Recently a woman who was a student in the 1970s told me about her memories of female teachers who wore their hair long, sported long flowing skirts and ran across the playground bra-less.
Aah the ’70s.
The young teachers in the 1970s were university students during the turbulent late ’60s and have either retired in recent years or have not yet retired. They are either senior teachers or district administrators, or work as superintendents or professors in education departments in universities and colleges. During the course of their careers many of the teachers from this era encouraged their students to take up causes and make a difference in the world.
While I attended grade school in Ireland in the 1970s, one of these teachers used to like to play the song One Tin Soldier in class. I was attracted to the story and could see the village people scrambling up the hill to fight the mountain people and claim the treasure. I imagined gentle, rolling, Irish mountains – not the high peaks you find in British Columbia. As I understood the story at the time, the lyrics of One Tin Soldier contain a simple message about peace and people getting along.
A few years later my classmates and I were taught to sing the song “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”. I recall liking the concept that everyone in the world could join hands in peace and sing about apple trees and honey bees. Recently I saw the Coca Cola ad, featuring people holding bottles of coke, and couldn’t relate to the brand association worked into the presentation of the song.
Let us respect childhood; let us honor the soul of that small creature of God who can already make choices of the best if we take the time to awaken her reason and make her use her judgment. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat
Courage and confidence! I cannot repeat this war-cry too often. We should make it our support in our life of conflict. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat
A few years later I graduated from a Sacred Heart school run by Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart. The international Network of Sacred Heart Schools are guided by the global vision of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat and advance the mission of the Society. The schools promote and stimulate creative education and leadership and are committed to the Goals and Criteria for Sacred Heart Schools.
* building of community as a Christian value; and,
* personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.
Every year the school I attended develops a theme which is based on one of the goals. These themes are then used in individual departments. As an example, the annual theme became Myself, an Artist in my Environment, in my IB Art class.
The third Sacred Heart School goal has a focus on social justice:
Goal 3: A Social Awareness Which Impels to Action:
The school educates to a critical consciousness that leads its total community to analyze and reflect on the values of society and to act for justice.
The school offers all its members opportunities for direct service and advocacy and instills a life-long commitment to service.
The school is linked in a reciprocal manner with ministries among people who are poor, marginalized and suffering from injustice.
In our multicultural world, the school prepares and inspires students to be active, informed, and responsible citizens locally, nationally, and globally.
The school teaches respect for creation and prepares students to be stewards of the earth’s resources.
As a child growing up in a foreign service family, many ideas from different cultures influenced my world view and I developed a fierce sense of justice. It was a natural fit for me to graduate from a school where the teachers, administrators and students shared my interests. Much of my attitude was influenced by my parents’ outlook and their ability to respect my independent outlook. My parents, other adults in my life and my teachers supported the social justice projects that I undertook alone or with other friends. During my adult years – either as a teacher, friend or aunt – I try to respect the ideas and concerns of children.
Nowadays my young children come up with ideas and perspectives that are different than my own. While I can introduce ideas about social justice to them, it is also my time to learn from a much younger generation. My children have decided their social justice song of choice is Wave Your Flag (Haiti Version) by K’Naan. A day doesn’t go by when one of them isn’t singing:
When I get older, I will be stronger. They’ll call me freedom just like a waving flag. So wave your flag. Oh-oooh-oh.
Love is the answer. Love is the way. That’s what they say.
Multi-School Art exhibition project to raise funds for Live Aid. Two fellow students and I started the project.
We were supported by, and worked with, teachers, other students in the community, local artists, friends, parents and community members.
World in a Garden is a multicultural urban farm and educational project based in Vancouver. This holiday season they are preparing gift baskets and stocking stuffers using ethically sourced products that will help you complete your holiday gift shopping. If you would like to order a Farm to Table basket for family and friends, this link takes you to a page that has more information about ordering.
Here is their description of the baskets:
The Farm to Table Holiday Gift Baskets baskets feature our own local honey and snacks with a variety of artisan products from companies who share our commitment to social responsibility and environmental sustainability. With a focus on food provenance we are showcasing ethically sourced products from: o5 Tea, Farmstead Wines, Zimt Chocolate, Urban Digs Farm, Terra Breads and more…
In case you missed it, you can also read more about the year-round work of World in a Garden previously shared on BCFamily.ca. Readers from around the world visit this piece regularly – proof that their programme is generating a lot of interest worldwide.
