International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, York Region

Winter shelters closed now. Men in Y.R. use 26 beds in a pop of 1,000,000
Oct 17 is International Day for The Eradication of Poverty. Join us for York Region's representative 2014  event at Newmarket's Riverwalk Commons, 200 Doug Duncan Dr., outside The Lions Hall, simultaneously being held alongside  events around the world to draw attention to those in poverty at home and abroad.

The Newmarket Day will feature an
"Open Mic", offering opportunities to those with messages about poverty to share them. The first part of the 7-10pm running evening will include some personal stories from lived experience or those who have witnessed it, followed by a focus on world poverty.

Speakers to include PACC Chair Tom Pearson, Displaced Farmer Sam Orrico, Bill Kukulewich, long time tenant's and income rights advocate as well as Council

candidate who unveils his 7 point plan to END HOMELESSNESS!

Speakers and performance artists wishing to participate can contact us here and join the event on Facebook.

Fri Oct 17 support an end to poverty - Award winning one minute video
Booked in also is Poet, David Rogers, who will be available for signings / sales of his book of poems, "The Dark Road", which acts as a type of therapy for those fighting addictions / mental health issues, including depression. David's true to life experiences are replicated through his poetry, resonating and cutting through to many so afflicted. Signed Books are $15. 50% sales to PACC.

Mike Thornhill youth award winner Jason Baulch will also receive his recognition award and serves as an example of youth and positive action as well Jazzled Youth COO Wendy Marais will also make some information available about new youth initiatives and educational scholarship opportunities.

The plight of displaced Markham Farmer Sam Orrico will also be highlighted including words from Sam, also a victim of several house fires.

Reggae-country- rock sensations, The Yappers, are also slated in the mix thus far, as well as some Hip Hop and sounds by the amazing Just Flow and AJM Fam, as well a number of politicians and concerned residents will attend, making for an eclectic, stimulating, yet rockin' evening - with time in between for a mix and exchange of knowledge, information and ideas related to poverty issues.

For 2014, in memory of a special PACC member, community volunteer and community worker with C.M.H.A., Annette Brown, who passed unexpectedly recently, we will be handing out pumpkins at the event to keep her spirit / drive to make sure all kids get a pumpkin!
The following day on Oct 18 a celebration in Annette's honour is also planned.

The Int Day has been marked in Newmarket over 12 years now, and was originally designed 23 years ago, when launched in Paris France in front of the U.N. building, by a man of cloth who came from poverty and who wanted to make a difference, culminating with millions standing at once setting a world record for doing so in 2011! He has made a difference. You can too!

Come out and lend an ear or voice on Oct 17 2014!

CMHA Community Development Worker a rare gone too soon

Annette Brown
It was with great shock and sadness that I learned of a colleague and friend, Annette Brown's passing the other day, from cardiac arrest while in the hospital. She'd had some ongoing health issues I'm told, but, in true Annette fashion, she kept it fairly quiet, never wanting to be the "victim". I believe she'd been victimized enough already in life, something she too kept close to her chest, but her experience from her past made her an excellent social worker and her heart made her a great one. She understood people's situations better than most social workers ever could and knew how to relate on a level people felt comfortable with and therefore she reached more residents. She also had a special, even keel, calmness about her when dealing with issues / residence, something I always admired, being someone who tends to get too emotional in issues at times.

Annette, along with myself and a number of others, were part of special community development team trained in group facilitation and community development, the York Region Community Development Project, and we held community events, formed regular community meetings, and encouraged groups and organizations to form including the Mulock Village Development Committee from which the Annual Friendly Neighbourhood Youth Road Hockey Challenge sprung.It's run 10 years now.

Annette helped plant the roots for YRH kids
Even after being removed from direct involvement with those communities, when the community development dollars ran their course, and being reassigned to things like distributing ' The Winter Warmth Program" which was discontinued last year and kept people warm in their homes in the winter, the mental health worker, still always made herself available for special events, often traveling from Georgina to Newmmarket on her own dime on weekends to do so - dedication you rarely see with any organization's workers. It wasn't a job to Annette you see, she loved helping and her position allowed for that, so that is what she did day, night, or weekend......until she got sick...

