Message From ONE Change Board President – Morgan Lanigan
Its been a big year.
In the history of ONE Change, it’s the biggest.
What started slightly more than a decade ago as a grassroots organization with a few bucks, great ideas, and a pile of passion has created a groundswell of support, motivation, and change in the Old North End. In fact, our bright and colourful new logo, which you’ll see plastered throughout this document and the Nick Nicolle Community Centre, drops the work ‘change’ altogether. “Change” what as once the initial aspirational goal of the organization, has happened in our neighbourhood. And it continues to change more and more everyday.
We’re taking on bigger and bigger projects.
We built an entire playground from scratch with our neighbours and our partners. It’s something almost unheard of when ONE Change first started but it’s our biggest project yet and it’s one of Saint John’s very few privately built and operated playgrounds. We saw a need for this in our community and rather than waiting and relying on others to build it for us, we, in true North End spirit, took the initiative and did it ourselves. We’ve never built a playground before, but we didn’t let that get in our way; we were going to get it done anyhow. I’ve never seen a community so proud and happy as the day the children from our neighbourhood cut the ribbon.
We’re growing our staff and volunteers and partners.
Taking on these projects requires a small army to pull them off but nothing attracts success like success. With a record 2000 volunteers and hundreds of partners this year to help us deliver our programs, services, and projects, people are starting to take notice –all around the world! – and are knocking down the door to find ways to partner with us and learn the secrets of our success. Everyone wants to be part of a “good thing” but managing such unparalleled success can be a challenge – just ask Barry! With that in mind, we’ve made a strategic decision to grow the size of staff to keep up with demand, to keep up our successful track record, grow the organization, …and to keep Barry sane.
We’re growing the financial capacity of the organization.
Annually, we receive core funding of roughly $150,000 to operate. That’s a big sum of money compared to where we started but we do even better than that. By pulling in grants and other sources of funding, we’ve been able to grow our budget to more than $400,000 this past year. But that’s not where it ends either. If our volunteers, who provided nearly 16, 000 hours of labour; were on our payroll and the donations and services we receive from our partners were converted to cash, ONE Change’s annual budget would be approaching $750,000 a year.
For every $1 that we receive in core funding we turn it into $7.50.
That’s an amazing return on investment and every dime of that investment goes back into the community so that our programs and services can be offered free of charge. I can’t tell you how much this figure blows my mind, yet most people wouldn’t guess an organization of our size and scope could be so successful year-over-year.
We’re growing the reach of the organization.
We’ve been so successful – more than 64, 000 people have been through our doors this year! – that we’re busting at the seams here in our space at the Nick Nicolle Community Centre and the Old North End in general. Our programs and services are expanding daily and are in such high demand that we’ve begun regularly welcoming folks from other north end neighbourhood, such as Douglas Avenue, Crescent Valley, Anglin Drive and the Rifle Range. We’re rapidly transforming from a tight-knit neighbourhood organization focused on a few square blocks to a regional organization taking care of the broader North End without losing our core focus…. and that’s where we’re focusing for the next year ahead. We’re not just focused on growth for the sake of growth, but growth to deliver better results for our residents and the North End. The former Lorne School building is a key component for our continued growth to deliver more and better programs and to sustain the ones we already have. Though I’d love to make a big announcement tonight, I can tell you that we’ve made some substantial moves forward in just the past few weeks and we hope that a positive outcome can be announced very shortly.
We’re making a difference.
Whether or not we succeed in our quest this year to expand the physical footprint and broader reach of our organization, we know that we’re making a difference every day. This year, the Nick Nicolle Community Centre won one of the highest awards for architecture in Atlantic Canada, the Lieutenant Governor’s Merit Award for Excellence in Architecture and was published in Canadian Architect, a magazine with national and international recognition. Though it is a wonderful building, the panel of judges made special note of the community’s exceptional participation in the process of designing the building from start to finish as the primary indicator of its success, not the design itself. That is a pretty powerful statement.
Though I’m particularly proud of this achievement being a member of the architectural design team, I don’t use this award as a means to boast about my day job. I pass this example along because a panel of random judges from around Atlantic Canada uninvolved in the project were able to easily recognize in the design the power of community empowerment and the pure essence of how ONE Change operates. That, for the judges, deserved exceptional recognition and recognized how rare this type of success is seen in the design of buildings, yet, it’s in our DNA – providing meaningful opportunities to be involved gives us control over our own destiny and our own lives, and builds an incredible sense of pride, ownership, and meaning. And that can change lives and change communities. You can see it everyday on the streets, hear the stories from our residents, and read their stories and praise of the difference that ONE Change makes in their daily lives.
I am so proud to represent this organization and so incredibly thankful to work with such passionate and dedicated staff, volunteers, partners, and residents. Without each of you, our successes would not be achievable but, together, our strengths are amplified to give us the confidence that we can make anything happen. Thank you for everything you’ve done this past year and for the exceptional years ahead of us.