A Message from the Board of Directors
Hello, my name is Michele Schmidt and I am a director on the Extend-A-Family Board. I have been associated with Extend-A-Family for the past 30 years and during that time I have raised 5 children: one of whom has a disability and an ability to create lots of excitement, and four that just like to raise hell from time to time.
While receiving supports from and volunteering with Extend-A-Family I’ve learned that everyone belongs together and that our society is better because of that. I have always disliked the expression he/she is “special” or he/she has “special needs.” I figure that everyone’s needs are special to them. At one time or another, we all need support for our “needs.” All that being said, raising children takes courage and perseverance and we all need someone in our corner when things get exciting. Extend-A-Family has been there in my life for 2 1/2 decades. So I just want to show my appreciation by saying thank you to Extend-A-Family from the bottom of my heart.
Spending time as a director is important to me because I can give back some of the support that has been given to our family. As well, I can see firsthand the bigger picture and see how my support along with the other directors and staff can make change possible in a society that seems to have forgotten the importance of community. Extend-A-Family’s philosophy and belief in inclusion and relationship building is modelled throughout the work they do: they model inclusion and participation in the broader community through friendship circles, support circles, regular summer camps, the host program, families supporting families, developing connections and educational sessions and resources. Being on the Board provides me with the opportunity to learn, grow, support and give back. It also gets me out of the house at least once a month! Please consider what you can do to support the work of Extend-A-Family!
Truly, we all belong together!
The Extend-A-Family Board of Directors
Works as an accessibility planner; was an Extend-A-Family host for several years; has worked and volunteered with children and adults with various types of disabilities over the years, primarily in recreational/sports settings. Serving the Board since 2008.
Parent of a child with developmental disability. Worked in a leadership role for a large national retailer for over 22 years, monitoring and improving team performance. Served as a member on the Parent Council Committee at her son’s school for several years and advocating for inclusion. Serving the Board since 2013.
Is a Senior Accountant at a professional accounting firm and is currently working towards obtaining her Chartered Professional Accountant designation. She has a Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies, Honors Specialization in Accounting from the University of Western Ontario. Serving the Board since 2015.
Mother of a son with a developmental disability; long-time member of another organization serving people with disabilities. Serving the Board since 2003.
Mother of a teenage son with Autism. In Fall of 2016, reached out to Extend-A-Family when feeling a little lost during my son’s transition into High School. The support and community of Extend-A-Family has been an absolute blessing for myself and my family! There is nothing I would like more than to give back in any way that I can. Spent much of my career as a Corporate Recruiter. Part of that role is working closely with the leadership team to advance inclusive and diverse hiring practices. I also enjoy running, bicycling, good coffee, good books and time with family and friends. Serving the Board since 2017.
Mother of a daughter with Down Syndrome; journalist. Member of the Board since 2016.
Works in the non-profit sector with over a decade of experience in organizations focusing on disability service, health promotion, youth leadership and inclusive recreation; specializing in project management, development, organizational leadership. She has a BA in Disability Studies with a Minor in Organizational Leadership as well as a Diploma in Outdoor Recreation Management and currently works as the Director of Development at L’Arche Toronto. Serving the Board since 2013.
The Extend-A-Family Staff
Jessica Van Wyk
Safe & Secure Futures Networks Coordinators
Jessica Van Wyk