A Seat at the Table
Monday night we elected a new council for the City of London but it is important to remember you can help shape the way this City is operated by participating and sitting on a committee or advisory board. The Deadline to apply for Boards, Commissions and Special Committees is November 7th and Advisory Committees is November 13th, if you are interested in being a part of making this City great and learning more about the political processes this is a great place to start. You can find information on the various committees here. We sat down with Nadine Reeves to find out a bit more about her experience on an advisory committee.
Which Committee are you on?
I am a voting member of the London Housing Advisory Committee.
How did you hear about the opportunity?
I heard about the application process through my connections on the Homeless Coalition and the Child & Youth Network.
What made you decide to volunteer?
I’ll be honest, I get a kick out of giving my time. I had been looking for another way to contribute my skills and experience, and I feel strongly that everyone in our community deserves affordable, safe housing, so the Housing Advisory Committee seemed like a natural fit. I also wanted to learn more about municipal affairs.
How much of your time did you have to commit?
Each month I spend about an hour reviewing the meeting package, and the meetings last on average two hours. We’re talking a commitment of three hours a month.
What has been the most rewarding?
Making connections with like-minded people. Also one afternoon during the ReThink London process, the Committee went to the Ark Aid Mission for their coffee time to ask the men and women who were there how they visioned a London in which they wanted to live. It wasn’t surprising that they had a similar vision as me. They also want an inclusive and caring community that is safe. It was one of my favourite-est days ever.
Have there been any challenges?
There was a huge learning curve, but knowledge is power! I swear the first half dozen meetings were in some alien language. Learning the lingo took some time.
What impact has your involvement had on your family?
In terms of time spent away from my family, it’s been minimal. Meetings are held on weekdays over lunch, and both of my children are in school. In terms of spin-off, shortly after I started on the LHAC, I found some info about the Children’s Museum’s Tween Council which is a group of young volunteers that also acts as an advisory panel. My youngest daughter who was 9 at the time was eager to join a Committee – just like her mum, and she still loves her monthly meeting and volunteer gigs. I love that there is an opportunity out there for her to use her voice and experience, and that she, too, is expanding her network (she calls them friends!) and doing her civic duty as a community member.
Anything else you would like to add?
At the beginning, I was really intimidated just walking into City Hall, but now I enjoy strutting through the halls like I totally belong there.
I also enjoy the presentations from City of London staff and community partners. I’ve learned about safety inspections, hoarding, secondary dwelling units, licensing, tenant/landlord rights, and so much more.
And the City of London staff are pretty much super heroes. I really respect the work that they do and their commitment to serve the community. I don’t think they ever get enough credit.
BIO: Nadine Reeves sits on the London Housing Advisory Committee. Through her work at Childreach, she is actively involved in the Ending Poverty priority area of the City’s Child & Youth Network. She also volunteers her time and talent to a new community initiative called Circles – a Bridges out of Poverty program. The rest of her time is spent raising caring kids and knitting. You can find her on twitter as @corazenia and on her blog http://corazenia.wordpress.com .