Reflections: our first Board retreat


On November 26th, 2016, the Foundation of Hope (FOH) Board of Directors had our first full day retreat. The purpose of the retreat was to connect on a personal level and bring together the values and commitments of the board members. The retreat also included new FOH recruits that are not yet formal board members.

This was my first experience doing this kind of work with a non-profit charity. On the business side, my life is in health care leadership, but the non-profit side is quite different. For one, it is all volunteer-based – people giving their heart and soul that are driven by a deep sense of purpose and giving back. Despite absences from a few board members, we successfully built on the group process to share our creativity with each other to the benefit of all board members.

This is vital work that will help to build a strong, relevant, and lasting organization.  

The day’s focus was different from the two previous strategic planning sessions held by FOH since its inception. The group retreat focused on what’s inside (the human) and worked to bring it all out through lived experiences and values. Strategic planning is really about who we are as an organization, what we do, how we do it, and when to act. The retreat was all about why we as individuals are doing this – that comes from deep within, as a core set of values.

Our focus of the day targeted 5 key areas of exploration:

  • Creating simple rules of engagement
  • Defining levels of commitment
  • Setting team agreements
  • Establishing group alignment
  • Applying social skills and working styles

All five areas focus on Team strengths. It was truly wonderful to connect with a group of people so committed to a Vision.

Our facilitator was amazing and able to adapt to different issues and events throughout the day. One technique I thought was really powerful was to ask a thought-provoking question, then get participants to go for a 30-minute walk in groups of 3. It amazed me how much deeper the conversations went!

It is just incredible that FOH started as an idea in a living room among a group of 30 caring people! We created a possibility for LGBT+ refugees and today we have granted over $70,000 to charitable organizations across Canada! These are the charities actively doing the individual case work.

This retreat reminds me that everything is possible when you care so deeply about something. This retreat will be one of my most memorable, as an historic moment in the evolution and growth of the Foundation of Hope.

Carl Meadows, President


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