I am proud to say that I was on the original Board of Trails in 1992. As a lifelong entrepreneur it was SO exciting for me to watch our co-founders “Hurst and his son Jimmy” as they took a new and exciting idea and brought it to life with all the daily learning and adjusting that was required. I stayed in touch with Hurst over the years after that and so was intrigued when he asked me in the spring of 2019 to return to Trails to help the President write a Strategic Plan to support the organizations doubling from 88 kids to 176 over a period of years while maintaining and even improving the quality of our experience, which we call the Trails Way and the Trails Impact. As he said, “it is very clear after 27 years that Trails works, so the world needs more Trails, let’s figure out how to do it”.
I signed up for this and agreed to join the board in September when Hurst asked. I could explain this by saying “who has ever said no to Hurst?” but, it was truly because the chance to become more deeply involved in Trails fit perfectly with my own Mission at this stage of my life. I have dedicated the philanthropic part of my life to helping do what I call “level the playing field” to help our society move closer to Equality of Opportunity. Trails does this very well. It would be an honour to help grow it. The more I got involved, with Mel, with the Staff, with the Board of Directors, and with Jimmy, the more I loved it. So when Hurst asked me in February to succeed him as Chair when he chose a medically assisted death, I was daunted, yes (no one can truly follow Hurst) but also hugely honoured and excited. That excitement has only grown as I have watched Mel and her staff respond, first to our founder’s death and then the huge challenge of Covid. They have adapted and adjusted to still bring meaningful parts of the Trails Way and the Trails Impact to our kid’s lives. Wow!
I think of Hurst every time I pull into our driveway at Trails Lakeside. I think of the day that he and Jimmy arrived on a cold snowy February day and tramped through the bush of that site (there was no road yet, that is another story!) as their Vision of what could be, started to form in their imaginations. That Vision is here now. On a normal weekend the Lodge is filled with 40 vulnerable kids from the at risk neighbourhoods of our city. They are developing the skills and abilities that will help them to become contributing members of their community and lead successful lives.
If being part of this Mission attracts you, in any way at all, I urge you to come and join us. I can pretty much guarantee you it will be VERY rewarding. As fellow board member Greg Ryan said to me early in my tenure: “working on a terrific program that you know makes a difference, with excellent people, what could be better?”. He is right.