Annette made sure this blind man was warm in winter - not the politician
But even then, after taking leave from her Canadian Mental Health Association job with health issues creeping up I suspect, she still called to get involved, offering to distribute food in Tom Taylor Place, where some residents had struggled to survive on social service or disability incomes.

She did that until the York Region Food Network stopped calling us (PACC) about the free food and toiletries they'd receive, which for years PACC helped distribute to, and were there from the beginning, helping make it work.I guess that well ran dry.Annette had also volunteered to come out every Oct 17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, as well as the mid-march youth road hockey challenge, always in the background willing to do anything asked, without question, no matter the weather or location.

Annette photogged this shot, and was the Grinch's Dog Max too!
I stopped hearing from her as regularly, and then hardly at all, and thought perhaps some lucky guy had swept her off her feet or she'd become like the majority of social workers who thought of people as simply 'clients' and not people or "burn out" or maybe she just didn't have time....Little did I know.

Annette Brown will be sorely missed. I miss her already. I hadn't called. I could have. You don't think of these things and then someone who is a truly caring person and who you know has made a difference in people's lives, dies on you. Jesus! I'm sorry Annette. I never knew.

Stay tuned for a celebration in her honour. May god bless. PACCman down and out...

Oct 17 international day for the Eradication of Poverty in Newmarket. Odds are Annette is one of the die-hards caring enough to brave the cold to sit and listen and give the respect the voices deserved. This year the event will be held at Riverwalk Commons in Newmarket from 7-10 pm and feature speakers and live performers. Annette Brown's latest drive was for pumpkins for kids, so we'll be accepting fresh pumpkins for her drive toward The celebration of her life Oct 18!

Election York Region - Newmarket Council or Candidates

Darryl Wolk, left, at his campaign kick off
The municipal elections are coming up, and with that comes all the nastiness and rearing of ugly heads, as each wannabe candidate scraps it out for a piece of the prize - serving the community in government.

Mayoral hopeful Chris Campbell
I was dragged to one opening event for someone running for mayor but wouldn't have gone if a friend hadn't asked, mostly because often municipal politics would not be the level of government we'd be communicating with on most issues but also because I despise the whole process that seems to always include personal attacks too often and not the issues. However I was glad I went in the end as it gave me an opportunity to hear someone new and it was refreshing.

To me, the issues are what has been done in recent times, by who, and do we need new members to keep things honest and on track toward better standards for all? I don't see that now, so I'm looking toward some changes.

First, Region-wise, money fought to get back from Toronto, for social programs, have instead mostly been used for paying infrastructure costs - not what we lobbied those funds back for. Regional Council also sat on their hands for 3 months during a transit strike - 4 months for some living in  semi-isolated communities - and had no plan in place to assist them during this time, and seemingly, no thought about the aftermath. Some never recovered, and got no compensation. All the mothers that needed transportation for food and diapers and - through Christmas time no less - and yet no accountability. This was the 2nd longest transit strike in Canadian history by the way, resulting in user costs among the highest in the country, and, yet, hardly a press blip. Council owed more than a months free transit in that fiasco to transit riders. Chairman Fisch they gave an award for this. Wheel-chair trans users were affected as well, with an overload on services, and many people were unable to meet critical medical appointments that took months or years to get, as well senior or aged, 50 plus workers, who lost jobs as employers used their absences an excuse to be rid of some.

Darryl Wolk kicks off his campaign for Newmarket's Regional Councillor.
I attended a kick off party for Newmarket Regional Councillor hopeful, Darryl Wolk, having been invited to and having known him for some time, but, to be honest, I liked him as a person through my dealings with him - a community group he was associated with had approached about our youth road hockey event - but was not sure he had what it took to be a serious contender - and ended up being quite surprised. His experience spoke for itself through an intro provided by his campaign manager, but it was his speaking and articulated messages that impressed me. I've always known him to speak in more hushed tones sitting across tables from me, but as a front man he really articulated well and knew his stuff  and he includes a focus on poverty and youth and families in a way I can work with I believe.

