Recipients of the 2014 Prime Minister’s Volunteer Awards
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Frances Clark is Richmond’s best known advocate on disability issues. Frances started volunteering in 1953 and 2013 marks her 60th anniversary as a volunteer, mentor, leader, advocate and key catalyst who continues to mobilize community resources to raise awareness of disability issues.
Frances was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bones disease), which not only led to multiple fractures during her childhood, but also resulted in her losing her hearing at the age of 18 (she relies on very powerful hearing aides to this day). Not permitted to attend school by the local school authorities, she gained her education through government correspondence.
She turned her childhood passion for dogs into a hobby, successfully breeding and showing dogs for many years, setting numerous records in the field. She also gained considerable experience as a volunteer in several related organizations, including founding FIDO (the Western Federation of Individuals and Dog Organizations), focused on community services and public education regarding responsible pet ownership and the benefits of the human-animal bond. Frances started making significant changes in the 1970s when she identified the need to eliminate “no pets allowed” policies in BC social housing and helped develop provincial legislation on responsible pet owner guidelines, which are still in place today. When Frances stepped down in 1994, FIDO’s membership included over 100 organizations and 250 individuals.
Her hobby ultimately led to her operating a full-time business in Richmond (Hi-Hope Kennels) for 24 years, which led to her joining the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, where she was asked to become the society’s “Civic Affairs representative to City Council.” This proved to be a great learning experience and, in turn, led to community initiatives that addressed local priorities on community services, accessibility and disability issues, She has used the knowledge she gained to assist her in understanding some of the barriers and challenges involved in mobilizing change in communities (i.e., “How to work with City Hall”).
Over the years, Frances has worked closely with and within many grassroots organizations, spearheading or saving projects, including the Caring Place, which houses 22 community agencies under one roof to provide centralized disability support services to the community. She also spearheaded a social principles study, which brought together representatives of a wide range of service providers and covered essential and social services as well as issues relating to accessibility, cultural diversity and quality of life.
In 1985, Frances founded what is now the RCD (Richmond Centre for Disability) by bringing together representatives from the City of Richmond, United Way and individuals with disabilities in the community to address the need for a representative voice for persons with disabilities. The RCD was soon named the official advisory body to the City of Richmond on disability issues, and established an Independent Living Resource Centre in 2000. The Centre served over 27 000 individuals in 2013.
Some of Ms. Clark’s other key accomplishments include establishing the Richmond Therapeutic Equestrian Society in 1995, which provides a horseback-riding program for children and youth with disabilities, and the Pacific Assistance Dog Society, which trains dogs for individuals who are deaf and/or physically disabled. She also facilitated development of the Steveston Residence Project for people with disabilities.
While this is only a brief overview of Ms. Clark’s contributions, she is an inspirational presence who continues to educate people about existing barriers, problems and needs within her community.
In 2007 Kayla was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the relatively young age of 18. Since then she has taken on the disease, for both herself and the other 3500 Saskatchewan residents living with MS. Kayla has been an active and vibrant volunteer in the MS community. Over the past three years, she has engaged with the MS Society as both a fundraising team leader and a volunteer. Kayla organizes her friends, family, and co-workers to ride in the MS Bike Tour (Saskatoon to Waskesiu) each year, raising money for MS research. She participates in the MS Society Saskatoon Chapter as a member of the Board of Directors, is a volunteer for the fundraising committee, has served as a peer support leader for youth at MS Summer Camp providing a positive role model for youth impacted by MS, and speaks at numerous public education events.
Most significantly, Kayla is the founding volunteer of the MS Ambassador program, a volunteer program for individuals who want to assist people with MS. This program drives advocacy, support, public awareness, public speaking, and any other roles the MS Society has for volunteers in the province.
As a person with MS, she understands the importance of positive thinking and turning potentially devastating situations into amazing life experiences. Kayla's public speaking and peer support work directly impacts individuals (youth and adults) living with MS in Saskatchewan, whether they attend MS Summer Camp or any of the other events where Kayla speaks. By sharing her MS story, Kayla empowers those who are diagnosed, as well as those who aid them over the course of their life.
