Archive for December, 2013

Guest post: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region

December 10, 2013

It’s day two of 12 Days for Good, and today’s theme is family: to have and cherish those nearest and dearest to you, whether by blood, love or community. For the next 11 days we will host guest blogs from a range of service providers in our community. Today, we kick off that effort with a post from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region:WaterlooRegion_horizontal_2colour_300dpi_RGB

At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region (BBBSWR), we provide positive volunteer role models to children and youth in our community to help them live their potential. We know the impact that a child’s formative years have on their future.  Our volunteers are not only role models, but friends and mentors.  Those in our community who volunteer as Big Brothers or Big Sisters become individuals who are cherished and valued by those they are working with – they become like family.

As shared recently by a parent of a Little Brother involved in our program, families can extend past biological relatives:

“My son was given the opportunity to have Dave as his Big Brother and Dave couldn’t have been a better fit for him.  It has been one of the best decisions I’ve made as his mom and I know having Dave in his life has given him friendship, support, guidance, love and much enjoyment.  Although my son has support from his family and friends, Dave has been a big brother in the truest sense to him. I know their relationship will last for many years to come.”

Volunteer-driven support networks and community organizations contribute greatly to the overall health of our community – our family. As this parent highlights, volunteering can be so much more than just giving time – it is sharing friendship, support and guidance. You have the ability to create an extended family of sorts. This is where “do gooders” like you step in. If you feel like you could share the experience of mentoring with a child in your community, please look at some of the opportunities available through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region.

Connect with BBBSWR through their website, Twitter or Facebook:


image005 @BBBSWR


Guest post: support equal access to healthy food!

December 9, 2013

Today is the first day of House of Friendship’s 2013 ’12 Days for Good’ social campaign to pay forward all of the generous volunteer support we receive for Christmas Hampers and Turkey Drive.  If you haven’t checked it out, please do so:, and count yourself in.

To provide some inspiration, each of the 12 days has a theme. Today, it is Equality.  To HOF this simply means to at all times and in all places, treat each other equally, with impartiality, and to enjoy full equality of opportunity, rights and responsibilities necessary to belong and thrive in our community.

When I think of equality one of the first things that comes to mind is access to food. Candace, a volunteer at HOF’s Emergency Food Hamper program said it best recently, “Food is a basic necessity and there should be no shame in asking for help for it.”  She goes on to say that she believes food is a human right and sees her volunteerism, and the Emergency Food Hamper program, as people helping people help themselves. To me, it’s about giving people the equal opportunity to meet their basic needs; a widening income gap is undermining their access to food.

If you agree, then you’ll be interested to know that Regional Council is currently reviewing its initial budget/funding plans for 2014; specifically, it is considering a draft budget prepared by Regional staff.  That proposal includes a suggestion to cut food hamper funding for this region by more than 50% in 2014, from $700,000 this year to $300,000 next year (this is for the entire food hamper network, including HOF’s Emergency Food Hamper program). Last year, food hamper funding for the Region was cut by 11%. Meanwhile, demand for food assistance across the Region rose by 5%, which resulted in 35,000 people in our community receiving food assistance this past year (1 in 20 Households).

The proposed budget cut to $300,000 would cripple the local food assistance network that has taken years to build and is one of the most effective and innovative in Canada.  House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper program, the largest provider within this network (feeding over 21,000 people annually, 1/3 children), would be devastated, and thousands of families would be adversely effected.

House of Friendship along with fellow local food assistance agencies (Wilmot Family Resource Centre, Woolwich Community Services, Salvation Army, Cambridge Self Help Food Bank, and The Food Bank of Waterloo Region) will be presenting on the proposed funding cut at a Regional Council meeting this Wednesday, December 11th, 6PM at Regional Council Chambers (150 Frederick St., 2nd Flr, Kitchener). 

By the way, December 11th is the third day of HOF’s ’12 days for good’, and the theme just happens to be: ‘Nutrition – to give and receive nourishment, food and sustenance, for stomachs, hearts, minds and spirits.’

 I can think of no better way to live out this theme than to speak up for the individuals and families we serve, who rely on our local food assistance network for their nutrition.

Please join me and HOF on the 11th at Regional Council Chambers, and support access to food and our local food assistance network.


John Neufeld

Executive Director

House of Friendship