Town of Pelham Treasurer Teresa Quinlin. SUPPLIED

Teresa Quinlin donates countless hours to community service

Pelham’s recent award for excellence in municipal financial reporting is a reflection of the team of professionals on staff at Town Hall. And when it comes to the checks and balances of Pelham’s money matters, the loonie stops at the desk of the Director of Corporate Services Teresa Quinlin.

Quinlin has a solid track record of successful money management, having completed a 21-year career at Niagara College (NC), ascending to the position of Vice President, Corporate Services and Director of Finance. A chartered accountant who also holds an MBA, Quinlin was responsible for executing the college’s $80-million-dollar Master Plan, the largest capital expansion in the institution’s history. She directed a $140 million budget, and risk management operations, at NC, as well as having significant roles in the college’s Sustainability Committee and United Way effort.

A Town of Pelham employee since 2017, Quinlin told the Voice that she finds her work to be both challenging and enjoyable, and drew a parallel to her previous job at NC.

“If you think of a college campus, it is almost like a municipality, because it’s a community and about 10,000 students. It’s a bit different with finances, because post-secondary institutions like Niagara receive government funding and can count on international student revenue, whereas municipalities depend on property taxes.”

Quinlin’s involvement with social outreach charities in the community is her passion outside of her municipal work.

She is currently the Treasurer of the Niagara Health Foundation, which raises local hospital capital dollars for medical equipment and development projects, special patient care programs, and scholarships for students and staff studying medical sciences.

“Most people don’t realize that all medical equipment for our hospitals is funded through donations, not government grants,” she said. Millions are needed to pay for cutting-edge technology, such as MRI machines.

Quinlin’s primary charitable focus is Women’s Place of South Niagara (WPSN). She serves as the President of the board of directors, having been involved for almost five years. The organization’s mission is to stop abuse and violence against women and their children by providing safety through shelter, counselling, education, advocacy, and community partnerships. WPSN operates a 20-bed shelter in Niagara Falls called Nova House, and a 10-bed shelter in Welland called Serenity Place.

The COVID pandemic has brought about an increase in domestic violence given the self-isolation measures that are in place, said Quinlin.

“We are always advocating for more awareness and funding for Women’s Place to educate the young women and men in our high schools, helping them to recognize the signs of abuse. Mental and physical mistreatment are never part of a respectful relationship.”

In 2020, 218 women with 96 children were sheltered by Women’s Place, 226 clients received transitional support, and 208 women received legal support and advocacy. Some 9,700 bed nights were used by clients, and 3309 calls were received by the WPSN’s 24/7 support line.

Women’s Place has a $2.2 million budget, with $1.5 million in funding coming from the provincial Ministry of Community and Social Services. They receive some additional funding from Niagara Region and the United Way, and had some $200,000 in donations and legacy gifts in 2019, according to an audited financial statement. Fundraising events like the Big Book Riot and other efforts bring in the rest. Quinlin said that the bottom line is that 23 percent of the WPSN’s operating budget, almost half a million dollars, has to be actively solicited.

It’s hard generating donations from people during a pandemic, because the big, gala fundraising events have been cancelled. Quinlin feels strongly that Women’s Place, like some other organizations in the not-for-profit sector, should be fully funded from government coffers.

All shelters have this problem, she said, as do the sexual assault centres.

“Fundraising is a challenge, because we’re also competing with other charities for philanthropy dollars,” said Quinlin. “While the hospitals fundraise for capital projects, Women’s Place needs to raise money to cover operating costs. It’s a very lean organization. The Executive Director, Jennifer Gauthier, doesn’t even have an admin assistant, because there’s no money for it.”

When she not crunching numbers for Pelham or performing charitable fundraising in the community, Quinlin enjoys photography and riding her new bike. She’s also engaged to be married in September. And aside from her fiancé, travel is her big passion, something she has been missing with COVID travel restrictions.

Her favorite trip?

“My sister and I went to Australia and New Zealand. We were born in Australia—actually in Hobart, Tasmania—and went back to our hometown. It was a trip that we planned for 50 years, and we finally accomplished it in 2019.”