Posts Tagged ‘12days’

Day 5: The Gift of Health

December 14, 2012

12 Days

Today’s theme in our 12 Days series is ‘Health’. As we’ve talked about many times before (here, here, and here), we see the effects of poverty on people’s health every day here at food hampers. To give one example, a woman came in for a hamper a few weeks ago, and disclosed she had been diagnosed with cancer. She explained that her doctor recommended she stay away from canned items, as some contain chemicals in the lining of the container, and had also recommended she increase her intake of fruit, vegetables, and whole grain products. This was difficult for her to take in; since she relies on food hamper programs like ours, she often has to subsist on non-perishable items and less produce. Like many people we interact with here, she is caught between wanting to follow her doctor’s orders to get healthy again, and needing to accept what food assistance agencies offered her so she can eat at all. Luckily, we were able to give her some extra produce, but she should not have to take a gamble every time she needs food.

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Many of our program participants have diabetes or other chronic diseases, which are far more common among people living on low income than people in other income brackets, yet it is difficult to afford the foods that may help them deal with their disease.

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The 12 Days Do-Gooders: Update on how people are helping out

December 13, 2012

At House of Friendship for our 12 Days of doing good campaign, we’ve got 12 do-gooders highlighting their good deeds. Here are some of the pictures, words, and videos they’ve been sharing about their journey.

Natalie picNatalie Brown-Kivell is the founder of Common Thread Consulting, a local research and facilitation business that works for social justice and organizational change within not-for-profits and government agencies. She is an active community volunteer and agent of social change, with a passion for decreasing poverty and increasing access to all levels of education. She lives every day trying to live true to her values of equality, building community and collaboration, whether it be with her neighbours, friends and family, community organization or advocating at a broader level. Nothing makes Natalie happier then digging in and making some positive change.  Reflecting on her blog here about her influence as a child she observed

“So now, here I am 20 years later thankful for the opportunity that House of Friendship has provided me and the community, to reflect on the good that we have done, highlight the good we are currently doing, and look closely for the good we can do today.”

JuanitaJuanita Metzger has also been blogging here about her experience, highlighting a different person or organization for each of the 12 days.  The people she highlights are doing many creative things to create some good in their own backyard.  They’re truly an inspiration!  Who is Juanita? She describes herself as a “local community connector. Addicted knitter. Creative, non-linear thinker. Passionate reader. Arts and culture supporter. Compulsive guerilla gardener. Intrepid explorer. Creator of cool goodness. Caped crime preventer with great boots.”  She invites everyone to take part in the 12 Days for Good campaign, stating “simply find something good to do each day until December 21st. Really, not so hard! Feel free to share your good deeds on social media with the hashtag #12daysforgood.”

Jane Barkley has been youtube-ing! Here’s a video she made about visiting the Food Bank of Waterloo Region for Tuesday’s theme of ‘food’.

Could you say no to this face?

Could you say no to this face?

 

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” -Immanuel Kant

Karen Scian had a different interpretation of Wednesday’s theme of home or ‘shelter,’ championing the cause of the KW Humane Society and reminding us not to forgot our furry best friends.

As a warning, proceed with caution when looking at the online adoption centre…you may just end up with a new pet.

Carlos SmilingCarlos Benevides hosts the Beat Breakfast with Carlos, Sophie and Dave on 91.5 The Beat weekday mornings from 5:30 to 9:30.  His dream as a child was to talk on the radio. 15 years ago he began living that dream and can’t believe he gets paid to do it. He loves what he does and feels it’s his responsibility to use that platform to make a difference, something we can all do by simply volunteering one day a week for one hour.

This morning, he shared with us the following reflections on his experiences so far:

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”.  That’s a quote from Gandhi I came across that was part of the inspiration for me start my volunteer initiative 30 Deeds in 30 Days last December.  The goal was simple 1) that there are many organizations in need of volunteers here in Waterloo Region, and 2) to let you know it’s easy to donate your time – even just one day a week for an hour.  Imagine if everyone did one day a week for one hour, what could we do?  How many lives could each of us touch? Just imagine.

