The Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation (HHHSF) introduced its new executive director at its annual general meeting Sept. 20.

Melanie Klodt Wong will be taking over from a retiring Lisa Tompkins. She told the board she was grateful and excited to be at the 26th AGM, and in the Highlands.

“I’m truly honoured to have the opportunity to serve the community and support the health and well-being of Highlanders and visitors alike through leading the work of the HHHSF,” she said.

She added she is looking forward to maintaining and building upon the “great” work that Tompkins, admin assistant Carol Simmons and the board had accomplished over the past few years.

“I’m inspired by the dedication of this team and the team that runs a whole host of services in our community. I look forward to learning more from them and you, and I already feel very supported and welcomed as a relatively new member of the community and ready to jump in and roll up my sleeves soon.” She starts Oct. 15.

Klodt Wong said HHHSF plays an important role in educating and inspiring the community. She touched on one of the many challenges facing the County when she included, “those who struggle to stay housed here. There’s always more work that can be done to find essential and critical services to ensure good quality of life for all and I’m excited to be part of that through the foundation.”

She said Tompkins had done “an exceptional job, and I’m grateful she’s passing the torch with such a stable foundation. I don’t take this responsibility lightly and I want to do her proud and maintain the fiscally-sound foundation and eventually take it to the next level, thoughtfully, intentionally and in anticipation of the needs of the community and the constantly changing world around us.”

She said she was looking forward to working with Tompkins, Simmons, the board and HHHS CAO and president Carolyn Plummer on a smooth and seamless transition.

The board said Klodt Wong brings over 15 years of experience leading strategic partnerships and projects in the not-for-profit industry, including the Toronto International Film Festival.

“Melanie’s experience in not-for-profit management, fund development, and her tactical approach to cause-based initiatives will be a tremendous asset to the foundation as it continues to grow and serve the health care fundraising needs of the HHHS corporation,” the board said.

Business meeting

During the meeting, Tompkins said the foundation had transferred more than $413,000 to HHHS in the fiscal year. More than $363,000 went into equipment, such as vital signs monitors, the workstations on wheels, half of a nurse call system campaign, bariatric bed, accessible bath tubs and equipment for hospital kitchens. She added they provided $50,000 for the gift a meal, meals on wheels program, and medically-required transportation. They also contributed more than $6,300 to employee education assistance, including a secondary school bursary. She said that component will increase to about $20,000 in the next fiscal year.

Tompkins said funds came through individual and business donations, corporations and service clubs, bequests, special gifts and planned giving, as well as core events, such as the Radiothon, which raised more than $33,000.

Tompkins said the ‘believe in the magic of giving’ campaign earned nearly $244,000. A decision to replace the ticketed cash for care lottery with a primarily online 50/50 lottery garnered about $100,000 in revenue. They added a new element to the Family of Bears fundraiser, releasing a “class photo” puzzle in June. Tompkins thanked “a generous and caring community” for continuing to support local health services, despite challenges, and also applauded volunteers, including the board of directors.

Speaking at her 20th AGM, and her fifth and last as executive director, Tompkins acknowledged “the quality of care and delivery of health services that our professionals and staff at HHHS give day-in and day-out.” She also paid tribute to donors. “I continue to be humbled and in awe of that generosity.”

Jane Adams said she was in “awe” of what Tompkins and the foundation had been able to do and Plummer thanked Tompkins, the HHHSF board and donors.

Eric Recalla is back as board chair, and Troy Austen, Ron Brown and Wade Woodward have joined. Returning board members are: David Blodgett, David Coulson, Jaklin Johnston, Greta Lariviere, Susannah Moylan, Carol Patrick, Steve Todd and David Zilstra.