Posts Tagged ‘12days’

Guest post: Nutrition for Learning

December 11, 2013

Today is the third of 12 Days for Good! We are happy to share a piece from Nutrition for Learning, a local organization that supports community based nutrition programs committed to improving the learning capacity, health and well being of children and youth in Waterloo Region:


You know good things are happening when you hear the laughter and chatter, and witness the productivity that occurs when good people come together for the good of children.

Feeding 13,000 children daily throughout Waterloo Region can be a fairly daunting exercise for a very small organization like Nutrition for Learning. Especially when over 20,000 items, such as Cheerios, crackers, tomatoes, and more need to be individually bagged on a weekly basis, to meet the demands of a new pilot project where the organization purchases and distributes the food.

That’s where volunteers like Kathy Rogers and Sandra Siegel come to the rescue. They joined a growing group of volunteers who spend 4 – 6 hours a week filling small bags with food, communing with new found friends and giving Nutrition for Learning the gift of help, which is so desperately needed.


“Being retired has given me the luxury of time,” said Sandra Siegel, who with her husband volunteers for this project at least one day a week. “Nutrition for Learning fulfills a need in the community, to feed children who may go hungry. I feel privileged to spend my time here helping in some small way.”

And it’s the same for Kathy. “Before she retired Kathy asked around the community to find a worthy organization to volunteer with,” explained Kelly-Sue Labus, Executive Director, Nutrition for Learning. “And we are so very thankful that she chose Nutrition for Learning.”  Kathy’s husband volunteers as well, giving significant time to his role as Program Coordinator for a school program.

Many others have given Nutrition for Learning the gift of self and for many years. With over 1,800 adult volunteers performing multiple roles, they ensure the nourishing programs continue to thrive.

Want to learn more about Nutrition for Learning? Connect with them online:


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

Celebrating 12 Days of good deeds

December 21, 2012

12 Days

Today is the last day of our 12 Days for Good campaign, and though I am sad to see it go, I’ve been so inspired by all the amazing stories I’ve heard from people who are paying it forward. Today as we celebrate the good deeds done in Waterloo Region, here are some of the highlights of the past week and a half.

To start off, word from the Christmas Hampers Warehouse is that over 4,240 hampers have been delivered to homes in Waterloo Region. This has been our busiest year yet, and it would not have been possible without all the help we got from amazing volunteers during the past 12 days. What a success!

We’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to speak to media outlets about 12 Days for Good. John Neufeld, Jane Barkley, and Natalie Brown were on Talk Local Waterloo Region discussing the impact of 12 Days and how they’ve been involved. Check out the video here.


The Gift of Hope on Day 11

December 20, 2012

12 Days

If you have young children (or grandchildren) this time of year can be particularly joyful.  It’s an opportunity to start and pass along family traditions, spend time together and have some fun in the snow.  It is a time when a lot of workplaces wind down (unless you work retail of course) and, as the last ten days have shown, it is a time when a lot of people make an extra effort to help others and contribute to a better community.  What is there not to like about December?

Well, for many people on the receiving end of good will and charity, or those who are largely invisible in our community, like the homeless and those who are struggling with addiction, December is one of the worst times of year. December 25th in particular looms large as a reminder of broken families and relationships.

“We spend a lot of time getting people ready for Christmas,” Rick, a staff person in House of Friendship’s men’s addiction program told a group of us recently. “The guys get themselves mentally prepared for the loneliness and the bad memories and we make ourselves available over the holidays to support them.  But, in the new year, is when it hits the hardest.” This is a common experience for the staff in all of our addiction programs for men and women.

What can an individual do to build a sense of hope in people who are feeling like recovery might not be possible and that they may never be able to heal the damage that has shaken their families apart?


Supporting diversity during 12 Days for Good

December 19, 2012

Today’s 12 Days theme is ‘Diversity,’ which can be approached from many directions. Diversity is something that you might think of in terms of culture, country of origin or language but it can also apply to income, experience, age, outlook, or native language, to name a few. Today we’ve decided to focus on cultural diversity, and in particular on ways the Sunnydale residents have used diversity to transform their neighbourhood.

We’ve written about the Sunnydale community centre before, and for good reason. It has a rich history, not all of it happy.  For starters it is a multicultural hub but used to be known more as a neighbourhood with a high crime rate. Part of what helped turn that around is how they often bring people of all different cultures together as equals. Recently, the Sunnydale Community Centre received a grant from the City of Waterloo to publish a cookbook, bringing together family recipes from residents along with the story behind each recipe.