That’s why I was flattered and excited to be asked to lend my support and get involved with the House Of Friendship’s 12 Days Of Good. To keep on spreading the message of getting involved and as the title suggest do some good no matter how small the gesture.

Christmas is an incredibly stressful and unhappy time of the year for many people. It doesn’t have to be and it shouldn’t be. It should be a time full of happiness as we celebrate all the goodness in our lives, family and friends. I am incredibly lucky. I have a roof over my head, I have food on my table, loved ones that I can rely on, and I have hope that tomorrow will be a better day.  Sadly there are those here in Waterloo Region that aren’t so fortunate.  I met some of those people who are in need yesterday as I delivered Christmas hampers.

My hope is I helped those people I dropped off hampers to have better days today. It’s difficult for me to write what I felt as I made the deliveries, but I’ll try.  I felt a purpose in my life – I was creating a community where no one gets left behind.  Where we all feel like we’re pulling in the same direction and I was building a world that I will leave better off after I’m gone.  I felt a glow in my chest that warmed my entire body. As I gazed into the faces of those men and women, I felt goodness pouring from me as they said thank you. I felt my heart grow.  It was amazing. I gave them food and hope yesterday, but they gave me so much more.

Do some good over the next 12 days and then keep going after that.  Don’t stop.  Lose yourself in the service of others.  Doing so has changed my life, and it can change yours too.

Inspired by this small sampling of how 12 people are taking on the 12 Days for Good challenge? Christmas Hampers are all ready to be delivered, and just waiting for cars that can take them to their homes. Read our page here to get involved.

And, remember to keep tweeting the good deeds you’ve done to us @HOFKW while we continue through day 4 of the #12daysforgood!

Day 4: The Gift of Community!

December 12, 2012

12 Days - PIFG

Today’s 12 Days theme or gift is ‘community,’ something everyone knows a little something about. But did you know that belonging to a supportive community leads to a host of benefits, including safer communities, people becoming more politically engaged and experiencing a deeper sense of health and well-being? The Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council certainly thinks so, and believes that ‘connected communities are safer communities.’ In other words, the key to creating safer communities is to target one of the root causes of crime, social alienation. One way to solve the root causes of many crimes is to increase human interaction in your neighbourhood, or, to get to know your neighbours.

In the spirit of this advice, we’ve compiled a list of ten ways you can be a good neighbour. During the 12 days, I challenge you to try 3 of these ten items. It’s not hard and you might be surprised at how positive the results are. (more…)

There is no place like home on day 3 of 12 Days

December 12, 2012

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Home is not a long word.  Only four letters. But for being such a short word, it has a lot of weight.  It is a big deal.  What can you do if you don’t have a home?  Today, Allison, the program coordinator of Eby Village shared Andrea’s story with me:

“After moving from shelter to shelter, I was so happy when I received the news that I was accepted at Eby village. For the first time in my life, I had my own private space and I finally had my own kitchen where I could cook my own meals.

 I shared my new home with other people who were in similar circumstance as me, such as being on social assistance, and coming from homelessness.  I have met people with different personalities and each person has brought something unique to my life.  I have learned things I never would have thought from people in the building such as gardening, cooking, and arts and crafts. I’ve stayed close with the people I’ve befriended throughout my 15 years of living at Eby Village and I have grown as an individual.

Having my own private space has brought me security, and my confidence has grown by participating in community activities. I hope everyone can have a home like Eby Village because it gives people autonomy, a feeling of self worth, and increases self esteem. Your own home gives you a place to invite your friends and family to that you feel proud of, and you don’t have the influence of alcohol and drugs so you can live the way you want to and work on becoming the best person you can be. “

Looking the story over, Andrea said “People aren’t going to believe that someone from Eby Village wrote this!  Most people think we can’t even read and write.”           

