Category Archives: Charities & Foundations

Charitable organizations

Walk for Kids Help Phone 2011

Have you heard of Kids Help Phone? Well you are one click away from learning about a very worthwhile organization that helps kids and teens receive access to a counsellor by phone or online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I was introduced to this worthwhile service through a former client who is now proudly working to support Kids Help Phone’s efforts.

Kids from 5 – 20 years of age can get assistance; support through counsel, information and referrals to appropriate social services agencies in their community.  They also offer public education programs to address issues that are important in the lives and protection of our children. From the programs and calls received Kids Help Phone produces research reports that are helpful to parents and youth alike. Discussing topics such as Online Relationships and Internet Safety, Bullying and the growing threat to kids, Cyber-Bullying; all relevant topics to explore.

The mental health of our children  is so important and the reality is they need a place to go without fear of judgement or reprisal for speaking their truth; sharing their feelings with complete anonoymity. Suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety are real issues that some young people face and Kids Help Phone is one service that may save a life. Trying to get access to counselling can be difficult, even adults have trouble finding someone to see right away which can often leave them feeling helpless. Thankfully, if your child needed to reach out and did not feel comfortable to talk with you, there is hope. Wouldn’t you want a professional to step in and help?

On May 1st people across Canada will walk in support of Kids Help Phone. Break the silence of Mental Health – Walk So Kids Can Talk and show you care. Donate, walk or volunteer and be part of helping kids know that somebody will always listen.

Charitable Giving

The most happiest moments in life come with the giving to strangers. I grew up with the knowledge that it was good to help others; both my parents lived that way. They assisted friends and family even at times when they had little themselves and when more prosperity came they were still in service. Whether in providing shelter, money, labour or time, the giving was quietly rendered.

I pick my charities but promote many and most the time I believe that the money is properly allocated. Recently, I questioned the allocation of resources by one charity.  I made a call to tell them to stop sending me note pads and address labels, “I have enough thank you and I don’t write that many letters to justify this many labels.” I politely explained my concerns and hoped that the money I was sending was going where it was most needed, not on cost associated with these “thank you” items.

The fact is these “thank you” items always come with a note to give more and it was beginning to feel like obligation more than just giving. The nickle received taped to the card, the ready-made address labels and monogrammed note pads seemed all too much. If I give, I don’t expect to receive anything except for the satisfaction of knowing the good that comes from my contribution to that organization. Updates on how they are progressing will suffice. I’m sure there is some logic behind this that makes sense to them but I am one contributor that doesn’t agree.

I hope that my message was received in the spirit it was given. I expect nothing for my decision to give. I give because I can, because I’m passionate about a cause and from that place of passion my heart fills up with joy. To know my baby elephant in Kenya is fed and working its way toward freedom, to know women are funded through education or job development initiatives, to know a children’s charity that assists my niece greatly can continue to help others too or the hospitals that we use can get equipment and build to support the community; those are the benefits associated with my giving.

Charities should see if what they are sending out is truly cost effective or could that money be better spent somewhere else? My call means that now I will only receive a request for donation once a year instead of every month. Hopefully they will resist the urge to send me anymore labels, as pretty as they are I don’t need anything…and that is why I’m giving. 🙂 How lucky am I.

Please check out my charities page and if you have any organizations you think I should add please email me.


Women in business

Today, I had an opportunity to fulfill a dream of getting to beloved chairs re-upholstered. I made a conscious choice to look for someone in my community that showed design knowledge and could help me pick the best fabric for such an investment. The other criteria is they had to be a woman in business. Whenever possible I support the businesses of women, some may not agree with me favouring women, specifically, but I love to “pay it forward.” What I mean by that is, women in business got me where I am today it is time to show my respect.

My dear mentor Pat, was one of the first women I admired. Pat worked along side predominantly men but held their respect and respected them. She demonstrated the importance of collaboration with everyone; she also had a good balance between her femininity and strong presence in the face of difficult situations. There have been other women since then who with their expertise provided excellent service, care and mentorship. I meet women all the time who show me a side of business that only through their generosity take me higher in my own development.

My editor and colleague Jill is an example of that generosity. Jill routinely challenges me to dig deeper and we bounce ideas between each other trying to decide whether this is a colour outside the lines or inside the lines project. I work with women through career coaching/facilitating contracts who inspire me; keep me from getting stagnant in my approach to the topics or service. I see their zest for learning and expanding within their professions and I step it up.

