When you walk past the fundraising office at Barrie Public Library, you have to stop and look in. How does she do it? How does she find anything? It's a busy place, piled high with all kinds of papers, books, materials, reports. Helter skelter with dragon boat paddles, fundraising posters, pictures, reports, newspapers. It's a de-clutterer's dreamworld. But, the note on the door is warning enough: "A messy desk is a sign of an organized mind."

And out of that office has come remarkable results, creative ideas, unbelievable energy and achievement!

When Ann Andrusyszyn (pronounced Andrucision) first hit the Barrie fundraising scene, it was with a newly minted Georgian College Fundraising & Resource Development Program diploma in her back pocket.

She was part of the second graduating class. She was 44 years old. She brought with her lifetime work in public libraries so it was logical that she was hired by Barrie Public Library to develop ongoing giving campaigns for the library within this city.

She founded the Dragon Boat races in Barrie and as the organizing body, she broadened the concept to a win-win-win approach... registration and percentage of funds to library, individual teams paddling for their charity of choice, and community pulling together for community betterment.

She developed a planned giving campaign that encourages library supporters to bequeath investments in their wills. She became one of the main energies behind the Planned Giving Council of Barrie.

So, it was a shock to learn that Ann is leaving Barrie Public Library. Really leaving. She's becoming the Director of Development for the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax. She's the first Director of Development hired by the AFF and she's hoping to lay similar groundwork to build a sustainable fundraising program like she's done here in Barrie.

I assumed that Ann's husband, Tony, who serves with Canada's Armed Forces, was being transferred to Shearwater and that's why she was going.

Wrong-o, Bong-o! She's going because the challenge intrigues her. She's going because the campaign for Barrie's south end library is about $40,000 from its million dollar fundraising goal (for the $4.5 million facility) and it's a logical time to shift gears. She's going because she hopes when Tony does retire, they'll plant their feet firmly in Nova Scotia.

As an Armed Forces family, the Andrusyszyn's have lived in Shearwater, in Digby, in Barrie, in Germany (twice) and with each move they've accumulated more 'stuff.' And right now, she's up to her neck in cardboard boxes of 'stuff' that's been packed away with every Armed Forces move. She laughed to me on Monday: "we'll need a 3,000 square foot house with no windows to display all this 'stuff'. It's got to go!"

She's got a week between stopping in Barrie (Oct 15) and starting in Halifax (Oct 25) and in between her family is making the adjustments so Tony can join her in a few months.

We talked about the challenges she faced when she started in Barrie and the accomplishments she feels as she wraps up her work. The Dragon Boat races started in 2003 with 39 teams and capped out this year with 59 teams, raising $100,000 in entry fees and over a million dollars for Barrie charities. She's had a hand in the library's association with the Barrie Folk Society, opening its facility to music on a regular basis. Art, theatre... the library is much more than books.

With every beginning comes a loss and if Barrie is feeling the loss of Ann, Ann's feeling an equal loss. "I didn't expect to feel such a loss," says Ann, fresh back from the Atlantic Film Festival. "This is hard."

It is hard. Hard to see you go, Ann. Hard to imagine that your office will be dark, that we'll see the desk, the file cabinets (are they really there?), a lamp or two, a chair, even. Your mind is anything but dull! We, as a community, are in your debt.

Thank you!


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