Kayla's fundraising efforts help support the Saskatchewan MS Society assistance programs. Anyone with MS or who is an MS caregiver and has related expenses or financial needs can apply for these funds. MS is a costly condition and by fundraising for the MS Society support programs for people with MS, she is advancing the community. Kayla’s fundraising efforts affect the 3500 Saskatchewan residents with MS directly by providing financial support and indirectly through her advocacy and public awareness activities. Her efforts allow people with MS to contribute to and engage with society.
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Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 41 - Atlantic
Branch 41 of the Royal Canadian Legion has existed for over 60 years and is mainly comprised of volunteers who have spent a lifetime volunteering. Its initial function was to serve the area’s veterans, but it broadened its focus to meet the social and economic needs of the general public and of those less fortunate who require assistance both locally and provincially. It also hosts many events throughout the year to raise funds to meet the requests received. Branch 41 takes a special interest in the younger generation, sponsoring and supporting the 125th Silver Wing Air Cadet Squadron, as well as talking to students in schools. The branch is particularly strong in preserving its heritage, involving the general public and youth who are growing up in the area to have a strong sense of pride in their country.
Branch 41 serves and supports veterans in 26 towns throughout the region. It financially sponsors the 125 Air Cadet Squadron by providing a home for the 80–100 enrolled youth. It also donates to individuals, local groups and charities throughout the province, as well as to schools for special projects and events such as the breakfast program for approximately 1500 students. The branch supports key services such as fire protection, education, arts and heritage. The local fire departments that are beneficiaries of annual donations from Branch 41 serve a population of 8000 to 10 000 people. Branch 41 also donates to the Heritage Society to support its Arts Centre, which is also a great partner for Terra Nova National Park in preserving and promoting the area’s heritage.
Branch 41 regularly takes the lead role in addressing areas of concern by involving others. It is an integral part of the community and its volunteer members never shy away from the work that Branch 41 takes on.
Comité d’accueil et d’intégration des immigrants Beauce-Nord (CAIDI) - Quebec
CAIDI is a non-profit organization founded by volunteers sensitive to the needs of immigrants. Many of the volunteers are young retirees from the education and health sectors, while others are still in the workforce. In 2012 alone, volunteers helped more than 200 immigrants from some 30 countries. They work with local stakeholders to help ensure that immigrants are welcomed and integrated, and that they remain in the Beauce Nord region. In 2012, the retention rate was 93%. There are currently 247 immigrants in the region from 41 countries.
CAIDI’s volunteers find that help accessing transportation, language integration and employment are three key factors for retaining immigrants in the region. Volunteers work collaboratively with the local community to address these needs. They also help to ensure that immigrants are welcomed and integrated into the community and that they are accepted by community members and in workplaces. CAIDI encourages collaboration between experienced volunteers and those with less experience, and is often cited as a management model.
Volunteers work at all levels of CAIDI’s operations, from members of the board of directors to committee chairs, and are assigned a wide range of tasks: helping to find accommodations, furniture and food; helping with everyday activities related to health, school, public and private financial institutions; providing transportation and so on. Volunteers are also part of the immigration coalition headed by the Regional County Municipality of La Nouvelle Beauce.
Community members are inspired by the volunteers’ empathy and the time they give freely to helping newcomers; they see how the work gives meaning to the volunteers’ lives and exposes them to other cultures.
Arnie Vered - Ontario
Arnie received the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award in February 2014, in the midst of his battle with cancer, and passed away in July that same year at the age of 57.
Arnie mentored countless organizations to develop solutions to local challenges. In 1999, as chair of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Promises Campaign, Arnie's leadership helped his team to surpass their $19 million fundraising goal for the renewal and expansion of CHEO's critical care wing. Between 2012 and 2013, Arnie led a committee in raising over $1.4 million for the National Arts Centre Youth and Education Trust which funds arts education programs across Canada to help develop the next generation of artists and audiences.
As the chair of the TELUS Ottawa Community Board, Arnie led a team of dedicated community leaders in allocating over $2.1 million in support of more than 140 local youth-focused organizations like the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa Spectrum LBGTQ Community Youth Group, the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre Aftercare Support Program, the Royal Ottawa Health Care Foundation, and Operation Come Home’s first social enterprise "Beadworks." Arnie also supported organizations focused on providing a brighter future for youth, including Carleton University, United Way of Ottawa, Soloway Jewish Community Centre, Congregation Machzikei Hadas, NAC Foundation, and the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health Campaign Cabinet.
