Posts Tagged ‘volunteering’

A Year of #Possibility for New Comers | Day 5 of #12DaysforGood

December 14, 2015

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Participants in our Newcomer Women’s Health Program from Somalia.

-by Lyndsey Butcher

I was so honoured when I got the email from the House of Friendship’s Executive Director John Neufeld inviting me to participate as one of 12 Do Gooders in the 12 Days for Good Campaign.

Today’s theme is #Possibility. 

As Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Waterloo Region, I have the privilege of investing in possibility every day. Through our prevention and sexual health education programs with young people to our support for women facing unplanned pregnancies – our goal is to ensure that every member of our community can choose their own possibility.

Over the next few weeks our community will begin the process of welcoming over 1,000 Syrian refugees. How we all come together as a community to welcome these families will largely determine their possibility. There are many ways that you can promote possibility. The Region has launched a new website that makes it easy to get involved. You can also contact the Volunteer Action Centre to volunteer with one of the many agencies that will be proving support to newcomers.

At Planned Parenthood Waterloo Region we will be leveraging our United Way funded newcomer women’s health program to offer support for refugees from Syria. Our program offers a safe space for newcomer women to come together to learn and discuss their health and relationships in their own language. The program is held in partnership with community centres and we provide childcare, healthy snacks and transportation to make it as accessible as possible. We hope that the women who participate in the program will build lasting friendships and make connections that foster their possibility in our community.

Let’s make 2016 a year of possibility for our newest community members. Get involved and do good!

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Beyond Toleration | Day 4 of #12DaysforGood

December 13, 2015

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-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.

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.