As we wrap up 2022, we are saying farewell to 3 backbone staff members as they transition to new roles and opportunities. Each member of the Wellbeing WR backbone team plays a key role in the initiative, and we are grateful to have had these individuals working with us to create a community where everyone thrives and no one is left behind. Read about each staff member’s experience in their role with Wellbeing WR, and what’s next for them:
Paige Monck-Whipp, Network Catalyst
As I prepare to shift from this role with the Wellbeing WR backbone team at the end of this year and join the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion team at Waterloo Regional Police Service, I have been reflecting on what a truly special network Wellbeing WR has created over the years.
Last summer, you welcomed me as the Network Catalyst with the backbone team, and it has been an incredible experience to serve this collaborative. I have had the privilege of connecting with so many community leaders, organizations, systems change champions, and community groups who are working together to improve wellbeing for Waterloo Region residents.
One of the best parts of this role has been working with amazing colleagues on the backbone team: Cheryl Grove, Jackie Heintzman, Olivia Maine, and Cynthia Martin. I also had the pleasure of working with placement students during this time: Emma Haas, Sydney Lane, and Isra Ziad. As well, I have been able to connect with previous backbone staff, who have shown incredible commitment to this work. There is something truly special about the folks who have been part of this team, and I’m honoured to have been able to work alongside them.
I am grateful for all of the support and leadership across the network, including: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Elders; Connectors Hub members; all the community members with lived and living expertise who took time to be part of working groups and share the wisdom of experience; people who contributed their guidance as group Co-Conveners; members of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Advocacy and Advisory Circle; and everyone who participated on working groups, joined trainings, kept in touch via the newsletter and social media, made connections with others across the network to spark initiatives, and made good use of the resources on our website to advance equity and the journey to reconciliation in their lives and organizations. The fact that there are too many people and organizations to mention who have made this network what it is says a lot.
In describing Wellbeing WR, I would often use the metaphor of looking at this region as a community garden: Wellbeing WR is not always the one to plant the flowers, but together we tend to the soil and nurture the conditions for whatever is planted to sprout and thrive. We are also more than whatever we grow together – the magic is also in the relationships we build, the knowledge we share amongst each other, the different worldviews and ways of knowing that we bring together, and the collective commitment to community. Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts, and together we can do incredible things.
In order to make change, we first have to believe it’s possible. I am grateful to all of the collaborators in this network for continually showing me what is possible, and how we can support each other in community. I look forward to staying in touch, and continuing to learn, work, and make needed change together.
Take good care and talk soon,
P.S. If you want a reminder of some of the people who have made this network so amazing, check out our “Meet the Network” video here.
Emma Haas, Placement Student
Over the past four months I have had the pleasure of working with Wellbeing Waterloo Region, under the supervision of Paige Monck-Whipp, the agency’s Network Catalyst. I have also worked alongside Cheryl Grove, Community Planning Associate, Jackie Heintzman, Communications Assistant, and Isra Ziad, another placement student from a neighbouring school. Working with this group over the past four months has been such an enjoyable and enriching experience. I have had opportunities to work independently on research pieces, collaboratively with partner agencies on large scale projects, and directly with community members in need of support by participating in outreach events.
Overall my placement experience has been invaluable. The wide range of tasks and projects I have had while working with Wellbeing Waterloo Region have enriched my educational experience, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with this team of amazing people. I hope to get the chance to work with them again during my career. As for myself and my future plans, I will be finishing the Social Service Worker program at Conestoga College in April 2023, and will be completing a second placement experience from January 2023 until graduation with the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region. I am looking forward to continuing to gain work experience in this amazing community, and further building my connections within the region.
Isra Ziad, Co-op Student
As a co-op student working with Wellbeing WR this past term (September-December 2022), I had learned more about myself and my passions. During my time here, I helped with outreach events in which my colleagues and I would go to various locations (such as community health centers and shelters), to inform others of the survey we had launched. This survey encompassed questions that were situated on people’s wellbeing.