One Girl Can: Give These Girls A Home On Giving Tuesday!

I’m really glad Giving Tuesday is here. To be honest, after Black Friday (which now seems to start the week before), Cyber Monday, and all the holiday catalogues screaming BUY BUY BUY at me, I’m grateful for a day that is all about giving. Every year, I ask my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram friends to share their favourite causes. Reading through their responses reminds me of what’s really important. It also fills me with hope; there are so many people invested in doing good for local and global communities. One organization that I am proud to support is One Girl Can.

One Girl Can provides scholarships for high school and university girls in Kenya and Uganda. They also build schools and mentor girls to create a vision and plan for their life. I was introduced to them by my friend Jamie who invited me to attend their annual fundraiser a couple years ago. I took some time to learn more about what they do and made sure it aligned with my values, and this spring my family and I sponsored a girl named Faith for one year of her high school education. My dream is to be able to see Faith through her education and fund more girls.

Here’s Faith holding a picture of my family we sent with the One Girl Can team on their most recent visit to Kenya:

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, lotte davis, scholarships for girls, kenya, uganda
Photo Credit: Adam Amengual

Double Your Impact On Giving Tuesday By Purchasing Holiday Cards

If you’d like to make a difference in a girl’s life, you don’t need to commit to sponsoring one today. I know that it takes more than reading one blog post to help you decide if that’s the route for you. But what you can do this Giving Tuesday that is impactful in many ways is purchase their beautiful holiday cards. 100% of the funds go directly to building a new dormitory for the girls at Magomano Boarding School so they can have a safe and healthy place to live while they study.

This is the current dormitory – you can see it needs to be replaced!

And today is a great day to make this generous purchase because AG Hair is going to MATCH your donations! So, you can buy a pack of 5 cards for $25, and $50 goes directly to rebuilding this dormitory. If you have more people on your list (teachers, employers, employees, Secret Santas, dinner party hosts) then you can save yourself money by buying larger quantities (12 for $50, and 15% off orders of 24 or more). My kids are excited to give one to each of their teachers! Not only do the cards showcase the happy, hopeful faces of girls who are directly impacted by your generosity, but the message inside is one that anyone would want to receive.

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, scholarships for girls in kenya

“Build A Home For The Holidays: I’ve donated to One Girl Can on your behalf to help build a much-needed dormitory at Magomao Girls Boarding School in Kenya, creating safe and healthy living conditions and expanding girls’ access to education.”

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, scholarships for girls, kenya

I would be so honoured if someone thought of me when they bought these cards. I also think they are worth sending because they can inspire others to give back, too. And giving is vital to our emotional and spiritual health, I am sure of it.

Click the photo below of these driven, ambitious girls to visit One Girl Can’s holiday cards campaign page.

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I hope this post has been a little breath of fresh air for you as it has been for me.

Do you have any questions about One Girl Can or their holiday cards campaign? Please leave it in a comment below!

taslim jaffer writer

 

Prostate Cancer Took A Special Man But It Can Be Detected Early

Once upon a time, there lived a quiet, gentle man. He was kind, loving, hardworking – and a huge Wayne Gretzky fan. He was my mom’s father and her best friend. And he loved his grandchildren with his whole, big heart. I have many fond memories of my grandfather. Lifting my baby cousin in the air and blowing on her belly, making her smile. Buying me my first lipstick. Glued to the TV during an Oilers game. This clicking sound he did with his tongue that meant, ‘no’. His gruff voice. Stubbly chin. His eyes that crinkled when he smiled. I wish I had had many more years with him, but I didn’t, because prostate cancer took his life when he was 77 years old.

prostate cancer, Raymond James Father's Day Walk for Prostate Cancer, cancer, grandfather

What I’ve Learned About Prostate Cancer

  • Prostate Cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in Canadian men (behind lung cancer).
  • Prostate Cancer afflicts men 45 years of age and older, with the incidence increasing with age. Men with a family history of Prostate Cancer are at increased risk so these examinations and tests should begin at age 40.
  • Prostate Cancer has no known causes or prevention.
  • Detection and treatment in its earliest stages (while it is still small and confined to the prostate) provides the best chance for a complete cure.

I was 12 when he died and, to be honest, I thought he was old. So, although it was really sad and a shock (the cancer was not detected until it was in the late stages), I assumed he had lived a long life. Now I know that 77 is young. I think of what I want to be doing at that age and there’s still a fair bit of life I’d like to live after that. Everyone else he left behind was young, too. Cancer doesn’t just take away the one life, but forever changes the ones left behind. What if my grandpa’s was detected sooner? What if my youngest cousin, who giggled as an infant at his antics, could have collected some actual memories of him? What if his children could have enjoyed their father for many more years? And my grandma could have had his companionship that much longer?

What if there was something men could do to keep on top of their prostate health? And something the rest of us can do to support them? There is! A check-up for the guys once a year starting from the age of 45 should be part of their normal healthcare regime, unless there is also a history of prostate cancer in the family. Then it’s recommended that check-ups start at age 40. From talking to some men in my life, I know that this is not a comfortable topic and there is some fear and discomfort around the actual procedure. But it’s quick and potentially life-saving! So, ladies, if your men are hesitating, remind them why you need them to get checked. This really does affect the whole family.

As another show of support, on Father’s Day, June 18th, the Raymond James Walk/Run for Prostate Cancer is taking place at Burnaby Lake with a start time of 10 am (9:30 for tots!). It promises to be a full, festive day with a free barbeque lunch, prizes, onstage entertainment and more. It really sounds like a great, family-friendly day to celebrate your dad or your husband or your brother. This event is also taking place across B.C. in Victoria, Chilliwack, Kelowna and Kamloops. You can register for the one closest to you!

Prostate cancer, let me out creative, raymond james father's day walk for prostate cancer, cancer, grandpa

Sometimes the ‘what ifs’ are hard to swallow, and sometimes we have to accept that things are meant to happen. But I’m spreading the word just in case this helps another family enjoy decades more love from a very special man in their lives.

For more information, please visit prostatecancerbc.ca.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Lonely Whale Foundation Believes Our Children Will Lead Us Out Of This Mess

Do you consider yourself to be an environmentalist? I did when I was in high school. As vice president of the school environment club, I took my duties seriously, of which collecting syrupy pop cans out of bins to recycle was probably the least glamourous. But I’m not part of an organization now that proactively cares for the earth and educates others about environmental issues. Or am I? After speaking with Dune Ives from Lonely Whale Foundation, I do feel like an empowered individual. I know that I can use my purchasing power to make better choices for my family and for the planet. I know that our children are counting on that. I can also use my voice to shed light on some of these issues. The research I did for this post has me believing that I have a much greater impact on my planet’s well-being than I once thought. And so do you.

Lonely Whale Foundation was co-founded by actor Adrian Grenier and producer Lucy Sumner in 2015 to inspire ocean advocacy and empathy for marine life. Basically, they want you and me to understand the importance of the oceans for life on land, and they want to provide us with the resources to create a positive impact on our environment. I loved this op-ed piece by Adrian that points out exactly what the issues are, why we need to pay attention to them, and how we can get involved. In addition to these individual actions, there are many ways to ‘join the pod’ – from financial donations to easily downloading and sharing social-media memes.

#CatchTheWave School Program

adrian grenier, lonely whale foundation, catch the wave

Something else to consider, though, when we’re looking at long-term solutions to a massive problem: the role of our children. My kids right now are 10, 7 and 3. They appreciate and enjoy nature – they love jumping in the lake and  trampling through the forest. They are also creative and compassionate. They sound like your kids, right? Lonely Whale Foundation knows that it’s my kids and yours who are going to pull us out of this environmental mess through their innate connection with nature, their empathy and their innovation. And right now, in some Canadian schools, a program is being piloted that taps into the greatest resource we have: our children.

The pilot project is called #CatchTheWave and engages elementary and secondary school students to tackle the plastic problem. The single-use plastics that have made their way into our daily lives is a travesty for the oceans; 8 million tonnes of plastic, every year, enter our waterways! This program is suitable for student bodies where there is already an interest in decreasing single-use plastics in communities, and it is essentially a program developed by youth in partnership with Lonely Whale. As Dune pointed out in our conversation, “There is a lot of power in kids developing their own programs and then coaching other kids to do the same.” The end result of this program is that students will educate the communities in which they live about the problems and solutions. The pilot will end with this school year and, after a period of review this summer, will be offered at some schools throughout Canada with a hope to expand to the United States.

