I graduated from Queens University and proceeded to complete Graduate Studies in Psychology at York Universty
In January 2018, NF City Council voted to establish a Homeless Shelter for men. I was asked to co-chair the committee and investigated the need and produced a report indicating a warming shelter should be established as a pilot project. By working diligently to bring the City and Region together, this was accomplished and by Nov. 1, 2018 NF will have a safe place for vulnerable people to get out of the cold.
For over 20 years, I have volunteered with Community Living organizations, promoting inclusion in society for those with an intellectual disability. I was President of Ontario Community Living during the closure of all remaining instituitions which warehoused and segregated intellectually challenged individuals away from their family and community.
Focus Accreditation is a Governance Model evaluating the success of agencies to meet the highest standards of care and service. I was involved in the development of the standards, there implementation and review. I was also involved in Compliance review. These skills will be necessary to return Reginal Council to a functional level of performance. Good Governance is a priority to restore public confidence at Regional Council level
A Member of the Arts, Culture and Museum Committee for City of Niagara Falls
Member of the Public Art Acquisition Committee for City of Niagara Falls
Member of Volunteer Appreciation Committee for City of Niagara Falls
President of PROBUS Niagara East
President of Willoughby Historical Society
Being rather a private person, it was a bit of a challenge for me to sit down and write my life story. One of the people working on my campaign suggested that I do it to add some depth and texture to my story. He told me that I was not fully portraying all my strengths.
Once, at an interactive learning session, everyone was asked to describe themselves. I responded that I was “tough as nails and soft as butter”. Everyone agreed that I had described myself bang on. I am soft as butter. I give to others; cry easily for happy things; love lots and laugh easily. I am also tough as nails. I can seek solutions that are sometimes difficult; I don't give up; I work diligently to accomplish my goals and I don't suffer fools lightly. I am complicated, and I know it.
After having been diagnosed with cancer at age 21, I never really knew how long I had on this earth. I became determined to live life to the fullest. Despite my diagnoses, I married, had 3 children in close succession and adopted one for good luck. My kids were raised with a sense that they must always protect each other because I was not sure how long I would be there for them. How wrong the doctors were, because here I am loving my 5 grandkids.
For many years I was a single mom, until I met my husband Barry. He is as complex as I am, but the round holes in his head seemed to fit the square ones in mine. We laugh a lot and have fun. He makes everything in life a game.
He was also the only man I dated that accepted my youngest daughter into his life. Annie was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and was at the severe end of the continuum. Raising her has been a challenge for me and for our entire family.
When I adopted her, I knew it was going to be tough. Annie's difficulties meant that I had to learn to challenge the system to make things work for her. That is a skill I have used frequently throughout her life challenges and for the benefit of many others. Believe me, having a special needs kid makes a parent creative. Someone once suggested that I write a book on my life with Annie. I replied, "Who would ever believe the challenges that we have been through". Her challenges though, have taught me how to understand homelessness; intellectual challenges; human trafficking and addiction, to name just a few. She has also taught me to navigate social service systems to the point that I am the Queen of Networking.
My biological kids have taught me perseverance, caring and inclusive living. While they travelled through their life towards adulthood, they were always keenly aware that their sister was having difficulties and they provided her with acceptance and love despite her behaviour. My kids are highly successful, each in their own way: a surgeon; a nurse; and a police officer.
How proud am I?
Professionally, I completed graduate studies in psychology and worked at first with adolescent sex offenders and later with victims of abuse. I helped prepare kids to testify in court and investigated those abused by priests and nuns. I often testified in court as an expert witness in sexual abuse cases. My professional life taught me compassion as I assisted the most vulnerable to cope with the demands of daily life.
To balance the demands of my life, I volunteered in various capacities. I served as a board member for Community Living organizations and later as President including being President of Community Living Ontario. I sat on the Board of the Canadian Association for Community Living, the Compliance Review Board and the Board of FOCUS Accreditation, developing standards of care for social service organizations.
Since moving to Niagara 8 years ago, I continued my community service but switched to more cultural and social pursuits. The Arts, Culture and Museum Board is where I am an active member and chaired the Street Musicians (Buskers) committee. This paved the way for Council to revoke a previous ban. I also sit on the Public Art Acquisition Board, the Niagara Falls Volunteer Appreciation Committee and in my spare time, I am President of both the Willoughby Historical Society and PROBUS Niagara East.
Since January, when the Niagara Falls Council passed a motion for a shelter for men I worked diligently with the City and the Region to get the proposed warming centre. Proudly, it looks like this will soon become a reality.
All these experiences have made me the strong person I am. I believe that I have the skills that will help the Niagara Regional Council regain the public’s trust and confidence.