Arnie was the head of two companies, Arnon Corporation and Ron Engineering & Construction (Eastern) Ltd., and encouraged his nearly 150 employees to also give back to their community. The Arnon Corporation volunteers in activities, including the Alzheimer Society's 2014 Walk for Memories, through which they raised $21,715, and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation through the 2013 Ultimate Run for Men’s Cancer, through which they raised $42,633. Under Arnie's guidance, Ron Engineering & Construction (Eastern) Ltd. participated in the LEED program, ensuring their practices protect our environment.
Arnie's ability to not only identify community needs, but also to create inspired and innovative responses to these needs made him a true community builder. Arnie's selfless efforts have been recognized by many organizations in Ottawa and he received awards for his contributions, including the 2008 Gilbert Greenberg Distinguished Services Award, the Freiman Family Young Leadership Award and the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Communications Volunteer Service Award. In 2012, Arnie was recognized for his volunteerism when he received the Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year Award from the Association of Fundraising Professions; in 2014, he received the Ontario Gold Medal for Good Citizenship.
Arnie touched the lives of many, and his selfless efforts and leadership were a great example. In July, only a few months after receiving the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award, Arnie Vered lost his battle with cancer. His community, as well as the country, has been affected by this great loss. Arnie is survived by his wife Elizabeth and their six children, Ariel, Danya, Jordana, Alexandra, Michael and Tori.
Cross Cancer Institute Volunteer Association (CCIVA) - Prairies
The Cross Cancer Institute Volunteer Association (CCIVA) is a not-for-profit volunteer group whose mandate is to enhance patient care and comfort at the Cross Cancer Institute, the comprehensive cancer centre for Edmonton and northern Alberta. The volunteer team provides over 20 programs and services that support cancer patients and their families, including a transportation service, wig service, clinic support, wayfinding service, new patient orientation, inpatient visiting, a refreshment cart service and three business operations.
The CCIVA’s largest project to date is the accessible outdoor HealingGarden, developed for the benefit of cancer patients and their families, visitors, staff and volunteers. The association worked with various partners and professionals to ensure that the garden was well designed and beautifully maintained, incorporating artwork created by the Arts in Medicine program. The CCIVA champions collaboration in its work and has often sought out partnerships to accomplish mutual goals and to achieve its mandate of enhancing patient care and comfort.
The CCIVA sees 600 to 700 patients each day and its contributions have benefited thousands of people, including cancer patients’ families, visitors, and staff members at the Cross Cancer Institute.
The CCIVA has been resourceful and a visionary in identifying areas where the cancer patient experience could be improved; in its 50 years of service to cancer patients and their families, the CCIVA has given over 1 300 000 volunteer hours and $4 million in contributions. Its work has benefitted hundreds of thousands of people, and it is considered a best practice model in terms of utilizing volunteers to truly impact the patient experience.
Dr. Keith Dawson - British Columbia and the North
For over 25 years, Dr. Keith Dawson of Vancouver, British Columbia, has worked with the Canadian Diabetes Association and is a role model for volunteerism and community service. He is a mentor, educator and advocate who is raising diabetes awareness, which is a socio-economic challenge for many communities in British Columbia and across Canada.
In working with community partners and people living with diabetes, Dr. Dawson has developed two intervention programs, Live Well with Diabetes and Diabetes and My Nation. Both programs are designed to reach high-risk communities (those with mental illnesses or addictions or living in poverty or isolation, First Nations and seniors) to provide culturally appropriate diabetes resources.
Dr. Dawson joined forces with a northern British Columbia First Nations elder and a local Vancouver volunteer to create Diabetes and My Nation, a community-based, Aboriginal-focused health management program. He also engaged federal, provincial and community stakeholders to work collaboratively to identify gaps in the delivery of health care to First Nations communities. Dr. Dawson then partnered with a local podiatrist to co-found the Live Well with Diabetes health professional conference in 2004. The now annual conference continues to provide current and practical information to assist in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of diabetes.
