30 Donor Stories – Advocate and Donor

November 10, 2016

Non-profit organizations like Street Health, and the people we serve, benefit when individuals who provide a wide range of contributions including volunteering their time, talents and skills.

Street Health’s Board of Directors are community volunteers – people with a keen interest in what the organization is working to accomplish. They contribute in many ways and, along the way, commit themselves to learning and advocating for social change.

Board members with a variety of backgrounds and interests bring valuable skills and knowledge to Street Health’s governance activities. Michael T. has just completed his second term-of-office as a board member and has also been a Street Health monthly donor since 2003. A professional engineer by training, Michael felt compelled to expand his understanding of the challenges our clients face and did so by enrolling in courses at CAMH. “I wanted to understand the why and how of addiction on an individual’s life,” he remembers. “Volunteering at Street Health, led me to develop a much more reasonable approach, and understand why harm reduction is such an important part of the services offered. Street Health was among the earliest promoters of a harm reduction approach. When people can get what they need to protect themselves, they are taking responsibility for their well-being. This enables incremental progress, and is so vital.”

As a former Board Member, some of the biggest challenges Michael remembers include working with new government structures, like the creation of the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TC-LHIN). Michael was a devoted participant from the start of the community meetings and his involvement continues in public citizen meetings. “Government funding bodies can sometimes be susceptible to rationalizing that community-level partners are able to “get by with less”, through passing costs on to users, merging organizations, or some other kind of cost defrayment thinking,” comments Michael. “We need to ensure that we are lifting up all members of our community, rather than putting pressure on community services that may result in essential programs being limited or even cut.”

Street Health has benefited for years from Michael’s input. As he bid us farewell, he reflects on his time with us: “Street Health has always been forward thinking in listening to clients. And then hiring staff with the professionalism and experience to support those with addictions and mental health issues. With government, foundation and individual donor support, Street Health will continue to provide effective ways to support people with addictions and mental health issues. Street Health has been doing this for the past 30 years and I couldn’t be more proud to support this organization with my financial donations and contributing my time.”

10b-visual-advocate-and-donor

Street Health Board of Directors, 2016.   
Michael T.: back row, second from the right.