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HELPERS: Bradford native hopes to instill positive change in the community through volunteering

Bradford resident Jenn Lloyd believes in that inclusive engagement and person-to-person kindness are crucial to a well-rounded, healthy community

Bradford resident Jennifer (Jenn) Lloyd shows her appreciation and support for her hometown and those within the community through her continued dedication and volunteer work. 

Not only does she serve on the Board of Directors for South Simcoe’s CONTACT Community Services, but she is also the founder of two community organizations here in Bradford. With an unwavering passion for community involvement, she strives to help BWG to be a “more connected, kind, and progressive place” by “contributing to that change, which is to bring people together, building new relationships”. 

Lloyd believes that inclusive engagement and person-to-person kindness are crucial to a well-rounded, healthy community. This is something that personally resonates with her. 

“As someone who grew up here, I haven't always felt like I belonged, or that my values and perspectives were represented, which is why I left this community for many years," she shared. "During my time away, I started to really believe in the potential of democracy and citizen power. When I found myself back here unexpectedly, I decided to use my voice and skills to take action and contribute to building the community I want BWG to be”. 

Lloyd founded the BWG Women’s + Group nearly three years ago. The group provides a safe place for women to gather once a month to discuss issues affecting their well-being. It grew rapidly, and now it collaborates with other groups and organizations in the community on advocacy initiatives.

Their mission for 2021-2024 is to help women+ become change-makers in their own community and personal life. Alongside Lloyd, Bradford Women's+ Group was also founded by Sukham Dhindsa, Leeann Scott, and Jes Corbett. The team now consists of Lloyd, Tricia Hulshof, Missy Pontes, Tina de los Santos, Arlene Hearn, Emily Wirta, Jacky Odish, and Haley Rice. 

Rise Up BWG is a coalition that came to fruition after a group of women were invited to join the Mayor’s Anti-Racism Advisory Panel after the Black Lives Matter rally in June 2020. They strive to offer opportunities for the community to learn, heal, and unite against racism. Rise Up BWG was co-founded by Cheraldean McDonald Duhaney, Michelle Melo, Nadia Sinclair, and Julie Kumar.  Their newest members are Jennifer Bahinski and Ashley Mosquera. 

These groups were born out of a call to action where Lloyd felt she wanted to, “see people actively engaged in their community”. She believes that community plays a crucial role in our health and wellness. 

Lloyd has high hopes for what Bradford Women’s+ Group and Rise Up BWG will bring to the community. She ultimately hopes that these groups will inspire others to act on their passions.

“I would also love to see more diverse community leaders elected to our Council and hope these groups can contribute to that in some way," she said. 

In addition to her work with the groups, Lloyd also serves on the Board of Directors as Director for South Simcoe’s CONTACT Community Services, which is a registered charity that has supported the communities of South Simcoe for over 40 years. CONTACT provides quality services to the community through sustainable and creative solutions. From 2018-2019, CONTACT’s Housing Services provided help to over 600 individuals/families and helped 33 homeless individuals settle into permanent housing. 

“As a member of the Board of Directors, I support the organization with governance, ensuring CONTACT is connected to the community's current and emerging needs” she explained. “Alongside my main responsibilities as a Board member, I have helped with fundraising initiatives, like wrapping holiday gifts at Tanger Outlet Mall, strategic planning, and advocacy."

In March 2020, the Bradford Women's+ Group collaborated with CONTACT's Housing Access Worker and residents passionate about housing issues and made a deputation to Bradford Council on their desire to see a healthy housing continuum with housing options that can meet the diverse needs the BWG community. 

When asked about why she enjoys being involved with the CONTACT organization, she adds, “I’m really proud to be part of CONTACT Community Services because everyone, from staff to volunteers, cares deeply about our community members” she explained. “Over the past year, it has been inspiring to see how diligently the CONTACT team has worked to meet people's needs in such creative and responsive ways. CONTACT is such an asset to our community!”

Developing lifelong sisterhoods and friendships with her fellow group members and teammates is undoubtedly the most rewarding thing to come out of Lloyd's hard work.

“One day if there are no groups left, we will still have life-long friendships. I've also had the opportunity to meet so many awesome people in our community and witness really meaningful moments and special relationships form between other people, too," she said. 

When reflecting on all the initiatives that she has been a part of, it is difficult for her to pick out a favourite.

“What makes them memorable and successful is the sense of community. When we hold space to be vulnerable, share stories, and rally together for something important, the impact is indescribable," she said.

Lloyd wholeheartedly believes that these programs and involvement opportunities are the catalyst to what creates a community and ensures the togetherness that makes for special and memorable moments.