Over eighty representatives from upwards of thirty different service providers gathered at Elgin St. Thomas Public Health on Tuesday, September 26 for the 6th annual Walk With Me, a morning-long networking event hosted by STELIP and ESTPH. The event, started in 2012 by STELIP’s Petrusis Hontar and co-hosted this year with ESTPH’s Brittany Andryc, presents a unique networking and educational opportunity for regional service providers hoping to improve client-referral networks and the quality of their services.
Planned around the theme of ‘Unconscious Bias’, the morning began with a brief ice breaking activity to loosen up the crowd and segue to the guest speaker: The Director of Diversity & Governance at Pillar Nonprofit Network, Dharshi Lacey. Dharshi spoke on unconscious bias, keeping the attendees engaged, thinking and often laughing throughout; thanks so much for coming to speak!
The main event of the morning was the trade show, with agency displays erected throughout the venue and agency representatives sharing and exchanging information and contact details with colleagues. Making connections and firming up referral networks to better serve their clients is the reason for the annual event’s initial creation, says STELIP project coordinator and Walk With Me founder Petrusia Hontar.
“As service providers, we need to remain current and informed on the variety of services available to our clients, so that not only can we provide our own expertise but also refer them to others specializing in areas we aren’t trained in ourselves. But keeping up-to-date can be difficult, and so this event is a convenient way for providers to meet, share contact info and educate themselves on regional services for the betterment of their clients”
Rounding out the morning with a series of case studies highlighting the discussions of the event and what participants had learned, this year’s Walk With Me proved to be another success, building on previous years’ experiences and welcoming dozens of new attendees and agencies. We are already looking forward to next year!