If you haven’t already heard about their work, Playing for Change is a “multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music”. The Playing for Change Foundation also builds music and art schools for children and their communities around the world. Playing for Change projects have been featured in the film Playing for Change: Peace Through Music.
On their website you can find 60 (and counting) documentary clips showing musicians and dancers in many different countries coming together through editing or concerts, or playing solo pieces. This is an example of world music and a community of musicians and artists coming together for a great cause. If you love the motivation behind this initiative, do consider supporting their work by sharing information about the foundation via E-mail or social media that you use.
We’d love to hear from you so don’t be shy! You can comment about this posting using the comment function below or visit us at our Facebook page.
Stand By Me (Here’s a PFC video you’ll want to share/E-mail/RT!)
If you’re heading out this weekend to tackle your Christmas shopping head on, you might come across gift ideas that do double duty by giving hope to others. Here are a few opportunities which will allow you to purchase a gift and also help a good cause at the same time.
If you would like to order some of these items online for Christmas, don’t delay. Some major retailers are suggesting that this weekend is the deadline for regular shipping charges. If your order doesn’t arrive in time, don’t worry. Print out a photo of the item, wrap it in a pretty box and let the recipient know that he/she can enjoy receiving an extra gift after the excitement of Christmas Day is over. Here at BCFamily.ca this is what we plan to do.
This luscious tutu is made by Natalia Nanton, a local craftswoman who operates the TutuMama website. It’s a fresh twist on the standard tutu and also comes with a special commitment. A portion of the proceeds from sales of this tutu will be donated to the Land Conservancy organization. The tutu is made after an order is placed and any extra fabric scraps that cannot be used are donated to the Our Social Fabric organization. Can you picture this yummy tutu on a little girl you know? What colours would you pair with it?
If you’re a Canucks fan, or read local newspapers, you will know about the work that is done at the Canucks Place Children’s Hospice. If you would like to get a copy of the Canucks Place Cookbook: From Our Kitchen to Yours, you will want to contact Canucks Place directly by calling 604.731.4847 Toll-Free: 1.877.882.2288 within BC
If you are looking to purchase a handmade toy or felt story, this store (which has an online option), is the perfect destination. All of the products are created by adults who have disabilities that have an impact on their ability to be employed. The toys shown above were given to us here at BCFamily.ca as gifts. They are truly precious.
Vancouver’s local clothing company Obakkihas set up the Obakki Foundation and sells items to support their charitable causes. They asked 150 African orphans what makes them sad, happy and afraid, and their fund raising products incorporate the answers in the designs. The products they sell are perfect conversation starters. All proceeds go back to the orphanages that they support. You can check out the impressive agenda of the foundation on their website and order items online.
Seeds of Plenty
Seeds of Plenty is an organic sprouted seeded flower cookie company that supports the Lower Mainland based World in a Garden programme. This year $5 of every Seeds of Plenty gift basket will be donated to The World in a Garden. The benefit of supporting this programme is that there are so many interesting opportunities for you to take part in that are planned by The World in the Garden team. Do check out their website.
If you love the look of the Hudson’s Bay Foundation Limited Edition Henry Kesley Bear unfortunately it does not appear to be available for purchase online. If you are at The Bay in downtown Vancouver you will find them towards the back, middle region of the main floor. If you would like to purchase a bear in another Bay store you could call them first to see if they have any in stock. These bears are classic looking and sport the traditional Hudson’s Bay striped motif on their sweater. They’re a keeper. All proceeds help the Hudson’s Bay Foundation to support shelters, schools, hospitals, cultural organizations, sports teams and other community groups. For a gift coming in just under $20, this bear is definitely a winner. Buy one for a child you know or just give in to your desires and buy one for yourself!
Habitat for Humanity
If you are in a Real Canadian Superstore or Loblaws, watch out for their Everyday EssentialsTM brand. Sets of four striped porcelain mugs in a hat box are being sold. Net proceeds from the sales go towards Habitat’s low-income housing programmes such as the 360 Built Smart Partnership. At $10 per set, this is an affordable, attractive and thoughtful gift.
