Thanks to all who volunteer!

7 04 2014

Volunteer Week Logo





A Win-Win-Win for Children, Families, Communities

30 09 2013

It’s about helping children after the trauma of abuse. The focus is supporting parents and caregivers. And we all benefit.

That’s the winning combination behind the Community Child Abuse Council’s entry in the AVIVA Community Fund competition this year.  It’s a simple concept that, with your support, could do a great deal of good.

The Community Parent Support Program

  • A series of facilitated group programs to support parents and caregivers whose children have been sexually victmized, or who have problem sexual behaviours (including sibling incest).
  • Developed by an experienced team of professionals and offered by the Community Child Abuse Council over the past several years – with solid results.
  • Parents (including foster parents) and caregivers (including grandparents) learn together and get the support they need to understand what their children are going through. In a safe and supportive environment, they strengthen their knowledge about sexual abuse and its impact on families, and enhance their ability to support their children. And, importantly, their involvement in these groups has been shown to have a positive impact on children’s treatment outcomes.

Now, the Council has an opportunity to share this proven model with others, supporting parents and caregivers in any community (even remote ones and those without specialized treatment options for children). The proposal will see the program published, packaged, and distributed widely, together with the materials and supports needed by facilitators to deliver these groups in any community. These innovative resources will be affordable, adaptable, and ready to implement in any community, anywhere. And, to make this a win-win-win scenario, any revenue from the project will be reinvested into the Council’s child abuse prevention, education, and treatment programs. That means more treatment for local kids in need, more prevention work, and more community-focused educational initiatives.

Voting begins today – September 30th – and it’s easy to vote. Just go to the AVIVA Community Fund web site, find the “register” button at the top right of the page (takes 30 seconds, and only required on your first visit), and once you’re registered, select the Community Parent Support Program and vote!

Here’s the link: http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf17152#.UkHqha-RE2Y.email

You can also search for the Council’s project on the AVIVA Community Fund web site using (idea) number is ACF17152.

Please tell your friends, use your social media connections, and help generate as much support as possible for this proposal – with your help, and enough votes, it will move on to the next rounds and one step closer to the funding that will make this important project possible.

In the first round, you can vote 15 times (but only once per day for the same project). So, please, use those votes to help put valuable and vital resources in the hands of caring communities where they can do the most good for families who need them.

Thank you so very much.





Hamilton Changemakers

13 07 2013

park_kids

What if all children in Hamilton were thriving? What would that make possible? What conditions need to be in place for that to happen?

 

These were the central questions that brought together a room full of Hamiltonians this past week to think about creating the future we all want for our community. The afternoon gathering was hosted by the Community Child Abuse Council, Alternatives for Youth, and Hamilton Food Share. These three agencies have applied some of the thinking and approaches developed by Creating the Future, a “living laboratory” devoted to social progress co-founded by Hildy Gottlieb and Dimitri Petropolis. As local early adopters of this work, these agencies have been inspired to pursue vision-driven change in what many would see as very different areas of endeavour – child abuse, addiction, hunger. In fact, all share similar visions of a thriving community.

Seeing an opportunity to join together in this shared pursuit, these 3 organizations invited their key partners and supporters to gather for a conversation about what would be possible if we all aimed for the same goal: a thriving community. The resulting “Gathering of Changemakers” event brought together 40+ community leaders, thinkers, and visionaries from across a wide swath of the Hamilton community, including health, social services, policing, business, service clubs, funders, and others. Special guests, Hildy Gottlieb and Dimitri Petropolis of Creating the Future, engaged the gathering in a series of discussions focused on highest potential and the steps needed to realize our shared vision of a thriving Hamilton.

inspire

 

And what a conversation it was! We learned that while we may sometimes disagree on the “how”, we share the same aspirations and values – we want everyone in our community to thrive, knowing that our community overall will thrive as a result. And, despite some early doubts about whether this goal is actually achievable, we learned that we already know what is required to make our desired future happen. Just as we’re able to get to the airport on time when we leave on a trip, we are able to identify the steps we need to take in order to get to our shared goal. We work backwards to figure out what we need to do (e.g. what time to set our alarm so we don’t miss our flight). The starting point is our vision, and from there we simply need to identify the favourable conditions that will get us there. It’s something we do every day, in virtually every part of our lives, but we aren’t doing it in our efforts to achieve the future we want for our community.

