Gloria Campbell and Janice Gooding
Local Heros: Sisters Gloria Campbell and Janice Gooding have left their imprint on Orangeville.
Gloria Campbell and Janice Gooding: Two of our 2012 Local Heroes
“Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves”
When Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin sang their chart-topper in the 1980s, they might well have been talking about sisters Janice Gooding and Gloria Campbell. Gloria, a champion of mental health care, and Janice, a tireless promoter of downtown Orangeville, were two of eight siblings in the Gooding family and spent their early years on a farm in Proton Township, later moving to north Oakville.
In the ’70s, as adulthood set in, Janice worked out of Toronto as a window display artist. Gloria completed her master of social work degree and spent more than a decade working at correctional institutions in Brampton, with a two-year interval at the Children’s Aid Society.
Gloria moved to Dufferin in the late ’70s, and in 1981 life threw a curveball. Her marriage ended and she became a single mother of two children, aged four months and four years. Strapped for cash, she says, “I called Janice with an invitation, more like a plea, to come live with me here in Mono.”
Janice agreed, but with the strict stipulation that it would be for only one winter. Gloria says, “Before she got here, we decided we should open a resale consignment store, because I needed the money. So we started As We Grow on Broadway, with just $800 for the first and last months’ rent and our advertising. It was a great time to start a consignment business. There was a recession, high unemployment, and mortgage rates were around 17 per cent. We sold everything for kids.”
Janice never left, and that one winter has now stretched to 31 years. Gloria continued her full-time job in social service, while Janice focused on building the business.
Not long after opening the store, Janice became involved with the Downtown Business Improvement Area and soon found herself its chair. The hot issue of the day centred on a proposal to widen Broadway to four lanes through the Orangeville core. Fearing the negative impact to businesses along the route, Janice became a leader in the successful fight to have the proposal quashed. “Can you imagine what it would be like if Broadway was four lanes, packed with huge trucks rolling through?” she asks. Instead, those trucks now take the southern bypass eventually constructed as an alternative.
While that battle was still underway, Janice decided it would be more effective to pursue the issue from a stronger political position. She resigned from the BIA and ran for town council. Over the next decade, serving as both councillor and reeve, and on both Orangeville and Dufferin County councils, Janice was at the table as the community undertook several major projects, including the construction of Dufferin County Museum and Archives and Headwaters Health Care Centre, and the renovation of the Orangeville Town Hall and Opera House.
Though Janice doesn’t entirely rule out another foray into politics, the chances seem remote. “I feel like I’ve done that. I gave some of my best years to it. But there are so many other things to experience.”
In 1991 Janice proposed a farmers’ market for Orangeville. “There was a resurgence of markets and it seemed like a great fit,” she says. She spent the next 16 years working to develop the market into the well-established and popular downtown institution it has become. Along the way, she also served twice on the board of Farmers’ Markets Ontario. The market work also involved her in the launch of the Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival with founder Larry Kurtz.
Today, As We Grow remains a downtown Orangeville fixture. Janice took full ownership in 1987. Along the way, she was also able to buy and renovate the historic 8,000-square-foot “Sun” building the business occupied.
Among all her achievements, there’s a special place in Janice’s heart for a program she started at the store about 20 years ago. It began by providing vouchers to clients of Family Transition Place. Initially funded by the business, the program now operates on donations and has expanded to serve Choices Youth Shelter, Hospice Dufferin and the Young Parents Program at Orangeville District Secondary School. It has also served as a model for a similar initiative in Fergus.
Meanwhile, Gloria has had a different, though no less significant, impact on the community. She began working at Family Transition Place in 1988 during the early days of the agency, developing services for women and children, starting awareness programs in schools, and working with the hospital, police, and health and education sectors to create partnerships.
In 1998 she shifted her focus and moved to Dufferin Child and Family Services, where she now serves as manager of child and youth mental health. She started a weekly “Talk-In Clinic” to allow families in need to see a professional within a period of no more than seven days.
Gloria is also working to bring mental health out of the shadows. A current initiative called Allies for Kids’ Mental Health is designed to increase awareness among adults who work with youth, such as coaches, big brothers/sisters, and Guide leaders, about such issues as substance abuse, bullying, sexual orientation and mental health. The program launched in October with an inspiring presentation by Olympian Clara Hughes about the need to eliminate the stigma and fear that surround mental health. Gloria also hopes to launch a local chapter of the 100 Women Who Care organization to raise funds for local nonprofits.
After so many years, Gloria remains enthusiastic about her career, noting that she hasn’t done it alone. “I’ve been so blessed to work with great mentors, great colleagues.” Reflecting on strides made in the field over the last few decades, Gloria acknowledges there is still a long way to go. “I hope for a day when the importance of mental health is as recognized as it is for physical health.”
Perhaps it’s little wonder these two women demonstrate so much commitment to community. It may be in the blood. Their 88-year-old father Vern is a veteran of the Second World War, where he was taken prisoner of war, and their grandfather was a veteran of the First World War.
Gloria says, “My parents valued family, hard work and contributing to the community. It’s always been with us.”
What an inspiration for both young women starting out as well as the seasoned woman looking for a way to “pay back” in their own community. Your message is soulful and rewarding……in times of adversity, reach out to family, friends and keep going.
Thank you for the well written article!
Stay well and keep inspiring,
Sylvia Wilvert from Scarborough on Nov 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm |