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Leading Through Change
CURRENT COMMUNITY STORIES
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Light the Fire Again

By Peter Rozeluk, Executive Director, Mission Services of London



My personal life has been full of change. I am lawyer and a Chartered Professional Accountant, I worked for 10 years in a large international accounting firm (with three changes in office locations), 17 years in a small local accounting firm with my brother, and for the last six years I have been the Executive Director of Mission Services of London (MSL).

My faith journey has been one of change – baptized and confirmed in the Eastern Rite of the Catholic church, baptized in a Pentecostal church, and then a journey through several denominations, largely because of moves between cities (London, Ottawa, Kitchener, back to London) that included a non-denominational community church, the Evangelical Missionary Church, Convention Baptist and Fellowship Baptist churches.

Recently I spoke on leading through two major changes at MSL: the leadership structure and composition of MSL; and operations at our Mission Store thrift store.

1. Leadership structure and composition

What led to the change? Our Board of Directors was moving to a governance model and initiated the change when they hired me, someone not only from outside the social services sector but from the business sector. I’m not sure there is a clearer statement that says, “won’t continue with the ‘same old, same old’”. Further change came from my desire for diversity of experience and background.

What were the challenges we faced? Finding qualified people from different areas of what I call the “Christian sandbox” willing to work at a non-profit in leadership positions.

What surprised us the most? Discovering that many other organizations similar to ours, across North America, were moving to a governance model, were experiencing change in senior leadership, and were tapping the business sector for senior leadership.

What resources did we use, people, what helped us? The diversity of our Board itself was an extremely helpful and indispensable resource. Our Board members form a community drawn from many Christian branches, producing rich and valuable advice because of different perspectives. External consultants provided objectivity and guided a strategic planning process, and we drew upon a network of similar organizations, learning from their experiences.

2. The Mission Store

Our thrift store was always intended to break even, but never quite got there. We were losing money each year.

What led to the change? Asking ourselves, “How can we use the Store better, not just for us and our programs, but for the community AND provide a positive contribution to the bottom line?”

What were the challenges we faced? We were looking for a particular type of building and in a particular area of the city for at least five years. We had to change our approach and either “go big or go home”. Going big involved big investment and bigger operating costs than we were used to. We wanted to keep two unique signature programs, “Warm Hands, Warm Hearts” and our “Voucher Program”, while at the same time, generating positive cash flow for use in other branches.

What surprised us the most? How complicated it is to renovate space!

What resources did we use, people, what helped us? There were several people with significant business experience from North Park Community Church who provided us with extraordinary consulting services, offering their time and skill over several months. They were pivotal in getting our project off the ground. Secondly, we added two members to the leadership team who had previous retail experience at Toys “R” Us and WalMart.

Why not check out the new Mission Services Thrift Store for yourself?

OUR LOCATION
797 York Street at Rectory – plenty of free parking
T: 519.438.3056

REGULAR STORE HOURS
Monday: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
Saturday: 9:30 am to 3:00 pm
Sunday: Closed!