Posts Tagged ‘12 Days for Good’

What are you tolerant of? | Day 4 of #12DaysforGood

December 13, 2015


-by Sally Sarachman of Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region

Merriam-Webster defines tolerance as “the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure.

What are you tolerant of?

I’ve stopped bristling when my husband delicately balances the fresh roll of toilet paper on top of the old one. It’s become charming to me. Almost.

My shoulders don’t tense up anymore when I hear somebody cracking their gum. I’ve learned how to tune that sound out.

Someone keeps putting Harlequin Romance novels in the Little Free Library that calls my boulevard home. Right in between Margaret Atwood and Wally Lamb. I’m working at getting okay with that.

I feel quite pleased with myself when I think of how tolerant I am.

Except for that nagging awareness that tolerance is directly tied to judgment. From how tidy my husband keeps the house, to how people chew their gum, to what constitutes “literature” – after judging each against my own set of standards, I’ve decided what’s acceptable. What’s okay. What I’m willing to tolerate. Suddenly, tolerance doesn’t seem so lovely.

But it gets worse.

What do people tolerate with me?

I swear. A lot.

My laugh is about two decibels higher than it should be and it is frequent.

I can be quick to anger and slow to heal.

But that isn’t tolerating me, is it? That’s just accepting the parts of me that are authentic to who I am. And that doesn’t seem generous of other people, it simply seems like how we should treat each other.

I expected to write a blog about how important it is that we learn the art of tolerance – that tolerance is what builds community and brings us together. I wonder now if tolerance isn’t the goal, but instead it’s working through our tolerance of others to arrive at a place of acceptance.


Beyond Toleration | Day 4 of #12DaysforGood

December 13, 2015


-by Jesse Bauman

I’m writing today about tolerance, one of this campaign’s 12 themes. A few days ago, a friend of a friend, who is Muslim and wears hijab, was accosted while volunteering, and physically and verbally abused. My friend was shocked, and unsettled, because as he put it, this was “not your normal Canadian racism.” I cannot imagine how she felt, though when I started to ask others I know who work in the social services, I learned that this was one of many hate crimes perpetrated upon Muslim women this week.

Now, I know that it’s obvious that different people live according to different values and principles in K-W. Some privilege community over individual rights, or the dictates of the New Testament over the freedom to choose. In our community, and other democratic states like it, we (really: the now-dead men that looked like me) decided that toleration was the best way to manage these fundamental differences. I believe in God, and you believe in Science? We’ll tolerate each other, agree to disagree, and get on with it.

But this is a problem, and a relatively impoverished way to live with difference.

Toleration sounds neutral, but like any abstract principle, real people must give it substance, must articulate what it means and explain what will be tolerated, and by whom. Historically, of course, men with certain values—I’m running out of space, so I’ll call them white, Christian values—decided who they would tolerate, and who was beyond the pale.

And so my fear is that when we say a person or a group is different, and so must be tolerated, what we are really saying is that those kind of people are just like that, end of story. Academics call this essentializing culture, and it’s bad because, as anyone who’s made a friend that was different than they, can tell you, it’s wrong.

Toleration creates categories of normal, to-be-tolerated, and intolerable, and then puts up barriers to the difficult and messy work of engaging with, and trying to understand those people, whether they are the God people, or the Science people, or whatever.

It’s not fair to blame toleration entirely for the racism my friend’s friend experienced, but it’s connected. Toleration suggests that the to-be-tolerated are inscrutably different from us, and so should be given space and then left alone; and that different groups or cultures are “just like that.” It is not a humane or a practical way for us to live together in our ever-changing community. It is certainly not the hard work of creating a community where people feel they belong, instead of tolerated.

Follow featured Do Gooder Jesse today, and through his 12 Days for Good on Twitter.

You will never regret being kind | Day 3 #12DaysforGood

December 12, 2015

Kindness HOF

~by Jen Kuhl

You will never regret being kind. It unravels happiness like a ball of yarn in your soul. Kindness, when shared, has an amazingly contagious and lasting effect. Picture a busy commute to work and you choose to motion for a car to merge in front of you. The driver waves and you feel goodness kindle. Perhaps that person arrives at work feeling just a little lighter and brings a coffee for a co-worker. The recipient of the coffee, warmed by the surprise gesture, decides to reach out to a friend that has been struggling. That friend in turn finds the courage to look for forgiveness in what before, felt shadowed with hopelessness. Like a food chain, that one initial and simple choice has spread out like watercolours.