The list is long as to how many women in business have supported me and the partnerships with everyone of them are important. Business development and women’s success in both large and small ventures should be celebrated. It is no small feat to do what women do in one day, one week, one year. Sometimes in the face of opposition or stereotypical assumptions. It is no wonder that women do so well as entrepreneurs while wearing their multiple hats… women are not afraid of hard work. Throughout history women in business succeed because they truly have all that it takes.

So, as I enter into this partnership with another woman in business for the purposes of re-imagining old furnishings I can’t help but feel good about my decision. Worldwide there are women wanting to start up their own businesses; giving those women the tools to do so is a worthwhile cause. A healthy country and community grows with the development of its women. Change a woman’s life – support their business – support their dreams.

Women for Women International

Fundraising for Variety’s Children

Introducing my niece Callie who is raising funds for Variety the children’s charity. This little gal set out to raise $1000.00 for Variety this year and has just surpassed that amount. So, she is asking people to join in to raise more. For those that don’t know my niece, she was born 1.43 ounces but Callie survived and has thrived despite multiple challenges.

As she grows, attends school and becomes involved in activities in her community adaptive equipment is required. It is costly. Her therapy and medical services have been many too but it is all worth it when you see her big smile. If it wasn’t for organizations such as Variety it would be difficult to keep up with the needs of a child like Callie. She is smart and though non-verbal at this time we get to know some of what she would like to say through her board. Pressing buttons she communicates to those around her and continues to expand her vocabulary. We know she would say a big “Thank you” to everyone who gives, serves and sends well wishes for all the children.

When she received her wheelchair, which by the way has to be customized to her body, Callie was excited! She motors around and can interact well with her friends at school. One year for her birthday, all of the kids lined up behind her wheelchair banging pots and making noise along the road in a birthday parade. Even the truckers joined in to honk in celebration!

We take our legs for granted as we walk or run about, we speak without considering what it would like not to have a voice. It is in the spirit of children like Callie that we are asked to rethink what is important in life. The picture you will see in the link I”m providing is her in Whistler during the 2010 Paralympics. She went down the mountain on her sit ski with her father skiing behind as part of the opening ceremony. Bundled up to the max she participated and cheered throughout the parade.

With her parents working hard, saving money and the generosity of others Callie lives and learns. So, check out her site, give if you like or just become informed about the charity itself. That is fine too as knowing these types of charities exist may help someone you know in the future.

Loonies for Love – raising money for Variety

Variety’s Child and the Paralympics

As a proud Aunt I’m about to share with you great news. Our family is so excited, but first  you must know how it came to be.  One Olympic party came to a close and another celebration started, the Paralympic Games. Many determined athletes are competing right now to represent their country and in my opinion to help us realize that nothing is impossible.  It may not get as much coverage as the Olympics but there is just as much enthusiasm and joy, disappointment and dreams fulfilled every day that passes.

Paralympic Games Vancouver

My niece Callie, is participating in the closing ceremony! She is going to be on a sit ski and her father will be right at her side. She came into this world 1 lb 4.3 ounces but she has a mighty spirit, designed to battle through and we are blessed to know her. That infectious smile warms everyone that comes in contact with her and though she can’t communicate verbally she is expressive in so many other ways. Just like any other little child she has friends she has met at school and her cerebral palsy has not stopped her from trying horseback riding, swimming and skiing.

Callie was recently featured in the Variety Clubs Lotto pamphlet with the customized van that was donated to my sister and her husband. This is a such a good organization and we can’t thank them enough for all that they do for families everywhere. Callie is making her mark already in this world in large part to the hard work of her parents but also because of organizations such as Variety. I want to focus on the remarkable gifts that come from knowing children like Callie and the many people who make it possible for them to participate in life in a way the rest of us take for granted.

Callie’s Van

These Paralympians, know this. Not to take anything for granted. I see the value in supporting the organizations who assist children and adults to participate in sport, no matter what their ability level is. There have been many miracles and we truly still don’t know what the human body and brain can accomplish until examples are brought forth such as these. Callie is a symbol of that to me. I don’t know yet what she may say about what she has done in her short years with us, but I bet when she gets to finally communicate she’ll have a lot to share. One of those stories will be the day she sat on a sit ski and sailed down a slope for the Paralympic Closing Ceremony, Vancouver 2010.

