Rights of the Child
Randy wears many hats. He is a McMaster alumni, graduating with an MBA and completing all but dissertation in a PhD program focusing on business information systems. After stints in industry in various senior management roles, Randy decided to start his own business.
He is the owner of a software company that focuses on custom software for manufacturers. A new division of the company focuses on website design and development for non-profits and charities – bridging his passion for community service and his technology skills.
Of the number of hats he wears, Randy’s two favourites are “husband” to his beautiful wife Sue and “dad”, being the proud father to his two children, Atticus and Treva.
Randy and Sue along with some passionate members of the community, started Opening Hearts in 2013. Randy and Sue were driven by a strong need to give back to the community who helped them through the early challenges with their daughter with special needs. They also recognized some service gaps in the community they wanted to fill.
Randy has been co-chair since the start of Opening Hearts and is proud to see this wonderful organization continue to make a difference in the community.
Sue Bassett has many passions. Sue has been a part time teacher at Mohawk College for 11years, in the field she graduated from and spent 20 years in as an Early Childhood Educator in. She also loves teaching in the CICE program.
Sue is also a sought after Motivational Speaker(Positively Sue). She helps people overcome obstacles and accept change.
Sue is a level 2 Reiki practisioner, soon to be Reiki Master and runs her own practice.
Her most important mission in life is to give back. Being the co-founder of Opening Hearts has helped her to give back to families. Spending almost two years in hospital with her daughter, she knows all too well the impact on parents, siblings.
Sue feels if she were to die tomorrow, although she has so much to do still, her life is complete!
Laure-lei has been active in the community for many years. When she was in high school, Laura-Lei participated in her first workshop with Community Living Hamilton.
Throughout high school and university, she worked as a respite worker and a camp counsellor for a specialized overnight camp designed for children with learning disabilities.
After graduating from university with a Bachelors in Music Therapy, she began her career in Applied Behaviour Analysis. In this role, she was able to connect with children and their families on a whole new level. She found herself wanting to learn more about the field so she could continue to help families and their children reach their full potential.
In 2013, she graduated with a Master’s in Applied Disability Studies and now works as a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst. She provides clinical oversight for children with autism and the staff who work with them. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and her dog, Lexi.
Laura-Lei believes in family-centred care, and joined Opening Hearts in 2014 because of the board’s mission and vision. Once Laura-Lei joined the board, she found herself drawn to the Sibshops program and began to volunteer at the workshops. By 2015, she was facilitating the Sibshops program, and continues to do so.
This year she was appointed Vice-Chair and continues to be inspired to help Opening Hearts make a difference in the community.
Kim is a mother to two sons, Troy and Liam who have grown in to incredible young men. It is true that when they were young, the days were long, but the years have been short!
Kim has dedicated a large part of her life to being a good citizen of the world through volunteering and orchestrating groups of students in volunteer tasks. From helping at Hesed House, a shelter for the homeless in Aurora, IL, to leading high school students at Feed My Starving Children, raising money for cancer research and volunteering at GiGi’s Play House, a safe place for children and their families who have been touched by Down Syndrome, giving back to the community is a way of life.
A published author, Kim is an avid reader. She has recently found a new craft to take on has her calling card; paint by numbers for adults. The results have been great and the enjoyment from this pursuit helps when life gets a little too busy.
Kim lives in Hamilton with her son Liam and enjoys visits from her son Troy who has remained in Indiana.
Kim has worked in education for over a decade, specifically with children with disabilities, both learning and physical. Her ability to connect with the children she worked with has been touted time and again. Kim brings enthusiasm, commitment, and the notion that paying it forward is the only way to live. She is happy to bring that drive and passion to Opening Hearts.
“In the moment is where happiness hangs!”
Drazena Hidalgo is a passionate and dedicated Registered Early Childhood Educator. She has been in the field for over 27 years and simply cannot imagine doing anything else that could be as rewarding as this career.
She is also a Resource Teaching, working and advocating for children who have special needs.
She has worked in the child care sector at the board of Education as a Designate Early Childhood Educator in a kindergarten class for 5 years. Now she has the pleasure being a Childcare Supervisor at the YWCA Hamilton MacNab location.
Drazena's proudest accomplishment is being a mother to a wonderful 10 year-old Sebastian and being a wife to her amazing husband Christian.
