Archive for the ‘Charitable giving’ Category

Hunger Awareness Week – Let’s Draw The Line On Hunger

September 19, 2016

Today we are pleased to share a piece written by Wendi Campbell, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.


Hunger Awareness Week - Let's Draw The Line On Hunger

This week is Hunger Awareness Week. Food Banks Canada is asking us all to draw the line on hunger. Across Canada 850,000 people access a food bank each month. Here in Waterloo Region 12000 people access food assistance each month. How can this be?

The food assistance network in Waterloo Region consists of more than 100 community programs with The Food Bank of Waterloo Region and the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank at the centre. Every day, throughout the community, the staff and volunteers of these programs hear stories of despair turning into stories of hope because along with the food came a smile, a connection to a vital resource, words of encouragement and the knowledge that they were not alone. For many of those seeking assistance their stories are connected to mental health challenges – family breakdowns following job loss, years of battling and illness that has resulted in being unable to work, addictions deeply rooted in childhood trauma and an overwhelming inability to move on.

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region held an event recently to explore mental health as one of the underlying factors affecting the need for food support. Martin Bauman spoke of his recently completed fund and awareness-raising cross-Canada bicycle trek. He informed those in attendance that 1 in 5 Canadians deals with mental illness in their lifetime. On his journey Martin realized the transformative power conversation can have – simply talking and sharing with someone else can make an immeasurable difference. His message that it is important to look out for one another and simple things like smiling and having a conversation have a positive impact were reinforced by singer song writer Chris Scott’s “All It Takes” song. His lyrics, “with a touch of love, they can rise above all the shame. With a chance their lives will never by the same” helped drive home the importance of connectedness.

Police Chief Bryan Larkin and the Working Centre’s Executive Director Joe Mancini brought to mind many images of our community and those struggling to make their way. Whether it be someone asking for assistance at a street corner or someone dealing with their personal challenges silently, and unknown to you, our community has many residents that need help. The initiatives of our local Food Assistance Network strive to make connections among people as well as to critical resources. The most important connection is the bridge from despair to hope that is made by simply acknowledging their existence.

Homelessness, poverty, lack of employment, mental health are intertwined social issues. Often the intersection occurs at a community food program providing emergency food hampers, shelter, outreach, food pantry or meal programs. Communities across the country are facing social issues that have no easy solution and require open minds, thinking differently and creative, systems-based solutions. Bringing people together in new ways, gently encouraging connectedness can help to mend broken social bonds that are exasperated by stresses such as limited work options.

This Hunger Awareness Week we encourage everyone to take time to reflect and connect with those we know are struggling and consider who else may need a helping hand, a reassuring smile and a touch of kindness. Thank you for your support of our community’s Food Assistance Network. Together we are drawing the line on hunger.

Help Kids Be Curious, Active And Ready For Life

June 30, 2016

Today’s Blog post is from Kristi D. and her son Bastien.


Happy Canada Day! For many, it is the beginning of summer time adventures! Whether you see the fireworks July 1st, spend time with family and friends or go for the first camping trip of the season!

Like you, my family looks forward to summer and a change of pace.

 “It is fun to be at camp without the stress of everyday life.”     

–  Bastien, 11 year old camper

This is what summer camp is like for kids like my son Bastien. When he goes to camp he has a chance to focus on just being a kid. A chance to be curious, active, and ready to engage in the opportunities that life has to offer.

Thanks to gifts to House of Friendship’s (HOF) Summer Camp Sponsorship program, Bastien has been able to attend camp for the last four years! As his Mom, I’m thrilled that he’s had these wonderful opportunities to make new friends, try new things and to belong. This is his BIG adventure! When he comes back home he is a different kid – he matures so much each time he goes to summer camp! The lessons he learns are AMAZING!

But for our household summer camp is more than just a week of fun and friends.

Bastien has an older sister with autism and …well, life can be pretty stressful with her. As a single mother, it’s just Bastien, his sister and me. Summer camp is more than a fun place to go – it is a much needed break for my 11 year old. Camp is critical for Bastien. It allows him to have a break from the challenges and trials of home life.                       

The guidance and opportunities that Bastien receives at camp makes a difference to our whole family! I can teach him things, but the camp staff and caring counsellors make positive messages come alive! When he comes home, we have some of the best conversations ever as he shares every detail about his time at camp.

The lessons he has learned have an impact long after summer is done, benefiting the whole family!