Dr. Dawson devotes countless hours of volunteer time to ensure physicians and other allied healthcare professionals have access to current and best practice information, irrespective of location. In the past 10 years, Dr. Dawson has provided leadership by delivering annual health professional seminars educating over 2500 healthcare providers across British Columbia. Working with the Canadian Diabetes Association and the British Columbia Podiatric Medical Association, over 9000 people have benefited from educational and interactive sessions with podiatrists and other healthcare professionals.
With the support of the British Columbia Endocrine Research Foundation, Live Well with Diabetes has evolved into a web-based training tool that has been translated into several languages.
Newfoundland Power Inc. - Atlantic
Long before corporate social responsibility and community engagement became strategic business goals, Newfoundland Power was a committed and positive force for change in communities across Newfoundland and Labrador. The over 125-year-old electric utility is rooted in the value of people. The company and its employees collectively believe in supporting and caring for the communities in which the company operates and where its 255 000 customers live.
Much of the organization’s community involvement and impact stems from its very own corporate charity, The Power of Life Project , which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013. Its partnership with the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Foundation is aimed at raising money for much needed cancer treatment equipment, support programs, and promotion of cancer education and awareness initiatives in their province. The Foundation supports an average of 20 000 cancer patients per year. By hosting innovative fundraising events and actively encouraging employees and customers to donate, the organization has raised over $2.5 million to support cancer care in Newfoundland and Labrador. The year 2013 was one of the organization’s most successful years on record with $350,000 going toward TrueBeam STx, $100,000 toward a new outpatient clinic and $20,000 toward a therapeutic garden, all in addition to regular contributions like stocking a toy box for children undergoing radiation treatment.
Over and above their corporate charity activities, Newfoundland Power also believes in investing in other charitable and community projects. The organization has maintained a 30-year+ partnership with Canadian Blood Services and made over 2600 blood donations. In working for one of the founding partners of the Partners for Life Program in Newfoundland and Labrador, Newfoundland Power employees pledge to donate 300 times annually—a goal they work hard to surpass every year. The organization is also a long-time supporter of Habitat for Humanity, helping the organization build 44 homes in less than 20 years.
Newfoundland Power maintains a strong focus on environmental awareness and plays a leadership role in creating public awareness about energy conservation. Through the company’s Envirofest program, employees have initiated more than 300 environmental partnerships with local community groups and schools. Now in its 16th year, the program promotes positive environmental action by actively organizing beautification projects, tree plantings, fish incubation and butterfly projects.
Newfoundland Power believes in going above and beyond its corporate responsibilities to make a positive difference in the community, and employees are active and energetic in this belief. The organization recognizes the invaluable contributions volunteers make. To better assist their employees in being active corporate citizens, Newfoundland Power promotes its Corporate Volunteer Policy that provides employees leave with pay for volunteer initiatives.
The organization continues to build on its long-term community initiatives while actively seeking new opportunities. It is evident that volunteerism and community impact will continue to be one of Newfoundland Power’s priorities for years to come.
Peerless Clothing - Quebec
Peerless Clothing is a world leader in men’s fine tailored clothing owned and led by Mr. Alvin Segal, who not only demonstrates corporate social responsibility through contributions to health, education and culture, but has also made major contributions to the welfare of the apparel manufacturing industry. As a businessman, Mr. Segal spearheaded the apparel industry’s support for the 1987 Free Trade Agreement and advocated for fair and balanced federal policies for the industrial sector, championing causes that assisted all companies in the industry. He also helped to introduce new production methods to the industry through the application of manufacturing, information and logistics technologies. The combination of operational and strategic planning led to Peerless Clothing revolutionizing the North American tailored clothing industry and opening the door for other Canadian exporters.
Alvin Segal has a passion and love for his company and industry, and makes sure to contribute not only to the welfare of the industry, but also to anything that can benefit the whole community.
Mr. Segal has encouraged government, corporations and other individuals towards philanthropic activity in support of health, culture and education. The Segal Family’s $20 million donation to the Jewish General Hospital, which was matched by the Quebec government, established the Segal Cancer Centre, which serves the entire province and is the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Quebec. The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts, set to be the largest performing arts centre in Montréal, is also the result of Mr. Segal’s efforts, with an annual contribution matched by the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Peerless Clothing has also developed training programs that have helped newcomers to Canada take up production jobs. The unionized workforce at Peerless brings together over 60 cultural communities, making it both the largest and most diverse workplace in the industry. It’s truly a multicultural family. In 2007 the company was recognized for excellence in integrating recent immigrants into its workforce by the Honourable Yolande James, Quebec Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities.
