Posted September 30, 2014
Mavis is a long term resident (over 25 years) of Herongate in Ottawa. Married, with a degree in Anthropology, she also has a son in Algonquin College, and a daughter at Carleton University. Her interest in people almost led her to a career in social work, but she didn’t think she could handle some of the heartbreaking cases of abuse, so she quit. Her interest in people and social causes didn’t stop however; it just grew in different ways. In the meantime, she worked in Statistics Canada for over 10 years, and later, other retail jobs.
It was when her children started school, she became interested in helping with Literacy programs, as many immigrant children in the school were struggling to learn English and French. Fundraising for books, and sport uniforms led to joining the School Council as Chair. And this normally shy person had to suddenly learn by doing, such things as writing newsletters and chairing meetings, and running events like the Year End School BBQ or Arts night. Success at school led to helping at church and community BBQs. And then disaster struck.
Her Gardenhome complex was sold to a new owner called Trans-Globe. In the next few months, signs of poor maintenance, poor client communication, became the norm. Repairs took longer to accomplish, and that was only if you kept calling. Haphazard garbage collection, common areas rarely cleaned, and pest infestations left many buildings smelly and unhealthy. Clients were at their wits end and some started to move out, calling Trans-Globe a slumlord.
Enter ACORN. Members showed up and listened to people’s complaints. They helped organise public actions, and showed pictures to media about the terrible conditions tenants of Trans-Globe had to deal with each day. And they took many cases to the Rental Tribunal, showing this was a large scale abuse of rental clients. And they were very successful, winning over $230,000 in repairs/rebates from landlords not maintaining their properties. No other group or civic member helped renters in Ottawa as much as ACORN. Because of that behaviour, and her own belief in community service, she officially joined ACORN in July 2014, and she is currently Co-Chair of the Ottawa South Chapter.