ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
AGM June 17, 2019
Interim Executive Director's Report
Welcome and thank you all for coming to Daybreak's AGM.
I'd like to thank Lauren, Stephanie and Michelle for putting their faith and trust in me to take over as the interim ED. For those that do not know I was appointed on a 4 month contract in mid February to take over as the interim ED and for those doing the math in the head then the time is nearly up!
I'd like to thank Etienne and Cathy from the City of Ottawa, perhaps not for their visit on my first day when I literally hadn't a clue what was going on! But for their assistance and support throughout my tenure.
When I started we had 14 vacancies at our houses, as of 1st June we will have 1. This has been a fantastic effort by Brodie, our HSW/Property Manager. For the first time in Daybreak's history we have had to develop a new document called a 'waiting list'! Again great work by Brodie. We've had a lot of work to do for the City and without Amanda's, our Office Manager's assistance this would not have been possible.
I’d like to think the time I’ve spent here has been productive and has helped to improve Daybreak as an organisation. When I commenced as well as getting a ‘welcome’ from the City I realised that there were certain aspects of the organisation that needed to be addressed. I’ve already mentioned the vacancy rate which was shocking. We met with the Ottawa Housing Registry to discuss and find out if there was anything we could do differently and learned that there was. From my point of view and I believe moving ahead it is vital for my position to be actively involved in all aspects of the work. As a result I found myself immersed in interviews, reference checks, lease signings and showing rooms to potential residents. I think it’s so important that when we bring people into our houses that it’s an exciting time for all, this is a huge move for some of our residents and I’d like to think moving ahead we can only make the ‘moving in experience’ better for the residents.
Since my arrival we’ve introduced a new lease, lease violation notice, arrears notice, incident reports, a guide to suicide and crisis intervention, trespass notice, bilingualism policy, an intake procedure and other enthralling material but totally necessary if we want to run an efficient and professional organisation. With my law enforcement background I saw it necessary to have some kind of order in the houses and consequences for any negative behaviour whether that be anti social conduct or not paying their rent. There has to be a consequence and as mentioned I’ve introduced a form for all such cases.
The staff were trained on SPDAT as required by the City and we will be following the CHPI contract moving a head. Staff have also had training in AODA, and mental health programs, provided on line and by the city.
Thanks again to the City, I’ve been put into contact with agencies such as Elizabeth Fry, Montfort Renaissance, Ottawa Housing Registry and the Landlord Partnership Program. Meeting their Directors and ED’s was important to assess what they were doing that we were not. Many of their best practices I have used to develop greater professionalism at Daybreak.
I’ve made it a point from week 1 to get to the houses as much as I could. Again I think it’s important that the houses see a daybreak presence often, not so much for support but to keep on top of house behaviour and repairs. From interactions with the residents I know that they appreciate visits and are mostly always eager to talk.
I delivered a Daybreak questionnaire to all residents. The questionnaire comprised of approx. 30 questions requesting feedback on the services that we provide whether it be property, office or case management related. I received approx. 50% in return and of those 90% were positive.
Negative comments I’ve already addressed with the staff to see if there are any ways we can improve the services we offer.
In late 2018 we received a grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation for The Real You program. The Real You is based not far from our ladies house so made interaction easy and accessible. What the Real You will provide for us is a 12 week, 1 hr a week program focusing on nutrition, healthy living, exercise, cooking stress etc. This is a fanatic opportunity and on this occasion we will focus on the residents at Piccadilly, our ladies’ house. Logistically it makes sense. Last week I held a meeting with The Real You and then the ladies to gauge interest and received an excellent response. The Real You will use our boardroom and kitchen facilities and Amanda, will be our office representative, taking full advantage of the program. The hope is that Amanda will then use the knowledge, in the future, to benefit our other residents and houses.
This week we are interviewing for our two Canada Summer Jobs positions. One of which will be a property assistant and I hope will be able to assist Brodie rectify all out outstanding maintenance issues…...The other will be an office assistant and will assist Amanda with all her deliverables.
Brodie successfully applied for a Home Depot grant late last year and received a very generous amount for painting supplies. We also received a donation from Wellington BIA for a fridge freezer for our Piccadilly property. I’ve already mentioned that I’ve made a point of visiting our properties and that leads me on to the subject of donations and supplies (and it won’t be the last time in this speech)! We really do need assistance in the likes of purchasing blinds, curtains, some basic furniture. Amanda has some great ideas about pushing for donors to contribute to a program by using an Amazon gift list of buying blinds or buying furniture. Let’s hope we can get that off the ground this year.
I'm not naive, I've worked for 30 years. 10 years as a police officer in England and 20 years running a counter terrorism program for the US government but in the 3 and a bit months that I've been here I've genuinely for the first time in the work place felt as if I have made a difference to the residents old and new who are part of the Daybreak family. Our residents are with us for a reason, they require our services. I've learned a lot about mental health, drug addiction and the impact of how a dysfunctional family can impact a child right into adulthood. So by meeting, talking, assisting, listening to our residents it has given me a far greater appreciation of the needs of society in general. I met one of the residents on the street last week as I was shopping with my wife. I introduced him and he made a point of telling my wife that he will have been clean for a year at the end of June. I have had this man tell me this same thing on three or four occasions in the last few weeks. It is a goal which he is determined to achieve, that much is evident, he is so proud that he's made it this far.
I've very much enjoyed the experience and found it quite humbling.
Daybreak needs your help, we are a non profit organisation. The costs to repair our houses are significant. Our board is working tirelessly to raise funds in order to sustain our housing model. Our staff are working tirelessly to keep the standards high at our 5 houses and that's not easy when you have up to 46 people living in shared housing. You can imagine the issues that houses face in order to maintain harmony!
Since it’s founding in 1982, Daybreak has doubtlessly gone through many phases. We have focused our efforts on making sure our foundation is sturdy, and solid and built to take us through, and in one short year we are making tremendous progress. There are some key measures that I use for success: Are we doing the right job? Are we doing our jobs well? Are we making a difference that counts? Are we doing it from the heart?
We are doing the right job. Ottawa is still well into the fight to end homelessness. As long as there is one person without a roof over their head, and without link to resources to support independent living, there will be a need for Daybreak.
We are now doing our jobs better than ever. We have relied heavily on our interim Executive Director, whom has been working closely with our staff. Within a very short period of time Daybreak has put in place the foundational procedures and processes that has turned our operations around, as seen by our low vacancy numbers, improvements to reporting, and numerous examples of how we are becoming more proactive in our operations. These changes have been made in a way that are sustainable. Richard, we owe you a deep debt of gratitude.
Are we making a difference that counts? We track and measure our progress in many ways, including vacancies, intake, departures, length of stay. The most important measure is the feedback we hear from a resident who tells us that they could not have made it without us. That is the feedback that keeps us going.
Are we doing it from the heart? Our Board of Directors are a committed and hardworking. As President, it has been an easy task, as we are all in this together, and I have been personally overwhelmed by the intellectual capacity, energy, responsiveness and the selflessness of our Board. Given all the ups and downs of this transitional year, this volunteer Board has been fully engaged. Every decision is driven by two questions. What is best for our residents? And how will decisions affect our staff? Those are the two questions that we have guided us in the past, and those are the questions that will continue to guide Daybreak into the future.
During the past year, we have taken a thoughtful and considered look at our organization, had several strategic planning sessions, and have gone back to the basics – reinforcing our foundation. We are ramping up our fundraising and streamlining our management structure. We have enhanced our governance practices, including new evaluation processes; improved our reporting processes; improved financial management practices; improved our ability to bring on new residents in a timely manner; maintained new rigorous human resources assessment processes; and developed multi-faceted plans for our long-term sustainability, including developing new relationships to support our long-term goals for growth and expansion.
I would like to extend my personal thanks to our Board members, our staff, and the support of the staff of the City of Ottawa, for your support over the last year.
It is with great optimism for the future of our small but mighty organization, that I respectfully present to you this report.
AGM May 29, 2018
Registration at 5:45 PM, proceedings start at 6:00 PM in the Councillors Lounge, City Hall.
Presidents Report below.
Our strategic plan identified 2017 as a year of stabilization.
We worked hard to confirm our new vision; to empower staff in their work, realign our housing to accommodate more tenants and define our position on LGBTQ2S with an excellent study and report.
Our vision promotes our homes as transition housing, providing our tenants with customized programming to address their individual needs. Success for Daybreak is when a resident reaches her or his full potential in our caring environment.
We continue to struggle to find women without children to occupy our home. Unfortunately, we were forced to close our Gloucester location to women and reopened it to men. The affected women moved on to
independent living or to our Piccadilly home.
At the last year’s AGM, we announced that we had received a grant to research and report on the homeless LGBT2Ss in our community. The report was completed and received by the board in November. The study confirmed the need for independent living in supportive housing for the LGBT2S in our community in a safe and accepting environment. We are using the findings in the report to help us explore the next steps in supporting this community.
One word will resonate for some time with the Daybreak family and that word is bedbugs. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of Daybreak for their commitment to the eradication of these pests. They never gave up (but thankfully the bedbugs did). These bugs took a toll on our tenants who were seriously inconveniences and I thank them for their outstanding patients.
The board, staff and tenants continue to get together several times a year to mingle and celebrate. Our summer BBQ and a Christmas dinner with Santa, open to all Daybreakers, supported by staff and the board are well attended and appreciated.
It is fitting that we celebrate this 35th year as a milestone to demonstrate it’s not about the Daybreak we’ve been, it’s about the Daybreak we’re going to be, an agency whose cause is to house all homeless adults in need.
We have once again started house dinners. Every few months board members and staff cook dinner for and eat with the tenants. They spend a few hours socializing and getting to know each other. Reports are positive, and we plan to continue these worthwhile socials.