Jane Goodall: Reason for Hope

Last Friday night I dimmed the lights, grabbed my blanket and settled into to an hour with Jane Goodall. The DVD is called Reason for Hope A Spiritual Journey, narrated by Harrison Ford it allows us to see this woman beyond her career.

For those who may have been living on another planet and don’t know who Jane Goodall is, she is a primatologist who dedicated her life to improving our understanding of apes and chimpanzees. The significance of her research and findings are too numerous to mention, but we now know how close we really are. Especially as it pertains to communication, behaviours and establishment of family connections. Shockingly, we saw through her video documentation, that dominance and anger can result in extreme acts of violence not previously thought to exist in their communities but certainly well documented in human evolution. This served in some ways to frame the context of hope. In observing chimps and apes making tools, hunting and caring for their family, the world was brought to a whole new understanding of these magnificent animals.

This PBS video followed her in Tanzania, Paris, San Francisco and England. Jane lives out of her small suitcase these days as she has made it her mission to bring the message of conservation to the masses. With the fast and furious devastation of forests normally inhabited by the apes, chimpanzees and many other creatures and insects, Jane’s priority switched from research to spokeswoman for protection. Her hope, to spark the passion of the next generation to see the value, take on the responsibility and be stewards of our precious lands and animals.

This glimpse of her life went beyond just following her around and listening to a recounting of life and experiences, it was a transformational video for me. We were invited to see this woman in her world, uninhibited, completely open, speaking about beliefs and going beyond the science she has dedicated her life too. She exposed herself so that we could see her spiritual side and connection to Gombe in Tanzania.  In one poignant piece in the documentary Jane shares a profound moment in her past, a moment of pure clarity when nothing else existed; she was one with her surroundings in a way few will ever experience. Jane’s exploration of the human condition and the need to remain hopeful in a world that often wants to teach us otherwise is not only fascinating but inspiring. I came away cleansed.

In an upcoming post I will explain further what happened after the show had ended and what I learned about myself. I encourage everyone who is reading this to watch the DVD. You will have an opportunity to  travel to places you have never seen before, hear the words of one of the greatest women of our time and come away possibly with a starting point for your own spiritual journey.

Jane Goodall Institute

Jane Goodall: A Reason for Hope DVD

(If you buy from PBS you are also helping support Public Broadcasting which makes this even more special)

Hope for Haiti

It has taken me time to process what is happening in Haiti right now. I have long since learned that sometimes a story or event needs time to unfold so as to better understand it. Our Internet explodes with everyone talking about the earthquake, researching or contributing to Haiti.

Each night since the earthquake hit I found myself, as I climbed into bed, silently realizing how lucky I truly am. I thought about the thousands of people who were going through another night wandering the dark streets, with no food, water or anything else but the clothes on their back. No comfortable bed like I was about to lay down in, no partner to hold or child to kiss goodnight.

If I was in that place, life would look so different and I might have this to share with you:

There is no job for me to go to, call to make, no distractions to shift reality or entertainment to use as an escape. No chance to call a friend or text with trivial updates. What I wear is no longer important, who I am and what I believe is inconsequential. I can vote for nothing and my money (if I have any) barely will help my cause. My safety from dawn to dusk keeps me in a constant state of stress. I am tired but I am afraid to sleep. I have nothing left as my world struggles to be rebuilt from the rubble around me. I’ve never seen anything like it and I don’t want to see anymore.

This is something that most of us will never know, thankfully this suffering may never touch our lives. However, nothing is certain and it is important that when such tragedies befall our fellow world citizens that we not lose sight of the mission.

The mission is to find a way to ease the pain, provide the necessary support in whatever way we can. To not forget at the end and beginning of each day that what we do can impact positively or negatively anyone or anything. We can provide money and aid which is so vitally needed but we must also know that this will be ongoing. It is hard in a world where there are so many who “need” and a small few who have so much power and money that could easily change the course of their lives.

Right now we raise money to erect statues in honor of people who have long since left our midst or give statues to recognize people who are only doing their jobs. Their contribution was greatly appreciated but we could have used the money for a greater purpose, one that may better represent what they stood for in the first place. We build buildings for ourselves to house so much of the benefits of being wealthy when others live in cardboard boxes. We care so much about a designer that we spend what would be someone’s yearly salary on a handbag to carry our money and beauty products. The food we throw away in one week often would feed a family. The complaints we have about our government and how they are not listening to our wants or recognizing our special interests is nothing to worry about in comparison to no honorable government at all.

