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!

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