| Mar 05, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - March 5, 2009 Two new names for Rural VisionsBy Jeff Green

Central Frontenac Community Services, which serves the population of South Frontenac out of the Rural Visions Centre in Sydenham, will officially have a new name after their Annual General Meeting in June: Southern Frontenac Community Services.

This long awaited change will shed a name that is a hangover from pre-municipal amalgamation days.

Another change, one that took place a couple of weeks ago, should help the agency fit into a new era in delivering social services.

Deborah Andrews, an Ottawa based public administrator and consultant has taken on the role of Executive Director, a position that was left vacant when the founding Executive Director of the agency, Beth Freeland, resigned early last summer.

In an interview with the News this week, Deborah Andrews said she is extremely pleased that Kate Lett, who has served as interim director, will be able to return to her role as Manager, Business Operations and Human Resources with the agency.

Lett’s “corporate memory” will be particularly useful for Deborah Andrews, who will be working from home two days a week for at least the next few months.

Home, for Deborah Andrews, at least until the end of this school year, continues to be Nepean, in suburban Ottawa.

The move to a rural location is not accidental for her; it is the culmination of a decision-making process her family entered into when she saw the posting for the job on the Charity Village website late last summer.

“We were just back in Ottawa after a camping trip, and I said to my family, ‘What if we move to the country?’ They encouraged me to apply,” Andrews said. Her husband is an artist and musician so he can work almost anywhere, and they have three daughters, one of whom is still in school, so Deborah will be commuting from Nepean to Sydenham until the end of June.

Southern Frontenac Community Services provides some specific challenges, which Deborah Andrews is in a good position to address. She has over 20 years experience working in the not-for profit sector, and is familiar with not - for profit boards, both as a board member and as an Executive Director.

She has worked with youth and seniors, and earlier in her career she even worked in Children’s Aid, both in policy development and as a front line worker.

She also has a strong working knowledge of Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN), the two year old provincially mandated bodies that now oversee health care in the province. For the past two years, Deborah has been the project manager for a seniors’ initiative at the Champlain LHIN.

This experience could be very useful in managing the Southern Frontenac Community Services relationship with the South East Ontario LHIN, which is the largest funding source for the agency she now heads.

Community Support Services, which most people know as services for seniors; including diners’ clubs, adult day services, etc. “form a healthy majority of our funding,” Andrews said, “and we have just signed our agreement with the South East LHIN. We would have preferred more autonomy in terms of securing outside funding than is in the new agreement, but the LHIN people did prove to be flexible in terms of process. We can work with them.”

Deborah Andrews has several short and long term goals for the agency.

“The first order of business is to evaluate what exists now,” she said, “seeking efficiencies and ways for us to deliver services better. Additionally, I would like to see formalized case management.

“We would like to move forward in areas where there are identifiable gaps. For example, working with cognitively impaired adults. We have been approached by a local community agency that aims to serve this population, and we are exploring ways we can work together. Transportation is another area we need to focus on. I will be expending energy in that direction.

“As well, we would like to expand our licensed day care service, which is at capacity, by securing additional licensed homes in the community. I have a personal commitment to establishing youth services in Southern Frontenac.”

While Deborah Andrews has ambitious goals for Southern Frontenac Community Services she also realises that in spite of her years’ of experience and her knowledge of funding possibilities, she is the new kid on the block.

“In all this visioning you move like the proverbial tortoise, making sure that you engage the community, and that doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t come in and shake things up. I came here to observe, take note, and evaluate.”

She also is committed to fostering teamwork, both among her staff and the community as a whole.

In a statement of philosophy that she includes with her CV, she talks about her abiding commitment to community development, and says “I aim to deliver services through effective teamwork, with a focus on leadership, accountability, mutual respect and compassion.” 

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