On May 4th, OASIS (Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs) awarded long time Community Living Toronto volunteer, Donna Britten with the Annie Oliver Award. The award recognizes an individual who demonstrates excellence and leadership in the Developmental Services sector, who has assisted OASIS in achieving the goals inherent in its mission statement, and who has inspired others.
At their annual conference in Ottawa, OASIS presented Donna with her award. For more than 40 years, Donna has been an active member of Community Living Toronto. Inspired by her son, David, Donna left her career as an educator in 1968. Supports and services were not broadly available and while she was busy raising her young family and taking care of David’s needs Donna quickly found the time to speak up about issues of support for children with intellectual disabilities.
Donna has always recognized the importance of family playing an active role in not only the care of their loved one, but also as change makers for the whole sector. She has fought for inclusive education opportunities not only for her son, but children everywhere. Her passion for the family connection is evidenced in being a founding member of such strong family oriented groups such as Extend-a-Family and Pilot Parents (now FamilyLink).
Donna has a strong presence with all levels of government and is an incredible advocate. She has made presentations to various standing committees and has met directly with Members of Provincial Parliament and Members of Parliament – seeking change, offering feedback and giving wise advice. With her lived experience, Donna has become a sought after voice for the sector and has developed strong, professional relationships with government officials at all levels.
Donna was a key advocate for Project 81’. Project ’81 was an innovative program that created residential and day services in Scarborough for adults with complex intellectual and physical needs – those who, at that time, were considered too fragile to live in the community and for the most part lived in institutions. Donna helped to advocate for resources needed by families so that their move to the community was successful.
Donna has served time as a member of Scarborough Region Council and is still an active and respected member of the Community Living Toronto Board of Directors and the Government Relations Committee. She was a founding member of Developmental Services Toronto (DSTO), a Board Member of Community Living Ontario and presently a Board Member of OASIS.
Donna carries on the legacy left behind by her late husband, Jim Britten, and will continue to be a strong, passionate supporter of agencies within the developmental services sector. We can think of no one more deserving of the Annie Oliver Award. Congratulations Donna!
The legacy of Donna and Jim Britten was recently featured in our latest issue of Donor Dollars. Read it here!