Lonely Whale Foundation, Adrian Grenier, oceans, ocean health, world environment day

Before speaking with Dune, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as Global Goals for Sustainable Development. These are actual, tangible goals and strategies that were set in 2015 by 193 world leaders – if these goals are met, we could potentially end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. #CatchTheWave directly impacts Goal #14 Life Below Water. In 2030, my children will be 23, 20 and 16. And yes, absolutely, they will be the ones we’ll be passing down the leadership roles to. Let’s give them fewer problems to deal with and more tools.

So, what can we do?

One of the things we’ve started doing as a family is requesting, ‘No straws, please’ when we order drinks at a restaurant or cafe. These single-use plastics are unnecessary, yet they are the cause of death for so much marine life. And they don’t break down, just like all the other plastic that now outnumbers the plankton in a part of the Pacific known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Today happens to be World Environment Day and co-founder Adrian Grenier is recognized as the newest Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme. It’s also the perfect day to make a commitment to the planet. Something small that has lasting effects. Here’s an article with 5 simple steps that make a huge difference for the environment. Which one will your family start with today?

If any of this piques your interest, or you know your child is passionate about the ocean and would love to learn more or be involved, please head over to Lonely Whale’s site. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Red Wine Or White? Why You Need To Know About Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland’s Grape Juice Event! #MentoringMatters

If you know me well, you know that I don’t drink wine – but today I’ve got wine on the brain.

Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland is having an event that ALL the wine drinkers I know – and there are so, so many of you – are going to love! I’m supporting it because it funds mentoring relationships for young girls who may be facing bullying, isolation, poverty, abuse, social anxiety and low self-esteem or other challenges. A healthy, consistent support system like the one provided by a big sister to a matched little sister can change the world, one girl at a time.

I have a personal connection to Big Sisters through two of my cousins who were raised in the program as little sisters. One of them, Danisha, is now the Manager of Fund Development for the Edmonton and area chapter. She attributes the kind of person she is and the positive choices she made in unfavourable circumstances to her mom’s wise decision all those years ago to enroll her daughters in the program. Danisha speaks in public and private circles about the benefits of mentorship from both sides of the equation; her story is backed by research that has found that 96% of adults who had a mentor as a child say they are happy, and 92% of them also claim to feel confident.

Here’s what you need to know about the wine auction and GrapeJuice Event:

GrapeJuice will run from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm on Thursday, April 26, 2017 at Aston Martin Vancouver and Bentley Vancouver and will feature a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction wine items and wine tasting stations. There will be some rare wine finds to bid on while you network with 300 business professionals attending the event – and raise much-needed funds for the program.

grapejuice, charity event, wine, red wine, white wine, wine auction

152 girls are currently waiting to be matched with a Big Sister. If you think of the potential of each of those girls, you’ll see the enormity of that number. What if each one of them were given the opportunity to fulfill that potential? What if you could be a part of that?

Grab some friends and some tickets!

If you’d like to sponsor a match between a Big Sister and a Little Sister, you can do that as well. And you can also choose from a selection of wines online that you’d like to donate to the auction table.

There are so many ways to be involved, even if wine isn’t your thing.

I’d love to hear in the comments if you have a personal connection to a Big Sisters program or if you plan to support this event!

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Gourmet Food And Wine Pairings At Blues & Bites Gala Fundraiser For Autism Support Network

It seems like another lifetime that I worked with children with autism and their families. But after one conversation with Dione Costanzo, Director of Autism Support Network of BC, I was brought back to all of it: sitting with families at Sunnyhill as they received the diagnosis, arriving on the doorstep of a family’s home for my autism intervention session, setting up visuals for a child in their preschool or after-school care setting…the first time a child said my name. I was an advocate, an educator and a firm believer in the potential of each boy and girl I worked with. Switching career paths has not squeezed autism out of my heart, and I’m thankful that today I get to work for these families from this platform.

I’ve seen firsthand what a family goes through as they await a diagnosis – often pushing their general practitioner for a referral to a pediatrician to initiate the process. I know the look in a parent’s eyes when they hear the word ‘autism’ and then the aftermath of being told they were eligible for funding, but given no direction about how to use it in their child’s best interest. I’ve seen the vulnerability and I’ve seen it being taken advantage of by people toting all kinds of cures for something that the medical community believes has no known cause or cure. In many ways, I’m an outsider looking in but I have been close enough to know that the work of Autism Support Network of BC (ASN) is valued and important. As Dione said half-jokingly, their work is not sexy but it’s necessary. I completely agree. Being in the trenches is often that way.

