The MacKay Centre for Seniors undertakes new planning project thanks to grant - Grant Haven
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The MacKay Centre for Seniors undertakes new planning project thanks to grant

The MacKay Centre for Seniors undertakes new planning project thanks to grant

By Kathleen Smith

The MacKay Centre for Seniors have been able to undertake a new Strategic Planning Project due to a two-year, $23,200 Communities Fund grant from the provincial government’s Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF).

The fund will be used to develop a three-year strategic plan for the Centre. The work happening because of the grant, which was awarded in the spring of 2023, will help the Centre to proactively respond to the changing needs. 

“The MacKay Centre for Seniors has been a vibrant central hub for Seniors in the Goderich and surrounding area for over 40 years,” said Stephanie Hartwick, Executive Director, MacKay Centre for Seniors.

The MacKay Centre currently has over 400 members, and according to Hartwick, the Centre is excited to engage Maureen Cole at We R Strategic to develop the plan.

“Through our community planning sessions, we hope to discover new ways to promote, engage, and provide a wide variety of programs for our Senior’s Active Living Centre to help us grow through the next three years,” added Hartwick.

The OTF’s mission is to build healthy and vibrant communities across Ontario. As an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations, last year, OTF invested over $110 million into 1,022 community projects and partnerships. 

On January 25, the Board of Directors and members of the MacKay Centre met with MPP Lisa Thompson and Mayor Trevor Bazinet.

“The value that the MacKay Centre continues to bring to the table goes beyond the individual classes they offer,” said MPP Thompson. 

“They are building a community of vibrant, engaged, and active seniors who experience great quality of life – and for that, they have my ongoing appreciation. I look forward to seeing how the additional funding is leveraged to benefit and enrich the lives of seniors.”

According to Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, non-profit organizations across Ontario deliver programming that makes a difference, and that’s why funding is so important.

“Our government wants to ensure that these programs and spaces remain the heart of communities across our province,” added Lumsden.

With the funding, the MacKay Centre is now looking for input from its members and the public to create their strategic plan. 

Over the years the MacKay Centre for Seniors in Goderich has worked closely with the Town of Goderich, stakeholders, and the centre’s members.

This year, the Board of Directors is aiming to complete a Strategic Plan and is looking for input from the community, stakeholders, partners, and members. The aim is to have the plan completed by the summer of 2024. 

The Plan will act as a roadmap of where the Centre is going over the next three to five years, as well as point out measures of success. 

According to Board Chair, Nancy Allin, the Board was inspired by a SWOT analysis. Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses and Threats – SWOT. 

“It is important to hear from all of our members and community stakeholders as we set priorities, goals, and actions plans for the years ahead,” said Allin.

In December 2023 the Board reviewed the Centre’s mission, vision, and values, which according to Allin is the centre’s first step in the strategic planning process. The process will be facilitated by Maureen Cole of We-R-Strategic. 

According to Cole, strategic planning involves developing a plan of action, typically for three to five years that acts as a roadmap of where the organization wants to be in that timeframe.

“It involves, first defining what business you are in, as determined by the Board of Directors of the MacKay Centre for Seniors,” explained Cole.

“Strategy requires taking the time to think creatively about the mission and vision, by seeking input from the members, community, and of course the various funders and stakeholders.” 

Non-profits and charities often do great work but do not have access to government taxes. 

“The Centre will be sending out membership surveys to collect information on what is important to them for programs, pricing, and accessibility,” added Cole.

“Another survey will be on the website, and social media, and shared with community members, on what they see as valuable, and how they can support each other.”

Formed in 2023, We R Strategic is owned by Cole. She began her career in Nursing and with continuing education, advanced to Director of Nursing and Executive Leader.

Cole was an Accreditation Specialist and Certified Health Care Executive before retirement. 

Part of Cole’s career and responsibilities was strategic planning, particularly for funding or service provisions. 

Cole has also been involved on many Boards for nonprofits throughout her career.

The focus stated on We R Strategics’ website is assisting nonprofits and charities with their planning for future growth and sustainability. 

A strategic plan is a written document that assists an organization in achieving its goals by aligning its priorities to the mission and vision of the organization. 

Strategic planning is a process developed to help organizations engage proactive thinking and set priorities. It requires a significant investment of time, and data gathering. 

Regular reporting is provided from the Strategy Coach to outline the stages and analyze the data. 

According to Cole, the final plan is presented back to the members, within four months for the best success.  

According to Allin, around 120 MacKay Centre members completed the program satisfaction survey, providing input into what is working and what needs changing.

The MacKay Centre looks forward to receiving feedback from community members and stakeholders and sees great opportunities in engaging by hosting community open houses and focus groups during the month of February.

The MacKay Centre is the only organization in Huron County designated as a Seniors Active Living Centre, funded by the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility. 

The MacKay Centre for Seniors is a non-profit charitable organization that has offered social, recreational, and volunteer opportunities for older adults (55+) for the past 40 years. 

The MacKay Centre’s programs encourage seniors to remain active and independent in their homes and in the community. Membership is $15 a year. 

The MacKay Centre has over 250 members and provides programs throughout the year including fitness classes, tai chi, art club, choir, yoga, community dining program, music, iPad lessons, card games and other special events.

Most individuals who use the Centre are members, however, the doors are open to everyone. 

The Centre is also a community meeting space for other not for profit groups such as the Horticultural club, IODE, local Hospital Auxiliary, Parkinson’s Society, and the Centre has a partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Huron Perth and the Huron Hospice. 

February 7 and February 21 have been pencilled in as open houses for opportunities to gain insight and input as the MacKay Centre shapes the quality of life for seniors living in Goderich. 

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