Stanley Kugelmass is not only an advocate by profession but is an advocate in the community as well. Stan, the father of a child with special needs, was first introduced to Reena in 1996/97 by another past Reena Chair, Harley Mintz. “He set up a meeting with Sandy Keshen and that was what it took, Sandy. After that it was full speed ahead…I was on the board.” Stan says it was basically a whirlwind trying to keep up with Sandy, whom he calls a remarkable woman. “My experiences in Reena were really driven by her courage and constantly seeking out new ways to improve the status. She never accepted the current status; she always thought it could get better. I was always impressed with that.” 

Kugelmass began working on Reena’s board, becoming treasurer, and working with longtime CFO Sol Fleising. However, he wanted to help on the service end of things and found himself becoming involved in government relations. “The period of time of my involvement had considerable amount of uncertainty about government funding…although I think that’s probably been true for the last 40 years,” says Stan, “I remember going to an event at Queens park, where I was basically following Sandy around, trying to keep up with her as she went to visit with one MPP after another. She was a force of nature. Always in a positive way.” 

His time as chair of Reena’s Board ended in 2000, but Stan Kugelmass continued to serve and advocate on Reena’s behalf. “I know Reena from so many different perspectives. I know it as a parent; I know it from inside; I know it from my post Reena activities.” His efforts to lead a ‘Friends and family’ lobby for Reena and some of the other organizations included working with Sandy Keshen and other community leaders. “They were powerhouses, and I was the spokesperson. I was there because I had a certain legitimacy because my family was affected by the sector so I could speak to issue from a personal perspective which the executive directors who were the authors of the policies couldn’t, and because  I was not afraid to speak truth to power, so I had an opportunity to speak with the ministers and deputy ministers.” Kugelmass was eventually appointed chair of a working group to restructure the way the ministry interacted with the 70 or 80 agencies that were providing services. The goal…to preserve the influence of service organizations in the government’s efforts to provide funding and opportunities for funding. 

Fond memories of his time with Reena and working within the sector include the honour of meeting several Governor Generals and introducing Jean Vanier, the Canadian theologian and founder of L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them.  

Post Reena, and at Sandy Keshen’s urging, Stan took on the chair of Jewish Federation’s inclusion committee for some 7 years. Charged with educating the community and facilitating efforts to include people with special needs in all activities of the community, the group eventually became Itanu Toronto. Stanley Kugelmass is taking things easier now but has no worries over the future of Reena, “It’s in good hands with Bryan. I think he carries on his mother’s legacy and accomplishments.”