Community Comments – IV League
Lynda, a retired Registered Nurse, has always enjoyed trying to better the lives of individuals. Volunteering has been an integral part of this. She has been involved with countless initiatives from working with the homeless to advocating on women’s issues. One of her most recent volunteer endeavours is her work as a member of the Fenelon Falls Age Friendly Committee.
“As a group we have made a positive contribution to our community by working with community partners on such things as accessibility, Family Doctors and laboratory services, appropriately located disabled parking spaces, and benches in our community”.
We heartily welcome new members to our meetings as we work on new initiatives.
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The United Way for the City of Kawartha Lakes could not celebrate volunteerism in the community without giving special mention to Bill Huskinson.
Bill has dedicated half his life to community development and has had a hand in countless initiatives, which has had a major impact on many lives and on the very infrastructure of the region.
Mr. Huskinson is no stranger to poverty and hardship. Originally from Alberta, Canada, his family moved to Ontario in 1937 by train during The Great Depression. Unemployment was high, so his family was fortunate to secure construction work in Gananoque, and was responsible for building the original scenic route of Highway 401 in the 1000 Islands region. His family camped and lived off the land along the work site for 3 years without running water or transportation.
In addition to his long career as a Firefighter and with the railroad, Mr. Huskinson became more involved with volunteering when he moved to Lindsay in the 1950s. His earliest volunteer position was as an Assistant Scout Master with the Royal Canadian Legion, where he was able to pass on knowledge and experience to youth. His work with the Fire Department and exposure to emergencies made him aware of the health of the community and more sensitive to issues of poverty and accessibility.
As a former hockey player, he began coaching 10-11 year old boys. One particular boy’s lack of money to get equipment to play made him realize how poverty affected youth in the community.
When Ron Kennedy, the original founder of the Boys & Girls Clubs in Lindsay, Valmay Barkey, and Mr. Huskinson teamed up through the Queen Street United Church, they became a community building force.
In the 1980’s Bill began fundraising for the Cancer Society, where he had the opportunity to network with influential members of the community. It was also during this period that he became involved with the Lilac Gardens of Lindsay. In addition, Bill served as the President of the Board of Directors for The United Way for the Kawartha Lakes from 1983 to 1985.
In 1997, Bill helped organize the Victoria Social Planning Council, which conducted the first collaborative needs analysis for the Kawartha Lakes region. The group consisted of nurses, social agency professionals, academics, to name just a few. Trent University students published the first study ever conducted on local transportation, accessibility, and housing. The initiative made Mr. Huskinson realize the important role politics play to be successful in community work.
In 1971 the concept of forming Lifeline Telecare began with other members of the Queen Street United Church. For 42 years the organization provided non-judgemental emotional telephone support with trained volunteers helping countless members of the community. The United Way was a proud funder and supporter of the organization almost since its inception. The centre shut its doors December 2014. The commemorative Lifeline Telecare quilt proudly hangs in Mr. Huskinson’s home that serves as a reminder of his good work. He stresses that much of his success was in his ability to develop strong teams that could make a large impact.
Bill is highly motivated to make a difference in the community because he has a strong vision of what a community should be, including his commitment to the United Church and fulfilling his spirituality. When asked if he had any advice for future community development professionals, Mr. Huskinson stated, “Networking makes a tremendous difference. Without it you’re nothing”. For the younger generation he has this advice, “Be courageous! Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Welcome the journey wherever it goes”.
These days Mr. Huskinson enjoys spending more time in his garden watching the hummingbirds. However, he is still actively volunteering in the community twice a month. He remains busy with his work on the Kawartha Highlands Presbytery of the United Church and Accessibility Advocacy Taskforce for the City of Kawartha Lakes. His primary focus is making public facilities and businesses compliant with new building code standards and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which aims to improve the lives of those who have mobility barriers.
Mr. Huskinson’s tireless work in the community has enhanced the lives of many and has had a significant impact on the social fabric of the City of Kawartha Lakes.
The importance of volunteers and their contribution to the community cannot be understated.
Dana has been volunteering for 15 years, and has been helping us here at the United Way for the City of Kawartha Lakes for over 2 years. Despite transportation and physical challenges, she has dedicated countless hours to advocacy work, fundraising events, telephone support, and clerical tasks. She also holds 2 Board of Directors volunteer positions. She is committed to helping people in the community and making Lindsay a better place to live.
Dana is motivated to volunteer because she wants to give back to the agencies and community who helped her when she experienced difficulties in her own life. She credits volunteering to meeting great people and building job skills and references. ‘’Volunteering keeps me busy. Staying active improves my health and keeps my mind focused on positive things.’’