ASN offers solid, evidence-based information from parents who have been there to parents who are new to autism. They are very much about connecting families, forming friendships and building much-needed support. This includes a lot of 1:1 time with moms and dads over coffee or the phone. It also means monthly group meetings – all facilitated by volunteers – where families from the same neighbourhood can come together.

ASN also provides online resources through their website and Facebook pages (public and closed). And they print brochures with information about autism and Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) for doctor’s offices, and resource and community centres. Webinars and online courses are now a part of their repertoire and a solution for families in more remote areas of B.C.

The school experience is where 100% of the families seek support and a large part of ASN’s work is to help in this area; they educate parents about their rights and their children’s rights in school as well as the role of ABA in their child’s education. An incredible amount of advocacy is required at this level and parents need to know what is possible not just academically, but how to elevate self-help skills, social skills and communication skills.

After talking to Dione this morning, I marvel at how approximately 20 people are doing all this groundwork to serve over 6000 families. It is a huge network and initiative – and of course, funding is required.

Their biggest fundraiser of the year is coming up on Saturday April 8 from 6:30 pm at Semiahmoo Secondary school in South Surrey. And if you appreciate gourmet food, wine pairing and award-winning blues music, this proves to be a gala you can enjoy while making a difference!

The Blues and Bites Gala Fundraiser will be emceed by Global BC News reporter Catherine Urquhart and will treat guests to Top Chef style tasting stations by local culinary master Chef Peter Bucher. Paired with some B.C. wines, you can expect a gastric treat! Entertainment will be provided by Canadian blues musician Harpdog Brown and his Travelin’ Blues Show. Harpdog recently won the title of Blues Artist of the Year at Fraser Valley Music Awards.

Read more details of the event including bios of the chefs, musician and the mouth-watering menu, and grab your tickets ($125 each or $800 for a table of 8).

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5 Benefits To Society When We Invest In Boys & Girls Clubs

Last week, I heard an amazing phrase from Carolyn Tuckwell, President & CEO of Boys and Girls Club at South Coast B.C. (BGC). In fact, I loved it so much I’m going to use it as an ambassador for social change; I aim to be positively disruptive about people’s views of charity.

Because… I don’t like the current thought-process surrounding giving. I think it is condescending, unproductive and can even be harmful. When we give because we are guilted into it, or think we are better off than others (yes, even when we think or say things like ‘less fortunate’ with the best of intentions) we are totally overlooking the power of giving on both sides of the exchange.

Instead of haves and have nots, we are really a collective of human beings with needs and gifts. Every single one of us. And at any given time, each of us needs something and each of us can contribute something. When our basic needs are met, we can begin contributing to society. And who benefits from this? All of us.

The conversation I had with Carolyn on Thursday morning will not leave me for a long time. This is a time in the world, locally and globally, that can feel heavy in our hearts. There are atrocities in our backyard and in places we’ve never been. If you are feeling helpless or like there isn’t any good in the world, have a conversation with somebody who is DOING something to help. Your mood will be lifted, you will be filled with hope, and you will be inspired. This is what Carolyn did for me.

You’re being asked often at this time of year to make donations to various charities. Today, Carolyn and I are asking you to consider making an investment in our society – an investment that can be made at any time of the year with incredible returns. We are all in this business of human outcomes; let’s take a closer look at 5 benefits to our communities when we invest in BGC.

1. Here’s something that blew my mind: Did you know that 20% of Canadian children DO NOT GRADUATE from high school? I had no idea the percentage was that high. So then what? Where do these kids find employment? What do they do for money? What about their self-esteem? What kinds of choices do they end up making? What kind of position are they in to contribute to their communities?

Makes you think, right? All these issues we hear about ‘young people causing trouble’ and the sad state of the world…what if we could do something about it instead of just grumble? When a child is involved in BGC, he or she has role models who did finish high school and went on to get more education. These role models make going to school ‘cool’. You may have heard that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. At BGC, that average is raised by the incredible staff and mentors. In addition to the role models, the kids can be part of homework clubs and receive tutoring. It’s not always the case that the child does not want to do their homework. They just might not have proper workspace. Or perhaps they have too many responsibilities at home, or maybe education isn’t valued in the home due to other priorities. At BGC they’re given the optimal conditions for success.

