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Dueck seeks to give New Life to Mission
Stan Dueck volunteered for the New Life Mission’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser last year.
He’ll be doing it again this year — only this time, he’ll be walking on Feb. 23 as the executive director of the agency.
His first five months at the helm of the mission have been spent learning about the organizational side.
Dueck says of the time that it’s essentially learning “what I didn’t know that I didn’t know” and addressing the immediate issues of staff burnout and a need to return finances to strong footing.
It’s a big change for a man who spent most of his working life — 29 years — in the propane industry, starting in Winnipeg and making his way west, finally landing in Kamloops six years ago.
When he retired, Dueck said, “I was looking for another opportunity and I always knew in that whole journey I’d end up in a place like the New Life Mission.”
When he learned his predecessor, Kelly Row, had quit, Dueck talked with his wife and friends about applying “because I felt it would work and they all said it was an awesome idea.”
Sustainability might be the keyword to describe his focus, not just in the financial end, but in ensuring staff get more training “and really enjoy their roles again.
“When we do that, there’s nothing that can stop the mission from moving forward.”
Thought he has transitioned from the for-profit side of the business world to the non-profit area, Dueck said there are some commonalities.
“Where I come from, it’s all about analyzing the business, planning, making projections, but I’m learning about fundraising.”
It’s a key component.
The mission has struggled in recent years to erase a large debt but, with each event it holds, more black ink is being used.
Christmas was a good time for the mission, as it normally is, Dueck said, and he’s hoping the Feb. 23 Coldest Night fundraiser, which saw 200 walkers raise $25,000 last year, will do even better in 2013.
The goal is to have 300 people take part and raiser $40,000, which will be applied to the mission’s line of credit.
Another focus is to reconnect with parts of the community where some walls were built up in the last few years, Dueck said.
One of the key walls to bring down was reconnecting with former executive director Tim Larose, Dueck said, and a lengthy meeting between the pair was positive.
“So much of what we want to do, what the vision is, is what Tim’s vision was,” Dueck said.
“I remember hearing Tim talk about social justice. He built this foundation. We just have to build on it.”
Dueck has also had a “great meeting with the Interior Health Authority to expand services at our outreach centre.”
That should see a nurse practitioner and street nurses working at the West Victoria Street building for two half-days a week.
“We need to expand slowly,” Dueck said. “It’s all about sustainability.”
He is also working to see the centre’s kitchen used more.
For example, the kitchen staff prepared and delivered 14 of the 22 company-wide dinners Highland Valley Copper held last year as part of its United Way fundraising.
It generated some new revenue for the mission and Dueck is hoping to do more of this.
He would also like to see the mission involved more with seniors in the community, perhaps using the outreach centre and kitchen for events during off-hours from mission programming.
However, the focus remains on the mission’s recovery programs, its most-critical service in Kamloops, and how to take it to the next level.
The programs are offered at the West Victoria Street building and at the House of Ruth on the North Shore. Ideally, Dueck said, he’d like to see the two merged into one and provided in a new location.
Moving them would free up space at the outreach centre and perhaps mean the House of Ruth wouldn’t be needed anymore — or could be used for another purpose.
The executive offices on Seymour Street are also on his radar — albeit not as strongly as some of the other priorities — because Dueck doesn’t see the need to have that space sitting, for the most part, empty.
“This office, it’s not what I’m about. I want to be at the outreach centre. And this is more than 2,000 square feet. We could do amazing things with this space.”
Dueck acknowledged he’s had some frustrating days at work, some moments when he has needed to “refocus to get our position again.
“Sometimes we’re in the middle of it all and we really don’t see it, see what we’re accomplishing.”
He also had no idea when he started in September just how big the job would be.
“I see that now,” Dueck said. “but, the vision is more clear now, too.
“The mission has a real purpose.”
Coldest Night of the Year is a non-competitive five- and 10-kilometre winter-walk fundraiser for select charities that serve the hungry, homeless and hurting in cities and communities across Canada.
The walk gives participants the opportunity to experience a hint of the challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness by walking for a few hours during a cold Canadian night in the dead of winter.
The Feb. 23 event will see Kamloops’ New Life Mission face off against Kelowna’s Gospel Mission.
Last year, the Kelowna event attracted 115 people who raised a little more than $20,000; the Kamloops event had 234 walkers who raised $34,751.
For more information, go online here.