I’ve been writing for Whats Up Yukon over the last couple of months discussing the birth of my longtime dream – Cycle to Walk – and its growth over time. Today I will talk about recruiting the right mix of people to launch forward and make things happen.
Although I’m still quite young, I’ve had the privilege of working on several boards of directors. I was president of the student union at Confederation College in Thunder Bay and, in the Yukon, I worked with several others: the Yukon Council on Disability, Recreation and Parks Association of the Yukon, Mediation Yukon and the Yukon Society Toward Accessible Recreation and Sport (Yukon S.T.A.R.S.).
On a national level I’ve served the Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability, the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball Association and the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association.
I have worked in several areas of the Government of Yukon’s Health and Social Services Department and, most recently, I was a counsellor at Employment Central.
My combined experiences have taught me that goals must be approached with a plan. A well laid-out plan acts like a map that guides us to our end goal: success.
Dr. Allon Reddoch and I knew that to be successful we needed to bring in the right people who could work together and help spread Cycle to Walk’s important message: We must not waver in the fight against polio … eradication is within sight.
Allon and I had lengthy conversations about the goals of the Cycle to Walk and we eventually whittled them down to three objectives: polio eradication, education and rehabilitation.
We then looked at the people around us and found a fantastic group of interested people just through connections in our personal lives and throughout the Rotary Community.
These people collectively bring the skills needed to accomplish our goals and we now have a team that’s skilled in the areas of leadership, communications, financial management, community engagement, First Nations engagement, government engagement, fundraising, sponsorship and media relations.
By using the combined professional expertise of these individuals, Allon and I now had a hard-working group that could be formed as the Ramesh Ferris Cycle to Walk Society.
When it came time to develop the campaign map and route, I asked my friend, Bob Lorimer, who has plenty of experience working on boards and developing long-term strategic, work and risk management plans.
Then, with all these leaders on the board, I needed one strong individual to bring everyone onto the same page. I went straight to my friend, mediation consultant Mal Malloch.
To this very day, Mal teases me because, when I was nine years old, I went to his house collecting donations for the Catholic Church’s food drive for Mary House. Mal immediately asked if my father knew I was out collecting food for the Catholics, which was quite funny because my father was the Anglican Bishop of Yukon.
I share this story about Mal in particular because it turns out those folks who drink coffee after church and talk to your parents end up being great friends who help out great causes after all.
It’s amazing to see how Cycle to Walk has grown just because of friends and neighbours in the community.
The following people are the reason the Cycle to Walk can happen: Lois Craig, Elaine Smart, Fred Smith, Richard Oviatt, Al Chisholm, Audrey Mclaughlin , Doug Jansen, Carmen Gibbons, Valerie Royal, Carmen Ingram, Bob Lorimer, Mal Malloch, Mary Reddoch, Doug Ayers, Kate Brent and Bonnie Venton-Ross.
There’s still much to accomplish, but with the right team and the right mindset, anything is possible. We now have a dream, a strong volunteer base with professional expertise, Society Status, leadership, vision and a strategic plan mapping out our direction.
Please read next time when I will talk about volunteer exhaustion and the fine art of pitching my dream to governments, local businesses and corporations.
Ramesh Ferris is a polio survivor who will hand-cycle across Canada starting April 10, 2008 to raise funds and awareness for Polio Eradication, Education and Rehabilitation. For more information, contact him at 668-5826 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.cycletowalk.com.