Cursive PR - Ontario
Jessica Green, founder of Toronto-based communications consulting firm Cursive, is a community leader with integrity, skill and, above all, determination. Her efforts have been dedicated to enriching the lives of youth in the Jane/Wilson corridor by helping to implement philanthropic property management practices, specifically crime prevention through social programming and, more recently, a large scale anti-bullying initiative. Fully aware that when residents are happy, they begin to look at their community as a home and take ownership, Jessica and her team built a Corporate Social Responsibility mandate within the marketing and communications division of Canadian real estate management company Greenwin Inc. The end result was opening lines of communication to identify and address issues that empower residents and surrounding communities, promoting increased resident satisfaction.
Jessica’s first community revitalization initiative was with the onsite management team of a highly volatile neighbourhood known as “The Oaks” in Toronto. Bringing together people from many sectors to address the need for immediate measures in security and social programming led to the creation of the Oaks Revitalization Association, an organization that provides social enrichment and educational programs for children, youth and families who may be at risk of engaging in antisocial behaviour. Jessica also helped spearhead the launch of Spider’s Web Youth Empowerment Initiative by teaming up with former boxing champion Spider Jones. Through community partnerships, they created a centre for youth equipped with a fitness gym, community kitchen and literacy room. Always seeking new and innovative ways to raise funds, Jessica engaged in a social media marathon to secure a $50,000 grant from Maple Leaf Sports + Entertainment for Doorsteps Neighbourhood Services, the non-profit organization that runs Spider’s Web.
Jessica is currently chair of fundraising for the Children’s Aid Foundation’s Corsage Project, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships as well as free formalwear to high school students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to obtain post-secondary education or attend prom.
In honour of her contributions to the community, Jessica has been awarded The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013) by the Chancellery of Honours (Office of the Secretary to the Governor General). On behalf of Greenwin, she also accepted the Community Service Award of Excellence (2011) and the Property Management Advertisement Award (2012) from the Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario.
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Canada, Ltd. - Prairies
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Canada (MHPSC) has made numerous contributions to its community during the last several years. MHPSC’s Community Action Committee works to develop creative ways to engage its employees in community service, with tremendous impact. Through its continuous donations to the Food Bank, its support of the Youth Neighborhood Co-Op (whose goal is to expose youth to skills that will help them with employment), and its work with E-Gadz (an interagency organization that empowers youth through various resources and services), MHPSC has been a vital support to agencies that work in core neighborhoods.
Committed to helping children in need in Saskatoon, MHPSC began partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saskatoon and Area in 2012, with the intent to reduce a list of over 200 children waiting to be matched with a mentor. Through an innovative approach to community support, MHPSC encouraged seven employees to use paid work time to mentor in the In-School Mentoring program at St. Michael Community School. While only seven children are mentored by MHPSC volunteers at St. Michael, the impact has extended to the entire population of the school because seeing positive role models in the school benefits all the children. The volunteers have supported the entire school by cheering on all students at hockey tournaments, track meets and cultural events.
As part of its work with the Food Bank and Learning Centre, in the summer of 2012, MHPSC participated in its first ever CANstruction event. MHPSC employees raised money, designed and built a giant mosquito out of cans, and donated over 6500 cans of food to the Bank. MHPSC also donated $5,000 worth of brand-new tools and equipment to the Core Neighborhood Youth Co-op skills development program.
The impact can be worldwide in that MHPSC Saskatoon’s achievements provide inspiration for other Hitachi group companies around the globe, as they share with each other, via newsletter and webex, how they are supporting their communities. MHPSC Saskatoon has also been inspired by what its peers in other Hitachi group company locations are doing in their communities.
Polygon Homes Ltd. - British Columbia and the North
Polygon Homes is devoted to building strong, positive communities, not only through active contribution to the programs and services of Union Gospel Mission (an urban relief organization based in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside), but also through encouraging its own employees, clients and suppliers to get involved with the Mission’s life-changing programs.
