Board Member and Chair, 2001 – 2010
I am a minister and educator in my profession. I came to Stonehenge Therapeutic Community in 2001 as a volunteer Director on the Stonehenge Board. I found my roles as Director and then Chair of the Board very meaningful, staying on the Board for three full terms. Over the nine years I served on the Board I lived though many experiences with the organization.
One particular Board meeting is deeply embedded in my memory. It lasted well into the night. I was the Chair at the time and we were faced with a financial shortfall with no new funding to run the Women’s program. Action had to be taken or the newly-opened Women’s Residential Program – The Century Home as it is fondly come to be known – would have to be closed. The big question was where could we cut expenses?
After 30 years of the Stonehenge residential program being co-ed, the women’s program had been moved from the rural site to the Century Home in 2002. Gender-specific programming was best practice. The new program was part of a 10-year strategic plan that involved purchasing the new site at 60 Westwood and opening a women-centered facility. The new program had been open less than a year. It was the right decision to separate the programs – the beds were full, the waitlist had doubled and women were successfully completing treatment with new skills in trauma management, parenting, empowerment and healthy relationship-building.
Someone in the meeting suggested that we close the women’s program. It was a sound financial decision that could quickly resolve the shortfall. The women could be sent back to the rural site. I remember a passionate debate from the members going well into the night. The Board-room windows face the lawn that stretches across to the Century Home. Most of the women were out on the porch – we realized they were watching us through the window. Closure had been a rumour.
We talked for hours to work toward consensus of the twelve Board members. Our discussion took us back to the roots that Dr. Dougan had instilled in the organization. We thought of the women; their courage, their commitment, and their hard work to change their lives. Late into the night, as a Board, we finally agreed to take a risk to keep the Women’s Program open and maintain the strategic progress we had achieved over the last 10 years. A unanimous motion was passed instructing the Treasurer of the Board to arrange for a significant line of credit with our bank. It was not an easy decision to take on debt, but it was the right decision.
I’m proud that the Board remained faithful to its principles and its purpose for the Women’s Program and did not yield to the urgent and pressing demand of solving a cash flow problem at the expense of the vulnerable.
This is just one of many moments I remember from my time on the Board. I have fond memories of the lasting relationships that we formed as we sat around that long table in the Board-room. Thanks to Dr. John Dougan, who had a dream to improve the quality of life for many people, and to all those who have nurtured that dream, now over 45 years, into the current Stonehenge Therapeutic Community.