Justin Bieber? Yes this Canadian lad not only knows first hand what it’s like to rely on food banks, but he’s also supporting the food bank in the town of Stratford, Ontario. A portion of his Under the Mistletoe Christmas album will be donated to the Make a Wish Foundation, Pencils for Progress and other charities. If you have a Justin Bieber fan in your life, supporting his album will also be a way to support a number of great causes. Justin also has a Believe Charity donation page on his website where you can donate to charities that he is supporting.
If there is a Bombay Company store near you, call ahead to see if they are selling their Parker bear. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this bear will support the Starlight Foundation. This foundation supports children who are very ill and their families.
Sears Charity Bears
If you are planning to be in a Sears store or want to check out their offerings online, consider purchasing one of their charity bears. Proceeds from sale of the bears go towards supporting women who have cancer, via the Look Good Feel Good programme, and children who have cancer.
Birks and Because I Am a Girl
A portion of proceeds from the sale of the Dream Pendant will go towards supporting the Plan Canada Because I am a Girl programme. The butterfly in the middle of this pendant symbolizes the growth of an individual when given the opportunity to pursue her dreams. This necklace is symbolic not only for the girls the proceeds support, but also for the recipient of the gift.
Roots Canada’s Buy a Shirt Build a School programme is funded by the sale of t-shirts which sport bold statements about the programme. These are conversation starters that are perfect for anyone you know who is committed to helping people who are less fortunate. Here is what Roots Canada has to say about the t-shirt programme:
Roots and the Michael “Pinball” Clemons Foundation have joined the Academy of Lions’ “The Shirt Project” to help provide education and a sustainable existence. All net proceeds from the sale of this shirt will support Pinball’s goal of building schools for marginalized children in Africa through Free The Children’s Adopt a Village Program.
Have you ever visited another country and found inspiration to start a new venture based on what you learned on your journey? Do you read about urban agriculture topics and sustainable development issues without having your own personal experiences with innovative projects here in the Lower Mainland? Would you like your own children or the children in your life (family members or students, for example) to learn more about sustainable agriculture?
If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions you have landed at the right page.
Multicultural Urban Agriculture in the Lower Mainland
Tricia Sedgwick, founder of the World in a Garden project, travelled to Central America in the year 2000. During her trip she saw how unsustainable development was having an negative impact on the countries she was visiting. She could see that this was a direct result of North American industry and influences when she found imported plastic items such as wrappers, bottles, bags and containers on the scenic beaches and in the streets. It was clear that recycling wasn’t an option as the local residents did not have the financial means or educational background to deal with the waste. She concluded that in order to treat problems such as malaria or water borne diseases, society should look at the root of the problem – cleaning contaminated and stagnant water sources and sustainable urban planning.
Tricia returned from her trip and continued her post secondary studies. Her disillusionment with the wasteful ways of North American culture continued throughout her student years. Eventually she was able to reach an understanding that change can be created with assets from wealthy societies and that this change can create a valuable gift: the reallocation of financial resources to developing communities. If we invest in people they will be better equipped to become self sufficient. Access to food and meeting basic needs is a human right. This idea supported Tricia’s goal to work with community members on a cultural level, honouring our origins and who we are individually and collectively.
In order to support this goal, Tricia founded the World in a Garden (TWIAG), a multicultural urban agriculture project. Youth and participants from the community learn about the nutritional, cultural, social and environmental benefits of a just and local food system. The long term goal for TWIAG is to build ten gardens around the world. The first international project to be developed is a partnership with Project Somos in Tecpan, Guatemala where TWIAG will work with orphaned and abandoned children as part of an eco-village.
Here are some of Tricia’s thoughts on the World in a Garden project.
A Just and Local Food System
The participants in our programme promote and learn about a just and local food system. This means that there is fair access to local and healthy food for all. It’s a system that invites everyone to participate and provides nourishment mentally – both physically and socially – at a community and social level. This type of food system invites and engages people of all backgrounds and all ages by providing the knowledge and the skills to grow, harvest and prepare healthy food.
Food is a basic need and we should all know how to meet that need. Many people in developing countries have lost agricultural skills and are without the resources to provide for themselves. They often live in overpopulated and polluted cities where food is available to those with the money to buy it. Additionally people go hungry not from a lack of food on the planet but because it is poorly distributed – it is a distribution problem, not an issue of abundance.
In our local economy and in North America, millions of pounds of food gets wasted every day in restaurants, homes, grocery stores and large scale farms (see related Good.is video).
Seed to Table
The Seed to Table process is an integral part of our programme. Seed to Table is an organic process that brings food to your plate. You start by planting seeds, maintaining the garden and the growing plants, harvesting and then preparing the food. People, children, youth, adults and the community at large are able to experience the important and rewarding process that brings healthy, delicious food to your plate. At our garden we also let many plants grow until they produce seeds so that we can save the seed and plant again in the spring or when the time is right again.
Inspiration for the World in a Garden
Other examples of urban agriculture and community gardens inspired the TWIAG project. There are a few projects in California that I came across once that inspired my interest in urban agriculture and community gardens. I came up with the idea to build the garden and started doing some research. I had the idea but not the “know how””. Watching videos that featured successful projects inspired me to move forward. Soon afterward, I got involved with Landed Learning, a wonderful intergenerational and educational school project at UBC farm (see related video).
No matter where we come from or what we believe in, we all have the same basic need to be accepted, nourished and honoured. We are all human beings and I think it is important that we understand the simple idea that we have greater tolerance and understanding for our differences while we celebrate the diversity and similarities that exists between nations, communities and cultures.
What if You Don’t Live in a House?
If people live in condos, apartments or townhouses with limited garden space, they can grow herbs and greens indoors or on their balconies, which provide a fresh source of food and numerous health benefits. Programmes such as BiggestLittleGarden.com help to explain this process. Food can be grown on patios, in small raised beds, and many city residents do this. In Vancouver we are able to grow a lot of food year round including lettuce, kale (my favourite!), broccoli and cauliflower. There are many organizations that work within the community to help people grow food. Some examples are Environmental Youth Alliance, Vancouver Community Agriculture Network and City Farmer. For people who would like to have a community garden plot, there is a city wide wait list for Vancouver. Our garden has 42 raised beds and only 9 of those beds are allocated for Community gardeners. The other beds are used for educational purposes, food bank donations, selling at the market and to restaurants and harvest celebrations.
Opportunities for Diversity
Since we have a variety of different plants, trees and flowers and a water garden, we have created a space where bees, bugs, insects and birds can hang out. We plant for variety with over 5 different types of raspberries growing, 6 different apples and 4 different pears. We also look for a wide variety of plants to ensure genetic diversity and biodiversity. We also have different types of raspberries that ripen through to November, thereby ensuring that if one crop fails another is sure to come. This is a great example of being self sufficient and “food secure”.
What is Heirloom Gardening?
A heirloom plant is an open-pollinated cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history but is not used in modern large-scale agriculture. Since most popular heirloom plants are vegetables, the term heirloom vegetable is often used instead. Before the industrialization of agriculture, a much wider variety of plant foods was grown for human consumption. In modern agriculture in the industrialized world, most food crops are now grown in large, mono-cultural plots owned by corporations. In order to maximize consistency, few varieties of each type of crop are grown.
These varieties are often selected for their productivity, their ability to withstand the long trips to supermarkets, or their tolerance to drought, frost, or pesticides. Nutrition, flavour, and variety are frequently secondary and tertiary concerns, if at all a concern. Heirloom gardening can be seen as a reaction against this trend.
Taking the World in a Garden Project to Other Countries
When we take this project to other countries, we will have the opportunity tolearnfrom each other’s cultures and learn from the wisdom that is found in other societies. Most traditional cultures from the Mayans to the Aztecs, and our First Nations cultures here in Canada, have much to teach us about the cycles of nature, our food and harvest. Traditionally these indigenous cultures ate healthfully because they were connected to the land. There was no nutritional science behind their understanding of food but an inherent wisdom that came from following the cycles of mother earth. When we study native cultures we see that their food is quite simple and their diets were healthy by default.
Our vision is to have 10 gardens around the world is so that we can connect with people from different cultures. We would like to have them understand and celebrate their cultural uniqueness and compare the similarities between different cultures that connect us. In Autum of 2011, we will be holding a harvest celebration at the garden that will be in honour of many different cultures and celebrations including Succoth ( Jewish), Thanksgiving and the Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.
