GNAG’s year of challenge

Mary Tsai
GNAG Executive Director

Executive Director’s
Annual Summary Report
for 2019- 2020
On June 30, GNAG marked it 45th year of operation. Our commitment to the community continues to hold strong despite all the challenges we have faced due to COVID-19. I am proud to highlight GNAG’s many accomplishments from the past year including our programming, partnerships, special events and the resiliency of our board of directors and staff.

In 2018-19, we had an operating budget of $2.2 million and delivered more than 1,000 programs. This year was very different. From July 1, 2019 to this past March 13, our budget forecast was up by 27 per cent. GNAG was in a very good financial place. We had three successful seasons, delivering close to 730 programs and camps, organizing three community events and hosting three successful fundraisers that brought in just over $51,000.

Our year in review:

Summer camp
In the summer of 2019, GNAG delivered 194 summer day camps to children between the ages of four and 17. We averaged 335 children a week, with almost full capacity all summer.

We hired 42 employees, 38 of which were GNAG alumni. In addition, we hired 52 junior leaders and volunteers for a total of 94 people under the age of 30.

GNAG received funding from the Canada Summer Jobs grant program through Employment and Social Development Canada. We were awarded $23,000 which helped secure six summer positions for eight weeks. We are very grateful for the support of the government and of our MP, Minister Catherine McKenna. The funding allowed us to integrate children and youth with special needs who required one-on-one or low-ratio support in our summer camps. Consequently, our Integration Support Service has expanded and supported 14 children in camp, creating 36 participation opportunities.

GNAG’s childcare programs included Breakfast Club (BC), Quest-4-Fun Afterschool program (Q4), Professional Activity Days (PA Days) and breaks and provided care to children from seven different schools. As the saying goes, it was short but sweet! We hosted 282 kids (JK – Grade 6) each day in our BC and Q4 programs. In addition, there were 50 more children who attended our afterschool courses each day.

From September 2019 until mid-March this year, GNAG offered over 40 PA day and break programs, for a total of 747 participation opportunities. We employed over 40 youth staff and 20 youth volunteers.

Unfortunately, after the emergency closure due to COVID-19, our anticipated childcare budget dropped by 35 per cent.

Mutchmor rink
After several years of negotiation and research, Mutchmor rink returned to the Glebe. GNAG became the official operator, creating 5,000 participation opportunities last winter. Although the season was supposed to start on January 6 and run for seven weeks, GNAG staff, with their usual enthusiasm and determination, managed to have it ready for the last day of school just in time for the holiday break. The season lasted 10 weeks thanks to the amazing rink team.

Adult programs
One of GNAG’s strategic objectives was to increase programming opportunities for adults. Our portfolio coordinators rolled up their sleeves and restructured their business model, resulting in a steady growth of 19 per cent in our adult general interest, fitness, wellness and pottery programs. Despite entering a global pandemic, interest in our adult programs remained high.

GCC closure
Last March 13, with the onset of COVID-19, the Glebe Community Centre was closed and stayed closed until June 30. Everyone was sent home.

March Break camps were cancelled. The staging of Sound of Music was cancelled, and tickets were refunded. All of our spring program and summer camp registrations were returned. Refunds totalled $787,000. Suspending our childcare programs and not knowing when they would resume was frightening. Putting 200 staff members and contactors on emergency leave was devastating. GNAG was down to its core team of 11.

It is hard to describe how fortunate our GNAG family is. Board members, clients, friends, family and even staff who were put on emergency leave checked in on us at GNAG to see if we were safe, healthy, managing and surviving. It was incredible.

Our small team was motivated to come up with ways to keep our community engaged, entertained, healthy and connected. We quickly learned how to use Zoom and invited the community into our homes for classes. On March 23, GNAG offered its first online fitness class, becoming the first facility in Ottawa to offer online recreational programs.

Shortly after, GNAG offered 40-plus online programs, either free or by donation. The classes included Preschool Circle Time and Boredom Busters, Art and Cooking for kids, Leadership and Youth Night, adult Acting classes and 14 fitness classes run by volunteer instructors. We were able to reach hundreds of people. Thanks to the generosity of our community, GNAG received approximately $36,000 in donations for our online programs.

We have already started our 2020-21 operating year and we continue to adapt to many changes. We have brought back a few of our staff and have opened our doors to some in-person programming. While this has been a difficult year for everyone, I can assure you that our team is dedicated to keeping our community safe, engaged, connected and healthy.

I would like to congratulate and thank the 2019-20 board of directors and our team of staff and volunteers for their leadership, dedication and care in making GNAG the heart of the Glebe.

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