It’s going to take practice. We’re going to have to ask different questions, and challenge some of the assumptions we’ve inherited about people, systems, and the impact each of us is having on the future of our world each and every day (whether we do so consciously or not). And we’re going to need more Hamiltonians to join us in this ongoing conversation. We’ll be working on these things, and talking to each other about next steps. And we know this isn’t going to result in overnight change. But imagining what would be possible if all children in our community were thriving has us excited enough to keep moving forward in this direction – finding our commonalities, working from our shared values, and aiming at the highest possible potential for the community we all care about so deeply.

Stay tuned!

 

 





May 7 is National Child and Youth Mental Health Day

7 05 2013

When you see a child today, whether playing in the park or getting off the school bus, stop to remember this: mental health is largely invisible – you can’t identify a child with mental health challenges simply by appearance. And remember, too, that one-in-five Canadian children has a mental illness severe enough to impair their ability to function.

It is estimated that 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness each year. More than 70 per cent of adults living with a mental illness say the onset occurred before age 18 (Mental Health Commission of Canada). Take a moment today to think about the importance of mental health in all our lives, and think about ways you can support the mental health of kids in your circle of influence. Twenty percent of the children in our lives will benefit – and that will be visible and life-changing.

child mental health





5 Days in Tucson

5 03 2013

After a few years of waiting and wanting, I finally got the opportunity to travel to Arizona last week to take in one of the amazing immersion courses offered by Hildy Gottlieb and the team at Creating The Future (www.creatingthefuture.org). It was worth the wait. Described as a course for “changemakers”, the week brought six of us together (the immersion courses are always limited to a maximum of 10 participants) with Hildy and with CTF co-founder Dimitri Petropolous for an up-close-and-personal exploration of the values, principles, approaches, and thinking that help to aim us (and others) towards our highest potential. Hard work, that. But when done in the company of awesome thinkers and community builders, it was both exhilarating and transformational. I came away feeling like I’d got my mojo back…inspired to reach higher and inspirebetter equipped to bring clarity and vision to my life, my profession, my community. How awesome is that!? The work Hildy and Dimitri are doing has resonated for me since I first stumbled upon The Polyanna Principles and began to explore the thought framework behind Creating The Future. What they’re doing is open and accessible – meant to walk the talk and act as a living laboratory so that we can all see what it looks and feels like to engage community and create an intentional future. Even their board meetings are completely open, online, and welcoming for anyone who cares to join them (just one of many examples of their efforts to show and model while they do). I think it’s the authenticity behind all of this work that first drew my attention and continues to engage me most.

Thanks Hildy and Dimitri. And thank you to the amazing changemakers I had the privilege of spending this wonderful week with. I can’t wait to apply my learning, to hear about your successes, and to build on what we started.





A wonderful evening…and a model for community building

19 11 2012

New to the Hamilton community, a businessman decides to join The Hamilton Club and a local service organization as a means to connect with locals and establish himself in civic-minded circles. Then he imports an event – previously organized with great success in Toronto – to bring some of his new connections together in support of local charities. He enlists the help of his new service club, Hamilton Rotary AM, and reaches out to a number of corporate sponsors for help. Add the generous support of The Hamilton Club, as host venue, and the talents

Artist Jeremy Bortz and his Flowers of Hope tiles

of artist Jeremy Bortz and some fine musicians and vocalists, and the event turns into a wonderful mix of socializing and fundraising. All because one man cared enough to bring together the needed ingredients – and best of all, to do so in support of vital community services.
The man behind this inspired effort was Tim Dickins. The event, An Evening with Jeremy Bortz & Friends, was held last week. The Community Child Abuse Council and Good Shepherd were the beneficiaries. Ticket sales, sponsorships, and a live auction generated proceeds split between these two local agencies, with additional funds raised for McMaster Children’s Hospital through the sale of Jeremy Bortz’s beautiful floral art tiles.
This is a wonderful example of how individuals, businesses, and community groups can come together on behalf of good causes and raise funds that make a big difference in the lives of Hamiltonians. Neither of the beneficiary agencies had to devote scarce resources to organizing an event, and guests were treated to something a little different – a welcome change in the busy landscape of fundraising functions. Warmest thanks to all who were involved in making this event possible, including the artists and musicians who provided the fabulous entertainment throughout the evening. Thanks also to MC Sunni Genesco, to The Hamilton Club, to Rotary Club of Hamilton AM, to Rogers Business Solutions and other sponsors, to auction donors, and to all who attended. And a very special thank you to Tim Dickins for bringing it all together and supporting his “new” community – one that  is already better because of him…thank you for being a Hamiltonian with heart.





