Hailey Hechtman: Reflecting on 2021 and Looking to 2022
2021 was a year of great change for Causeway defined by creative thinking, learning, working together and community building.
Over the course of the year we, like all organizations in our city and across the country, continued to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic. We started the year operating fully virtually and doing our very best to continue providing quality supports to the people accessing our programs. We worked to meet people where they were at responding to their needs by increasing our community supports mental wellness outreach and by maintaining connection by phone, virtually, or in cases of high-need, in-person appointments.
Like many businesses, Causeway’s social enterprises adapted to meet all safety protocols and were able to keep their teams working throughout the year. This allowed us to continue providing our clients with hours of employment and the opportunity to build their skills and gain work experience. Due to the reduction in catered events in the city, Krackers focused on providing meals to community organizations through Cooking for a Cause as well as piloting a virtual Community Kitchen project. Cycle Salvation limited the number of people in their shop and turned to providing curbside services and creating an online appointment system. Good Nature Groundskeeping was able to go full steam ahead during their season because the work was outdoors and kept properties mowed and maintained. In May 2021, we launched our newest social enterprise, Causeway Commercial Cleaning. Since it launched, we hired a dedicated team to offer deep cleaning and sanitization services to businesses and offices.
Our employment services and Solutions for Youth program have been busy navigating the changing labour environment. They focused on helping people learn new ways of applying for work online, preparing for and attending virtual interviews, and connecting with local businesses to help them fill empty positions with great candidates. At the heart of it all, Causeway’s employment teams have been tireless advocates of the importance and benefits of inclusive hiring. Our Needle Hunters program added new routes to provide more people with employment and to keep our communities cleaner and safer. Our wellness program, while closed for a large portion of the year, was able to encourage clients to keep being active by participating in outdoor walks, hosting virtual exercise classes, and assisting our Homes for Special Care program with fun physical activities for the residents.
Through the increased availability of Covid-19 vaccines, we have welcomed a return to in-person supports over the last few months. This gave us an opportunity to build deeper connections with our clients, leading to employment, engagement and positive feelings of hope for the future.
Collaboration and Partnership
2021 has also been an incredible year of collaboration with community organizations. We worked together with organizations to apply for joint projects, linking programs, and built pathways for people to access the services they need. Partnerships like these are inherently important to create a community of support for people experiencing barriers since most systemic issues are interconnected. Causeway’s participation in the United Way Eastern Ontario Community Response Table earned us and our colleagues across the region a community builder award. By working together, we have been able to support people experiencing a number of different challenges. With this in mind for the New Year ahead, we can work to address the complexity of needs in our community by focusing on innovative and partnership-driven thinking.
Looking to the Future
This year we’ve been thinking beyond the moment and into the future of Causeway. We have taken some time this year to reflect on how our efforts impact people now and how we can change to increase our impact in the future. We looked to the people who make up the Causeway community and participated in team-building activities, shared our knowledge and expertise across the agency and with our community partners, and are working with our clients to develop a plan that will help us create our future together.
2022 will be the year of putting into action what we’ve learned. The year of canvassing the voices of those we have engaged in our programs and those who have yet to walk through our doors. The year of building bonds with employers and local businesses to help them meet their hiring needs while opening doors for inclusion and accessibility for all. The year of amplifying the incredible work that is happening in the community and working alongside our partners to create innovative solutions from a multi-lensed perspective. The year of celebrating our team here at Causeway who has been through a lot of change and has demonstrated such resilience, adaptability and most of all, passion for turning problems into possibilities. The year of creating a future that breathes and lives of our vision of a community where everyone is invaluable. Together.