About Us

formerly Better Beginnings Better Futures

Shelldale Family Gateway excels as a non-profit, community benefit, charitable organization that aims to enrich the quality of life for everyone it serves. Our respectful and multicultural approach strives to meet the needs of our diverse community, offering programs and supports for individuals and families in over 30 languages. We are centrally located within the Shelldale Centre at 20 Shelldale Crescent in Guelph, a community hub for various services and organizations, and we provide an integrated service model through experienced staff and hundreds of dedicated volunteers. Shelldale Family Gateway is a provider of EarlyON programs (ages 0-6)  through the County of Wellington, as well as specialized services through grants and donations designed specifically to support  the unique needs of children, youth, and families in Guelph’s Onward Willow neighbourhood.

Who is Shelldale Family Gateway?

HUFFPOST- "Exemplary" Canadian Model



Shelldale Family Gateway has known a few names since its inception in 1991. Began as Onward Willow Better Beginnings, Better Futures (then referred to as Shelldale Better Beginnings, Better Futures), is now known as Shelldale Family Gateway. Despite the changes in name, we still maintain the core values and organizational goals that we began with over 25 years ago. Located within the Onward Willow Neighbourhood of Guelph, Ontario, we are an organization built from a vision for a neighbourhood of healthy children, healthy families, and healthy communities. As part of a hub of social service agencies within the Shelldale Centre, we work from one integrated location; where there is a wide range of programs for every family member: infants, children, youth, adults, and seniors. Programs are multicultural, and community driven reflecting the ever-changing nature of the neighbourhood.

In 1991, the province of Ontario implemented a project called Bet­ter Beginnings, Better Futures to learn whether providing primary prevention programs would reduce risk for families with children who lived in high-risk communities. Onward Willow Better Be­ginnings, Better Futures (OWBBBF), now known as Shelldale Family Gateway in Guelph, Ontario, was chosen as a program site for families and children from birth to four years of age.

One drawback to implementing programs was the lack of space at the Onward Willow Centre at 15 Willow Road. As a result, Shelldale Family Gateway rented and renovated an old flat-roofed warehouse at 58 Dawson Road, a site conveniently located near Shelldale Public School.

The new centre, which opened in 1994, was named Family Gateway. The name was chosen because it suggested a gateway for families into the project and a gateway for children to a better life. An addition in 1998 gave Onward Willow an updated kitchen and two offices for the preschool coordinator and family support worker.

In 1996, when the project completed the five-year research demonstration period, the MCSS continued funding the BBBF programs. It also raised the age limit eligibility, allowing children up to age six to be served.

The community and the demand for programs grew through the 1990s, but even with the expansion, Onward Willow Better Beginnings, Better Futures was limited in the programs it could offer at Family Gateway. Then in 1998, with the proposed closing of Shelldale Public School, came an opportunity for OWBBBF and many other service providers to better support the community. In December 2001, OWBBBF moved into the renovated Shelldale Centre where we currently offer programs and services alongside other agencies such as Family and Children’s Services, Guelph Community Health Centre, PlaySense, Lutherwood and Immigrant Services.

In 2014, the Ministry of Education assumed responsibility for BBBF from the Ministry of Children and Youth Ser­vices creating a push for separation between the Onward Willow Neighbhourhood Group and Better Beginnings, Better Futures.  It was a result of this shift that we became Shelldale Better Beginnings, Better Futures.

In January 2018,  Ontario’s four child and family programs were integrated into one common system that offers a consistent set of core services across the province, as well as others tailored to local needs. The programs that were consolidated under the EarlyON umbrella include Ontario Early Years Centres, Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, Child Care Resource Centres, and Better Beginnings, Better Futures. 

In order to maintain many of the programs that we deliver in the Onward Willow Community we needed to become an EarlyON site within a larger organization that also delivers the many other community based programs that we offer. The name Better Beginnings Better Futures was a provincial designation and therefore retired.

We decided to again adopt the historical name of Family Gateway and thus since 2018, are officially named Shelldale Family Gateway. For a more extensive and exciting read on the past of Shelldale Family Gateway you can read our story in the book “Realizing the Dream: The Story of Better Beginnings, Better Futures in Guelph” now available through the Shelldale Centre.