Lack of jobs and construction woes plague Newmarket
My first experience with the incumbent Regional Councillor, John Taylor, was during The Square Table on Poverty, an initiative I naively coerced all levels of government into participating in through use of the media, hoping it would make a difference. Back then, they actually printed and put us on tv a bit here and there including an infamous live CBC TV news interview by yours truly, to promote International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, but ended up mentioning how Belinda Stronach was then out pushing African mosquito nets while we now had 50,000 people using food banks in York Region. CBC were likely stunned at what came out of my mouth
but it worked, and got her and all the rest to the table, albeit Belinda showed in person only once.

I recall one of the first ST meetings, we spoke of affordable housing and John Taylor got upset that I criticized ads in the paper for Y.R. Habitat for Humanity, claiming to be builders of " Affordable Housing". I dared say that that was misleading, as they hadn't built any at the time in the area for over  5 years and it gave those not so in the know a false impression that housing was being taken care of by them, and that people had to become a face for them too, which we consider degrading.

Wild life needs a home too
Taylor, at that point, told me that he wasn't there to put down organizations etc but that's exactly what we were there for. To discuss reality, in real terms, without the bullcrap. We wanted to talk about building real housing, not a corporate charity that can tell you anything in their ad messages, but have little accountability to results - which our government should be holding charities more accountable. I found out later, his father and former Newmarket Mayor, Tom Taylor, had an attachment to Habitat for Humanity, and it just never set right with me. To me, H.F.H. are still part of a highly paid U.S. parent corporation, making money using our poor people and real estate, with few real tangibles but an exaggerated value. There hasn't been a habitat house built in Newmarket in over 10 years now. So, yea, to me, their claims of being builders of affordable housing are way off base. I don't care what their ads tell me, and the few they do build here, don't get them those bragging rights.
Wolk engages

People also seem of the belief that if something is built here, it must have been "needed", yet the region tore down an existing building on an existing site already zoned for and serving as sites for shelters, only to say they needed now a new site for a another brand new shelter - even though the opening of a family shelter had just taken a burden off existing women's shelters actually showing lower usage (backed by stats) at the time as the men, most in need as pointed out in York Region's own social audit, got no consideration or programs.

The same York Region council supposedly endorsed it's recommendations, but went on to ignore them mostly, instead budgeting the available funds for housing / shelters into a new women's shelter - now approaching 10 million dollars. Tony Van Bynen ran the last election on the dire need for this. By now we should have hundreds of women dead on our streets from homelessness if there was such a need.

Former and council hopeful Victor Woodhouse
As I walked along the railway tracks taking photos by Newmarket's Riverwalk Commons, where we hope to hold the Oct 17, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty event, I saw a homeless guy lying near a steel garbage bin on a cement parking block. I wondered if he'd been inside the covered bin somehow earlier and now outside for warmth or if he was a shelter dweller who would be typically sent out during the day, and remembered this is a transitional time for them, summer they can sleep outside need be but as colder, not, with winter shelters not open for some months yet.

Mayoral hopeful Rev Dorian Baxter
So, to me, the women's shelter sounded wonderful, but at $10,000,000 so far and counting to house single women without children, age 26 and up (the only possible shelter category not covered yet)  who will mostly be from outside the region by the way (we have agreements with Toronto and elsewhere to take them), was not a priority - but a manufactured one - and therefore been a colossal waste of your money.

The reality is, we don't have women on our streets like this, but we do men. The same men we don't mind sending to war to die and to now live and defend a violent life on the streets, while being expected to be a contributing member, without any support programs - another glaring missing social service / charity. But would a mayor look good fighting for a men's shelter? Or is it sexier if it's vulnerable women? Stiff price those men are paying for that decision.

Council hopeful Wasim Jarrah
It took some years, but I think Darryl Wolks understands - in fact he claims it was me who inspired him to join the Peel anti-poverty initiative which helped toward affording him a better understanding of the issues, and that sometimes it is possible to make changes for the better through little things - like grass roots representation on committees, whereas John Taylor, always civil, has delivered nothing but excuses to me for too many years now. Newmarket's mayor has an even worse record, skipping important once a year poverty events in favour of photo ops. At least Councilor Taylor shows up.