These celebrations are about connecting people without borders with a common thread that we share - food. It is about providing people with the tools to feed themselves and help developing or struggling communities to feed themselves. It’s about providing an opportunity for greater acceptance of humanity by honoring who we are as individuals and celebrating who we can become as responsible global citizens.
Growing the World in A Garden Project Across the Lower Mainland
Income generated by the TWIAG project is helping to build a self sustaining enterprise. Income is generated from market sales (plants, produce & flowers), responsible entrepreneurship programs, garden tours, food & gardening workshops, summer camps and value added products.
We do have some plans for expansion and have just taken on a new one garden plot project near our current space that is about 2,200 square feet. The World in the Garden has partnered with the Vancouver Montessori School. Any interested school in the Lower Mainland is eligible to get involved with the programme. For more information about TWIAG – School partnerships, please contact us at TWIAG.
Challenges and Rewards
There have been many challenges connected to the creation of this garden such as knowing what to do next, finding the right support or getting funding. Project expansion can be scary and implementing new ideas can seem daunting but the learning curve and personal expansion is more than worth it!
The rewards are countless and immeasurable. It is heartwarming to have children hug me and tell me how much they love their gardens. The other day we had a small ceremony at our new native garden with a First Nations Shaman to bless the land, the plants and the harvest. It was so inspiring to watch the community and family members who were there and see how moved they were.
Some of the everyday pleasures include watching children plant seeds, seeing them smile with kale in their teeth and the thank you hugs I get for helping them grow the garden in which they take such pride.
My favorite year was the year we grew different grains from around the world in The World in a Garden. The children harvested the rye, hulled it and rolled it into flakes to bake with it. I loved watching them discover the complete process of making flour to bake. Even better was that it was a whole grain alternative to wheat.
The most inspiring aspect of the garden is the community who have come together to build it. The numerous community partnerships and supports that have stemmed from the vision are infectious and the innovative ways we educate on the benefits of local food are exciting! When times are challenging this community lifts me back up, showing me that it is through the cracks that the light shines.
Children and the World in a Garden Programme
We get children involved in the process of gardening and the appreciation grows as they get more deeply involved with the seed to table cycle and they are able to eat from the garden or eat food from the seeds that they planted!
Please check out our website for more information about how your children can take part in this programme, or how you and your family can benefit from our other programmes.
Tricia Sedgwick is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with a background in Environmental Studies. In 2007 she spearheaded “The World in a Garden”, an Urban Agriculture Project designed to enable youth and community to experience the cultural, nutritional and environmental benefits of local, organic food systems from seed to table. Her global vision is to build gardens and connect cultures around the world through food, our one uniting thread. Tricia is also the founder of ‘Seeds of Plenty’ – the sprouted cookie company which offers organic, artisan cookies, treats and ethical gift baskets. Seeds of Plenty is built on ethical business practices and a fund raising model that gives back to edible garden projects across the globe. Nothing makes makes her happier than a healthy cookie and a little bit of earth on her hands. You can check her out at www.seedsofplenty.com and theworldinagarden.com.
If you happen to be driving by a Cobs, consider stopping by to taste-test the newest addition to their menu – the Apple and Butterscotch scone. This specially designed scone is full of diced Granny Smith apples and butterscotch chips. Fifty cents from every scone purchased will be donated to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of BC organization. The goal of this organization is simple – that every child in Canada who needs a mentor should have a mentor. What a wonderful vision!
Golfing, networking and raising money for a great cause
If you’re looking for an opportunity to enjoy golfing in a gorgeous location, while meeting other gorgeous and talented women, the 24th Annual Women’s Media Gold Classic event on June 2nd, 2011 will be the place to be. At this charity event you will have the opportunity to mix and mingle with over 300 talented women from across the Lower Mainland and province who work in the media arts and in other disciplines. The participants will raise money for the new Pacific Family Autism Centre and the Mediated Learning Centre. After the golf event there will be a gala banquet at the Century Plaza Hotel and Spa.
Get Glamorous While you Golf
While attending the event, if you’re looking to update your work and personal wardrobes, plan to spend some time chatting with Stacy Williams, a local and talented Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot. Stacy will be situated by the registration table. Don’t underestimate the “wow, where did you get that?” factor that comes when you wear these hot, fashion forward products – all available at affordable prices. (Half of the collection is under $50.) A portion of proceeds from Stacy’s sales will benefit the Pacific Family Autism Centre.
