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Mews leaves PTS, staff shrinks to one

Board makes call to maintain financial stability

In an effort to stay in the black, Pink Triangle Services laid off its executive director, Ken Mews. His last day was Feb 13.

Mews was hired in the summer of 2007 and was considered a steady hand on the tiller. Ken Mews served as HIV/AIDS coordinator for the Red Cross for 15 years.

That leaves just one employee — office coordinator Claudia Van den Heuvel — at the social service agency. PTS is Ottawa’s queer umbrella group and includes Pink Triangle Youth, Generation Q and the Kelly McGinnis library.

“It’s essentially a financial reason,” says Van den Heuvel.

In a Feb 20 press release, PTS president Michael Henschel echoed Van den Heuvel’s sentiment.

“The fundraising efforts required to support both a full-time executive director and a full-time office/volunteers/programs manager proved insufficient,” he wrote. He was not immediately available for comment.

Services will continue as normal, Van den Heuvel says, with the help of extra support from the board and an expanding list of volunteers.

Henschel made a fundraising plea directly to the community earlier in the week. In an email to donors and volunteers dated Feb 18, PTS president Michael Henschel emphasized the need for significant donations. He is asking for monthly donations directly to PTS or through the Canada Helps program.

“We need your help to raise $4,000 a month – every month – to continue operating and providing our services,” he wrote.

PTS is falling short of that amount and was running monthly deficits, says Van den Heuvel. With the layoff, PTS will operate without running into the red. She declined to say how big their deficits were, but admitted that they were “big enough to warrant immediate action.”

“If you’re running a deficit every month, something needs to be done,” she says.

There are no immediate plans to replace him and the organization may simply do without.

“The search for a permanent replacement for Mews will begin after a thorough review of the current and future staffing needs of PTS,” writes Henschel. “In the meantime, PTS staff, with the support of the executive and board of directors, will ensure that PTS programming continues without interruption.”

Van den Heuvel says that the layoff is not related to the recession and that donations are up slightly over previous years. PTS will host a gala fundraiser Jun 4.