Every Opportunity Has Two Sides

 

Listening to a CBC radio interview one day recently I heard the following quote which struck me as speaking to the philosophy we promote at March of Dimes. Attributed to Winston Churchill, it was “With every opportunity there are difficulties, and with every difficulty, there are opportunities.” At March of Dimes Canada we have excelled at taking advantage of opportunities to do more for people with disabilities, even in challenging times and with limited resources or other difficulties, and with every change in the political landscape.

 

Colleagues are often amazed at the growth in operating budget and services that we provide. How when there have been recessions and economic downturns, government cutbacks, competition in fundraising and a shrinking donor base, has this agency grown? With the exception of two years in the last 30, and last year being one of them, we have exceeded all benchmark comparators. Since 1981, our 30th anniversary to 2011, our 60th year we have had 1950% growth.  Not accounting for inflation and a compounding effect, this is still extraordinary as over 1650 staff deliver services (we were 183 staff in 1981) to an ever increasing number of consumers with a growing range of programs.

 

The answer I believe is that we stay focused on our mission and vision and  practice “Planned Opportunism.” We are values based but not ideologically driven. We always work from both a 5 year Strategic Plan and an annual operating plan that aims to fulfill the 5 year plan. When other needs  or opportunities are presented, we incorporate them into the dynamic 5 year plan after careful consideration of their fit with our key goals and directions. We use every opportunity that is presented to fulfill the plan, such as partnerships, new funding  programs, volunteer initiatives, “adoption” of other programs, and a host of creative, innovative tactics. We do this because the needs of the constituents we serve, people with physical disabilities, are not static either. Demographics are changing and more people are surviving with severe disabilities. More people are living longer and acquiring disabilities at different stages of life. Chronic complex issues are arising. Those receiving our services often need increased service and need to access multiple services in the community. Thus, we are becoming increasingly, One Stop: Solutions forIndependence.

 

Research on quality of life factors generally support the notion of family and community being significant contributors to well being, not withstanding good medical care. We are here to develop family support, peer support, community supports and complement the other home and community supports available.

 

I am hoping to hear from  consumers and others who can tell me how they have benefitted from accessing services in the community from March of Dimes.

 

Best regards,

Andria

About modcpresident
I grew up in Calgary, where I completed a BA at the University of Calgary, then travelled and taught in Kenya and the Canadian Arctic during the heyday of Trudeaumania, hippie travel and social experimentation. I settled in Vancouver to complete a Master of Social Work degree at the University of British Columbia, and stayed another 8 years. After graduating I was a Social Planner and eventually became the Executive Director of the Social Planning and Research Council of BC. Ontario March of Dimes recruited me in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons and the 30th anniversary of the agency. It has grown from a budget of $5m in '81 to $100m in 2010. Services have expanded drafmatically. We incorporated a non profit housing corporation in 1992 and a national charity in 2001, and since 2006 the latter has operated as March of Dimes Canada. We own and operate several properties that provide accommodation and independent living services to 77 people in 4 municipalities and will add another property this year. Two other exciting non profit entities have been incorporated in my 30 years (yes, it has been 30 years!) and we expect to hold our first fundraiser in the US this year and to initiate our first service south of the border also. My role as President and CEO continues to be that of creating a vision, fulfilling the mission and developing strategic plans to meet an increasing demand for services from people with disabilities and their caregivers. This is achieved through direct service, advocacy and peer programs. On a personal note, I live with my 17 year old daughter and two cats, and enjoy their company a lot. My two adult sons are doing interesting exploration in their own lives and I am intrigued with how they are progressing. In my spare time, I have various volunteer roles on several non profit boards and committees, and enjoy creating programs for building awareness of diversity and disability. I think it has become true for me that youth is, while not "wasted on the young," something that I appreciate more with age. Adventures are physically more challenging for me now, so they have to occur in new dimensions.

2 Responses to Every Opportunity Has Two Sides

  1. Karen Pape says:

    I enjoy hearing about your positive results using goal a oriented planning process. It is truly the only way to achieve great results. It is my belief that many of the families that we serve would benefit from some formal training in the process of setting specific goals and developing an action plan for achievement. There are many books and courses available in the business world, but surprising little transfer to the patient world. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

  2. Danielle says:

    Je suis déçue de voir que votre site est seulement en anglais. Je suis une de celle qui a été atteinte de la polio étant jeune et j’aurais aimé savoir, à la veille du 60e anniversaire de la parade des 10 sous, ce qui se fera pour l’occasion. Peut-être aussi même m’engager dans les festivités futures… Surtout avec votre nouvelle optique qui sera celle d’être la seule organisme à travers le Canada.

    Je me rappelle de mon enfance avec toutes les activités organisées par votre organisme au Québec dans la région de Montréal.

    Espérant que vous saurez corriger cette lacune, je demeure

    Danielle
    une francophone du Québec


    I am disappointed that your site is in English only. I am one of those who was suffering from polio as a young man and I wish I knew, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the parade of 10 cents, what will be done for the occasion. Perhaps even get involved in future festivals … Especially with your new perspective will be that of being the only organization across Canada.

    I remember my childhood with all the activities organized by your organization in Quebec in the Montreal area.

    Hoping that you will correct this deficiency, I remain

    Danielle
    a French-speaking Quebec

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