Posts Tagged ‘giving’

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.


What Children Teach Us About Giving

April 28, 2014

Childhood is usually thought of as a time when you start to learn about your place in the world and how to be a part of it.  Parents and other adults sheppard children from infancy through adolescence and into adulthood.

But not all life lessons need to come from adults.

Recently, six year old Ben delivered a large number of brand new toys and books to the Sunnydale Community Centre to share with children in the community.  The community centre is situated in North Waterloo in a culturally diverse community which is home to many new immigrant families, a large number of children and youth and many living on a limited income.   Many of these families access services, resources and programs through the community centre. (more…)