Screenshot 2015-12-12 at 8.06.21 AM


Kindness is a choice. People who are generous and show compassion aren’t “lucky”. Day by day, they make a conscious effort to step out of themselves and put someone else’s well being ahead of their own. Imagine a world where we all took a second to check ourselves and decided on selflessness more often. What a peaceful place our earth could be.

Our world is in dire need of hope and reconciliation and a sense of justice. We live in challenging times with many struggles and unrighteousness. 12daysforgood invites us to embrace the openness and spirit of the season. We crave to be more compassionate and well-intentioned. We think more inclusively, our hearts soften for the less fortunate and marginalized and we have hope for a more united world.

Waterloo Region is an incredibly caring and generous community. We are blessed with numerous organizations, agencies, faith communities and volunteers that embody the philanthropic spirit behind 12 days for good and actively model kindness and acceptance.

I aim to be the kind of person that has a soothing effect on the people around me. I am honoured to be a do-gooder for the 12days for good. May you find your hearts filled with simple good intentions for your fellow humankind and may we treat each other with dignity and grace.

Follow Jen’s good deeds through 12 Days for Good at @zenjenkuhl

You will never regret being kind. << TWEET THIS

Belonging, we can do this | Day 2 #12DaysforGood

December 11, 2015

-by Deborah Currie

When it comes to Belonging, our community is good. But we are not great. We are moving in the right direction, but as reported in this year’s Waterloo Region Vital Signs, there is a lukewarm sense of Belonging in our community.

We have amazing organizations in our region working hard connecting with our residents to include them in community, and they have introduced some remarkable initiatives to help their stakeholders gain a sense that they Belong. Organizations such as: The House of Friendship; The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation; The Cambridge and North Dumfries Community Foundation; Marillac Place – a shelter for homeless pregnant young women; and the University of Waterloo are all doing incredible work. Spreading this good work more widely across our region is vital, especially as we look forward to welcoming a brave group of newcomers from Syria who, no doubt, will be feeling an enormous sense of abandonment, the exact opposite of Belonging.

I can’t begin to imagine how it would feel to wake up tomorrow and have my home, my possessions and keepsakes, the lives of my mother and father and friends, taken away from me. Gone, just like that. For no fault of my own. And then, no less, to be exiled from this beautiful community, this country, that I have grown up in for over 40 years. Can you? The only think that would get me through is hope. Hope that there is a new place where I can feel safe, with new friends who will understand, appreciate and love me. A place where I can be welcomed by good people who want to build authentic relationships with me, with whom I can share new experiences and customs, while feeling safe to celebrate my own culture and traditions. A new place where I can Belong.

We can do this. I know that this wonderful community will come through for these newcomers, and also for those who already live among us who feel that they don’t Belong. Through our organizations, or as individuals, we can do this.

During this #12daysforgood campaign, and after, I pledge to be mindful of sharing experiences, and engaging sincerely with people in my community as my small way of contributing to building a sense of

Belonging. And I look forward to being inspired by others who I know will do the same.

A Sense of Belonging | Day 2 of #12DaysforGood

December 11, 2015


-by The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation

We all know how amazing it is when we feel like we belong. Whether it’s a social group, a sports team, a neighbourhood, or a city, our sense of belonging is linked to how we feel about ourselves, and how we choose to give back.

The video below helps to explain what belonging really means, and exactly how much of an impact it has on our community.

If you really want to make an impact on belonging, you should start with the building blocks: Authentic Interactions, Feeling Welcome and Shared Experiences. But what do they really mean?

Let’s look to The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation’s Belonging Report for some answers.

Authentic interactions are all about building relationships with the people around you. They go beyond scripted phrases such as “Hello”, “How are you?” or “Nice weather today, eh?” but often begin as a result of seeing the same person on the street, at the grocery store or from your front porch. When you take the step toward authentic interaction you learn something about the person you are talking to. After an authentic interaction, you’re likely to empathize more with that person and feel a personal connection to them.

People feel welcome every time they believe they are being acknowledged and included. Making someone feel welcome in our community can be as simple as smiling at them on the street or wishing them a nice day as they leave an elevator. Both social interactions and physical environments can make you feel welcome. Feeling welcome can sometimes be a first step that leads to authentic interactions and shared purpose, but it also contributes to a sense of belonging all by itself.