I hold up hope for Haiti and all the other people who try to rebuild their lives despite natures wrath and/or man-made destruction. It is also my hope that we don’t forget that we are all one event away from such horror and all that you see around you right now will be meaningless. Only your life and your loved ones will matter in the hours and days following.

Donate to the Red Cross or any other reputable organization.

Canadian Red Cross

The gift of life

A brief post to remind readers about organ donation.

After watching BCTV Global news tonight we were introduced to a young woman Eva, who has Cystic Fibrosis and is currently awaiting an organ donation. She was inspiring, bright in spirit, supported by family, beautiful as she shared her story and breathing at a 15% lung capacity.

It is hard to see people suffer needlessly, especially since we could give the gift of life when it is our time to leave this earth. Nothing is more precious than life itself but tragically, as Eva well noted, a gain for her of a donation is a loss for someone else.  However, beyond the deep grief we experience at the death of a loved one there is opportunity for us/them to live on.  No loss when our lungs inhale and exhale for another, no loss when our heart beats as strongly, no loss when through a corneal transplant someone sees the world in all its magnificence yet again.

I ask you to consider finding out how you can become an organ donor and let your family know of your wishes. A life is saved, that is the greatest gift you could ever give.

BC Transplant

Organ Donations

65 Red Roses Eva Journal

Complaint Department is Open

The complaint department is now open! Those who are sensitive to people who are advocates for complaining need not read on.


Have you ever recognized how much we all complain? Recently, I read an article that was touching on the very topic of complaining it was entitled The Kvetch Klatch by Amy Baskin in the November issue of Canada’s More Magazine. It explored the possibility that as we get older we may complain more and want to gather with others to commiserate.

There was some good news about our getting together to air our complaints, apparently it can be good for you to complain with people of like age and life situations according to Robin Kowalski, a psychologist who studies complaining (who knew you could study it and be paid?). “We feel validated, get good advice” and socially it brings people together. (Providing, I guess, you have something better to talk about from time to time otherwise you may just clear a room) There is more to this but I’m not going to rehash everything this woman wrote, I suggest you read the article for yourself.

Last night, again watching my Andy Rooney segment on 60 Minutes, he addressed viewers that accused him of being negative, complaining too much, that is part of his job isn’t it? He proceeded with a great little piece in which he positively enhanced negatives. Maybe that helped all those that felt he complains too much sleep a little easier, though I doubt it. After watching I’m sure they were complaining about his negativity.

I come from a long line of complainers, it is guaranteed that a conversation with my family will get bogged down in complaints and negativity. At times I interject when it is getting too much with something lighter, a humorous quip or just simply tune out the bulk of what is being said. That is not always good when you are to respond, and well…I kinda wasn’t listening. A good laugh eventually is had but still the negativity and complaints are really some of my family members claim to fame. Maybe they should have their own show, but make it 30 Minutes, less commercials which really makes it the 10 Minute show. (but, whose complaining, certainly not me)

When I complain I don’t expect anyone to fix it, it’s not necessary to fix my problem just to air it. Being truthful in the moment, complaining to my hearts content is therapeutic. It is true that going to people of like mind or understanding is far more helpful. My friends and I have the ability to complain for over an hour on the phone or in person and think nothing of it by the time we are finished. A few laughs, compassion, understanding, thoughtful suggestions, no overpowering judgement and good advice usually lightens the load.

I liken complaints, when discussed with others, as something that needs gentle pressure. Kind of like when you have a knot in the muscle and you just hold your fingers on that tension, pushing with just a little firmness makes it back off. You are released! I see this all the time in my work, people who for the most part have legitimate reasons to complain but just being heard opens the space for movement in the right direction.

It is good to complain, not all the time, but just enough to make forward progress on an issue. Some people are great at it and their complaining can be quite entertaining, providing real food for thought. If someone is an energy drainer than take in as much as you can with your ears and don’t expect to fix it with your mouth. Go to someone in your life or a group of people that can truly see it for what it is, and don’t think you are above this because there is always a reason to complain…just ask Andy Rooney.

Andy Rooney Not Negative

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