Michael Aronovici's Letter

This past year has certainly been one of transition at Ometz. Yet, I am reminded that successful transition is an enduring component of our organizational DNA—something that in our over 150-year history, we have met head-on with resilience and a forward-leaning vision.

With change comes an opportunity to address our significant progress and also highlight how we continue to pivot to meet the evolving needs of our community.

The retirement of our Chief Executive Officer, Gail Small, in March of this year marks an era of growth at Ometz. From the moment she took the reins in 2008, spearheading the successful merger of three social service agencies that gave rise to Ometz, Gail distinguished herself as a builder, collaborator, leader and mentor. It is thanks to this profound legacy that she leaves us with a stronger organization, and our collective gratitude can best be measured in the countless lives she has helped transform in our community over these last 12 years. Thank you, Gail, and on behalf of the officers and board of directors of Ometz, we wish you all the best in your next chapter.

Following an extensive search process, we were pleased to welcome Dominique McCaughey as Chief Executive Officer effective April 1 of this year. A long-standing board member of Ometz and Jewish Family Services, and Ometz’s Chief Strategy and Development Officer since 2015, Dominique is well-positioned, both in experience and passion, to lead the Ometz family. She has already played a catalyzing role as a trusted and engaging change leader, building Ometz’s reputation as one of Canada’s top charities and among major partner-funders. We are excited about what the future holds under her stewardship.

Of course, these last several months have brought with them much upheaval and uncertainty due to the pandemic, profoundly affecting our most vulnerable and leading to a significant increase in demand for our vital services, including from many new clients. We have responded as nimbly as possible under the circumstances and have been able to address the urgent needs of individuals and families affected by social isolation, loss of income, increased parental burden and uncertainty about their future. As this situation continues to unfold, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to serve and strengthen.

We thank you, our donors, partners, volunteers, and all our dedicated staff—many of whom are on the front-lines, for making a real difference on the lives of thousands of children, youth and families annually—and positively impacting our community as a whole.

As I head into the second year of my term as President, I am very proud to be a part of this organization. Together, side by side, we will continue to respond to a shifting landscape—and achieve great things for our community.

Some highlights from the past year:

  • As more young people turn to us for support as they age out of public programs when they turn 18, it is our goal to continue to meet their needs. Thanks to the vision and tremendous generosity of our partners the Azrieli Family Foundation, the Baron de Hirsch Community Foundation and Steven Kaplan Family, this year, we are thrilled to officially launch our new Ometz Centre for Young Adults. L’Annexe, located above the YM-YWHA will provide holistic Ometz services in a community-based, inclusive and accessible space designed around our clients’ multi-faceted challenges—and ensure that these emerging and vulnerable adults thrive during this transitional time.
  • Related to L’Annexe, and in the furthering of an evidence-based approach, we also thank the Morris and Rosalind Goodman Family Foundation for a seed grant which paved the way for a collaboration with a McGill University research team that will be evaluating our continuum of care for emerging young adults via an important and ground-breaking research process (Community-Based Participatory Action Research—CBPAR).
  • Another bold Ometz initiative is the newly formed clinique entourfamille™, a specialized division that supports school-aged children and their families by providing guidance and solutions around developmental, social and academic growth. Situated in The Children’s Clinic, an organization with 100 pediatricians serving over 11,000 children annually, entourfamille™ is poised to offer improved access to these in-demand, specialized services while supporting parents and greatly enhancing children’s academic and socio-emotional potential.
  • Ometz partnered with The Cummings Centre and Federation CJA and quickly established the community’s Helpline to assist a growing number of vulnerable community members during this pandemic. To date, we have responded to over 2,500 calls—many from people who had never reached out before. We are also responding to a surge in mental health related issues brought on by prolonged isolation and anxiety. We have helped our clients access all available public programs, advocating on their behalf, and offering additional help for basic needs in the interim.

Michael Aronovici
President, Ometz

Back to the Annual Reports 2019-2020