Passing the Baton (Jam Jar) at Southridge Jam

There have been so many changes at Southridge Jam over the last year, including with our program director role. Brendon Nicholson, our patient, dedicated, funny, baseball loving former program director had been in the role for almost the entire time that Southridge Jam has been around. Brendon started in 2016 and during the pandemic, stepped up to do double duty as the Floor Manager for the Southridge Shelter in St. Catharines.

This year, that role became his full-time gig.

I remember meeting Brendon for the first time in January 2019 and hearing him excitedly speak about Southridge Jam’s mission. The goal then, as it is now, was to create a sense of community and purpose for individuals who had experienced homelessness.

Disrupt the cycle of homelessness.

At that time, we had many volunteers assisting with jam production every Wednesday. Brendon was doing most of the ideation, planning, strategy development, grant writing and program execution on his own. He wore many, many baseball caps simultaneously.

Brendon has been integral to many advances that Southridge Jam has made over the last five years, including establishing an advisory committee with industry professionals to help balance the strategic workload at our social enterprise. As we move forward, Brendon will stay connected with Southridge Jam by continuing to be a member of this advisory team.

Working with the Wise Guys Charity, he also introduced production equipment, in the last year, which has unequivocally made our small batch jam making process more efficient.

With the help and support of a team of dedicated volunteers from our community, he has worked tirelessly to keep our vision on track, through good times and hard times. We would like to thank him for leading with an abundant degree of passion, humour and curiosity.

The baton (jam jar) has now been officially passed to our new program director. Please help us welcome Deanna Toth.

Deanna started her community service journey working alongside other leaders in Niagara as a Campaign Director with United Way. Her role involved fundraising, event management, volunteer engagement and marketing. All skills she will undoubtedly use at Southridge Jam.

She also worked at the Southridge Shelter for a year, coordinating emergency shelter options for residents across Niagara. She has also volunteered in the shelter kitchen preparing and serving food to residents and staff. She is a Rotarian at the Rotary Club of Welland and has participated in community-building events, planning, marketing and initiatives including youth programs through Rotary, RYLA and Rotaract.

Deanna is a mom and a wife and is still involved with her family business, Elevate Living Niagara.

Deanna’s values are centered around her faith and wanting to make a difference by creating healthy workplaces, engaging in open communication, highlighting teammates strengths and working together to create amazing results.

We look forward to working with and supporting Deanna in her new role at Southridge Jam.

Stay tuned for our interview with Deanna next month where she will talk about what’s next for Southridge Jam and why community service through volunteering is so important.