Leaders for Kids

4 04 2012

I had the pleasure of presiding at the induction of two new Leaders for Kids today at a breakfast event hosted by students at Mohawk College. Leaders for Kids is an initiative of the Community Child Abuse Council, bringing together community leaders from all walks of  life in support of the Council’s vision of a community free of child abuse. These are individuals who step up, speak out, and lend their support to the Council’s work with child and youth victims of sexual abuse and trauma. They go above and beyond, and are recognized as Leaders for Kids in appreciation of their commitment and contributions.

Today’s honourees were Laura Gainey and Vince Isber from RBC, who were both instrumental in the Council’s selection as Local Charity Partner for the 2012 RBC Canadian Open. They join a group of bighearted and generous friends to the Council, all tremendous partners who set an example for community involvement and leadership. Laura Gainey is the first Honourary Leader for Kids ever inducted into this group. In fact, the Council has never before included anyone from outside the Hamilton community. But Laura has embraced our work and supported our efforts in influential ways, and you would be hard-pressed to guess that she wasn’t a Hamiltonian if observing her commitment to local children. Vince Isber is an active and respected community booster, whose involvement with numerous community organizations and projects is admirable. Vince has stepped forward to support the Council in generous ways, and is coordinating the involvement of RBC employees from across this region in the Council’s Heart of the Open fundraising campaign.

These two Leaders for Kids exemplify what it means to get behind a cause and are demonstrating what is possible when leaders offer their talents and ideas to support an important community issue. Laura and Vince visited the Council several months ago, and showed a keen interest in its programs and services provided to abused children and youth. They asked thoughtful questions and followed up by taking action on the things they learned that were needed in order to meet the needs of more youngsters affected by the trauma of abuse. They deserve the honour they received today, and they join an impressive group of like-minded community members who are making a difference each and every day in the fight against child abuse. Congratulations Laura and Vince, and thank you to all our Leaders for Kids.





Unofficially Summer

22 05 2011

Summer’s official start is generally recognized to be June 21 (or, more specifically, the Summer Solstice). But for many of us, the “May 24” long weekend has traditionally heralded the arrival of the warmer weather and released us to once again enjoy outdoor living. Here’s hoping you are all making the best of this seasonal (and uniquely ours) celebration. As you stock up on charcoal, hose off the lawn chairs and otherwise prepare for summertime, however, take a moment to think about the season change from another perspective…

The network of community service providers whose programs and supports are vital to so many of our neighbours and fellow citizens approach the summer months with a different view than most of us: will there be enough food at the food banks to respond to the increase in demand that generally happens when school lets out? how can we best utilize the summer students who will be helping us? how many days of dangerously high temperatures are we in for and are we ready to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable? will our board volunteers meet over the summer? will enough donors remember us when our fundraising appeal comes during their summer vacation? how will the coming provincial election impact our ability to provide services? have we recruited enough replacements for our key volunteers who will be leaving for holidays?

The community engine that responds to human needs is ever running. There is no vacation for the safety net that is vitally essential to the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable citizens. The ongoing activities that keep this engine running are often unseen but always imporant. Taking time to consider that as we plan our summers can only add to the strength of the response. As we take time out to enjoy the season, we may also be in a position to help make sure it’s a good summer for all.  Worth thinking about.





A few bad apples…

14 03 2011

March is Fraud Prevention Month, prompting a quiz sponsored by CanadaHelps and Capital One concerning charitable giving. To take the online quiz and see how much you know about charitable fraud, click here: http://www.canadahelps.org/.

Charity fraud is rare in Canada despite media coverage that might suggest otherwise. In more than 20 years working in the charitable sector, with dozens and dozens of organizations, I have never once come across actual fraud. We have a reasonably strict system of monitoring and enforcement here in Canada, making it tough to scam donors or operate fraudulent charities. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) pulls the plug on those who try, resulting in loss of charitable status or revoked registration.

