Q&A with President & CEO
Passion, Relevance, Hard Choices
At the helm of the Hamilton Community Foundation for just a short time, Terry Cooke was asked to describe his initial observations and thoughts on HCF and the community.
What were your first impressions after being on the job for just 30 days?
TC: I have been extraordinarily impressed and moved by the passion of our staff, our donors and our community partners for the value and integrity that Hamilton Community Foundation represents to our community. I see people who give of themselves every day, who commit not only to a strong work ethic, but also to a sense of creativity and collaboration that surpasses virtually anything that I’ve witnessed in 25 years in either the private or public sectors. This is a remarkable group who are committed to a cause, which is the betterment of our community – that is a profound responsibility for me and it’s one that I take very seriously.
What are some of the immediate opportunities and challenges?
TC: We should be looking at opportunities to con- tinue to understand the needs, the assets and the challenges that exist in our community, to partner with others and identify additional ways in which the Foundation can be a catalyst for positive change on social issues, on the environment and with respect to our artistic and cultural community.
There are many challenges, not the least of which is that our community has a substantial number of needs. We’ll have to find a way to have more will than wallet, because making decisions about how we invest in the community means making hard choices. For the sake of our community, we have to continue to ensure that we are rigorously evaluating the outcomes and the deliverables of all of our investments.
– see Q&A, page 2
hayna Willis was a troubled teen just trying to get through each day. Facing an uncertain future with problems at
school and home, she has managed to turn her life around. She is now a top student studying to become a nurse and sees a bright future ahead with endless possibilities.
For this life-changing experience, Shayna credits NYA:WEH, a stay-in-school program for Aboriginal students. The program was launched by HCF in 2003 when two donors wanted to make life better for Aboriginal youth. Local Aboriginal leaders identified the critical challenge of reducing high school dropout rates.
School was not always easy for Shayna. She struggled academically and fought with other students. Home was equally difficult; family members grappled with addiction, and from age 12, Shayna had been raising her baby sister. “I was very troubled and doing a lot of things I shouldn’t,” she says. “I was just getting through each day.”
Eventually, Shayna was sent to a program for Aboriginal youth not attending high school, and for the first time achieved academic success. She returned to Sir John A. Macdonald as a NYA:WEH student, and embraced all aspects of the program, including tutoring, guidance and practical support.
– see A Promising Future, page 4
LEGACY • Spring 2010 Newsletter • Hamilton Community Foundation
Nursing student Shayna Willis realized the importance of staying focused and having a plan.
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