Polygon Homes has been actively helping the Union Gospel Mission with their fundraising, sponsorship and volunteer efforts for the past 12 years.
With the intention of helping overcome poverty, homelessness and addiction in Metro Vancouver, Polygon enlisted Union Gospel Mission and its expertise in working with the community. As a result, every year Polygon organizes the “12 Days of Christmas Raffle,” a massive Christmas charity raffle run by a committee of employees who volunteer their time, raising over $100,000 each year and engaging thousands of community members to make a difference.
Since the initiative began 12 years ago, Polygon has raised over $1.18 million. Raffle proceeds have helped the Union Gospel Mission to establish a fleet of 14 vehicles, including a customized truck that allows the Mission to deliver donations of warm clothing and over 700 meals each day. To date, the Mission has helped more than 4,200 people with their “Mobile Mission,” connecting them to medical services, recovery programs and emergency shelters. These vehicles have allowed the Mission to extend its services beyond its four walls, providing hope and easing the burdens of the most vulnerable within the community.
Polygon’s fundraising efforts also fully fund the Eastsiders, an after-school program for at-risk youth. Polygon’s sponsorship of this program provides a safe community for many at-risk children attending StrathconaElementary School to thrive in, to spend time with positive role models and to establish new friendships, all in a healthy, consistent environment. Polygon employees volunteer at special Union Gospel Mission meals and events, and volunteer to spend quality time with children in the Eastsiders program.
Bathurst Youth Centre des Jeunes de Bathurst Inc. (BYC) - Atlantic
Bathurst Youth Centre des Jeunes de Bathurst Inc. (BYC) began serving youth-at-risk in the Chaleur region of New Brunswick in 1998, and was first recognized for its contribution to reducing youth-related crime in this community by 27% after only one year in operation. Founded by a local police officer who recognized that youth need a place to call their own, the centre has served thousands of young people by providing them with a safe place to socialize and access information about services and programs. BYC prides itself on its outstanding bilingual team of youth employment and outreach counselors, as well as its rich source of community mentors.
The Centre offers structured programs directed toward resolving specific problems faced by youth as well as providing counseling, educational, recreational and social activities in a supervised setting. The Centre also provides assistance to youth in preparing for job interviews, searching for employment and understanding proper job etiquette.
The BYC believes that in order to help youth, the whole family must be helped; it has therefore expanded its programs to include an outreach worker for victims of family violence and a resource centre for parents. Through the work of its outreach workers for youth-at-risk, the BYC also operates an emergency shelter for homeless youth.
Programs such as Youth at Heart, which connects youth with seniors in sharing intergenerational experiences, Volunteering...It's Cool, a program encouraging youth to volunteer in their communities, Random Act of Kindness, Survival Skills Week, and Chaleur Outstanding Youth Awards have established BYC as a highly regarded centre for young people in the minds of parents, teachers, police and residents. Many youth who participated in these and other programs offered at the BYC have returned and are now helping other youth to participate.
Bathurst Youth Centre des Jeunes de Bathurst Inc.’s solid reputation has positioned it as a resource for community organizations such as the Chaleur Resource Centre for Parents and the Emergency Homeless Shelter. That reputation and the fact that programs are initiated and supported by youth in the area have made it easier to get funding from various government departments and businesses in the area. The BYC also works closely with organizations such as Nepisiguit Family Services, as well as three local police departments and local schools.
Petites-Mains - Quebec
Petites-Mains was created in 1994 in the disadvantaged neighbourhood of Côte-des-Neiges, in an extremely vulnerable immigrant community. Since relocating recently to the Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension area, the organization targets disadvantaged and marginalized women, many of whom are single mothers, and focuses on the employability of immigrants living on social assistance. In its 18 years of operation, Petites-Mains has helped thousands of women facing all sorts of difficulties to break out of their isolation and integrate into the labour market and Quebec society.
Every year at least 200 women, most of them allophones, take French-language training courses that allow them to integrate into the community. The Femmes et Métier job readiness program has a placement rate of about 75 percent. This program is intended for young immigrant women between 18 and 30 years of age and provides them with a unique opportunity to explore the work world. Every year through the Femmes et Métier program, 30 young women have an opportunity to enter the job market or return to school. The Entreprise d’insertion component allows 60 other participants each year to receive socio-professional training in three training areas.