After watching a short clip in Opening Hearts interview on TV, Drazena was drawn to the organization, not only what it does for children with special needs and their families, but also the siblings who are an important part of that family unit.
She now sits on our board and is helping to run our Sibshops program.
She is looking forward to the path with Opening Hearts Hamilton and to continue to support the children and their families in such a positive way in Hamilton and surrounding areas.
Sarah is as mother, a Resource teacher and an advocate. She is a mother to 10 year old twins and her son (who has been diagnosed with learning disability and mental health needs) has been the biggest incentive to further her understanding of the importance of being an effective advocate.
Sarah has her Early Childhood Education diploma, Autism and Behavioural Sciences certificate and has most recently been completing her Early Childhood Resource Teacher certificate. Sarah works at Community Living Hamilton as a Resource Teacher.
Sarah made the decision to join Opening Hearts to continue to use her skills and knowledge to better help those in her community as it has done so much for her and her family. She firmly believes in the saying: “It takes a village to raise a child, this is my village and I want to help those who live in it”.
Sarah is so excited to be part of Opening Hearts so that she can work with such a great charity filled with passionate, hardworking people. She believes that Opening Hearts gives families with children with special needs a valuable and positive resource that this community and it’s families need.
Nicole “Nikki” Kennedy is a leader in the Early Childhood Education field. She graduated with an honours Early Childhood Education Diploma from Mohawk College and went on to obtain her B.A. in Early Childhood Education through Charles Sturt University.
Nikki has been recognized for her work in community leadership and social justice, as well as her ability to exemplify creativity, appreciation of others and willingness to share time and ideas.
Nikki has spent most of her time in the field working for Today’s Family Early Learning and Child Care. Nikki is currently a part of Today’s Family’s Operational Management Team acting as their Placement Consultant.
Nikki is also part-time faculty at Mohawk College in the School of Community, Justice and Liberal Studies teaching Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Students in the Child Development Practitioner Program. She is honoured to spend time inspiring the minds of potential Registered Early Childhood Educators.
She was recognized as an Everyday Hero for her work in Early Childhood Education from Mohawk College in 2015 as one of the inspirations behind their campaign.
Nikki joined Opening Hearts in 2018 because she is passionate about inclusion and children’s rights. She believes every child and family has the right to a sense of belonging and support from their community.
Shirley McCoy has been working in the field of Early Childhood Education since a young girl. Her mother operated Lucky Day Nursery since 1962 and Shirley began working at the child care program since her high school days after school each day.
Shirley attended Mohawk College in Hamilton in the Early Childhood Education program and graduated in 1970. Since that time Shirley has continued her education through courses at McMaster University and through attending numerous workshops, conventions, and training to keep current with the latest in best practices and research.
Shirley believes in life long learning.
Shirley opened a second program, the Village Treehouse Childcare located in Ancaster in 1981. For the past 48 years Shirley has operated Lucky Day Nursery with passion and dedication to the children and families in her community. In July, 2018 Shirley decided it was time to slow down and sold Lucky Day Nursery.
Shirley is the proud mother of four children, JD 43, Christopher 42, AJ 37 and Jenna Dee 32. Along with her husband Doug of 48 years they have been very proud of all of the children’s accomplishments and feel blessed to have such a wonderful and loving family.
Shirley has been a dedicated member of Soroptimist International of Dundas, Ancaster, Flamborough for the past 30 years. Shirley believes in giving back to her community and making a difference in the lives of women and girls in her local community ad throughout the world.
Shirley joined the Opening Hearts Board in 2014 to assist the organization in fundraising. During this time Shirley has been very proud to be a part of this amazing organization and to witness the positive impact the programs have had for children and families in our community.
Jennifer is a social justice lawyer and is a partner at Ross & McBride LLP, practicing in the Human Rights and Employment Department.
In her spare time, Jennifer works with a local theatre company providing support and education to students age 6 – 18, as well as mounting productions with the community based affiliate theatre group, Centre Stage Productions. Jennifer is thrilled to work with her family in these endeavours.
As a lawyer and social justice advocate, one of Jennifer’s passions is providing voices and support for children in our community.
Jennifer was honoured to be asked this year to join the Board of Opening Hearts and looks forward to many successful years to come.