BARRY’S BAY – After helping to raise more than $8 million for local hospital equipment needs over the past 15 years, St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation Director Toni Lavigne-Conway is hanging up her hat, destined for retirement.
Born in North Bay, Lavigne-Conway is the fifth out of six children. With four older brothers, she was the first girl born into the family.
She always felt the calling to help others. Attending St. Joe’s College, a Catholic all-girls high school, she befriended a girl whose brother had disabilities.
“I just remember always feeling an affinity to helping people who maybe weren’t as fortunate,” she said. “I volunteered a lot as a teenager with those with disabilities. It really resonated with me and I really enjoyed it. I always liked working with people.”
She went to Georgian College and took social services, with intent to work with people with disabilities. And she did.
She moved out west, and was the director of several group homes there. She had her daughter, Leslie, and soon after, moved back to Ontario – this time, to Barry’s Bay.
Lavigne-Conway accepted a position with the Madawaska Valley Association of Community Living, where she was hired as the director. During this time, she got her certificate in the non-profit administration program at York University.
“I was kind of hooked on administration after that,” Lavigne-Conway said.
She remained in Barry’s Bay for almost 10 years, before accepting a director position in Bancroft for several years.
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