A Year of Firsts

In June I had an opportunity to conduct my first celebrity interview. Alan Thicke, Canadian icon who sings, acts, writes, moderates shows and performs on many stages, was the featured celebrity at this year’s Ability and Beyond Gala, and I was invited to interview him prior to his performance. This took place after several professional interviews with external media so I wondered if Alan would still want to respond to questions, and developed some that might not have been asked.

Alan Thicke is a warm, kind and generous man who speaks lovingly of his sons and extended family. He’s still grateful for his early years in Elliot Lake, Ontario. He believes the private business sector must partner with charitable organizations and government to care for people with special needs.  He spoke of the  many ways in which collaboration take place, and this plus his funny, witty portrayal of caregiving, was the substance of his presentation at the 350 person Gala on June 13th.

I invite you to look at photos and listen to my first ever recorded interview, and enjoy a few minutes with Alan Thicke, http://bit.ly/16JnlYb

This interview is now chalked up for me as a first, along with the following that I’ve participated in since December 2012: my bat mitzvah, volunteering with the IDF, giving a Convocation speech, going on a five day bike trip, and soon going on a three day canoe trip. As I approach another milestone birthday I’ve decided to keep creating firsts for myself . I would also hope to  continue  to create firsts for March of Dimes.

On May 8, 2013 Ontario March of a Dimes actually ceased to exist as the name of our non profit corporation, and we officially became March of Dimes Canada. Much more will be said about this historic change in the months to come. Suffice it to say that we met all the legal requirements to continue under the new Canada Non Profit Corporations Act and are now registered federally. This allows the consolidation of all programs and services, administration and fundraising, under one brand, March of Dimes Canada.

This past year we inaugurated our first transportation service, MODMobility, launched Peers Fostering Hope for stroke survivors, raised funds through our US affiliate, Rehabilitation Foundation for Disabled Persons  US in partnership with the Canada California Business Council, became a founding member of BADIN, the Bridging Aging and Disability International Network, and developed an important national partnership with Pennzoil, sponsor of our 13 Rock for Dimes battle of the bands events across Canada.  March of Dimes Canada experienced its most successful financial year ever in fiscal 2012-13 and completed many milestones, including adoption of a new 5 year Strategic Plan, Lifespan Community Living.

These results and more will be told in our annual report which will be online the end of September.  I invite readers of this blog to visit our website again after our AGM on September 27th to read the report, www.marchofdimes.ca  In the meantime, I invite you to think about Firsts in your life, and never stop creating them. It’s wonderful to try novel things, to experience new places, activities and relationships. Make every year a Year of Firsts.

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.

4 Responses to A Year of Firsts

  1. When I look back I marvel at how, under the leadership of Andria Ontario March of Dimes has evolved into March of Dimes Canada. I realize what a fantastic Leader she is. Andria without you I doubt very much if this evolution would have happened. Yes there were some sticky times, but you always rallied coming up with solutions to problems that others would have caused other to quit throwing their dreams out the window. Thanks from one grateful Director for all you do to make life inclusive and more comfortable for people less fortunate than ourselves. I am proud to number you among my friends.

  2. Elizabeth Lounsbury says:

    Koodos Andria on a great blog.

    Elizabeth

  3. What an inspiring post! Well, I will certainly have to think about what kind of ‘firsts’ I am going to undertake this year. And I will encourage both my son and my Mom to undertake firsts as well! Congratulations on all the giant steps forward at March of Dimes Canada, too, Andria!

  4. Wonderful news Andria and CONGRATULATIONS!! on the many incredible accomplishments you are creating for yourself and certainly in helping and inspiring so many others less fortunate.

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