Shared experiences can contribute to the sense of belonging that one feels in a group. These experiences can include common interests, goals and traits. It is not necessary for people to interact with each other in order to feel belonging because of shared experience—just knowing that you have something in common with other people can contribute to a sense of belonging.

So when you’re out this holiday season looking to do some good, will you dare to belong?

If you’d like to learn more about Belonging, check out the full report at: and follow KWCF on Twitter through their 12 Days for Good.

Today’s featured Do Gooder is Deborah Currie, follow her thoughts and deeds on Twitter!

Authentic interactions go beyond scripted phrases, learn about who you’re talking to. << TWEET THIS

Reconciliation: A Day of Beginning | Day 1 of #12DaysforGood

December 10, 2015

Reconciliation HOF

-by Ben Janzen

It’s a real honour to be blogging on the first day of House of Friendship’s 12 Days for Good campaign! Over the next 12 days, you’ll see an outpouring of generous, thought-provoking, and inspiring messages and good deeds  by your fellow community members here in Waterloo Region. We invite you to join us by signing up to be a “do-gooder” and challenge yourself, your friends and family, your co-workers, your neighbours(!) to share your stories and be part of it. Together, we can inspire others to get into the true spirit of the season, and make a BIG difference in our community!

Each day has a theme. Today we’re talking about #Reconciliation.  

I have a lot to think about when it comes to reconciliation. What does it mean for me in my personal life? How do I help our community foster spaces where reconciliation is possible? How do I participate in a world that desperately needs more reconciliation to take place?

I’m a Mennonite. Thus, I am part of a “radical” Christian group that is part of a peace church tradition. You may have seen a variety of Mennonites in our community, from politicians to farmers, Old Order to Chin – we’re a diverse crowd. For many of us, peace-work is what we believe we are called to do and that certainly influences how I think about reconciliation in my life and work.

At home, I’m a husband to a wonderful wife and father to four awesome children. They remind me every day how challenging reconciliation can be! “It takes two to tango” as they say (or in our case 6!) so, today, I’m going to try to better understand and own the ways I have caused conflict within my family, listening to them and attempting reconciliation. Mostly, this will be in the small stuff, when we bump into and disrupt each other – the inevitable misunderstandings. I hope you’ll attempt something similar today too!

In my work, as the Stewardship in Action Advisor at Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU), I have the privilege of working with many organizations that work towards peace every day. Today, I’ll be facilitating a peace incubator group at the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement at the University of Waterloo. The incubator is a mix of amazing initiatives that are already doing great things but are learning how to grow. A great example is Peace Camp, who visited over 120 elementary classrooms this year, teaching conflict resolution and peacebuilding skills throughout Waterloo Region. They are seeding reconciliation!

I’m also going to connect with Community Justice Initiatives (CJI), a world leader in restorative justice approaches, about sharing the STRIDE story through film. STRIDE programs help women in prison build informal networks of support that assist them as they reintegrate into and reconcile with the community.

There are a ton of other organizations doing amazing things (please highlight them in your comments/tweets/posts today!) but I would be remiss in failing to highlight the impact House of Friendship’s addiction treatment programs have in enabling people to take huge steps towards reconciliation in their lives.

Outside our community and around the world, today marks International Human Rights Day and launches  a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights. Indigenous peoples and refugees, among many others, are fellow community members I have much to learn from in order to be an ally.

In the spirit of reconciliation, today I acknowledge my complicity, through inherited legacy of privilege and silent assent, the continued oppression and destruction of peoples, cultures, and the environment around the world. I commit to being part of the reconciliation process.

Coming from someone who is white, middle-class, North American, Christian, straight, male etc. this is a long road. As concrete steps, I will spend time on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada site (please join me!) and extend friendship to some of my indigenous neighbours.

I will also be connecting with a number of organizations who are helping our community settle “new Canadians” coming as refugees. (You might anticipate tomorrow’s theme: “Belong.”) It’s great that we are part of some solutions but we are also part of the problem. We need to participate on both ends to foster the ability for there to be reconciliation in the future.

While this will be a busy day, #12DaysforGood is only a short campaign. If I (we) am to take reconciliation seriously, I (we) have to be committed to a long community process. I hope you will join me!