2. Who better to hear from about the benefits of your investment in BGC than the alumni themselves? Some of the testimonials received from alumni include:

BGC was the only place in their life where they were truly accepted for who they were. Imagine if every child lived that kind of experience. What kind of adults would they grow up to be?

BGC was where they learned about community and giving. Imagine if every child learned about community and giving? What kinds of contributions would these kids make as adults?

This 80-year-old organization is the place where thousands and thousands of children have learned about boundaries, healthy relationships, self-discipline, self-respect, self-confidence and gained life-long friendships. Imagine if more children had access to that. What kind of leadership and compassion would we have in the world today?

An investment in BGC is an investment in that kind of world.

3. No child is ever turned away from the BGC community. Not every child comes with a history of abuse or neglect; they are simply in some way or another not thriving. And the goal of BGC is to ensure that children not just survive, but thrive. Investing in BGC ensures that people are not defined by the hardships they have in childhood. How many adults do you know are still plagued with the trials they faced as children? And a lot of it is because they haven’t been able to define themselves as healthy people independent of the things that happened to them or around them. They haven’t been able to surpass those issues. BGC offers tools so that the children in their care can learn to become independent from the issues. The children can learn that they are so much more than their environment. BGC’s model is to focus on each individual child’s unique talents and potential. So much good comes from that.

4. Everyone wants to belong somewhere. BGC knows that. You know who else knows that? Gangs and other radical groups that prey on people who aren’t tethered to a community. The ones who don’t feel they belong. Gangs and other radical groups know that these children are vulnerable and just want to feel like a part of something. Investing in BGC ensures that more of these children are identified and welcomed into a safe, positive space. The benefit to society is priceless.

5. What I look for when I’m deciding where my hard-earned money is going to go is an organization that gives with dignity. This is a top priority for me because as I mentioned above, the old charity model irks me. These children are NOT powerless, their families are NOT any ‘less than’ my family, and they are NOT broken. And BGC is totally aligned with this way of thinking. It is really important to me that I support an organization that also believes in dignity.

At any given time, you and I need something, and we have something to give. Same goes for these kids and their families. BGC respects that in everything they do and in the way they interact with their community.

[Tweet “Give with dignity, knowing the recipient is capable of bettering your world, too. Support @bgcyvr”]

For more information about Boys and Girls Club South Coast B.C., please visit their website.

Was there an adult who believed in you when you were a child? Did it make a difference in your world? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

5 Reasons Why I’m Going To The Little Black Dress Gala In Support Of Help Change My City Alliance (P.S. Wanna Be My Date?)

The Little Black Dress Gala is an evening of glamour, fashion and philanthropy taking place on Friday November 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. And I’m going! I’m looking for a date (or several dates – the more the merrier!) so if any of these reasons grab you, then let me know to expect you there! And if you’re thinking, ‘charity gala’ = a huge ticket price…not this one! Tickets are just $30. And that’s not even one of my reasons!

  1. This event combines pretty much everything I love and that is at the heart and soul of my work as a writer/social change ambassador/mom and basically, a human being. It’s where philanthropy, education, fashion, the arts and support of the underprivileged meet. Among the crowd, and entertaining us with live performances, there will be local designers, musicians, dancers and other classical artists. These are creative people who bring a community together simply by doing what they love; it’s always a thrill to be in a room with visionaries.
  2. The guests will be comprised of socially-minded individuals who work as community influencers, government officials, and educators, all with a focus on making a difference in the lives of marginalized youth. They are expecting around 1000 people (!) and one of my personal goals is to meet at least 5 really awesome folks throughout the course of the evening.
  3. Proceeds of the event are going to fund new programmes within Help Change My City to best empower marginalized youth in the Lower Mainland through mentoring, emotional support and assistance in developing their potential.
  4. Help Change My City has set aside tickets to this event for women in need in our community so that they can attend. And to add to their experience of the evening, we are given the opportunity to provide a donated dress and shoes for these women for $20. So, not only do I get to go and have a good time, I get to be a part of creating a fun experience for someone else. In recent times, as the struggles of women in my own backyard have been coming to light, something has come alive within me. I want to be part of that conversation that supports women, and I also want to be in action. This evening will give me an opportunity to learn more about what is needed, and what my part could be.
  5. While a Friday night going for prayers with my family or hanging out at home, relaxed in our pj’s, is never something I would complain about, once in awhile it’s fun to dress up and get outside of my comfort zone. I’ve pushed myself enough over the last few years to have learned that getting out there, meeting like-minded people, and being me the woman, is never something I regret. Being a mom and a wife is part of who I am, and these are parts I cherish immensely. But once in awhile, getting out without the kids feels like those university days when I’d drive from Richmond to the Burnaby SFU campus, attend classes, meet people, and dream about the incredible things I’d do with my life while waiting for the next lecture to begin. There’s that part of me that still exists, and I love her. I’m still that girl, scribbling in her journal about the things she wants to change in the world. Now I have the motivation through my kids to make those changes. But I also need the space to focus, to grow, to learn and to set things in motion. My family is my ‘why’, but that ever-evolving woman in me is someone I still need to spend good, quality time with.

