Richard Williams is once more taking on the role of Vice President. Richard has three children (two daughters and a son) and is married to PCCL’s Communications Director, Alyssa. He can often be seen walking around the neighborhood with his dogs. Having been with the league from its restoration, we wanted to know more about Richard's thoughts and what changes he's seen. Check it out:
Tia: What do you do as an occupation?
Richard: I work for the provincial government - Ministry of Culture and Tourism providing corporate services; mainly business planning, research, and performance measurement.
T: That sounds compelling!
R: Yes, it also covers providing support to the nonprofit sector at a provincial level. The work ties closely with community grants for cultural festivals and expanding tourism-related development and activity. I get involved measuring sectors and their importance, as well as the performance through programs and services. I also look at things are changing and trends. I thought I work in this role…. maybe I should join in with the community league. You know, think globally, act locally. I moved to the community in the summer of 2010, so when the AGM in 2011 came around, Martin Bundred (the previous president of PCCL) encouraged me to come along.
T: He seems to connect a lot of people here.
R: He does. He did a lot to get the community league going again after it was disbanded. Without his efforts, I don`t think we would be where we are today. We used to chat a lot and he knew I was moving to the area and invited me along to the AGM. When I turned up and he was like: “Do you want to be Vice President?”. Then from there working with Martin and a small board, we tried to get the league going again. I have helped as Vice President ever since and am the second longest serving current member on the board (after Margaret). During the years (as the Vice President), due to the small board, I was also trying to cover Communications, Memberships, Civics, and hall rental coordination.
T: How did you manage that?
R: I wasn’t particularly successful compared to the standard we now operate at, but enough to keep it going. It was a good realization for me in terms of growing the league; how you need to be working in every area to be successful and grow in a balanced way. There have been studies about what builds community and they point to three top things: how friendly a community is, how aesthetically pleasing it is, and how many community offerings there are. We tried to bring that into the league`s approach.
We also had the good fortune of Deb coming forward to volunteer as Treasurer, Sebastian to approach the board about presenting CreArt programs and events, and Michelle (Hayduk) offering to enhance communications. Martin and Chris (Wagner) had just completed the renovation of the reception room (the hall was looking very 1980s in style) and we wanted to make the building more appealing to users. Michelle led a community project to build those fabulous murals that appear on the front of the building, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the hall and involving residents in creating. We also had local resident Luisa (Magnan) offer to start a collective kitchen program (despite our dated looking kitchen).
I remember though…. we were doing all these things …. yet still struggling to get more people involved. For a few months, we had no membership requests. Turns out, the company hired to produce the website had some coding and email details wrong, so no requests were coming through! That was how we met Larry.
Larry was one of the people trying to buy a membership, but struggling because of our system. It was how we found out about it and corrected it. I went to meet him (sold him a membership) and learned about his previous involvement with the league (which was years earlier and immense). Larry started coming to meetings and not long after that, we decided to hire a facilities manager. One of the trends identified as a challenge with voluntary nonprofit boards is becoming more professional. We needed to figure out how to become more professional.
We had just completed the kitchen renovation by this stage (to support the collective kitchen) and that project almost broke our capacity. It was here where Larry really helped us in the area of facilities and maintenance. We then carried on running renovation projects with Deb and Larry, who oversaw the renovation of the main hall and building. This was very successful and enhanced the demand for rentals, which in turn, helped us provide more programs and events.
By that time, Katharine (Laurie) had also joined the board and took memberships and outreach to a whole new level. I think really helped us engage with residents more than we had before. We also had Sebastian leading the Ravine Mural Art Project (https://www.parkdalecromdale.org/blog/2018/6/7/interview-with-pccls-programs-director), which was enormous in beautifying and establishing the wider neighborhood. With this, news began to spread about what was happening with the programs and the fun things we’ve got going on. We continued to grow as a board and it was so exciting to see talented people in the community using their skills to support us, such as Alyssa (Miller) with communications and Theresa (Garskey) as secretary. It was about this time that the Community Garden group started with Kevin, Steven, and Tamie working hard to bring community building initiative forward, while volunteering in board positions. The garden group has also been successful in engaging people in the league and continuing to beautify the building. I think at the last AGM we had a number of garden group members attend. Now here we are today, with a sizeable board and employing one staff and two summer students to help us do and achieve more! It’s another move to make us more professional and better at what we do.
Bryce: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
R: I think the ability to stop time. *Laughs* There’s always things to do! Whether it be city development plans, civic issues, and finding out about all the good events happening in the community. I’d like to stop the clock and go to all of them.
B: Give all that you’re doing with the NDC and the Vice President, etc...it sounds like you already have that superpower.
T: Yes! You just don’t know it yet.
B: If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?
R: I think for me it would be to get a better grasp of all the things we need to do to support other board members and community members in their plans. How to keep growing in a balanced way and how to help people take forward their ideas. I’m excited to see this new energy come in and Kevin as president. I’ll be happy to play a supportive role. I’m also looking forward to seeing more from the CreArt program and how Sebastian uses his limitless energy to form so many great ideas here. There are many programs to be proud of; the garden club taking off and the collective kitchen too. It seems to be that gardening, cooking, and partying is the way to create community. *Laughs*
B: We just found your new slogan!
B: What do you enjoy most about being a part of the community league?
R: I think it’s the friendliness. Whenever I go out I always see someone I know and I feel there is a good network of supportive people in this community. A set of people you can genuinely rely on, and that’s an important part of community building. It’s being in a place where you feel welcomed.
We believe that Richard will continue to be a great resource for PCCL and we thank him for the time he took to share with us.