Here is a message from Stacy:
I’m looking forward to sharing some style with all of you ladies. I will be set up at registration and will be donating 25% of sales to raise funds for the Pacific Autism Centre in support of dear friends of ours. Please my link and instructions so that we can raise the maximum amount. For more information or to shop online, go to www.stelladot.com/williams and click on ‘find your hostess’. Enter Pacific Autism and begin shopping. Best, Stacy
In case you are wondering, the gorgeous necklace Stacy is wearing in this photo is from the Stella & Dot line.
Every child needs all the support they can to access the resources that they need. During these recessionary times, when key funding is being cut to important programmes, these charity events can make a big difference in the lives of children in British Columbia. Please consider sharing this page link on your Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts, or via E-mail. In this simple way you too can support these events, even if you can’t participate.
For more information about the Women in Media Classic golfing event, check out the related Facebook page for this event.
Sachie Kagayama is a CEFA early childhood education teacher who works in West Vancouver. Her family is from Miharu in Fukushima, Japan – a town located in the heart of the region where the recent earthquake and tsunami occurred. Sachie is organizing a project to share images with kindergarten students in Iwaki, which is another town in Fukushima prefecture. The teacher of the children said that more than books or supplies, what she wished for most was that smiles could return to her students’ faces.
If you would like to take part in this project, draw a picture of a smiling face and/or write a message of support, take a photograph of yourself holding the piece of paper and then send it to Sachie c/o smileproject (at) live.jp.
For an example of another Smile Project that is ongoing, check out this video from Reno Japan (see below). It is such a simple concept, yet the results warm the heart and help bring people around the world together.
Please consider joining this event and do share this information with students you know. It’s the perfect project for children to do with their parents, classmates and teachers.
In peace time women are discriminated against. In war time they are targets. (JR, Photographer)
JR is a French “guerrilla artist” who takes art to people who would not normally be exposed to art. He works under the radar, without approval from local authorities, and exhibits his work in unexpected public places such as on building walls, empty swimming pools and buses. He is the winner of the Ted 2011 prize and will announce his next project in March, 2011.
In his short 28 MM film “Women are Heroes” JR explained that he and his team went to countries in Africa where women struggle. They wanted to let the women tell their stories. When they arrived in Africa he observed that women reveal the whole condition of society even though the men are in control of the streets. When they took portrait photographs of the women they thought that they would see the pain the women are feeling inside. Instead they saw life. They saw joy. JR explains that “the real heroes are sometimes not where you think they are. They are right there in the street. Everywhere around you.”
Here is the official description of the aims of the project.
The Women project wants to underline their pivotal role and to highlight their dignity by shooting them in their daily lives and posting them on the walls of their country.
On the other hand, by posting the same images of these women in Western countries, the project allows everyone to feel concerned by their condition and connects, through art, the two different worlds.
Kenya, South-Sudan, Sierra-Leone, Liberia – The violence suffered by women there is the extreme expression of discrimination. The ethnic wars in Africa are a source of the worst crimes on women. When meeting them, JR wants to testify of their force, their courage and their noble struggle: first to live, then to exist.
To the limits of contemporary art – the goal is once again to reach the limits of Art in a closed social and cultural environment and watch the reaction of the local population. What is at stake here is the assessment of the possibilities of intervention in the different environments. The success of such a process allows drawing a status of women in their countries. Proof by action is chosen.
The Women are Heroes video and the related interview (see link below) are inspirational pieces that speak to the joy and spirit of perseverance that exist in communities, families and homes around the world. What would JR’s project look like if he came to British Columbia? Who would he choose to tell the story of the people of BC and their daily struggles? How would people respond? For a local project with a similar goal, see documentation related to the Hope in Shadows project – a community project based around a photography contest for residents in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
What do you think about this topic? Please leave a comment using the comment function below or by visiting our Facebook page. We would love to hear from you!
Back in March we wrote about a volunteer effort on Vancouver Island that focused on creating packages of supplies, clothing and toys for children living overseas. The focus at the time was on relief efforts in Haiti, but has since expanded to include other regions of the world. Much work has been done since this piece was posted, so we thought we should provide an update.
