Welcome to our February Member Spotlight! Each month we will highlight and promote one Planned Giving Council member to our online audiences. If you are interested in being featured, please send us an email.
Lorna Tomlinson has been the Executive Director of Wendat Community Programs for over 27 years. Originally majoring in Gerontology within her Social Work degree, Lorna spent the first thirty years of her career working in community mental health services. Having come full circle, Lorna and Wendat now have a dual focus which includes services to persons with a mental illness and services to seniors. Their latest project is the construction of one of Ontario’s first truly affordable, assisted living facilities for low income, frail seniors.
You can find out more about Lorna or contact her through:
Q1:What is your profession?
I am a social worker by training, working in administration of charitable organizations for the past 35 years.
I wanted to be a math teacher, having excelled in this subject throughout high school. At that point in time, I was a landed immigrant (born in Dublin Ireland and having emigrated in 1961 from England to Canada), and the requirement for Teachers College was that you must be a Canadian Citizen. I couldn’t become a citizen until age 21, so in discussing career options with my high school Guidance Counsellor she recommended I consider the Social Work program at Ryerson, given my long family history of careers in the helping professions. And so I did.
The great variety of tasks and opportunities that are presented to me every day are challenging, rewarding and keep life interesting — and of course that moment when someone says “you really helped me.” Sometimes that comes from a person receiving service or their family member, and some times it comes from a colleague or another sister agency. Whatever the source, it always makes my heart glow.
I work for a small charitable organization. It took us 20 years of fundraising to reach the $1 million milestone of dollars raised through fundraising because we do not have a person dedicated to this function. It’s something we fit in on top of our day jobs. Shortly after achieving this fund raising goal, a regular donor passed away and left our organization just over $1 million in his will. This was indeed my favourite planned giving moment. We had no idea the agency was included in the donors will. In one moment, our total life-time fundraising achievement doubled. This significant bequest became the foundational gift for a $3.2 million capital campaign to build affordable assisted living for 23 frail seniors of low income (which is now under construction).
I have to say my favourite charity is Wendat Community Programs in Midland. In spite of working there myself, this organization never ceases to amaze me. They lead the way in best practices, have received international recognition for excellence in service delivery, and have a remarkable ability to stretch a dollar, often getting 2-3 bangs for every buck. Wendat has been able to attract highly qualified professional staff, many of whom left much better paying positions to join the Wendat team. There is a family atmosphere within the agency (we celebrate everyone’s achievements, weddings, births and birthdays, graduations and we share their sorrows with caring) which lends itself to a very supportive work environment.