How to Lead a Workforce of Volunteers - With Santa’s Best Friend Christine Hewitt
How do you lead a workforce of over 400 with a single staff member? This is the challenge faced by our VCLA 202 Winner Christine Hewitt as she took on the Executive Director role at Santa's Anonymous. in a few short years Christine had:
Quintupled Fundraising Growth
Doubled Christmas Hamper distribution
Partnered with Greater Victoria Firefighters to deliver those hampers and provide trauma support (with a Toy Room!)
The challenge was difficult, and Christine shares how she found the strength to move this forward after facing a significant personal tragedy.
Christine Hewitt - Executive Director of CFAX Santas Anonymous and winner of the 2020 Victoria Community Leadership Award in the Thriving Children & Youth category.
Christine’s journey to her role at Santas Anonymous starts back in Saskatoon. With her son Liam diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant, the level of care and services at the Queen Alexandria Centre for Children’s Health brought Christine and family out to Victoria. It was a significant learning experience about compassion for the entire family.
After Liam’s passing at age nine, Christine was left with a huge hole in her heart and knew that she needed to fill part of it by dedicating herself to making children’s lives better. Santas Anonymous, a children’s charity, was the perfect fit. Its year-round special grant program, started in 2002 by board member Mel Cooper (also one of the founders of Leadership Victoria Society!), has disbursed $2.1 million dollars into literacy, play, counselling, therapeutic riding, snacks in schools, and helping children through loss and crises.
In 2019 alone, its Christmas program helped 1500 families with food hampers and gifts for the children.
The COVID-19 pandemic sees Christine working at home more than usual which has allowed for planning, reflection, peace, and pride at what the local community has accomplished during this difficult period. She highlights the generosity of donors, sponsors and community partners who are always there. Over 400 volunteers, a supportive board and experienced mentors have helped guide Christine through her many years with Santa’s.
Christine stresses the importance of giving back to the volunteers who so tirelessly commit their time. She has met many who were helped by Santas Anonymous at a tough time in their lives who now give back to the cause. This gives her hope because she knows that with community generosity, Santa’s Anonymous will keep going –
“It’s been around for 43 years - something so important is too good to lose… just think of the kids!”
Christine wants everyone to know she is honoured and humbled by the Victoria Community Leadership Award – and that she is still a Saskatchewan Roughriders fan!
You can learn more about this invaluable children’s charity at cfaxsantas.com
Check out the podcast on Spotify.
Santas Anonymous would like to thank their Community Partners who actively support the Christmas Program. Monk Office Supply | Jazzaniah Catering | Westshore ULOCK | Thrifty Foods | Bottle Depot | Canterbury Coffee | Matthews Shelving | 2 Burley Men | Budget | Jim Pattison Lexus Victoria | Mount Doug Springs | Fairway Markets | Butler Concrete & Aggregate | Cloverdale Paint
written by Caroline Hudson and Chandrima Mazumdar, two of our incredible Leadership Victoria volunteers.