Farewell from outgoing DECA Chair, Sheri Hebdon
I was first elected to the DECA Board in 2009, by accident. I showed up at a “neighbourhood cocktail party” with my wife and baby after seeing posters and hearing about it from a nice woman I met at baby-and-me yoga.
On arrival, my new friend Natasha (DECA’s founding Chair) welcomed us at the door and she casually asked me if I would be interested in joining the Board. I said I was interested in learning more and then we moved on to other conversations.
Later in the evening, I was discreetly nursing my baby when all of a sudden Natasha and another woman stood up on chairs and announced that the cocktail party was actually the AGM. They (and others) gave short pitches about their projects like the farmers’ market and the business revitalization team (who did store makeovers) and then I heard my name.
Then everyone voted yes and I was on the Board. Just like that. While nursing my son.
Eight years later, at tomorrow’s AGM & Party (we’re a bit more up front about the AGM part now!), my time on the DECA Board, where I have been Chair for three years, will come to a close. While I am confident that the Board will be in excellent hands for next year, it’s hard not to worry about what the future will hold.
Though, the real question is not what, but who. DECA isn’t a thing – it’s the sum total of a group of people who all add what they (we) can to make our neighbourhood better. Bringing new people into the fold is critical, but it’s not easy. We have the things now that DECA has helped to build over the past decade and people may take it, and us, for granted. Or maybe they just don’t know? Or maybe they just can’t take on one more thing.
Whatever the reason is that you aren’t more involved, here is my pitch to you to get involved. Don’t think about what you’d put into it, think about what you will get out of it.
Volunteering for DECA has given me so much over the years. No matter what else is happening in my life or in the world, I have taken a lot of solace knowing that I’m doing something to make the world better, even if it’s just in my little corner of it. I find it energizing to help in big and small ways, and feeling so much more connected to my neighbours and local businesses positively impacts me on a daily basis. My children (there are three of them now) understand that volunteering is part of life, and each of them have legitimately volunteered for DECA too by doing things like putting up posters, helping to set up events, handing out cookies and candy canes at the Festival of Lights. Given that parenting is a long game, instilling this so early is important.
Start with one hour. One hour of involvement per year could mean helping at an event, putting up posters, tossing pumpkins or cooking for the farmers. Maybe you have two hours? Maybe five? What about one hour for every year you’ve lived here? If you have kids, get them involved and you won’t believe how proud they will be of themselves. Start with one hour and you may find that you that you’ll want to do more.
At the very least, join DECA as a member. Sign up online or in person tomorrow at Hirut. $10/household for the year.
If you don’t know where to start, come to the event tomorrow and ask me, or any of the other Board members. Meet your neighbours. Get involved.
Here’s the poster one more time:
Oh, and there will be door prizes!
Thanks for a great eight years, Danforth East! See you all around the neighbourhood.