Petites-Mains is extremely active in the community. The organization is on the board of directors of the Collectif des entreprises d’insertion du Québec, is active in several coalitions and attends job fairs and community events.
In addition to federal, provincial and municipal funding, Petites-Mains finances 25 percent of its operations through proceeds from the sale of sewn and hand-crafted items and from its restaurant, l’Inter-Mission de Petites-Mains. It also receives donations from individuals and religious communities interested in supporting its mission. Petites-Mains allows other non-profit organizations to hold information sessions in its offices, helping them pass their messages along to the community.
To ensure the sustainability of activities and achievement of objectives, Petites-Mains has adopted an innovative practice of combining effective psychosocial monitoring with high-quality technical training geared to demand among employers, who have become valued partners. In a community where 43 percent of the population is comprised of first-generation immigrants, it is vital to offer services adapted to their needs. The organization’s strength lies in balancing the training needs of participants (income, skill development, social adjustment, etc.), and market requirements (skilled labour, ethics, etc.). Including social integration factors in technical training programs allows participants to become active members of their new society. In addition, as these women become integrated into the community, they become role models to their children, transmitting the desire to contribute to Canadian society.
May Court Club of Brockville - Ontario
The May Court Club of Brockville is a small service organization of about 150 women who are committed to enriching their community by providing financial and volunteer support to individuals and organizations. In so doing, they enhance the lives of members of their community. Funds are raised through the operation of the organization’s Thrift Shop by member volunteers and students, and through regular fundraising events aided by donations from area businesses and individuals to provide this support to those within the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.
May Court has made a huge long-term impact by partnering with the City and Brockville Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, and contributing more than $60,000 towards the acquisition and completion of a barrier-free playground structure and gazebo family leisure area. This area has made a considerable difference in the community as both able and disabled families and children can now enjoy a safe, comfortable and fun environment together. May Court’s contribution greatly reduced costs to the City and its residents, while supporting the students of St. Lawrence College Brockville Campus, who constructed the gazebo.
May Court's School Nutrition Program has regularly supplied nine Brockville elementary schools with healthy snacks and beverages since 1969. In 2013, this was expanded to include five additional schools in outlying areas. This helps to ensure that students do not go without some sort of nutrition should the need arise. A dedicated member purchases and personally delivers items to each school. The Club has also contributed $5,000 to the Brockville GeneralHospital towards the purchase of an Isotope machine, which alleviates the need for residents to travel outside the area to obtain testing in early diagnosis, reduction and treatment of cancer. This year, members also collected and donated 136 sleepers and baskets containing other necessities to the Hospital’s Maclean Maternal Child Unit for new mothers in financial need. This is a continuing service the Club offers.
May Court provides financial and volunteer support to more than 30 organizations in the counties and to individuals in need for medical and dental treatments. It also employs students and recycles clothing and household items through its Thrift Shop. Money generated from the shop is donated to non-profit charitable organizations and individuals in need within the community. The Club’s contributions have helped to reduce the financial burden placed on municipalities by reducing the economic strain on social services, health care, education, employment and the environment.
Bridges of Love Ministry Society - Prairies
In shifting six years ago from a “government-centric” to a “whole community” philosophy that considers citizens as collaborators and partners, Marg Pollon, the founding director of Bridges of Love Ministry, envisioned the local church as a rich resource to fill the gap when catastrophic events overwhelm existing disaster response agencies.
The Faith Emergency Preparedness Initiative (FEPI) relies on the local church and its followers’ strong sense of community to support first responders during emergencies. The Initiative has created a successful template for implementation in other communities across Canada. Many of the 16 members who attended the first collaborative summit on Pandemic Preparedness and Response continue to meet, leading to the creation of the FEPI Advisory Council.
