PRECIOUS MINDS FOUNDERS
Precious Minds is proof that when a need is identified, and committed people take action, great things can happen. In 1999, Sharon Simmonds observed and shared in the challenges faced by her friend Elizabeth Graham and her family who were caring for their son/brother diagnosed with autism. Discussions and brainstorming sessions grew to include Bonnie Noble and Stephanie Weddel who worked in the fields of special education and early childhood intervention. Together these four ladies recognized the broad spectrum of special needs experienced by numerous families in North Durham and Precious Minds was born. Precious Minds was established as charitable organization with Revenue Canada in June 1999 and incorporated in November 2001. In July 2004, thanks to a capital grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the support of our community, we opened our Resource & Learning Centre on Highway 12 with a goal to serve families in Brock, Scugog and Uxbridge Townships. Precious Minds is not government funded and relies on the generosity of corporations, foundations, community grants and individuals to help raise funds and keep fees affordable for our families. In 2015, Precious Minds identified a new need, the children and youth we had been serving throughout the years were entering adulthood. This inspired a change to our mandate to include adults and our Skills for Life programming was initiated.
Founder Reflections - 20th Anniversary
"One of the joys of my life has been my involvement in launching Precious Minds twenty years ago. It started with four local women trying to make a difference in people’s lives by coming alongside families dealing with a variety of challenges. From our small start the organization has grown and many lives have been touched. I am always running into people who express gratitude for a program or service that benefited their child. My hope is that the work that was started so long ago would continue to grow and evolve to meet the new challenges faced by parents and their children. Each smile and each new step makes the world just a little bit better than it was before. I am very thankful that Precious Minds continues to serve families in North Durham. Congratulations on your 20th anniversary!" ~ Bonnie Noble
"What a delight to be celebrating 20 years! And what an honour and privilege it is to be one of the four women who had a vision for this amazing organization. Emotions well up when I think of my fellow founders. Thank you for the profound impact you had on our family’s life and for tirelessly giving of your time. We have a forever bond! Many of the original ‘precious’ children are adults now and I am so thankful that the organization has grown to include innovative programs for them. We must cherish this time of reflection. Twenty years of lives that have been touched and families that have been given hope. Moving forward let us continue to be cheerleaders for an ever expanding community that comes alongside to offer support, strategies and friendship. Thank you for being part of this unique journey." ~ Elizabeth Graham
"Taking time to reflect on the past 20 years of Precious Minds brings to mind so many memories. It is such a blessing that the vision to provide necessary support to families with children and adults who have barriers to learning is still continuing and impacting the community of North Durham in a positive way. Although much has changed over the years, the desire to make a difference has not and the people who have been a part of Precious Minds have brought their own thoughts and expertise to the vision. Of course, there have been some ‘bumps in the road’, but the passion to carry on with the common goal of the vision has enabled the organization, as a whole, to navigate those bumps well and move forward. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of Precious Minds in different capacities throughout the years. Personally, as a result of my involvement, I have grown and been taught so much from the individuals we serve, their families, board members, staff and volunteers. It has been a real privilege! Thanks to all the people who have shared a piece of themselves with Precious Minds in the past 20 years and to the community of North Durham that has been a great encouragement and has done so much to promote this beautiful organization. Also, thanks to those who are involved presently, motivated to propel Precious Minds into the next decade – those who have caught the vision and are pressing on!" ~ Stephanie Weddel
"Precious Minds has always been about families. Originally established to provide connections and resources for parents, it soon became apparent that there was also a need with services for children. The organization grew with physical space and contracted with specialists to provide programs for children and youth. And the organization grew with the families––as their children grew older with different needs, our board and staff continued to assess and consider how we could continue providing care, support and hope for teens and young adults. An organization that has operated for twenty years to meet real needs in the community has required continuous assessment and adjustment; and the dedication of many to keep the vision relevant. Congratulations to the current board of directors, staff and volunteers for your commitment and investment in this meaningful work." ~ Sharon Simmonds
Precious Minds 10th Anniversary Gala in 2009
Founders in back row from left to right: Sharon Simmonds, Elizabeth Graham, Stephanie Weddel & Bonnie Noble with the Honourable David Onley and his wife Ruth.