By Kathy McGrath

When Lori Gagnon got involved with the CCRA several years ago, she didn’t realize her skills would soon come in very handy. As a seasoned marketing and fundraising professional, Lori was able to seamlessly take the lead in the CCRA’s recent fundraiser for the Tony Stacey Centre for Veterans Care.

Lori, who works as a regional manager with Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart charity, has worked in marketing and fundraising for 15 years. Prior to working for Jumpstart, she spent 10 years at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“When I heard about the $12,000 funding request (from Tony Stacey Centre), I saw the potential to engage the community,” she said. “The long-term care centres have been so ravished by COVID-19, I thought people would want to help in some way, but they might not know how.”

Lori suggested a strategy where the CCRA would match community donations to a total of $10,000. The idea was soon embraced by the executive committee and many members jumped on board to help. In the end, the campaign was so successful the CCRA had to pony up the 10 grand as part of the $23,000 raised. 

“I think the community trusts the CCRA as an entity,” said Lori. “We also had supporters like Councillor Jennifer McKelvie who stood behind us and helped amplify the message.”

For months Lori and her husband, who continue to work during the pandemic, have been caring full-time for their young daughters, aged 2 and 6. “It’s exhausting looking after two little people who can’t do much for themselves. You get so tired and in your own little world dealing with it all,” she said. Despite the extra demands on her time, Lori found the campaign to be energizing. “It was something I felt good about and I looked forward to checking the campaign tally and seeing the number go up.”

Lori and her husband moved to Centennial almost six years ago with their eldest child and a dog.  “My husband grew up in North Toronto and I’m originally from King City, which was a small town back then,” said Lori. The couple discovered the Centennial area while out on a drive one day.  The neighbourhood offered affordable homes close to the 401 and near the waterfront trail, which they found appealing.

Since moving here, Lori has made lots of friends through the neighbourhood Facebook groups.  “I’m probably a member of 10 or 15 different local groups with different interests – there’s an online platform for everything.” Since proximity to friends is important for young families, Lori said it’s great to have so many nearby.

Always a joiner, she first volunteered on Centennial’s Winterfest committee and eventually joined the CCRA as a member-at-large. She thinks volunteering is a great way to meet people and do something good for the community you live in. 

She thinks there is also a role for those who don’t have much time to commit. “We’ve had a couple of new faces that come and listen at the monthly CCRA meetings,” she said. “It’s a thing – you can go and listen and not be committed! 

“If you want to participate in the conversation, we welcome that too because it makes for a richer dialogue,“ she added.