Well, there’s no turning back now <gulp>. We’ve pushed the big red button and we’re here, and you can see us. Honestly, even though I’ve wanted to get to this moment for three years, I have to admit now that we’re here; it’s actually a little...weird.

Even though our organization will soon be celebrating its 70th anniversary in this community, in many ways, we’re the new kid and we’ve just shown up for the first day of school. Are we anxious? Yup. Are we nervous? Of course. But are we ready to play? Most definitely.

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself. My name is Jeremy Bibaud and I’ll be your tour guide today. I recently took on the role of Manager of New Media for UW (that’s what the cool kids call us) and I did so because, well, it’s actually a really exciting time to work here, to be honest.  

The website you’re looking at is just one example of that. I think you’ll agree it looks nothing like what you’ve come to expect from us – and that’s the idea, really. Change has always been the target of our organization and has become a personal mantra of mine and while the website is a pretty big change, it’s not the biggest.

We have bloggers now. People with faces you can see and talk to and they’ll be covering all sorts of topics. Let me tell you a little about them.

Nancy Critchley is our Director of Communications. She has the unique perspective of someone who gets to work very closely with many of our senior volunteers, speakers and media. By helping others find the words to tell their stories, blogging gives her a natural outlet to tell her own.

Tim Osborne is the Director of Neighbourhoods and is already quite active online. He’ll be writing about non-profit news and keeping us informed on many of the Member Agencies that provide the critical services our community needs.

Angela Wilson is the Communications Specialist for Success By 6®. Not only will she be providing content specifically about early childhood development, but she’s an expecting mom-to-be herself so she’ll be able to speak to some of the challenges that families face when raising children.

Melanie Popowich is our Director of Discovery. Whether you worked with a company that went on a bus tour of our community, participated in a Day of Caring or ever heard or seen one of our Discovery Speakers or videos, Melanie has been the one to head that up. Not only will she be blogging about volunteerism but she’ll be doing it through the lens of the arts & culture scene she loves so much.

Having bloggers is that first step in being able to speak with you directly. That’s exciting, but even that isn’t the biggest change.

We’re on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Flickr now and we have some amazing things planned for those channels, but again, not the biggest change.

We’ll be running contests, posting videos and podcasts and giving you new and exciting ways to engage with us. For example, our first contest is to name our online mascot. You’ve probably seen him around the website so, go ahead, submit your best name (after you finish my blog, of course)! It’s all going to be a lot of fun but, it’s still not the biggest change.

So what could I possibly be holding back? What could be changing so drastically it dwarfs all of our new plans?

The answer - you.

That’s right, you’re changing. Let me explain. Like I mentioned earlier, we’re nearly 70 now. That’s grandparent age. We’ve been doing what we do for awhile now and sometimes when you’ve been doing something for a long time people think they’ve seen all your tricks.

Well, we want to change that. We want to change what you expect from us but the only way to do that is for you to be a part of all this. We need you to follow us, fan us, comment on our blogs, voice your opinion, vote in polls, take part in contests, get engaged – change things. Tell us what you want to see and we'll do our best to deliver it week after week. Deal?

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said ‘a rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single person contemplates it, bearing within them the image of a cathedral.’

This region is our rock pile. Okay, it's obviously nicer than a rock pile, but you get the idea. We all live here, we all go to work here, go to school here, raise our families here. We’re all here together and I think, from the thousands of volunteers and donors that express their love for our community every year, it’s safe to assume that we all want to build something great outta these stones.

But, like many things, it all starts with a conversation. 

So, “Hi.”