By Kathy McGrath
Asking people for money is never easy – even if the money is used for a good cause. That’s why it takes a certain kind of person to canvass residents to join the CCRA, someone who is organized, honest and possesses great social skills.
Fortunately, we have that person in Denise Bacon, a local resident who volunteers to grow and manage CCRA memberships (which cost $15 per household for a year).
“In her role, Denise has to connect with residents and this is where she really shines,“ said CCRA President Kathy Rowe. “She is one of the most personable and upbeat people I know. When you are engaging with her, she makes you feel like you are the most important person in the room.”
Denise grew up in a large family in Scarborough, attending Winston Churchill Collegiate and then the University of Toronto at Scarborough where she studied commerce and economics.
Professionally, the mother of three worked in the banking industry for 20 years and then finished her career in the not-for-profit sector. She retired almost three years ago.
Denise and her husband Richard moved to Centennial 26 years ago with their young children in tow. “We were living further west in Scarborough and our street was getting busier,” she explained. “We wanted a street where we knew our kids would be safe playing outside. We had our eye on this area and when the opportunity came to buy here, we jumped on it.”
Denise has always been a joiner, whether participating in tennis, golf and women’s hockey or sitting on the boards of organizations.
When she attended a CCRA Annual General Meeting several years ago, it’s not surprising that she put her hand up to run the membership portfolio. You may have noticed she also writes regularly for this paper, which she believes is “the most tangible connection” many people have to the CCRA.
Two years ago, Denise reprised the door-to-door canvassing campaigns that had been dropped for a while. Residents at the door were informed about the CCRA’s role in the community, whether it’s protecting the neighbourhood from undesirable development, bringing people together with events or informing and entertaining them through the paper.
“The canvassing can be really rewarding,” she said. “We are selling something valuable to the community AND we get to meet people!” She said it’s not unusual for residents to chat with her on the porch for 15 minutes.
Of course, the challenge is finding fellow canvassers willing to knock on a stranger’s door and ask for money. “I know those two things are tough,” she said. “We also lose canvassers to illness or they move out of the neighbourhood.“
Overall, Denise finds many residents have every intention of joining the community association, but they just forget. This year, because of COVID, there was no door-to-door campaign and very few reminder signs were put on lawns. Instead, Denise sent personalized emails to members.
For those thinking of getting involved with the CCRA, Denise says, ”Please join us and feel the joy of belonging to something bigger than oneself.”