On January 23rd, 2021, CILT lost our devoted and long-serving bookkeeper Sylvia Draper-Fernandez. Sylvia has been a member of the CILT family for more than 30 years, having served as our financial adviser since the very start of CILT. Our deepest condolences go to Sylvia’s family and loved ones.
Sylvia’s wise counsel helped formalize CILT’s standing as a non-profit in the early days and her shrewd guidance helped CILT grow into what we are today. Sylvia was instrumental in developing and rolling out the Direct Funding Program across Ontario, and she was deeply involved in every expansion the program has received since its inception.
I have personally had the great pleasure of working directly with Sylvia since the start of my time as Executive Director at CILT in 2018. She was straight-forward and no nonsense and deeply and sincerely supportive of CILT and the work we do. I recall reluctantly phoning her while she was on holiday with her partner Rick in Florida and explaining that we had a time-limited opportunity to again expand the DF program but we needed her help. Sylvia did not even hesitate. She stepped-up, as she always did, and helped us to assemble yet another possible expansion budget. She joked at the time ‘Well at least I still get to have cocktails on the beach later!’ Even as CILT has transitioned into remote work as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Sylvia remained equally committed to supporting us through everything this transition entailed.
Not only did Sylvia support CILT this way, but she was also equally devoted to supporting other non-profits who were trying to do good in the world.
Sylvia had a wonderful sense of humor and a very kind heart. She loved to talk about her family and she was very proud of the accomplishments of her daughter, son-in-law and grandsons. Sylvia’s laugh was warm and deep and would usually come at the end of a call, when the official ‘business’ was complete. We will all miss Sylvia very much. She was an incredibly wise and caring person, deeply devoted to her work, family and community.
Despite her importance to operations, Sylvia preferred to remain in the background, always attending CILT’s AGM and quietly mingling with staff and members. But her presence in terms of CILT’s accomplishments cannot be underestimated. In 2016, CILT presented her with an award, pictured above. The award is inscribed and reads: “Meritorious Service Award, Sylvia Draper-Fernandez, In recognition of over 30 years of outstanding contribution to the financial well-being of CILT and embodying the values of the Independent Living Movement”
Thank you, Sylvia for your dedication to CILT. We will remember you, always, as a dedicated champion for CILT and an outstanding colleague and friend.
Wendy Porch, Executive Director, CILT.