By Deirdre Pike
Don Jaffray has five key words on his twitter profile: Justice, equity, irony, harmony and ukulele. Although none of the SPRC staff know anything about Don’s ukulele talents, we all know about his long commitment to justice, equity, harmony and irony.
Google Don’s name and there is page after page about reports he has authored, alone or with a team, and talks he has given on justice and equity issues in Hamilton. (Be sure to google “Don Jaffray, Hamilton” or you’ll find a guy with the same name running in Ward 3 out in Edmonton!)
Poverty, housing and homelessness, immigration, seniors, children and families, street-involved youth, food security, basic needs, living wage, and factors in precarious employment are just a few of the topics that are associated with Don’s name and the SPRC.
For people in the community who have worked with Don for all or part of his 35 years at the SPRC, it may seem like he’s been here forever. However, he actually started off working at Stelco. After he’d experienced that life for a few years he chose to go back to school and eventually completed a Masters in Arts with a focus on Social Welfare Policy. Through that journey he found the SPRC and the rest, as they say, is history. Don sees himself as a historic figure, often introducing himself with some self-deprecating line about his age.
About harmony. As Executive Director of the SPRC for about half of those 35 years, Don has managed a staff of anywhere between 5 to 25 planners, community development workers and administrators. It’s not always easy managing creative and talented people but, for the most part, people who start at the SPRC stay committed to the work for a long time. This is due, in large part, to Don’s leadership. He mentors staff in a way that leads them to find their strengths as individuals and use those strengths for the team.
About irony. Don’s a funny guy. He uses humour well and he coaches the funny folks on the SPRC team to do the same. On his Facebook page he has about 4 posts. One is from May 23, 2010, which reads, “Married Margaret Jaffray.” A friend comments, “You didn’t marry Margaret in 2010! Don: “Maybe not, but I would again!”
Funny and touching. Smart and compassionate. Connected and committed. A leader with style and substance. Don has brought the gifts that were needed to make the SPRC the strong and respected organization that it is today. Congratulations Don! Keep your stick on the ice.