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How Belonging Strengthens Community Connectedness

Posted on October 13, 2017
By Hailey Hechtman

The ideas are quickly flowing from the jumble in my mind to the neat lined pages of the notebook sitting on the table in front of me while I listen to the day’s overview at the Community Change Institute (CCI). As I take in the list of different tools, topics and learning modalities available to attendees, I recognize this is not just any run of the mill conference.

Although I had been lucky enough to join the CCI crew the year before in Toronto, this year would take on a new light as I prepared to become a first time learning lab leader and had a solid understanding of how the week was going to unfold.

As I readied myself for five days of learning, growth and interactions with bright, innovative people I wondered… What new inspiration will this year bring?

The first speaker to set the tone was Dr. John Helliwell who was heavily involved in the content collected and presented within the World Happiness Report. A gander through statistics and a glance at the perception that the numbers brought forward in the minds of researching trying to determine why certain countries have people that are more content than others, brought me to think about my own experience and my current community. When he began to articulate that belonging and social supports are a considerable factor in promoting a healthy environment, it clicked with me why there are challenges in the area that I live in, even though incomes are comparatively high and unemployment quite low.

In Whitehorse, YT where I have lived and worked for the past four years, the environment is quite transient, with people joining and leaving the community in reoccurring cycles, year after year. This instability and consistent turnover within the social services sector, within government and within friend circles, can make the place feel quite lonely.

So thinking of Dr. Helliwell’s points on connection, I ponder how to create bonds and relationships quickly within changing contexts. Perhaps this will be through documenting our stories, through a process of welcoming all those who are joining the group and encouraging little snippets of recognition for the valuable contributions that people make whether they are in your life for 5 months, 5 years or 50.

CCI 2017 is off to the right start, getting me to walk away from my lens of frustration with the barriers that can arise from shifting sands and instead getting me to focus my energies on how we can be nimble, accommodating and progress our work forward in the face of the revolving door.

This is the first blog written by Hailey Hechtman, in a series of reflections about the 2017 Community Change Institute. Read others in Hailey's 2017 CCI series: 


Community Change Institute

Hailey Hechtman

By Hailey Hechtman

Hailey Hechtman has worked in the non-profit management sector since 2009 in a variety of roles. She began my career as a volunteer in the distress centre field, where she then transitioned into volunteer management and subsequently into the executive director role. From there, she moved on to work in a policy capacity for the provincial association of distress centres as the Statistics, Information and Outcome Measurers Coordinator. Following this experience in Ontario, she moved to Whitehorse, YT where she has taken on several other positions within the non-profit realm including executive director for Second Opinion Society, founder of the Yukon Distress & Support Line and he current employment as executive director for Teegatha'Oh Zheh. . In October 2015, Hailey and the executive directors of 8 other organizations in the Yukon, formed the Yukon Inter-Agency Network on Disability which has since worked to develop a collective impact strategy, and has been funded for several collaborative projects including the Support Worker Core Competency Project and the Out and About Evening Program. The majority of the responsibilities that she has held in her career have focused on program, policy and fund development along with human resources, financial management and community partnership building.

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