Working toward a better future

“Sixty people who live and work in Dundas County gathered at the Christian Reformed Church in Williamsburg on November 18, 2011, to map out some strategies and concrete steps to make our communities more resilient in the face of increasing poverty, and to create a sustainable future for all of us in Dundas County.”

This is the first paragraph in a report made by representatives of the House of Lazarus Community Outreach Mission Linking Hands Project, initiators of the forum.

As a result of the forum, six working groups were set up, each with a coordinator and a first meeting date.

On March 20th, the working group for “Access to Basic Health Care Needs,” coordinated by Lynn Richards, met in Winchester. 

Invited speaker, Muriel Milne, secretary for the United Senior Citizens of Ontario, talked about the advocacy work her organization is involved in, specifically on access to basic health care.

Going forward, this working group plans to show the film “Poor No More.” In addition, they intend to continue gathering information on where Dundas County might have gaps in terms of access to basic health care needs.

On March 22nd, the working group for “Community Connectivity,” coordinated by Cathy Ashby, took place in Morrisburg.

They discussed business from their last meeting, refined their Terms of Reference, and made plans going forward.

Discussion revolved around information databases in terms of what’s out there now and what still needs to be done. The group discussed creating a new ‘database’ versus working with what is currently out there.

The group was keen to promote “211”. According to their website at www.211ontario.ca, “211 is a three-digit phone number and website that provides information and referral to community and social services in Ontario.”

 Going forward, the group hopes to work with the two municipalities, North and South Dundas, to link both “211” and the Linking Hands website to the township websites. 

In addition, they’re hoping to have the online community calendar for each township website refined and updated with information for residents.

A follow-up meeting was set for mid-May following the Homelessness Maze event in Iroquois on May 9th.

The “Strategies for Increasing Participation in Physical Activities” working group, coordinated by Lynn Richards met for a second time on March 27th in Williamsburg where they heard from the developers of the South Dundas Charter for Active Living, Stephanie Caissie of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and Ben Macpherson, Recreation Program Coordinator for South Dundas.

The “Access to Transportation” working group, coordinated by Nanda Wubs, met initially on February 24th where they welcomed Robert Dupuis and Harry Gow, both of whom had experience creating and running non-profit transportation services for rural communities.

Following the meeting, Wubs said the group’s next step is to “continue investigating other models of transportation networks, send out a survey to agencies to determine current transportation ‘stock’ and to the community to do a transportation needs assessment.” 

The two remaining working groups will meet in May. 

The “Access to Safe, Nutritious, Primarily Local Food” group, coordinated by Dana Kittle, will hold their meeting on May 11th at the South Nation Conservation Authority in Finch. 

The “Economic and Entrepreneurial Development and Training” group, coordinated by Ed DiZazza, will also meet in May, but at the South Mountain Library Resource Centre. 

The group is currently working on a website for the project. The address is www.linkinghandsdundas.ca. 

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