A global door blew open to a stormy 2020. PAL Stratford has been navigating these sea changes along with all the other organizations in our community here in Stratford. We feel especially aligned with other charitable organizations and the arts community in how Covid has made its impact. We faced important questions of how do we continue to meet our obligations to maintain 101 Brunswick St, to support our constituents in the community and to save for the future?
PAL Stratford’s mission is to offer affordable housing and supportive services for arts professionals, 55 years and older, so they may live independently, longer. As well as managing and maintaining a five apartment historic building, PAL has a volunteer group called Supporting Cast who organizes weekly gatherings, one on one visits, shopping assistance, domestic help like gardening and small repairs, and driving assistance. All of these services had to be adjusted or put on hold to meet Covid conditions.
Updating and reimagining our new website has taken considered time and expertise. We are hopeful that our online presence will be both informative, engaging and inviting to PAL supporters and the broader community. Please take a tour through our website which highlights our history, what services PAL offers, how to become a member or volunteer, and how to support through donation or legacy planning. We have plans and ideas as we move forward, in providing activities and services for our members and the arts community. We are committed in our long term vision of expanding our services, increasing our membership and creating additional affordable housing options.
As a charitable organization, PAL Stratford meets our fiscal obligations through annual fundraising efforts and membership. Our primary fundraiser: Expect the Extraordinary, has been hosted by the Stratford Festival for the last few years on the second Monday in September. This has been a sell-out night, showcasing the multi-talented artists who live and work in our community. After much consideration, we decided to forge forward into the virtual world and How the Light Gets In, an Evening of Healing, Hope and Inspiration was manifested. Please link here to our dedicated page for all the details and acknowledgements from this year’s extraordinary show.
Most importantly, the global demand to meet systemic injustices and barriers, discrimination and exclusion have also impacted our community. The Black Lives Matter events here over the summer, the annual Pride event, the Climate Momentum coalition for environmental change and justice, and the annual Red Dress event to highlight missing and murdered Indigenous Women, are examples of people in our community working diligently for positive change.
PAL Stratford has made a commitment to examine our organization and its services through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion. The Board of PAL Stratford is investing in a process of learning and growth – seeking out consultations, trainings and learning opportunities. Some of these we hope to share with our membership. Our first action was to create a statement of commitment and you can click here for the full statement. Words are only the beginning and must lead to actions. We have struck an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force that will drive this work through all aspects of the organization and keep the Board accountable in our actions going forward. We will keep our constituents informed of our progress and of steps that are being taken. We hope that our PAL chapter here in Stratford might offer a template and contribute to all PAL chapters across the country while we continue to learn, reassess, respond, and evolve.
PAL Stratford has a twenty year history of dedicated volunteers and donors who envisioned and brought PAL to where we are today. On behalf of our current Board and volunteers, I would like to acknowledge these skilled and generous players, past and present, with a deep bow and heartfelt bravo.
Linda Mackay, President