Let us know how you are taking steps towards reconciliation in comments, tweets, and posts.

Happy Do-Gooding!

How do we help our community foster spaces where #reconciliation is possible? << TWEET THIS

Join Ben in fostering reconciliation and celebrating #12daysforgood on Twitter.


Share JOY, and Keep Doing Good in Waterloo Region #12daysforgood

December 19, 2014

12 days for good joy

by Sherri Grosz ‎Generosity Coach and Stewardship Educator at Mennonite Foundation of Canada

I meet a lot of joyful people through my work.  I spend much of my time showing generous people how much fun charitable giving can be.  At Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC), we make giving joyful and easy.  Spending so much time with generous people has affected my view of charitable giving and generosity.  I have yet to meet a generous grumpy person.  There is something about being generous, especially with your money, that affects you deeply and fills you with great joy.  Givers aren’t just standing by, they are actively changing the world through their financial gifts.  As an employee at the MFC, I sometimes have the opportunity to hand-deliver an unexpected gift to a charity and to hear first-hand how appreciative they are and what a difference the gift will make to their programs and the people they serve.

I was delighted to be a do-gooder in the 12 Days For Good campaign.  It’s such a wonderful opportunity to remind everyone in Waterloo Region that each of us can make a difference, that each of us has the power to affect another positively, that each of us can change the world with just one small act of kindness at a time.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when we consider the issues facing our Region – homelessness, addiction, abuse, neglect, underemployment, unemployment, violence, and poverty to name a few.  These are complicated issued that don’t have simple answers.  It would be easy to toss our hands up in the air or shrug our shoulders.  But that’s not Waterloo Region.  We make sure people have gifts and food for Christmas, that they have safe, supported housing, that addictions counselling is available, that families are supported to make healthy decisions, that there are safe and warm places to sleep, that new Canadians can access resources, that people are given the opportunity to have a different future.  Waterloo Region is a place where everyone can belong and thrive; where everyone can have a seat at the table.


Thinking of the many ways that the people of Waterloo Region work to support each other fills me with joy.  I have a deep sense of happiness that I live in a place where people care, are innovative and involved and continue to work on finding solutions for tough problems.  I look around at the many agencies that are involved to support those in need and know that I won’t be alone when I need a hand.

I’m going to carry on the do-gooder campaign – it’s simply too much fun to stop after 12 days – so I’ll be looking for ways to share my joy and keep doing good for others here in Waterloo Region in the coming year.  Care to join me?

Join Sherri in sharing joy and doing good in Waterloo Region on Twitter

Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are << TWEET THIS


#firstworldproblems? Try a Dose of Goodwill #12daysforgood

December 18, 2014

12 days for good goodwill

by Steph Tanner, Owner of Little Mushroom Catering and Nom Nom Treats

You may have heard of the hashtag #firstworldproblems if you are a regular on social media. For example, “It took me 20 minutes to download the new Hobbit movie and now my popcorn is cold!” or “They misspelled my name on my Starbucks cup and it’s not even funny :(”

first world problems

We are so blessed to live in a country and in a region that is so rich. We have great markets and farmers who work hard to produce fresh, delicious foods for us. We have the tech sector working to build up our reputation in the world as a leader in innovation and help us with devices and applications to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. We have the Universities and Colleges leading the way in academia and cooperative education. We have all of the caring people who work in the non-profit sector, for places like Extend-A-Family and House of Friendship. All of the volunteers who put in hours helping out family, friends, and charities help make this community the friendly environment it is. For some of us, our biggest problem is deciding which charity to donate to before year end tax time!

There are others who live among us who are the recipients of those volunteer hours, charitable donations, friendly smiles and goodwill. They have dignity because of programs set up to help them get back on their feet after a rough patch. They have hope because of those who lift them up instead of putting them down. They have a chance to find comfort and peace, warm meals, and opportunities to grow and learn thanks to the services offered by non-profits, by our region and our municipalities.

We all have moments of humanity and humility. Be aware of all of our neighbours and reach out in goodwill. Cooperate with those around us to make sure that our #firstworldproblems are those we can roll our eyes at, not cry our eyes out about.

