September 17, 2014

EWCS holds 30-year celebration

As published in The Erin Advocate

Members of East Wellington Community Services (EWCS) were thanked last week, and reminded of the importance of maintaining Canada’s social safety net, by someone who was helped to great success by the system.

Joe Roberts, known as the Skid Row CEO, spoke at the 30th Anniversary Celebration following the EWCS Annual Meeting at the Legion Hall. It also included a Walk Down Memory Lane, with photos from the agency’s history.

“A sense of humour is the best weapon against adversity,” said Roberts, now a successful author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He told of a period in his life when alcohol and drugs provided temporary protection from his troubles, but trapped him in a difficult street life in East Vancouver.

“I leaned heavily on resources in the community for food and clothes,” he said. “I was loved where I was at and not rejected. They took me as I was. There was a seed of possibility, as a space I could move into.”

With the help of many people, especially his mother, he was successful in rehabilitation, education and eventually the business world. It started with a prayer and a promise that if he got a chance at success, he would pay it forward and “do something for the next guy”.

EWCS paid tribute at the annual meeting to its volunteers, including the board members. Mary Ellen Miller and Deanna MacKay are retiring, as is President Allan Alls, turning the reins over to Brett Davis. New members are Wayne Stickley, Brad Boland and Bob Porter.

Alls touched on some recent EWCS highlights including increased funding support, increased staff pay and research into new youth programs.

The event had started with some controversy when member Jane Vandervliet rose on a point of order to challenge the legality of the meeting. She said that the board had failed to have updates to corporate bylaws approved by the members at last year’s Annual Meeting, and that notification of recent efforts to correct the situation did not come in the proper form and time frame.

Alls acknowledged the bylaw problem, but argued that it was not practical to defer the issue to a future meeting. Members voted to carry on with the meeting. CEO Kari Simpson provided an overview of the changes to the bylaws and members voted to accept them.

Financial Statements show that EWCS had total assets of $613,583 as of March 31, 2014. Salaries and employment benefits were the major cost at $510,688, followed by occupancy costs at $46,624. Total expenses were $774,241.

Revenue came from numerous sources, including the Ministry of Health at $197,392, Ontario Early Years at $144,072, fundraising, events and general donations at $122,482, retail sales at $82,101, Guelph-Wellington United Way at $70,049, Seniors Program income at $51,727, Wellington County at $29,325, the Township of Guelph Eramosa at $16,000 and the Town of Erin at $13,302. Total revenue was $768,756, an increase of $44,953 compared to 2013.