Trevor Thomson, Treasury Secretary and Assistant to the Executive Director
Trevor pauses. He’s been asked what core program or project at CityKidz is closest to his heart. I’ve asked everyone on staff this question and everyone struggles to choose. How to decide which program or initiative best encapsulates this remarkable organization?
Trevor takes a different approach. “This isn’t truly a program,” he admits, “but my response would be: the opportunities we provide to volunteers to live their purpose.”
He should know. Since he retired in 1999, Trevor has been volunteering nearly 60 hours a week with CityKidz.
He suggests “men are guilty of identifying themselves by what they do. And therefore, when they retire they are nothing.”
Despite a 34-year career with the Hamilton School Board, Trevor retired young and found himself searching for purpose. He was determined to do something for his physical health and something for the community.
For his health, he joined a gym and started going for daily walks.
Something for the Community
For the community, a flyer at the back of his church led him to CityKidz. What started as a reluctant offer to roll coins (“I hate rolling coins”) ended in a long meeting with CityKidz founder and executive director Todd Bender and, as Trevor puts it, “a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
Trevor started coming into CityKidz just a couple hours a week but his volunteer role and commitment quickly grew to eclipse many of the organization’s full-time staff.
Officially, Trevor is the Secretary and Treasurer for the Board of Directors. Trevor, however, describes his role differently: “essentially, I’m Todd’s assistant. I do whatever I can to support him.”
Which is no small task. CityKidz tells its children to dream BIG and Todd Bender leads by example. Ever the visionary, Todd is always dreaming up new ways to expand CityKidz’ impact. To reach one more child. And for the last 18 years, Trevor has been there every step of the way.
When Trevor first joined CityKidz in 1999 the organization was in its infancy. Everything was located at The Playhouse theatre on Sherman Avenue, including Todd and his wife Tina. They lived upstairs. There were only four or five employees and a couple hundred kids attending the CityKidz Saturday sessions.
“But everyone was passionate about kids, loved them and made a difference,” remembers Trevor.
KinderKidz, Summer to Remember, Gift of Christmas, Operation Birthday Child – programs newer staff can’t imagine CityKidz without – all launched during Trevor’s tenure.
At 73, Trevor shows no signs of tiring.
No Signs of Stopping
Two pilot branches – one in Ottawa, the other in Regina – are where Trevor currently focuses a lot of his time. Together with Todd, Trevor visits the sites to guide and assess their development. The pair join Ottawa and Regina CityKidz teams on home visits, bus pick-ups and watch their Saturday programs. They attend the branches’ board meetings and contribute to their fundraising and volunteer development.
But for all his work towards realizing CityKidz’ grand vision, Trevor remains dedicated to living out its mission of inspiring hope, resiliency and achievement, one child at a time. He continues to build and nurture supportive and deeply personal relationships with the children and families of the CityKidz community.
Though other commitments usually keep Trevor from Saturday sessions and bus pick-ups, he still finds time to team up with Todd for home visits. When talking about the weekly household drop-ins, Trevor lights up.
“First thing: after a few visits, parents let us take their three-year-old child away and trust us to bring them back. That’s pretty amazing.”
Trevor knows the frustration of opening your door to an uninvited sales-pitch: “when somebody knocks on my door, I assume they’re trying to sell me something, and I’m not extending the conversation at all.” But when CityKidz comes to call, Trevor explains, people open both their doors and their hearts.
“They ask questions, they share their problems and pray with us even if they aren’t from a spiritual background.” He continues, “if we’re doing it right, they’re seeing something that they would like for themselves.”
What it’s all About
That’s what CityKidz is all about: inspiring kids to dream big and giving them the tools and support to achieve God’s purpose. At CityKidz, faith, hope and love aren’t just extended to the children it serves, but also to the servants of its mission.
“This has been an awakening for me,” Trevor affirms, “I love being in a situation where I see people with a passion for what they’re doing. CityKidz allows me to live what I believe is my purpose for my life.”
Check back next week for another instalment of #MeetOurTeamMondays!