The message is this story is simple – if you give someone a home, they have the opportunity to thrive. But the reality in our region and across Canada is not everyone has access to a safe, affordable, and acceptable home, and as Andrea points out, barriers and stereotypes still remain.  In a survey  done by the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA), there are  over 156, 358 Ontario households waiting for affordable housing like that offered in Eby Village, and more than 3,000 people waiting for housing in the region of Waterloo alone – year after year, this list continues to grow. The wait time for families, singles and seniors is on average 2-3 years which indicates the need for more affordable housing options, particularly for those in deep need. (more…)

The Power of 12

December 10, 2012
Volunteers swing into action and put together the first of several thousand Christmas Hampers

Volunteers swing into action and put together the first of several thousand Christmas Hampers

Last Friday, volunteers in north Waterloo were busy.  They came together, many of them only seeing each other at this time of year, and got to business assembling boxes of food for people they will never meet.  Christmas Hampers officially got into gear.

Inspired by these volunteers and the hundreds who will follow them each day until the 25th, House of Friendship invites YOU to get involved in our community to the power of 12.

Welcome to 12 Days.

The idea is simple: do something, anything, in the next twelve days to help someone else.  These can be 12 big things, 12 little things or even just one thing. We`re not asking you to join in on what House of Friendship is doing (although you are very welcome to) we simply want to share the enthusiasm and drive that we see around us and encourage others to make a positive change.

This year, since it is a traditional time of gift giving, we are organizing our own efforts around 12 different “gifts”:  the gift of Justice and Equality, Food, Home, Community, Health, Joy, Knowledge, Friendship, Warmth, Diversity, Hope, and finally, Celebrating the Good!

Each day we will share some tips, suggestions, stories and inspiration that you can use to share that gift with our community.

Follow #12daysforgood on twitter, on Facebook and come back here for daily updates.

Day 1: How do you wrap the Gift of Justice?

In my University days, I found myself sitting with some co-workers for lunch, enjoying the nice summer weather.  We were doing door-to-door sales at the time and the spirit of the work place was making money and self reliance.  You were responsible for your success or failure.  Every day, before hitting the streets, it was drilled into us: keep pushing, stay confident, work hard and you will do it.

As we dug into our lunches, the conversation turned to a homeless man we had interacted with earlier before starting work. One of my co-workers observed “If I was on the street, I would never stop, I would clean myself up, get a job and get off the street in a few days.”

If only life was that simple. (more…)

How high can you leap?

February 8, 2012

February 29 is a day that you don’t get to enjoy very often.  That’s because it only shows up every four years (for most people that is, usually… it’s kind of complicated. There’s more info here). Why do we get to enjoy it in 2012?

It’s a leap year!

What would you do with an extra day in the calendar?  Well, a local teen, named Madi, asked herself this, and wondered if everyone would really appreciate it.  Would it be an extra day of joy, or just another day of struggle?

Madi says: “Through the good and the bad, it always helps to know that someone cares about you.”  She wanted to show that an extra day is something for everyone to celebrate and decided to find 29 ways to prove it.  So, she started a social media campaign to share the idea and get out an important and powerful message: showing others that you care is important and easy to do.

Everything you do for others, no matter how big or small makes a difference for all of us.

If you made a resolution this year to pitch in and help others, this is your chance!

It could be 29 cans of food at your local grocery store donation bin.  It could be 29 kind words to strangers you pass in the street.  29 cents, 29 dollars – you decide how much you want to do and for whom.  But, be sure to share!

You can check out Madi’s campaign on her webpage, youtube channel, twitter and facebook page.  Not sure how you can help?  There are tips, examples and lots of info on ways to take 29 leaps towards a better community.

If you want to take part in this fantastic push to do good for others, consider sharing some of your time this Saturday with House of Friendship’s Potato Blitz.  We are still looking for volunteers!  You can find out more details here or by calling Jenn at 519-742-8327 extension 0.  Help us reach our goal of 200,000lbs of potatoes!

12days of Pitching In

December 21, 2011

It has been an extraordinary 12 days of giving and sharing in Kitchener Waterloo.  Over six hundred volunteers have helped the House of Friendship these last few weeks to move a record number of Christmas Hampers out into the community and into people’s cupboards.

