• Lily Cheng

Why did I decide to run?

As Executive Director of NeighbourLink North York I have had the privilege of witnessing first hand the strength of our collective efforts that has resulted in the incredible work that is happening in Willowdale including:

  • The 415 Food Hub that provides fresh food and dignity of choice for those living with food insecurity

  • Youth Arts & Basketball programs that recently launched this summer

  • Christmas Hampers and Single Moms Mother’s Day Baskets for 150+ recipients

  • Community building initiatives like the Willowdale Christmas Market, Willowdale Winterfest, Willowdale Yard Sale Day and Let’s Move Willowdale (Move-a-thon)

These activities have culminated in a beautiful tapestry of relationships that has been woven across our neighbourhood as we live out our motto of “Neighbours Helping Neighbours.”

Watching all of this unfold confirms to me a deep seated value that I hold, that we need to live in connected communities to thrive. It is because of this vision and passion, I decided to run for City Councillor in Willowdale.

This was not an easy decision because I am so passionate about the work I have been doing with NeighbourLink North York. There are a few key reasons that compelled me to move forward:

  • The opportunity to bring this vision of building a connected community on a greater scale to invite and engage our neighbours to shape the future of our neighbourhood together.

  • Being a woman, a mom, and a visible minority I represent a demographic that is rarely at the decision making table. Diversity and inclusion must happen at the top levels of leadership to be expressed fully across our community.

  • The opportunity to bring a different approach to leadership to the office of City Council - one that is more collaborative and empowering of community members to participate.

It has not been an easy journey. Knocking on doors in the sweltering heat and trying to recruit volunteers during the first summer after a two year lockdown has had its challenges. Going door to door, meeting one neighbour at a time, I am further convinced that the ONE THING we need, is to live in a connected community.

Willowdale is a neighbourhood of great potential. I have seen glimmers of what it can be after the Yonge Street Tragedy with the We Love Willowdale movement, during the pandemic through the Willowdale Covid Response Network and through the establishment of a new food bank at NeighbourLink North York. Many people tell me they are disillusioned, disconnected and disengaged. I share with each of them that their voice matters! We must overcome the disconnect to weave a future together, one that includes the beautiful diverse voices of Willowdale.

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