When Donna Tink first toured the Association’s various business locations, she was welcomed by clients and noticed how proud they were of having a job and coming to work. One of her first impressions was that “this organization is doing something very right.”
Donna has been involved with the Finance Committee for the past three years. She says that the Association’s Board recognizes that its primary role is to be client focused. Early on, they looked to the greater Grande Prairie community to find people with the skills to deal with the business aspect of the Association.
Through the Auctioneers Association of Alberta, an organization that in the past has been very supportive, Donna helped with fundraising for the Association before it became self-sustaining. Donna was in charge of the office for the Auction Mart. She remembers that she used to take a couple of days completely off work to solicit and collect auction items and round up auctioneers.
In the 1970s the Association went through an embezzlement of funds. After that experience, there was a shift in focus to make sure that firmer financial controls were in place. Donna says that today, every decision made by the committee is weighed against the mission and it is a constant evaluation, a process that she really appreciates.
I think that sense of mission is there throughout the organization. And it’s reflected in what comes to the table.
The Finance Committee must constantly work with the Provincial Government, in particular the PDD (Persons with Developmental Disabilities) board, to secure funding. A great deal of time is spent in the process. Donna says it is sometimes frustrating because the PDD operates between the board and the Association’s needs.
Right now staffing is critical. “It has always been difficult to get the kind of people that you need and to be able to pay them what they’re worth in our financial framework, but given the situation in Grande Prairie right now, it’s impossible. It’s so unfair, because the good people that we have are picking up the slack."
The aging population of handicapped is going to require financial assistance that is not in place at the moment. The handicapped have the same issues as any aging population, but health needs are going to become more complex, requiring more finances and more caregivers. “It’s going to be a big job.”
Working with the handicapped has given Donna a new sense of community, which grows with every group she becomes involved with. With that comes a fuller appreciation of the community as well. Donna’s advice to those new to the field is to “be wary, because once you step in, it’s a lifelong commitment.”