Imagine, if you could provide even more ‘BIG adventures’ to kids like my Bastien!

It costs $650 to equip and send one child to camp. With money raised  through support for HOF’s Trek 4 KidsHike and Bike and other initiatives, HOF sends all those signed up waiting to go, or as many kids as they can afford.

Recently Trek 4 Kids Hike and Bike participants and supporters got 88 more kids-in-need closer to nature this summer. This is good news for campers and their families living on low income, but another 17 children are on the waiting list, and we may receive more requests.

Once all of the kids on the waiting list are off to camp, we will use any surplus funds to fill funding gaps in HOF’s community centre children’s programming. Your donation to ‘Summer Camp & More’ will ensure that children and youth at-risk continue to have positive, skill-building experiences beyond camp!

With the possibility of a work stoppage at Canada Post, HOF is more determined than ever to send kids-in-need to camp. That is why we’re reaching out today.

Please consider making your donation on-line at (simply click on the ‘Donate Now’ button on the Home page and select Summer Camp Sponsorship under Fund/Designation) or call Shelley at: 519-742-8327 x131 or drop off your donation at House of Friendship’s Admin Building, 51 Charles St. East, Kitchener ON. N2G 4R3

Today, please remember Bastien and other kids like him and let Bastien’s words inspire you to make a gift to ‘Summer Camp & More’ and YOU can be the start of many more BIG adventures this summer!

Did you know that if your donation is received on-line before June 30, it is eligible for the Great Canadian Giving Challenge . Give once, help twice and send your gift today!

Sing The Song Of Your Heart And Trek 4 Kids!

April 13, 2016

Today‘s blog comes to you from the desk of Phil Martin, Trek 4 Kids Hike and Bike committee member and cycling enthusiast who is making week-long, overnight summer camp a reality for kids-at-risk!

1-phil martin

When I’m not on my bike, I’m introducing kids to the love of cycling through a school program I founded called Cycling Into The Future (CITF)! In schools across Waterloo Region I teach young people (and a few older ones) about cycling safety and etiquette by presenting the CITF program which includes hands (and feet)–on cycling experience! Many kids find that their world grows bigger when they take our course. They have more independence (I don’t have to rely so much on being driven everywhere), a growing sense of competence (I can fix a tire) and the great feeling of fresh air in their faces as they pedal off on new adventures. (more…)

How To Take Two Trips For The Price Of One

June 19, 2015

Museums like the ROM, different cities, camps and more are all great places to go on a school trip. Photo via Flickr user Grant MacDonald

One of the nice things about being a parent is the opportunity to accompany your child or children on a school trip: you get some insight into class room dynamics, spend some time with your child, and learn a bit about the environment in which they spend so much of their time.

At the end of the year, many classes organize school trips.  I remember these as great experiences to go outside of the community I grew up in, visit new places with my friends and have a lot of fun.

For the first part of this week, my co-worker at the Emergency Food Hamper Program, Raymond, was absent as he accompanied one of his children on an end of year trip.  As a result I stepped into his role a little more than I usually do, and coordinated the challenging and interesting job of receiving, organizing, inventorying and distributing the many food donations we receive.  This week was a little more challenging than others. (more…)

What Chickens And Bowling Balls Can Teach You About Food Drives

June 4, 2015

So you want to support your local food bank?

Great! We need your help. But first, a story.

Saturday Night Special

My grandfather was a preacher, usually at small rural churches in South Western Ontario. His “salary” was unpredictable, paid out of every fourth week’s offering–more like a stand-up comic’s than the wise and venerable shepherd of his flock. My grandparents were poor, and in obvious ways dependent on their congregation.

One Saturday night, as my grandma was finishing bathing her five children, a congregant arrived bearing gifts. More specifically, five old laying hens, no longer producing eggs but still, this congregant assured my grandmother, “good eating.” The hens were alive, and so my grandma had to kill them, unburden them of head and feathers, clean them, and bag them for the freezer.



Shut Up and Take My Money, part three! (Or, why cash transfers aren’t a silver bullet for food banks)

May 13, 2015

I spent the first two parts of this series with a bit of existential navel-gazing about food banks: should we close them down and give people money instead? Wouldn’t that be more efficient, and less paternalistic? So far, my answer is an emphatic maybe. On the one hand, people can make their own food choices with cash, and a complicated and intrusive bureaucracy would disappear.  On the other hand, that same infrastructure allows us to turn small donations into large amounts of food assistance.

