Kevin Anderson KAPUSKASING – It’s not often that a non-profit organization and its Executive Director get to celebrate their 30th Anniversary at the same time, yet that is exactly what happened last month as both North Claybelt Community Futures Development Corporation and Linda Semczyszyn were recognized at the organization’s Annual General Meeting. Semczyszyn recalled both her and the CDFC’s humble beginnings. Asked why she’s stayed with North Claybelt for the past three decades, “I love the organization and what it stands for. I love having people come in with their ideas and helping them bring those ideas to fruition,” she said. “I started here on a six-week contract as a secretary, then moved up to bookkeeper, then the self-employment benefit program, then lending and finally ended up taking the job of Executive Director. “When I started here, we had two staff, a phone and a filing cabinet. We had a rotary phone and no computers. Everything was done with typewriters and accounting was done with hand-written ledgers. Today, we have employees across Northern Ontario and programs like the Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) and Entrepreneur Francophone Plus.” Asked what has led to the success of the various programs the CFDC offers, Semczyszyn was quick to point to North Claybelt’s philosophy. “We’ve always been very proactive, regardless of what’s been thrown at us,” she commented. “My predecessor Denis Bérubé was proactive in his approach and I’ve continued that. Our employees are like that too. “When FEDNOR said they wanted to start a youth program, Cindy Reasbeck picked up the ball and ran with it and now she’s helping roll out YEP in other provinces and it all started here. It’s a credit to the ‘can-do’ attitude of our staff. Whatever we’re asked to do, we do our best to make it succeed. “We also encourage employees to think outside the box, share their ideas and work to the strengths in their respective skill sets and that type of approach has paid off.” Semczyszyn said she is also very proud of North Claybelt’s evolution as it pertains to options for entrepreneurs. “We used to be looked upon as a ‘last-resort’ lender… somewhere to go when the banks turned you down,” she recalled. “Today, we are looked upon as a viable first option as opposed to going to a bank. We’re a player in the game… a ‘go-to’ service. That’s something we’re really proud of.” Going forward, Semczyszyn said North Claybelt will continue do what it always done. “We’re limited by the funding we get… at the mercy of the government. So, we’re going to continue to fight for more money and more programming,” she commented. “There are new strategies being brought out all of the time we continue to evolve so we can implement those. In the meantime, we’re going to continue to do our best to serve our clients.”