Mark Blumberg’s Canadian Charity Law List for this month includes examples of this enforcement in action. “CRA has revoked the registration of The Organ Donation & Transplant Association of Canada for excessive fundraising and administrative fees and for involvement in an ‘international donation arrangement'”. Apparently this organization ran into trouble for gifts in kind whose real value didn’t match their reported value. Then there’s Pediatric AIDS Canada/USA, whose registration was also revoked by CRA for high fundraising costs and involvement in an “international donation arrangement that artificially inflated expenditures on charitable activities”.

Both these organizations were included in a recent Toronto Star article about charity fraud (“Plug pulled on charity after audit reveals money misspent”, March 7, 2011). The article essentially deals with six organizations where cases of charitable spending or reporting breaches led to CRA intervention. I point this out because six organizations out of thousands who conduct themselves legitimately is a very small number. Even if there are other, as yet undiscovered, fraudsters out there they remain a very small percentage of Canada’s overall charitable sector. The damage they inflict, however, can be devastating to all.

Donor diligence is the best defense against making contributions to fraudulent causes. But donors should not become alarmed and think that fraud is rampant in Canadian charities. It is not. A very few bad apples make it extremely challenging for legitimate charities to maintain goodwill and donor trust (and often add to the costs of operating a bona fide charity). Volunteers, too, can be skeptical about supporting the sector if they don’t feel their efforts are aligned with legitimate and legal purposes. So there’s much at stake (donors, volunteers, public opinion) for the good apples.

Updated charity laws, aggressive prosecution of lawbreakers, and accessible information for donors and volunteers are all helping to keep fraud to an absolute minimum in Canada. One bad apple is one too many, but it’s important that the entire sector not be branded criminals by a very few examples of cheating, fraudulent fundraising, or illegal scams.

For more information, check these resources:

http://www.canadiancharitylaw.ca

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/charities





Success Together

24 02 2011

Many readers of this blog will know that I am a fan of Hildy Gottlieb’s work  (Creating The Future) and I apply a number of her concepts and principles in my practice (thanks Hildy, you spread the love so generously). One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is a topic Hildy has ranted about many times, and a fundamental question Hildy is always asking: what will it take for the community benefit sector to achieve genuine success (or, the flip side, what’s stopping that from happening?):

Success in the Community Benefit arena doesn’t come from being the smartest and the fastest and the best. Yes, you may become the best funded organization. But success in the Community Benefit world is about – well – Community Benefit! And none of us can do that on our own. It is clear that this sector’s potential can only be reached if we link arms together to create the healthy, vibrant communities we all want. To accomplish that, many of the systems we rely upon in this sector will need to shift, from competitive systems that keep us apart to systems that encourage and nurture interconnectedness and interdependence. [Hildy Gottlieb]

Amen to that.

So, I’ve been thinking about that shift and how to support it. I’m wondering about the figurative linking of arms and how that might tangibly or literally be accomplished in a typical community. There are no shortage of inspiring examples on a global scale (just in these past weeks the Middle East is full of them). Examples can also be found within the ranks of the collective impact movement (see: http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/collective_impact/). So what about here, within Hamilton neighbourhoods? How do small community efforts grow to become community benefit successes? That’s been occupying my mind of late, and steering me to seek out viable answers. It seems vital that our local community benefit organizations be encouraged and supported in efforts to join together…to find strength in numbers and influence in shared vision. I’m not talking about merely “collaborating” here, where agencies remain independent and separate while joining together (or appearing to do so) for select purposes. That kind of collaboration has been a diversion for many organizations (particularly small ones with very limited resources) and ineffective for many others. As a requirement of many funders, collaboration has become a challenge for organizations who might be far better served by genuine efforts at unified, targeted advocacy and action. Time-consuming and ineffectual partnerships have kept more than one organization from realizing true innovation. Carefully assessing when, how and with whom to partner is a missing step in many collaborations…it’s often simply a requisite step in the grant application process. To shift from “expected” collaboration to instead focus on shared community outcomes (or collective impact) will take some time and some genuine effort. But I can hear Hildy yelling, “yes, but think of the possibilities if it happens!” and that very thing is what has me giving this considerable attention.

Be the change, the Gandhi-inspired mantra, requires that we model our efforts according to the outcomes we seek. When it comes to local community benefit and the sector upon which so much rests, that means some considerable adjustments will be needed. Stay tuned.