In Debt to China

Cash rules everything around us

This post is part three of three, and that being so, it is time to reveal my bold answers to previously intractable problems.

It is wrongheaded to hold up cash transfers as the solution. Celebrating wealth because it gives us more choice and appears to increase our freedom has only ever worked for a few, at a great cost to many; and, ultimately, makes it more difficult to imagine new ways of living together and caring for each other.

Give a woman a fish, and she eats for a day. Teach a woman to fish, we are told, and she can feed herself forever. Give a man a can of tuna, and he eats for a day. Give a man some cash, and he decides.

I’ve so far been considering which is better, but why must these be the only options? What if her boat has a hole in it? What if her ancestors polluted and overfished all the rivers? Why are all these people fishing by themselves, for themselves? The questions we ask, and how we ask them, limits the range of possible answers and how we imagine alternatives–or not. (more…)

Shut Up and Take My Money, part two! (Or, why cash transfers aren’t a silver bullet for food banks)

May 6, 2015

Should we scrap food banks and instead give people money? In the first part of this series I outlined–with the help of a couple recent articles–why we should just give money. Food banks are disrespectful, and paternalistic. At the very least, people should be able to choose what they put in their own bodies, right? Food banks are also inefficient, requiring so many trucks and warehouses and volunteers. Giving money instead of food is a good idea, but, Debbie Downer here, I think it’s still more complicated, and that we can still do better. In what follows I complicate the two criticisms of food banking: paternalism and inefficiency.

Food banks and charities are paternalistic?

First off, what’s wrong with paternalism? Paternalism means I substitute my judgement for yours, because I claim to know better. In some cases, we accept or welcome other people’s authority in this way. When I’m sick, I choose to go to the doctor, and I happily give up my decision making to her.


However, part of what makes my life worth living is the feeling that I have more or less determined it for myself, or at least had a major say in most major decisions that affect me. Part of what it means to respect another human is to respect their ability to make decisions for themselves, and part of what it means to grow up is to ‘be allowed’ to make those decisions for yourself. This is true despite the fact that true ‘self-determination’ is a myth: we are social animals born into environments not of our choosing, constrained by the circumstances and histories that produced us. (more…)

Shut up and take my money!

April 30, 2015

Or, why cash transfers aren’t a silver bullet for food banks…

Today I am going to talk about giving money to ‘poor people,’ and about the massive architecture of helping that we continue to build, in part because we do not want to give money to people living on a low income. The titles of two recent articles by the Toronto Star reporter Ed Keenan outline what is at stake: “Shutting food bank first step in program to add respect to feeding hungry;” and, “Food-bank system’s absurd, but it shows we don’t lack for helpers.” Since I started this post, the CBC has also weighed in, with this video:

In many ways Keenan is right, though I aim to complicate his arguments as much as possible. I also aim to complicate his conclusion, which is that we should simply give money to folks who are struggling. Yes, it seems that money translates into more choice which translates into more freedom, but giving people money does not obviously affect the environment in which people must choose, and in which poor people must often “choose” between different terrible options. Closing down food banks will not make these choices better, or more accessible, but neither, unfortunately, will cash-instead-of-food. This piece is part one of three. (more…)

Gardens Grow Volunteer Engagement

April 24, 2015



This is the last post in a our week long series on the many gardens that have sprouted up around House of Friendship.  Aside from plants, there is a common thread that connects all of our different green endeavours together, and that is volunteers!

What better way to celebrate and recognize that amazing contribution than by sharing the words of Marlene, an all around incredible volunteer who was a dynamic presence at Supportive Housing last summer and fall.

She spent quite a bit of time working with tenants in the garden beds and kitchen, and shares some of her thoughts about what being a volunteer was like for her:

“Digging in the dirt, planting seeds, and watching things grow is every gardener’s delight. Last year, while digging in the dirt with House of Friendship residents, I had the opportunity re-visit the awe and wonder that comes along with seeing those little seeds sprout. We shared many laughs and chats while nurturing seedlings, creating new gardens and caring for mature plants.” (more…)

Gardens Grow Inclusion and Community Connections

April 23, 2015



Rewarding community connections are often growing side by side with tomatoes in the gardens at our supportive housing programs. “It’s nice to be in the garden with your friends, planting in the sun and talking to your seedlings.” A resident recently shared with us. Indeed, a lot is possible with a strong community, a generous spirit and some ingenuity. (more…)