65th Annual General Meeting

September 18, 2018


Niagara Support Services held its 65th Annual General Meeting in Niagara Falls on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 in the Grand Ballroom of the Americana Resort. A total of 110 members and guests enjoyed light refreshments while mingling and enjoying each other’s company before the meeting.

 

NSS Board President Brent Rolfe called the meeting to order at order at 7 p.m. and introduced Interim CEO John Fast who brought greetings to all in attendance.

 

During the business portion of the evening the minutes of last year’s meeting were adopted, as were the President and the Interim Chief Executive Officer’s report. Mr. Dave Teutenberg of Durward Jones Barkwell & Company presented the financial statements for 2017-18, which were approved by the members, and his firm was appointed as auditors for the fiscal year 2018-19.

 

Claudia Valle, Chair of the Nominating Committee, provided the Nominating Committee's report, and Mr. Todd Crawford was re-elected to a 3-year term on the NSS Board of Directors. All of the board members present were introduced and a group photo was taken. Present: Maureen Connolly, Todd Crawford, Judy Reid, Brent Rolfe, Ralph Sutton and Claudia Valle.

 

The membership approved the actions of the Board of Directors for the fiscal year 2017-18.

 

Interim Chief Executive Officer John Fast introduced our guest speaker for the evening, Michael Jacques, who talked about his journey in the creation of his first book - Can't Read. Can't Write. Here's My Book. His presentation ended with a standing ovation and everyone present was excited to receive a free copy of Michael's book at the end of the evening.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

 

 

65th Annual General Meeting

September 18, 2018

Greetings from Interim CEO John Fast

Good evening and welcome to our Annual General Meeting as we celebrate our 65th Anniversary. We have come a long way from very humble beginnings when in May of 1953 a handful of concerned parents met to talk about what they could do for their children and others like them who seemed to have no place in our society because of their developmental limitations. Their original project was to start a school with 9 pupils and a volunteer staff using a room at the YMCA. Since then, the organization has grown to the point where today we support over 560 individuals in a host of programs across a wide spectrum of services and employ over 180 paid staff. And we continue to grow, supporting 132 new individuals in the past year alone.

Reflecting on the beginnings of the organization led me to recall how and when I began at the agency. As many of you know I have been the Interim Chief Executive Officer since April and previously the Chief Financial Officer for over 20 years. I first became involved with the organization in the mid-1990s, during a very difficult time in its history. The agency had been managed by the Board for a short period of time as it was without its entire senior management team. The Executive Director, Residential Director and Finance Director positions were all vacant. To add to this, the agency was in a very serious financial situation, with large debts and significant operating deficits. The future and viability of the agency was uncertain.

At this time, I was working as the Finance Director at Community Living Fort Erie and in the summer of 1996, I volunteered to help out by providing assistance in the financial area. The Board brought in interim senior Leadership and along with the much-needed and appreciated assistance of the Ministry, the agency stabilized and was able to come out of that period stronger than before.

I mention this both as background, but also for perspective. We have had a very challenging year – we have experienced significant staff turnover, including senior leadership, and there were incidents of a nature beyond what we have ever had to deal with before. Changes and challenges of this magnitude can lead to a sense of uneasiness and stress for some, as we tend to fear the unknown and resist that which interrupts our routines or is unfamiliar. However, change is an inevitable fact of life, and life is a constant process of change from beginning to end. Change is necessary for us to evolve and to better adapt to our environment. Change is required for improvement.

We have the ability to choose our response to the situation we find ourselves in today. I choose to see these changes as an opportunity for rebuilding and renewal. I am committed to ensuring that as we did over 20 years ago, we will come out of this period stronger than ever. We owe that to the individuals and families we support, and to those parents who started us on this path 65 years ago.