Mission, vision, and values

Our Mission

To welcome and support children, youth, and their families living in the Shelldale Family Gateway community, by providing programs, services, and leadership opportunities

Our Vision

Working Together for a Thriving Community

Our Values

Inclusivity, Diversity, Collaboration, Community Driven, Excellence, Respect

Values Statement

We are an inclusive, diverse, and respectful community driven organization that promotes collaboration and excellence in programming.

employment opportunities


  • Family and Children's Services of Guelph Wellington
  • Guelph Community Health Centre
  • Immigrant Services
  • Upper Grand District School Board
  • Action Read
  • Onward Willow Neighbourhood Group
  • City of Guelph
  • Guelph Police Services
  • Guelph Wellington Dufferin Public Health
  • Guelph Soccer
  • Kindle Communities


  • Buns Master Bakery
  • Breezy Corners Restaurant
  • Canadian Federation of University Women – Guelph
  • Centennial Secondary School
  • College Heights Secondary School
  • The Cooperators
  • Cuisina Mediterranean Bistro
  • Filsinger & Sons – Rona
  • Forward Church
  • Golden Basil
  • Goodness Me
  • Green Goddess
  • Guelph Caribbean Cuisine
  • Hitachi Employees Social Committee
  • House of Worship and Prayer Christian Centre
  • Laza Catering
  • Loblaw Companies Limited
  • Lucky Belly
  • M&Ms Meats Guelph (Imperial)
  • M.F. Property Management Ltd.
  • Muslims Women’s Group Guelph
  • Rotary Club of Guelph-Wellington
  • Rotary Club of Guelph-Wellington South
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Royal City Restaurant and Tavern
  • RU Serious Restaurant
  • Saidies Restaurant
  • Skyline Group of Companies
  • Swiss Chalet
  • Tangy and Tasty Restaurant
  • Thai Villa Cuisine
  • Tim Hortons Silvercreek
  • Woolwich Arrow
  • Zen Gardens
  • Zoup Guelph


  • City of Guelph
  • County of Wellington
  • Ontario Ministry of Education
  • Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Service Canada


  • Breakfast for Learning
  • Canadian Tire JumpStart
  • Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington
  • Guelph Community Health Centre
  • Guelph Food Bank
  • Guelph Police Services
  • Guelph Soccer
  • Kindle Communities
  • IODE Guelph Chapter
  • Lutherwood
  • Oaktree Foundation
  • PlaySense
  • Second Chance Employment Services
  • The Children’s Foundation of Guelph Wellington
  • The Guelph Community Foundation
  • United Way of Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin
  • Upper Grand District School Board
  • Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health

The Board of Directors is elected at each annual meeting. As a community driven organization, we strive to have a balance of directors that includes neighbourhood representation, and others willing to contribute skills and experience from personal or professional backgrounds.

If you are interested in becoming involved as a member of this Governance Board, speak with staff or Board members for more information.

  • Kelly Slessor, President
  • Michael Weller - Treasurer
  • Dana Nuttley - past President
  • Premila Sathasivam
  • Kyle Grant
  • Colin Thurston
  • Sharon Riley-Persson
  • Andy Chea
  • Michele Richardson
  • Maala Kelangath
  • Mike Foley

Diana Boal started her position as Executive Director for Shelldale Family Gateway in Fall of 2019.

She brings almost twenty years’ experience from the not for profit world. She has served as Executive Director for Bereaved Families of Ontario, Career Colleges of Ontario, and Victim Services of Waterloo Region, and provided leadership in Domestic Violence Response, Family Counselling, and Employee Assistance Programming. Her degree in International Relations and Economics helps her work collaboratively with various stakeholders and clients, and across Provincial and Federal government ministries. As a life-long learner, Diana recently completed training in Senior Leadership in the Not-for-Profit Sector.

Diana looks forward to working collaboratively with community, staff, and the Board. Her strengths in programming, capacity building, governance, human resources, foundation promotion and fundraising, strategic planning, and managing diverse challenges will help us achieve our mission.









Summer 2021

January 2021

Spring 2021


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