‘’Get out of town!’’
Linda Morel was 27 years old, had just been offered the position of Executive Director at the Sudbury Community Service Centre and this was her reaction. ‘’I didn’t think I had a chance. My interview only lasted 20 minutes.’’ Today, she can proudly say she has been with the organization for 31 years, all because of her desire to help people.
Linda is the type of person you only have to meet once, or apparently only have to interview for 20 minutes. Her enthusiasm is contagious, her style is envigorating and her spiky hair exemplifies her spunk.
Linda originally started her career with the Sudbury Community Service Centre as a Service Coordinator. Her role involved helping people with a developmental disability to transition from living in a nursing home to a more fitting community setting. She saw it as an opportunity to impact lives in a permanent way.
As she moved into the role of Executive Director, Linda used her energy and passion to further develop two distinct programs, one serving people with developmental disabilities and another for people experiencing problems with their finances. Linda first managed 6 employees when she became Executive Director- today there are 43.
Clearly, one of Linda’s strong attributes is her ability to manage staff. ‘’The average tenure is 20 years. I think am good at hiring and choosing staff members. I consider recruiting quality staff members one of my greatest accomplishments. As a result, people in Sudbury are receiving great service from experienced staff.’’
As she sits in her office facing the reception area, Linda watches people break down in tears of joy as they hug their credit counsellor. They have succeeded on their debt management program or have found a solution to their financial problems and can sleep again at night. ‘’Our counsellors’ skillsets are so strong. I think I likely have one of the longest standing credit counsellors in the industry in Francine Hebert. It is so rewarding to watch their work ethic. Sometimes it is hard to get them to go home!’’
‘’ Work hard and be nice.’’- Linda Morel
What has proven to be most effective in ensuring a stable organization, is a balance of importance placed on managing staff, service to clients and administrative duties. ‘’You must have an equal balance, otherwise one will suffer,’’ she recommends.
As Linda goes about her daily business, she makes it look so easy. In reality, she has lead the organization through many ups and downs including the decline of debt management programs as for-profit credit repair companies became increasingly competitive. ‘’We have refocussed our credit counselling services to work with people who are living in poverty. We have been able to re-deploy resources and receive additional funding through Prosper Canada and the Ontario Government to carry out programs.’’
Linda is referring to the Ontario Financial Empowerment Program, which assists people with tax filing, one-on-one counselling and problem solving, financial literacy workshops, assistance opening bank accounts and setting savings goals plus much more. The program spans beyond Sudbury, covering the full north eastern shore of Ontario’s Lake Huron. ‘’Our credit counselling program has adapted to help low income people manage to live successfully and take advantage of all benefits and programs available to them,’’ explains Linda.
When asked what continues to motivate her 31 years later, Linda is quick to reply, ‘’Passion – for the programs that we provide and the positive impact we have on the lives of the people we serve, equally through both programs.’’
‘’I found a job I love and have never worked a day in my life.’’
The Sudbury Community Service Centre Inc. is a not-for-profit charitable organization and accredited member of Credit Counselling Canada. The Centre provides services to two target groups – people with developmental disability and people experiencing problems with their finances. In both services, the Centre strives to effect positive change within the lives of the people it serves. In pursuit of this mission, the Centre recognizes as the primary value the worth, dignity and individuality of every human being.