A picture of participants at food distribution at Sunnydale

A picture of participants at food distribution at Sunnydale

The cookbook was inspired by a day when the neighbourhood made ‘stone soup’ together. Rebecca Seiling explained the process in the book’s foreward:

“Several years ago, the community participated in making their own ‘stone soup.’ As in the traditional tale, big pots of water were set of boil in the kitchen of the community centre which is at the heart of the complex, drawing out curious people from their homes. Stones were added to the water, with an encouragement to residents to bring whatever they could to make stone soup. Bit by bit, various ingredients were added to the pots: bamboo shoots, Chinese mushrooms, onions, carrots, cilantro, peppers, beets, potatoes, parsley, celery, garlic, turnip, and other ingredients whose English names were unknown—each one improving the flavour of the soup. In the end, the neighbours created something delicious that none of them could have made on their own.”


Day 9: Share the gift of warmth

December 18, 2012

Snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures are coming soon. While for some of us this weather provides a mild inconvenience when we leave the comfort of our homes, for people with no fixed address or who are living on low income, the weather can be a serious challenge. Today is day 9 of the 12 Days for Good, and the theme is giving the gift of warmth. This could mean the warmth of having somewhere indoors to spend the night, the warmth that comes with being part of a community, or the warmth that comes from wearing a pair of handmade mittens.

12 Days - PIFG


Friendship, the gift to give on day 8 of 12 Days for Good

December 17, 2012

One of the hardest things about getting older is the lack of social opportunities as your mobility, vision and hearing decreases. It becomes harder to get around and sometimes, in poor weather you are stuck at home because you can’t manage slippery stairs or icy sidewalks.

“I broke my leg, and then my toe” an elderly food hamper patron told me on the phone the other day, “all from when I slipped in the snow. Last week, I had to cancel all of my appointments because it snowed and I was too afraid – I don’t want to go through all of that again.”

In my own life, my grandpa is in his late seventies and struggles with the changes to his life that come with age. Because of his health he found himself unable to go out in public, things that he had previously enjoyed doing, like camping and canoeing, had to end. He can turn to family like myself and my father, through ill health and stress, both of which play havoc with his memory and make it harder for him to manage things like his finances and get to vital appointments.  Not everyone is like my grandpa though.  They may not have any family left, and struggle with social isolation.

Want to know how you can help? (more…)

Give yourself the gift of knowledge, and help others year round

December 16, 2012

The other day I was walking in Uptown Waterloo and I was waved down by someone working for Public Outreach, and organization that does fundraising for charities like Greenpeace and Sick Kids in Toronto. The person was very friendly and explained the charity they were raising money for. As I listened, I realized that this was for a cause I’d never heard of. How was I to know that if I donated, my money would be having a real impact? How did I know the charity’s values lined up with mine? This is something many of us encounter with so many non-profits and charities asking for donations, especially during the Christmas season. With this in mind, I politely declined to donate at that moment, but promised to do some research on my own to make an informed decision.

Moving right along with our 12 Days of doing good, the theme of today, day 7, is Knowledge. This is clearly a broad theme, so we thought we’d focus on something that is relevant to the season, when many people are generously donating to their favourite charity or non-profit organization: how do you choose a charity that is in line with your values and is having a positive impact? I know that with more than 85 000 charitable organizations in Canada alone, it can be hard to choose. In fact, Canada has the second largest non-profit and voluntary sector worldwide (the Netherlands has the first). Today, we’re going to give you a few tips about how you can make an informed decision when donating to your cause of choice.

12 Days (more…)

Give the Gift of Joy in the middle of 12 Days for Good

December 15, 2012

Giving and receiving gifts is a very important part of many cultures.  They can re-affirm bonds of love and affection, connect communities and demonstrate respect and gratitude.  For many cultures, birthdays are very important.  In other cultures birthdays pass without any importance.  In December, many people celebrate Christmas.  For some, the spiritual implications are the most important. These people lament the commercialization of Christmas and believe that all of the spirit has gone out of it. They believe that Christmas should be about family and giving back to those less fortunate.

For others, spending time and money at the malls is the most important part.  For many of us, what’s important falls somewhere between those two extremes and can change over time.  As you get older, for example, you may come to appreciate the time spent with children and grandchildren.  You may ask yourself, “what more do I need?” (more…)