CEO Speaks

Everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us. On the inside, looking out.
From the novel, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Dr. Jane Matheson, CEO, Wood's Homes

My task here is to set the stage for the future – to look into my crystal ball and tell you about the path that meanders ahead for Wood’s Homes. To answer the inevitable question that follows any momentous counting of years . . . so now what?

It is quite frankly, a guessing game. So, I will write what I know.

I am the kind of person who believes that the secrets held in the breath of the future can be found in the whispers of the past. Where we have been often helps us find the door to the future. And when one looks back to see ahead, one often finds the meaning of the past is elucidated and the future’s possibilities show up.

However, in the end, I also know that it is what one does about all of this that matters, not just what one dreams.

I am sure that everyone reading this message, each and every one of us, carries burdens - burdens we may carry into our future. We make plans for tomorrow, next year, five years from now and beyond. We imagine what will be. We can be the most determined, have the clearest vision, set all of our ducks neatly in a row and then, real life shows up - sometimes as a pleasant surprise or sometimes as a detour that can make us lose our way.

Wood’s Homes has also had its fair share of real life. Nevertheless, this organization did make it to this milestone moment. It has survived and, in fact prospered over 100 years. I do think that Reverend George and Annie Wood would be pleased with where their little idea ended up – even if they are probably wondering what the heck we are doing in some cases!

If we start with the whispers of the past we have to start with beginnings.  A very wise man told me lately that the never-ending plight of Wood’s Homes is that everyone comes to Wood’s with troubles. It’s not like you wake up one morning and decide you are going to pack a bag and drive over to Wood’s Homes for a vacation. Grownups and children alike come to our doors in desperation, with upsets, fears, worries, sadnesses, angers and loss.  This happened 100 years ago and it still happens today. These troubles come locked in the minds and hearts of children and their parents. We try to get these folks to hand them over. We try our best to mend or erase them; sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. There is no guarantee we will be successful every time. There is no fool-proof, one size-fits-all map to follow.

And, Wood’s Homes is not perfect. In the 30 years I have been the serendipitous  guardian of this marvellous place we have faced challenges many times, we came to the brink of something that looked pretty scary and had to face some serious music.  And yet, I can say with confidence that even with all of that, we did not turn anyone and their troubles away.  Wood’s Homes accepted responsibility for the troubles these little people held on to as well as our own, and the organization continues to do so to this day.

The future of human service delivery is built on the steps of the present, too – and those steps right now are called things like: education, work experience, housing first, workplaces of choice, intergenerational cultures, diversity, social media, parenting capacity, privacy, policies and rules, outcome based services, evidence-based practice, family-centred care, outreach, early intervention - the list goes on and on.

True, these are all momentary buzzwords that can cause a spin and will, inevitably change with the wind as the future unfolds. And yet, new and expansive ideas will be built upon each and every one of them in the future. Wood’s Homes will create some of these.

This is the future of Wood’s Homes - building on the strength and caring of the past; anticipating the needs of people and communities as the years unfold; learning from the mistakes we make every day and poking the perceived impossibilities of the future. In the future we will still never give up, never say no and never turn anyone away.
Dr. Jane Matheson, CEO, Wood’s Homes

Wood’s Homes has all of those skills and will use them in the future.

Wood’s Homes will carry these demands happily into its future. It will be flexible and helpful, open to change and eager to help others. It will look for problems – not run from them.

This is the future of Wood’s Homes - building on the strength and caring of the past; anticipating the needs of people and communities as the years unfold; learning from the mistakes we make every day and poking the perceived impossibilities of the future.

In the future, you can count on us.