and more emphasis on administrative tasks; a new generation of individuals are at risk of missing their opportunity to reach their full potential.
I’ve asked Bobbye Goldenberg, our executive director and Inge Packull, our clinical supervisor and therapist with the agency for over 20 years to share their dream of how with your help we can continue to create change in Cambridge and North Dumfries for another 70 years.
N: Bobbye, despite limited resources how is the agency already realizing our dream?
B: We are careful with our resources and work at combining designated dollars with any donations we receive. We have funders who are supportive of various aspects of our programs and services, such as Ministry of Community and Social Services who fund programs for survivors of family violence and the Ministry of the Attorney General who fund the Partner Assault Response program. The Ministry of Health provides funding for clients in our doctor-referred Health Connect program. Our United Way dollars fill many gaps in otherwise underfunded programs. The Region of Waterloo supports our clients who are the working poor or on social assistance. Both the City of Cambridge and the Township of North Dumfries provide funds that support our operations. Our reality is that we depend on the kindness and involvement of our communities. It is through that support that we move toward fulfilling our dream.
N: As Heather Frome presented at our AGM last year, counselling works. What is your vision to ensure as many people as possible get the help they need despite this current climate of increased cut-backs and the shrinking donor dollar?
B: We use a sliding fee scale for our clients, a scale that is based on ability to pay. Answers to detailed questions give us information that enables us to place a client in an appropriate funded category, such as referral from a doctor to Health Connect or the client residing in a neighbourhood where we provide counselling in a community setting. We do not turn clients away. If we cannot provide the service the client needs, we refer to an agency that can provide that service.
N: Inge, at our recent board/staff planning day, you started to talk about a vision of the community embracing the agency’s mission and being leaders in ensuring our long term viability. Could you expand on this vision?
I: Our agency was born over 70 years ago out of the vision of concerned citizens who saw a need in the community and wanted to help. This vision has continued to this day. Whenever I meet people in Cambridge and North Dumfries they seem to have a desire to improve our community so our children have a safer, healthier place to grow up in. I believe this agency could be even more effective in meeting people’s needs and thus improving our community if local members could once again see the mutual benefits of getting involved.
At a recent conference sponsored by the Domestic Assault Review Team of Waterloo Region, the speaker Rus Funk, MSW suggested that people will get involved if three conditions are met.
- A relationship has to be developed between the agency and the person.
- The person feels personally affected by the issue (i.e. domestic violence).
- The person is asked to do something specific which is within their ability to do.
I believe there are people in the Cambridge and North Dumfries who are seeking meaningful ways to contribute to this community and would welcome the opportunity to support this agency.
N: We hope to foster such relationships through these blogs, our facebook page and face to face interactions. Please read our past newsletters or previous posts to learn more about what the agency does or give us a call.
When I coordinated our Partner Assault Response (PAR) program I had a dream that I would be out of a job because people would learn to stop being abusive. Be a part of this dream: help us break the cycle of violence, create safer communities and give people the gift of a better tomorrow. Gifts of time, monetary donations, space, participation and marketing support for upcoming events allow us to empower people with healthy coping skills so they can be the parents, partners and neighbours they were meant to be, which benefits all of us.
Please share your comments here or on our facebook page and never stop dreaming .
Nicole, Jan 2013