Social Audit – York Region 1st – A Powerful Voice for Change

York Region will play host for the first time April 20, as part of the ISARC interfaith social audit which has been conducting social audits across Ontario since 1986. ISARC – The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition – is a provincial wide network of faith groups working together for greater social justice. ISARC meets and works with leaders from all political parties to develop and support legislation to provide help to those most in need via  province-wide hearings, consultations and briefings, presentations to legislative committees, and through publications and resources that give a voice to those in poverty.

York Region’s participation was made possible through the lobbying efforts of the Poverty Action for Change Coalition who were convincing in their presentation viewed by ISARC representatives earlier this year. As the chosen host group, the key was to form a planning team from organizations and individuals across York Region; co-conveners Tom Pearson (PACC) and Yvonne Kelly (York Region Food Network) have worked diligently to achieve this. They have put together a diverse collaborative planning team, including those in poverty, which has laid the foundation for what hopes to be a successful social audit.

Part of the make-up of the audit – apart from forming a planning team – is choosing key players such as the “Rapporteurs”.  A Rapporteur is a person whose opinion is widely respected in the area in which the audit is held who listens to the stories from those living in poverty. Their reflections are recorded alongside those stories. In making a decision to hold two (north/south) locations for story collecting in York Region, the YR planning team was fortunate enough to attract several highly qualified potential candidates. Ultimately the group chose Daisy Wai for the south and John Rogers for the north.

Daisy is well known in the business community as founder and President of Ad2000 and Beyond Advertising.  She is actively involved in her community in a number of capacities including being a member of the Board of Trustees for the York Central Hospital.  Daisy has received numerous awards for her contributions to the community and is actively involved in the Chinese Christian community. She has been an enthusiastic supporter of the social audit from the beginning.  Daisy had the following comments to make about her own experience as a newcomer to Canada as well as our collective responsibility as a caring community.

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I still recall the struggles I had when I first immigrated to Canada.  It was hard, for my husband and me, to take care of a family with 4 children.  I was encouraged and helped by the church we attended.  It’s been 30 years now, we are more settled.  With things growing rapidly around us, sometimes we forget those who are still in need.  This is definitely the time for us to reach out to support others around us, very much the same way that we were supported before.  Not only is this our responsibility, it helps us to count our blessings, treasure and enjoy what we have.”Daisy Wai

Likewise Mr. Rogers, a former Mayor of Georgina and member of York Region Council, as well as former Chair of the Board of Directors for the United Way of York Region and Co-Chair of the Central Lhin Advisory Group to name some of his past accomplishments was not a tough sell; He has embraced the role with vigour. Said Mr Rogers about his impending role in the social audit,

I am honoured to be asked to help in a very important process that is being held for the first time in York Region.  It is critical that all members of our community are heard, and the social audit process I am sure will bring very important views and stories forward to the public’s attention and as well assist politicians in addressing poverty more effectively. “John Rogers

The 1st part of the day – 9am 1pm- will focus on the recording of the stories from those living in poverty. Both locations plan to make the atmosphere “drop-in” friendly for anyone living in poverty whether able to speak to the audit or not; offering a welcome team, advice, info, snacks, coffee, nutrition (and toys for kids of booked participants). Daycare and transportation have also been arranged for those with an advanced booking.

The afternoon social audit focus sessions, held at the Newmarket location only, include front-line workers, (2:30 – 4:00pm) and later on in the day (4:30 – 6pm) municipal politicians from across the region. Danieli Zanotti, CEO for the United Way of York Region will facilitate the politician’s focus group.

Reports from the audit are then prepared and forwarded to ISARC to begin the next steps towards the final publication, Queens Park, and beyond.

Limited space is still available for those in poverty wishing to address the audit at the south location only. Please call to increase your chances to speak out! Confidentiality respected.

Optional video testimonials are also being recorded by PACC at Newmarket’s site (separate from audit) for those unable to book but still wanting to speak out!

For more information call 1-866-454-9736 ex: 205 or after 6pm at 289-221-0928 or visit:

www.isarc.ca www.povertyacc.com www.yrfn.ca

Re: ISARC – Social Audit – York Region

Date: April 20 2010                     Media contact: 289-221-0928

Times: South Location 9am – 1:00 pm – North Location: 9am – 6pm

Locations: Richmond Hill Central Library (south); 510 Penrose (north)

North – 510 Penrose St Newmarket – please note – no media access on location before 6 pm

South – Richmond Hill Public Library – 1 Atkinson St – please note no media allowed at this location

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