Who are these people? Schools, individuals, businesses, friends and coworkers have collected food, packed it up and driven it out to people.  Others have endured the elements to hand out more than 3000 turkeys and ensure that people have something to share with friends and family as they sit down together this weekend to celebrate each other and to look forward to the coming year.

On this blog we have shared some inspiration, ideas and suggestions on how you can do something big or small to make this region a little nicer for everyone.  We hope that you were moved to action and we would love to hear how it went for you.  Haven’t taken the plunge into volunteering yet?  Why not make it your new years resolution to get out there and volunteer?  There are lots of great places to help you get started.

What good is there in volunteering and the collective efforts of these hundreds of people who have given some, or in some cases, all of their time these last few weeks in the service of others?

Our Executive Director, John, asked these same questions recently.  He shared with us these words:

“We have now finished delivering 4081 “little gifts” in the form of Christmas Hampers.  Delivering these gifts this past week has been an eye-opening experience for me, bringing home the importance of people having appropriate housing, being part of community, accessing addition treatment, and being nourished with food and more.  At the end of the deliveries, I came home with many more questions, and very few answers. What good will this one Christmas Hamper do? What do my efforts matter? Individual efforts can at times seem so futile but when I think about all of our individual efforts combined, I feel hope!”

“My hope is rekindled each time I attend one of our program’s Christmas celebrations.  What a gift to see the transformation of individuals as a result of safe and affordable housing, recovery, life skills training, community building, support with parenting, and a listening ear. So many great stories! Stories that we share with our community to inspire and challenge them to Pitch In and make a difference so that hope can always be present in our community.”

Each day at the many programs of the House of Friendship and the countless non-profit groups that work with people in need, volunteers and hope transform people’s lives.  By sharing tangible goods like food and clothing, or intangible things like a listening year, a caring word and positive attitude you can make a real difference to someone.

Yesterday I spoke with Oscar, who called to update me on his efforts to deliver at least 100 Christmas Hampers.  The last time I had spoken with him, he was already at 125 hampers.  Yesterday he told me he had just finished his 151st delivery.  In response to my words of amazement and congratulation he shared with me “I just program my GPS and drive around and drop them off.  It’s something I really enjoy doing, and when you see how happy people are to receive it, it makes it all worth it.”

If you volunteer, thank you!  Let us know what makes it worthwhile for you on twitter, facebook or the comment space below.  If you’re thinking of volunteering in 2012, what do you hope to get out of it?  As we hope you have seen this last 12 days, it’s easy and it makes a world of difference to everyone in our community.

Day 11: Pitching In with a gift

December 20, 2011

“Please don’t forget me.”

This is what a woman said to me on the phone last week.  She was one of the many people who were concerned that her Christmas Food Hamper would not be delivered and that somehow her name had gotten lost.

Uncertainty and doubt is a common sight for many non-profit organizations.  Where will my next meal come from? Will I overcome my illness? Will I lose in my struggle with this addiction? I can’t pay my rent this month, will I get evicted?

How do we answer these questions?  With the giving spirit and kindness of volunteers many of them will receive the right answer.  Yes, here is some food. Yes, we will walk with you on your road to recovery.  Yes, we will find you the resources and ensure that you stay housed.

On the other side of the coin, people at this time of year, are swept up in the spirit of giving and wonder where to direct their gifts.   It can be a hard to decide.  There are many needs, many organizations and many causes all asking for your support.  Who should you help?  How will you ensure that the families who need help can get some?

One place you can start is your phone book yellow pages.  What are your interests?  Do you like animals?  Where is the local animal shelter? It is very likely they will always need your help with money, volunteering or gifts in kind. Does someone in your family have an addiction they are struggling with?  There are probably treatment programs in your area that could use your help.

Another great place to start to find the contact information for a non-profit in need of assistance is 211 (more info from our blog here and from their website here) or locally, the Community Information Centre, operated in KW by the Social Planning Council.