Recently, Bridges of Love introduced "Love Bee...ing Prepared - That none be left behind" as part of an FEPI outreach effort to the community aimed at building relationshps of trust. Church youth groups distributed magnets with City and Bridges of Love’s contact information and the Alberta Health Services Personal Disaster Preparedness Quick Guide. Bridges of Love has facilitated various events to assist with emergency preparedness education, inviting Dr. Arthur Bradley, author and NASA senior scientist, to conduct two half-day sessions. During the H1N1 influenza pandemic, Bridges of Love and the FEPI Advisory council partnered to offer five information discussions in each quadrant of the city. After the devastating SlaveLake fire, the Society invited its partner churches to write letters of encouragement to those residents who had been affected. Slave Lake Fire Chief Jamie Coutts shared his experiences and lessons learned from the fire at a Bridges of Love event, “Beauty for Ashes,” that was open to the church community and the general public.
To date, 47 Calgary churches have joined the initiative to be ready to respond to the needs of their communities. Bridges of Love assisted Emergency Social Services by inviting churches to participate in the assessment process as Reception Centre Sites, This demonstrates that Bridges of Love is demonstrating that the organization is being proactive rather than waiting for a crisis to take action. With over 500 churches in the Calgary area, the goal of this ministry is to see every local church prepared and ready to assist their communities.
During the 2013 Alberta floods, Bridges of Love took an active role, matching donations and volunteers with those affected by the flood devastation through their 2013 Alberta Flood Recovers site. This ongoing endeavour continues as there are still needs in the affected areas.
The Bridges of Love Ministry Society has been the recipient of two Calgary Foundation Grants. A Neighbourhood Grant in 2012 provided the opportunity to test its FEPI structure through a tabletop exercise. The 2013 Flood Rebuilding Fund Grant will assist the facilitation for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. Bridges of Love was also the recipient of the Calgary Chamber of Volunteer Organizations Non-Profit Innovation Award (2012).
Bridges of Love’s main funding support comes through churches, individuals, businesses and community grants that recognize the benefits of a coordinated church response, integrated into municipal emergency agencies with trained volunteers, ready to respond to communities in times of disaster.
District 69 Society of Organized Services (SOS) - British Columbia and the North
Established in 1968, the District 69 Society of Organized Services (S.O.S.) is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organization which has been working collaboratively with community stakeholders to identify and provide a safety net of select supplementary social services and resources not otherwise available in District 69, a large region of Vancouver Island. The S.O.S was concerned for the many working poor and others who were having difficulties providing adequately for their families.
The District 69 Society of Organized Services offers assistance with tax preparation and, together with a local business, provides a Safe Cars for Kids program to offer safety-related vehicle repairs to low-income individuals. The S.O.S. is also the regional coordinator for the Extreme Weather Centre and co-chaired the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness. They provide personal growth programs to men, women and couples, counselling referrals, self-help groups, and hardship emergency support and referral.
Volunteers are also trained to staff the Haven Home hotline. Recently, the S.O.S recently partnered with Haven House in a $200,000 campaign to open a transition house in Oceanside in the summer of 2013. The house serves women and their children from NanooseBay to Bowser. In partnership with United Way and the provincial government, a new program called “Better at Home” has been added, which assists seniors with non-medical services such as grocery shopping, light housekeeping and snow removal, while giving seniors the freedom to stay in their own homes.
Over time, the S.O.S has grown to 31 programs with over 4000 seniors, children, youth and adults served by these programs on an annual basis. Other communities, such as the ComoxValley and Kamloops, have benefitted from the S.O.S through mentoring, and the organization has also worked with Boys and Girls Clubs in Nanaimo. Meanwhile, the Meals on Wheels program delivered nearly 7900 hot, nutritious meals to seniors and the Women's 16-Step Self-Help Group assisted 12 women and continues to provide support for women seeking to free themselves from addiction and create a supportive network. S.O.S’s Seniors in Motion Program had 470 client visits, with 140 new clients in 2012, while S.O.S volunteers gave over 374 hours and helped file 731 tax returns for 620 clients. Over the past six months 500 grocery cards were issued under the Emergency Assistance/Hardship Support program.
The S.O.S has many sources of funding, the largest being the S.O.S Thrift Shop, staffed by S.O.S volunteers. Other sources of funding include donations from individuals, community groups, local businesses, estate bequests and fundraising activities.
Because of the extraordinary number of programs it delivers and its scope, S.O.S works very hard to meet the challenges of recruiting and retaining volunteers, and now boasts over 900 members, 300 of which are active volunteers.
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