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Inspirational Black Individuals: HSH Board of Directors


In recognition of Black History Month Home Suite Hope is sharing the stories of Black individuals in our community who inspire others every day. Today, we share stories from HSH’s Board of Directors.


Burhana Bello-Ayorinde has been on HSH’s Board since early 2021 and has been an Oakville resident for many years. Burhana and her husband have three children who are young adults. Oakville seemed the right fit for Burhana and her husband as they chose a place to settle about two decades ago and they’ve never looked back.


Burhana is a commercial lawyer, who, after years of working in-house and at large firms, started her own practice west of Toronto more than a decade ago.


“I have always believed one has not truly lived unless one helps others and it is in that spirit that I strive to find opportunities to give back, not just locally in Oakville, the Greater Toronto Area, but also beyond our borders. I have had the opportunity to serve on various local and international charities and with each experience I feel honoured anew as I learn from the experiences of those we serve,” says Burhana.


“I believe strongly that if each of us strives to give back and be a better version of ourselves we will achieve the world we all dream about when we don our rose-colored glasses.

One of the things I love about Home Suite Hope is the ability to see the effect the organization has on lives, not just that of the participants, but often their dependents as well as they transition through the program.


To Burhana, HSH represents empowerment.


“My wish for Home Suite Hope is simple — that more people in the region would know about the organization’s transformative work for the family’s experiencing homelessness or precarious housing in the region. I think when people talk about homelessness and single parents living in poverty they generally do not think it happens as often as it does in the Halton region and a lot of us will benefit from the statistics.”


Troy McLean is a past director on HSH’s Board. Troy joined Sotheby's International Realty Canada, Brokerage in 2017and is an accomplished professional with experience as a lawyer, trust advisor, private banker and mortgage agent – and he loaned that expertise to HSH.


Troy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Queens University prior to receiving his law degree from Brunel University London. He belongs to the Law Society of England & Wales and the Estate Planners' Council of Halton.


I am originally from London, England, but I have lived in Oakville for the past 49 years. I grew up here, and I am now raising a family of my own. I am currently a real estate agent and have been working with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, but have been involved in real estate for more than 12 years. My career also consisted of about 10 years of banking experience, after practicing as a lawyer.


I learned about Home Suite Hope from a current board member. They were looking for someone with legal and real estate experience to join the Board of Directors, and my name just so happened to pop up. I wanted to get involved and give back to a community that has given so much to myself and my family, so I joined the HSH Board of Directors this past June 2021. I think there is a great opportunity to untap the potential in the single parents we serve by educating them for equal opportunity, at the post-secondary level and equipping them with essential life skills so they can fully express their gifts.


Given my background and experience, I wanted to be of service to what I believe is a worthy cause. I like that the participants who come through the program are being taught how to be independent and rely less on social assistance. Just like the saying, “if you give a man a fish, you feed him for day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”. We are equipping our families with the tools they need to be not just independent, but to make a stand for a better way of living for themselves and their children.


I wish people realized that it requires a real commitment from the participants. The program is not going to appeal to someone just looking for a handout. It appeals to someone looking to fully express their potential and make a change in their lives. There is a lot of work that has to be put into it. Additionally, it’s a long-term investment program, so a commitment is also needed by the community, the board and staff to provide the families with the supports and services they need and funding to ensure that the programs continue to run.


Sasha Hanson is a graduate of HSH’s Homeward Bound Halton programming who, after successfully navigating the programming, contributed back by serving recently on HSH’s Board of Directors to provide lived experience expertise to the Board.


“I am the first Homeward Bound Halton graduate to receive an invitation to be a Board Member. I accepted the role in 2021, and was excited to share my perspective, life experience, and ultimately take this chance to be an advocate for other parents in need of support.


In my lifetime, I crossed paths with a variety of people, many who were unkind when I was at my lowest and in desperate need of help. I owe it to that one special person who led me to Home Suite Hope. It is an organization that offered me not just a program, but a family that works endlessly to ensure program participants are successful.


Of all the amazing supports that Home Suite Hope provides to participants, I would say the most crucial support provided is the rental subsidies. There is a gap in affordable housing, or really, the lack of supply of affordable housing within the Halton Region. Also, there is a gap in accessibility to resources. This plays out in long wait lists for urgent needs (i.e. housing) and can be seen in the low levels of equity amongst minority groups, many of whom are trying to access virtual resources.


There are quite a few memorable moments at Home Suite Hope, however, when I was informed of my acceptance into the program it was a very memorable moment for me.


Chef Melani Bastians is one of the newest HSH Board members, having already served on HSH’s Housing Committee.


The owner of The Green Eatery, a vegan café, and Caribbean Vibes, a full-service restaurant, both in Milton, Melani also founded the non-profit No One Goes Hungry (known as @hungerfreehalton on Instagram and NOGH on Facebook), and at one time in her life, turned to HSH.


For that, Melani is never shy to say HSH saved her life.

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