If you’re interested in helping programs and agencies that work with people’s immediate needs the Community Information Centre has a handy resource on their website.  It’s a listing of places that help with immediate needs (here) like hospitals, emergency shelters for men, women and youth; as well as programs that assist with food.  They also have a listing of some of the key programs that help with other needs (here) like legal advice, counselling, housing and clothing.

This can be a quick start to finding the right place for you, if you are looking donate.  But maybe you want to learn more about the organization before you write the cheque? You can give them a call and ask them some questions, or you can look them up on the Canada Revenue Agencies website (here), where you can find out more about their financial details and operations.  Most organizations will have an annual report that they will be happy to send you, or you can even find it on their website  (our’s is here).

Non-profits depend on donations to do their work.  If you are not able to make a financial contribution, consider your closets and basement and attic.  You may have some new or gently used clothing, furniture, books, dishes or toys that may delight and make a huge difference to someone in need.  However, consider your intended recipient before driving a truck load of stuff over.  Now is a busy season and many people are in a similar mindset to your own.  It’s hard to help others when you’re up to your neck in bags of clothing, and it’s heartbreaking to have to throw something out because it was left on your doorstep over the weekend and is now waterlogged, falling apart and filthy after getting rained on.  If you have the space to hold onto it, maybe they would appreciate it sometime in the new year?

Every little bit helps.  Even if it’s a set of mugs that you never really needed, or ten spare dollars that you have to share.  It all gets put to use, helping others, and ensuring that they are not forgotten, now, or any other time, the rest of the year.

Lots of little things during 12days

December 18, 2011

Work at the Christmas Hamper warehouse is quiet for the weekend.  As we start day 9 of the 12day campaign, we can pause to reflect on the frantic week that has just come to a close.

The need for Christmas Hampers has never been this great.  As of Friday, over 4000 hampers had been assembled by our team of volunteers.  They officially wrapped up their efforts on the assembly line with several rounds of applause for the amazing feat they had just completed. More than 3700  hampers had been hand delivered by countless volunteers. After a pause for Saturday and today, the remaining three or four hundred hampers will be delivered on Monday and Tuesday.

Do you remember Oscar? By 2pm Friday afternoon he had dropped of his 125th Christmas  Hamper delivery.  Was he stopping there? No!  His plan is to continue to deliver until the very end. After pausing to consider, he told me, “oh, I’ll probably get up to 145.  We’ll see.  It’s something that I really enjoy… why not?”

Where do you fit in?  Well, there are still lots of little things you can do to make the region a nicer place.  You don’t have to commit as much time as Oscar has, something as small as going out of your way to say hello to a neighbour or complete stranger can make a difference.  Or even taking an minute out of your day to ask if someone needs help if they seem lost can change a persons day.  Do you hold the door open for the parents with their stroller and little ones trying to get into the grocery store when you’re running errands?  It’s the little things that help add up to a big change.

One thing that we all struggle with  is time.  It’s hard to volunteer if you’re short on time.  I have a job, family and other obligations to meet – how can I volunteer?  Just this week we saw an example of someone putting their skills to use to volunteer, indirectly, at the House of Friendship’s Men’s Hostel.

A place for Rooks and Kings to make new friends.

Using his skills and time someone who needed to complete some community service hours made this chess table for the residents of the Men’s Hostel. John, pictured above, said of the table: “this beautiful table…will be a place where friendships and meaningful conversations will take place.”

Give it some thought.  Are there things that you like to do that might benefit others if you shared them?  Sharing them can make a difference to someone.  As we begin the final stretch of our 12days campaign, let us know what hobbies, skills or interests you think might benefit others.  Find us on Facebook, twitter and comment in the space below.  We’d love to hear from you.

Day 9: Being Santa

December 17, 2011

Today is day 7 of our 12day push to get people volunteering this December.  Mike, a BSW student who is doing a placement with House of Friendship’s Cramer House and the Emergency Food Hamper Program, was recently asked to lend a hand with a different program, Live and Learn.  You may have met him previously here, and like so many people, he decided to pitch in and try and brighten someone’s day.  This is his story:

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