You can follow Steph and share goodwill with her on Twitter

I believe in the goodwill of people, the power of people to do something positive << TWEET THIS


Dedication to Dignity #12daysforgood

December 17, 2014

12 days for good dignity

Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region (EAF) was extremely honoured to be asked to participate in the 12 Days for Good campaign. When given our theme, Dignity, we realized that this event was going to be a natural fit as to how we choose to walk along side those we support. To EAF staff, dignity is something we live and breathe. We choose to appreciate and honor the dignity of our neighbours, near and far. We do this via our I Choose Dignity movement, which personifies our wish to share with the community the wonderful skills and talents that the citizens we serve have and want to share. We want to come out of our homes, offices and other segregated spaces to walk with together with pride with all our fellow community members and say, “Here we are!  We want to contribute!  We are part of this community and we have a lot to offer!”

Here at EAF we hold three major events every year.  These events proclaim our dedication to dignity.

  • Our Count Me In rally is held every June and together we join in solidarity as we walk down King Street to City Hall to share our message of respect and appreciation of one another.
  • During our second event, the Inclusion Celebration, we acknowledge and honour local citizens who encourage, embrace and enact opportunities to include persons with disabilities.
  • Our third event is our Community Ball Hockey tournament. The neighbours in our area as well as others in our community are invited to come out for a day filled with friendly ball hockey, children’s activities, good food and live music. Everyone is welcome and it is a day during which people gather and get to know one another.

12 days for good EAFWR

In choosing dignity, we also make sure that all those who work/volunteer for EAF hold similar values and thus can be strong advocates for those we serve as well as being solid representatives for this organisation. To this end, all are required to complete the Inclusion Workshop. Exploration about personal values as well as organizational values is encouraged – what it means to be a person-centred advocate and how one appreciates the intrinsic value each of us holds, regardless of ability.

Find out more about the I Choose Dign!ty movement at You can also follow I Choose Dign!ty on Twitter, and Extend-A-Family on Twitter

When it comes to human dignity, we cannot make compromises << TWEET THIS

Finding Hope in Pyjamas #12daysforgood

December 16, 2014

12 days for good hope

February 20th 1999. I still remember the day. I had spent hours being verbally assaulted by my intoxicated mother. As she often did, she became extremely physically abusive; but unlike any of the times before, on that day I gathered strength and courage…. and I ran. I went out the door of the rundown place we were living for the week with just the clothes on my back. I still remember the dark skies, snow lightly falling, and the cold wind biting at me through my sweater as I ran. I knew in that moment I was going to be free of that life, that I would never turn back.

A few days later, on my 15th birthday, I was brought to my first foster home still wearing the same clothes that I left with. I remember being taken shopping for necessities, but what stands out most were three things: warm socks, a new sweater to replace the one I was wearing, and new pyjama’s. The feeling I had putting on those fresh pyjamas was something I hadn’t experienced in so long: safety, comfort and even HOPE.

15 years later, I’ve committed a lot of my life to working with youth in care, AND I’m surrounded by pyjamas!

12 days for good hope

After seeing a screening of Red Light Green Light– a documentary on human and sex trafficking- I was able to learn more about an organization called Walk With Me and their emergency safe house for victims. From that, and my own experience of having to start fresh with just the clothes on my back, I came up with the idea of collecting pyjamas for women escaping trafficking. My hope was that when women enter a safe house or shelter they would not only be welcomed by a safe bed to sleep in, but a warm set of pyjamas to help them to start their first night of freedom feeling safety, comfort, and most importantly, a sense of hope.

4 weeks into the campaign I’ve collected over 200 pyjamas! With the help of some amazing community members, I held a pyjama party for the community to come and learn more about human trafficking and drop off donated pyjamas. It has left me in awe, how this wonderful community has come together and supported my small idea to make it larger than life! If anything, I’m beyond excited to know that so many others are aware and spreading the word about human trafficking and that together we can work together to bring change & hope for these victims.

If you would still like to donate a pair of pyjamas, I’m collecting until Dec. 20th. They can be dropped off any Waterloo Regional Police Station or The Family Centre at 65 Hansen Ave. Kitchener.

If you would like to know more about human trafficking & ways to help spread the word, tweet me at @MConeybeare!

15 years ago, as I was running down that snowy street away from an abusive and unstable home with just the clothes on my back, I had no idea I would be helping youth in care or victims of trafficking. But I do know I had sense of hope, and with that anything is possible.

It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars. << TWEET THIS

You can also read: Collecting pyjamas for victims of human trafficking via Waterloo Region Record