Ward 5 hopeful sign
I was further perturbed by the whole election thing when I posted a video of Wolk's intro at his kick off party, only to have it get the "anti-anybodynotthem" set come out in force, stating, on my posting btw, that he was no good etc, to which I'd replied that I respected his desire to run and he impressed me. At that point the piling on started, with people obviously for certain people, but all against Darryl and when I defended his courage to run, and dared make a negative comment about their horse, I was again maligned and scorned with one guy offering that if I wasn't going to say something nice on that particular FB group then he'd have me removed. Ha. Obviously not aware of my web reach.

Blast from the past - Diane Humeniuk
The biggest opposition to Darryl Wolk seemed to stem from other candidates who once supported him, but a decision he made while working behind the scenes during the provincial election when he, to some accounts, changed teams, seems to have labelled him as a traitor in their eyes. I like to think he just couldn't support some of the harsh or ineffective directions that party took on issues such as addressing poverty, and that some of that reasoning, and, having to look guys like me in the face, meshed with his evolving beliefs, resulting in a tough decision. Perhaps a conscience, and for me that's good. That means he has values and principles and decided they were best served representing a different party at that time. Yet, I see those same people having no qualms attaching themselves to anything Belinda Stronach.

Ward 5 hopeful John Heckbert listens
Recently, in the media, there has been some focus on accountability for charities which have very little. What you know / believe about them is a message they are often writing in ads and websites themselves, and are not necessarily wholly true, but who's to judge? This is an area I too would like fixed, with far too many charities claiming to do far too many wonderful things getting away with far too little accountability. Want to claim you do business in dignity in commercials? Prove it! Claim you shovel snow for everyone in need? Do it. Claim you are going to be the only women's shelter in York Region, when there are 6 existing already? Well that one is okay apparently now as it seems to have been removed. Claim you have programs assisting youth or women or people to find housing? Let's see the tangible proof and not more this type like this quote taken from a Y.R. Website offering services for women, which is a manipulation of true facts, and typical of many charitable organizations' claims;

"400 women are turned away annually from Violence Against Women shelters because they don't meet the criteria." Not exactly the full picture.

2018 end date now?...
construction + trans strike = chaos
In reality, even if a call results in a recommendation to call another type of shelter, like a family shelter, they mark them as not getting shelter as a stat. If the same woman calls 4 times to get someone on the phone, each call not ending with placement counts as a person not getting shelter - even though it's one person. Or the same person calling dozens of times a year. So it is misleading, and does not let you know the real story of how many got placed. The winter shelters for women are never full - in fact mostly empty - while the men's is ALWAYS FULL- is all I do know so I'm not sure where they get their stats from. Maybe the Salvation Army which is now slated to run Belinda's Place - after all the hoopla about how BP's would have special programs for women while raising funds - no mention of S.A. then, and I can tell you they don't have a good rep with the street people for running them or distributing programs. But no one asked, and since no one of experience is on the board to help advise them on these things, we get what we get.

Newmarket, at 8%, is a full percentage point behind the national average for unemployment and paralyzed with construction that seems very poorly planned at best. And as we lose more and more control of our green areas and privacy, we have to wonder who is in charge? How can Newmarket get a better deal and have a bigger voice in Regional decisions - that Newmarket wants? You decide.
Long time Newmarket printing shop gone @ Timothy Street
At any rate, this whole rotten thing actually helped me make up my mind about the need for change even more. Pick people who have experience yes, but look for a candidate who truly cares about the people first, and the town, and not just personal interests, parties, or legacies if you can.

Vote! Do not assume anything. And make sure you are registered. No candidate is unbeatable, and, sometimes, if enough people dislike a candidate enough to vote against them, combined with supporters, can win the day...but only if they actually vote! Every vote counts in municipal elections and sometimes a complacent mayor or councilor are ripe for the pickings - before they get too fat.

Do it! Do it now!
pacc man out

Newmarket Election Mayor Candidate Talks Politics

Glenn in action
When asked by my buddy Glenn to accompany him along to a kick off for a Newmarket mayoral candidate, I wanted to say no, but, instead, the polite Glenn to "olive branched" me an out before replying by offering to call me the following day just prior to him going, and, if at that time I wanted to go with, we'd do so. Always the procrastinator, I agreed.