Since finishing the last stage of their Haiti relief project in concert with Canada Comforts, Victoria, Al and Shirley Hardy have continued their work in assisting those less fortunate, the needy in Canada and overseas. Shirley is starting to assemble the 100 plus Christmas shoeboxes for needy children which she produced last year as a part of her Shoebox Ministry with St. John the Baptist Anglican Church in Cobble Hill, B.C. This is a protracted task of collecting empty shoeboxes and finding very low cost or donated items such as pencils, erasers, small toys, and colouring books, for example, to provide a child with an educational and interesting present at Christmas. While the Hardys have been able to find good quality items at a low cost through donations and working with local businesses and liquidation stores, low cost does not mean low quality. As you can see in the related slideshow below, they have even been able to secure donations of highly attractive shoeboxes! The past response from the church and community has been heartwarming. While the format for packaging of the items – shoeboxes – has been a theme developed by these types of programmes, it is an ideal template that any group – faith based or secular – can sed to collect and distribute needed items.
During the rest of year the items that have been created and collected by the Hardy’s volunteer team are stored in a warehouse. When a request comes in for a specific type of item – for example clothes for 20 girls in an orphanage – the items are then sent to their recipients. Another project Shirley and many, many volunteers from St. John’ and the broader community are working on currently is the production of 150 dresses and 150 skirts, plus accompanying teddy bears. Shirley and her volunteers have had two workshops where some 28 women cut out pattern dresses from donated materials. These kits are then taken away by volunteer sewers and turned into finished skirts of various sizes. They hope to have them ready for presenting to Canada Comforts before Christmas for inclusion in their shipment(s) to needy children here and overseas. Al is on the sidelines, doing the heavy lifting, running errands, preparing meals in the kitchen to feed the volunteers and helping where he can be of help.
In preparation for the annual September Festival which attracts a large number of Islanders and outside province visitors, the Hardys, with considerable help from friends and supporters, collected over 50 boxes full of toys and games. They then had to ensure that each item was in good condition, clean and appropriate. Preparations included the refurbishing of Tonka trucks and the creation of popular gift baskets with teddy bears, candy and helium balloons. A popcorn machine was secured and ice cream was brought in for the day. Because of the quality of the toys and the well set-up Kids Corner Store, sales were brisk despite the drizzly weather. The proceeds from the Festival always provide funds for outreach to the needy in our communities. Shirley is now identifying organizations who might need the large amount of leftover toys and games and they will receive them for the needy, at no cost.
Al and Shirley are keeping abreast of the Haiti situation, as well as in Pakistan and, where possible, they will make their own contributions to the ongoing wonderful work of Canada Comforts which sends shipments to the needy in countries like these and others worldwide.
Al Hardy explains his involvement this way: “The satisfaction we derive from these projects is worth all the efforts involved. One thing to note though – those of us who are now retired are generally not just sitting around doing nothing, just looking after our own narrow interests. We hear all the time about seniors being a drain on Canada’s medical system, costing money for this and that but, maybe it should be noted that seniors, even those in their 90s, are busy helping others and without any cost to the social welfare system. ”
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If a reality TV show about cupcakes – make that two shows – seems odd to you, you may not have noticed that cupcakes are all the rage these days. Cupcake Girls and DC Cupcakes are two shows on television right now that chronicle the lives of cupcake store owners and their employees. Here in Vancouver cupcakes have become increasingly popular since Heather White and Lori Joyce opened their first Cupcakes store on Denman street in 2002. At the time they were the first branded cupcake store in North America that just sold cupcakes. Now there are about 100 cupcake themed stores.
The sugar coated, candy inspired colours, cute array of cupcakes and retro styling in the Cupcakes stores appeal to the child in all of us. For adults on a diet, who can resist a little cupcake every now and then?
This summer when the sun was out, the beach beckoned and people were crowding the streets of English Bay looking for fun and adventure,it was the perfect opportunity to visit the newly franchised Cupcakes store on Denman – the original store – one block up from the beach on the east side of the street. Now that it’s September, and there’s a touch of autumn in the air, on a sunny day English Bay still makes for a pleasant outing. While you’re at it, why not buy a cupcake in support of a great organization? In July Cupcakes supported the BC Children’s Hospital. Every month they support a different charity.