Resilience. That is what 2021 was about. The resilience of our community, our staff and volunteers and our community leaders. 2021 continued with uncertainty, trial and errors and open and close challenges. Kinbridge staff proved to be resilient. They were not afraid of failing. They embraced the process of re-assessing, learning and leaning forward with hope to serve with community.
Relationships and engaging with community in person is fundamental to Kinbridge. Our Vision “Our neighbourhood is a community that is connected through relationships, is full of opportunities, celebrates diversity and provides a safe and inclusive environment” was being fulfilled in new ways. There were however many new challenges. Our committed work to EDI was put to the test. We began to internally challenge our Vision. We re-grouped often. Voices of community were being heard loud and clear. Truth and Reconciliation, Every Child Matters, Black Lives Matter, Islamophobia, Racism, White Supremacy and where do we come into play? What is our part? Overwhelming? Yes! We did not shrink back in silence. We spoke up supporting our neighbours. We began our internal work. We have committed to learning and understanding how we need to change and truly lean into our vision. This work will be the backbone and foundation as we move ahead.
Helm MSP INC continues to be instrumental in our ability to engage with our community and build relationships. They truly have remained committed to the purpose of our work. They have respected the uniqueness of each staff’s technology situations and responded. They listened and understood the need for community to have access to internet to engage not only with Kinbridge but school, family, groceries, medical care. They are serious about security and ensure we learn the pitfalls, how to be safe, what to watch for. Safety and risk management continues in our virtual space.
Our volunteers have begun to re-engage. Selflessly giving 3,547 hours of their time, caring and compassion. We are so grateful as we were able to celebrate with their help, children were able to enjoy breakfast with Santa in person. Our Leaders in Training supported safe in person summer camps. Our Board of Directors continued to put in extra time while navigating their own lives and realities. They continue to help to keep Kinbridge’s eye on the horizon, attending workshops, sitting on committees, engaging with opportunities.
Kinbridge intentionally invests in building its capacity for offering services. We know the uncertainty of the next two years will be our biggest challenge. Budgets will be challenging, there is going to be major system transformations. We are grateful for the trust of the City of Cambridge to be good stewards of our finances but also of our community. The Hallman’s investment of Kinbridge with General Operating Support dollars has proved to be a sound model for funding. The trust and use of discretionary funds enable us to invest in our staff, community and organization through the pandemic. We were able to keep staff meaningfully employed, engage with community as they needed and continue working with partners.
Accessing the various government emergency supports has shored our day to day work as well keep us looking at the bigger picture. We are also grateful for Cambridge and North Dumfries Community Foundation, United Way and KW Community Foundation, the Region of Waterloo, Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries; Ministry of Children and Youth Services; and our donors in working with us to support our investments, for their help in keeping us moving forward with community.
Kinbridge has been able to continue to work with and rely on key partners supporting our ability to be nimble, pro-active, and responsive in innovative ways. YouthForce operated at 100% with ability to begin investing in the development of a Social Enterprise for youth employment. Cambridge Neighbourhood Table is preparing to begin as community can come together again. We are broadening our collaborative with the City of Cambridge to engage Newcomer Youth and Seniors across the neighbourhoods, to learn and understand their needs to belong here. We are excited to grow our new partnership with the System Navigator Project with Family and Children Services.
The Board of Directors remain committed in their governance role, asking hard questions, conducting financial scenario planning, and looking deep at our own practices. They are committed to understand and learn the necessary changes in governance to ensure that our Association continues to be a vibrant partner in Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo and that our programs and services are relevant, accountable, and of high quality. The Board along with staff are committed to making change, to listen deeply to community, and look inward at our own systemic injustices and biases and be an active ally.
The unprecedented issues of homelessness, increased violence, addictions and food security continue to be further impacted and with increasing number of people. We will continue to address these challenging issues with our neighbours and partners. We will be utilizing our own data and the larger disaggregated data to work better, developing meaningful actions.
In closing, a huge thank-you is extended to all volunteers, staff, community members, partners and funders. We overcame barriers, both external and internal. We refuse to lose hope. We are focused on the horizon. None of the success that Kinbridge Community Association has achieved and will continue to achieve could happen without the dedication shown by everyone involved.
Kinbridge Community Association