Mayoral Candidate Chris Campbell listens
As I say, my first reaction was no, mainly because I'd heard the candidate running against him was doing so only because no one else was, and that he did not expect to win. Also because I love politics but I hate the politics of politics, if you will. If I have no reason to be around it, I certainly don't want to just for the sake of it, but complacency in a mayor or council is the worst thing you can have in politics, and the need for adding "new blood" essential to maintaining civic order.

Obviously I chose to go, and was mildly surprised to see a fairly full room of would be supporters of this candidate a local lad come home to roost, but, always the skeptic, especially when it comes to politics, I arrived with both guards up.

Maple Bacon Flavoured Chips eh? Lol
As Glenn dashed off to take his myriad of a million great pics, I asked some questions, wanting to know about this Chris Campbell who dared challenge the almighty municipal Lord Mayor Van Bynen for the town's mantle-head, and came away impressed.

Firstly, him being a local boy, to me anyway, shows he has some invested emotional interest in the town. As I explain it, someone who grew up around a special tree has an attachment that someone not growing up in the area may know enough about to appreciate. But I certainly needed more than that from anyone running, and, as I learned more, liked what I heard.

Watch Chris Campbell's campaign launch highlights here
Here was a mayoral candidate, actually talking about jobs and acknowledging that at 8 %, Newmarket is running unemployment a full percentage point above the national average - in one of the most prosperous areas in the country. Someone who dared say that Newmarket should be demanding a better deal from the Region, instead of rambling off googly gok, and understanding that businesses are hurting! He's also someone who is well schooled - specifically for politics too - so understands its complexities as well as the business side, through spending years as a successful business person and who is now willing to invest himself back into this town.

Newmarket Mayoral Candidate Chris Campbell
To me his words were a beacon of hope - someone who gets that it's a town full of people, and not a small group, who should be benefiting from everything this town has to offer. He even spoke about some hockey and soccer players having to play in other towns to afford it, something he found appalling - whereas Tony Van Bynen attended the grand opening of a car dealership last Oct 17, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, ignoring for a third year in a row the invitation to attend, even to say hello. Asked if he'd be attending our youth road hockey event in 2014 he said to send his office an invite. I did. No reply. Complacent.

Diane Humeniuk, greeting people like old times!
So when Diane Humeniuk, a former Regional / Councilor herself, and long time personal acquaintance of mine, whom I had no idea was involved, spoke of Chris returning e-mails in her introduction of this candidate, I knew what she meant.

At this point, Campbell seemed far from just a guy  running for the sake of it, but instead a guy with substance, some smarts and maybe indeed the change this town needs to keep it from turning into whatever the region, province, feds, and corporate friends of the mayor tell it to be. He certainly impressed me in that regard and comes with much more credentials for the job of managing, a now small city than the former bank manager Van Bynen ever did. And photo ops of VB hob-knobbing with C.E.O.'s scare, not impress me.

Curious Newmarket residents attend
This is still our town. Other people than the status-quo can run it. Better. And before it's gone, and before council become too complacent, we best find someone else to lead - a leader, which Chris Campbell also spoke of - leadership - and this guy seems worth a look see. Don't take my word for it though check out his website for yourself - but he seems certainly qualified and genuinely seems to care, and that my friends makes him a serious candidate that I believe we can trust to tend for our town. More at least.Lol.

End of night shot!
Also on hand this night was Regional Councilor candidate Darryl Wolk whom I first met some years ago in relation to a sponsorship for our community youth award. The jixt of what I hammered home with Darryl, was that when it comes to municipal politics, I actually don't care what party you support provincially and federally, I want someone who is willing to work with anyone. That what I liked about municipal politics, is those party's flags are not needed, and, in fact, should not be paraded out at all in my opinion. Darryl agrees. Yay. Lol.

There was another person there I didn't so much agree with (surprise of all surprises! lol) - As I believing council members should be full time, especially now as the town grows out of control, we need full time conentration - and him believing otherwise...Arggg..politics again..Don't get me started! Gle-e-e-enn! Let's go!

Tom Out!