Jennifer Cree enjoys volunteering as a member of the Board of Directors at Community Care Durham (CCD). She has a unique perspective on the organization because, not so long ago, she also worked in a community-based organization in Toronto.
Jennifer lives in Ajax and joined the CCD Board 15 years ago in 2007. When a friend got a job at CCD, she mentioned to Jennifer that they were looking for board members. She applied and it was a perfect fit.
As well as participating on the board, Jennifer delivered Meals on Wheels. She also served as a Local Advisory Committee rep for Ajax and served on the COPE Walk for Mental Health Awareness organizing committee.
It’s these varied perspectives that allow her to effectively contribute to the work of the Board.
Her focus hasn’t changed since joining CCD.
“The services to our clients are the biggest attraction. It’s about the clients, what they need,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer moved to Ajax from Scarborough in 1990, the same year she got married. She and her husband Rick, work in the publishing industry. Together they produce a quarterly history magazine, and a genealogy magazine six times a year. Like many businesses, the couple moved their office into their home during COVID. She said it’s been an adjustment juggling office space and personal space with their two sons, who also live in the house. Their daughter lives in British Columbia.
“I figured we’d have to work at home at some point. I wasn’t thinking it would be as fast as it was because we had to rejig stuff,” Jennifer said.
Away from work, Jennifer spends a lot of time supporting her church, St Paul’s United, in Ajax. Between her church work and CCD, Jennifer gives back to her community in countless ways. So last December it was a pleasant surprise when the universe gave something back to her.
Jennifer was running errands before heading to CCD to help distribute Festive Food Boxes. She was in the toy aisle at Walmart when her phone rang. It was Q107’s John Derringer and he was live on the radio. Jennifer had recently purchased 50-50 tickets to Derringer’s Festive 50/50 draw in support of Abuse Hurts, a national charity that helps to assist, heal, and empower survivors of abuse. He was calling to let her know that she’d won just under half a million dollars.
Jennifer said she was in shock.
“We don’t win anything – ever. Never, never, never,” she said.
With the call finished, Jennifer carried on with her day, delivered the Festive Food Boxes, and didn’t say anything to anyone until she spoke to her husband. He thought she was joking.
She told one of her sons. He also thought she was being funny and didn’t believe her.
“Everyone said, you’re joking. Why would I say that? That’s not a typical thing you’d say.”
But her colleagues at her church believed her. They’d heard the news on Q107 before Jennifer even received her call from Derringer. And when she and her husband picked up the cheque from Abuse Hurts in Newmarket nobody doubted Jennifer was telling the truth.
Given the rising cost of living, the money has been a big help, she said. But her life really hasn’t changed. She’s still volunteering and helping to make a difference.
When Jennifer gets some time alone, she enjoys scrapbooking. It’s a hobby she’s had for 20 years. And in the summer, she loves to spend time at her trailer up north.
“In the last couple of years especially (due to COVID-19) it’s been nice to get away,” she said.
Back at CCD, Jennifer said she’s seen a lot of changes during her involvement with the organization. She sees good things ahead for CCD.
“It’s been amazing to see what we’ve gotten done the last few years,” she said.