If I’ve convinced you to be my date, please let me know. If you’re looking for tickets or if you want to sponsor a woman who could use something special to wear, the link to both is here.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

Canuck Place Adventure Race 2016 ~ Giveaway! #CPCHAdventureRace

It’s that time of year again for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice to gear up for another adventure race fundraiser! And, like the year before and the year before, I’m partnering up with these amazing people to help spread the word about the BEST reasons to kayak, bike and run in Vancouver: the beautiful children and their families that are supported by Canuck Place.

About Canuck Place:

Canuck Place Children’s Hospice (CPCH) opened its doors in 1995 and is British Columbia’s recognized pediatric palliative care provider, delivering care to over 670 newborns, teens and families across the province and through two locations: Vancouver and Abbotsford. Care is provided in the areas of respite and family support, 24-hour province-wide phone consultation and in-house clinical care, pain and symptom management, grief and loss counselling, including music and play therapy, art, education, recreation therapy, and end-of-life care. Dedicated, professional staff and over 325 volunteers provide a vital lifeline for children and families in their greatest time of need.

About Canuck Place Adventure Race:

When: Sunday, September 18th

Where: Lorcarno Beach, Vancouver

Who: Children 6-13, Teens 14-18, Adults 18+

The Canuck Place Adventure Race is the ultimate celebration of outdoor athleticism, offering
participants the opportunity to kayak, bike and run at beautiful Locarno Beach, all in support of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Adventure Racers can participate as individuals or in teams. Adults and teens can opt to do the full course or tackle the challenge with a group in a three-part relay. New this year, kids 13 and under can choose from a short or long kids course, including a newly expanded obstacle course.
By fundraising, all participants will help provide much needed support for children and families at
Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.
Last year, over 130 Adventure Racers helped raise over $80,000 which directly impacted the complex
clinical care needed by over 670 children across BC living with life-threatening illnesses and the families
who love them.
“Life is an adventure, and that is what today was all about,” said Margaret McNeil, Canuck Place CEO,
following last year’s event. Facing the unknown and making adaptations as you go along is what children with life-threatening illnesses and their families face every day. For 20 years, the specialized clinical team at Canuck Place has provided the complex medical care and support these children need to live in the moment together with their families.
As they approach the 2016 event, Canuck Place is encouraging teamwork for all participants. All racers
who register as a group of three or more by August 22nd have the opportunity to receive a 50% refund on their registration fee.
I encourage you to check out the race as a great way to spend time with your family, and raise money for other families who benefit tremendously from Canuck Place.
Since you’re here, why not try your luck at winning 2 FREE Adventure Race entries PLUS a signed 8X10 photo of Henrik Sedin!
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Something Exciting Is Happening In The Mom Blogger Community! #vmtop30

It happens every year at this time! No, it’s not the anticipation of summer holidays (read: mad scramble to figure out what the kids will do when we’re trying to blog!)…it’s the celebration of the VancouverMom.ca Top 30 Mom Bloggers! Each year, Vancouver Mom puts out a call for your favourite mom bloggers and you respond in overwhelming numbers! And then VM has the daunting job of narrowing this great list down to 30.

These 30 moms are recognized for the work they put into their blogs and the impact they are making on the parent community. And by recognized I mean, we have a big ole party! This party is actually like an official start to the friendships, support and opportunities that lie ahead for these women, whether they decide to turn their blogs into full-time businesses, branch off into related fields or simply write for the sake of writing.

When I was nominated in 2012, my blog was less than a year old; I was a newbie in so many ways. The greatest blessings that came from my nomination were the confidence it gave me to present my writer self to the world, and the wonderful friendships I have gained. I wrote more about this last year, and I have to say it’s even more true today.

While most of the women who attend are bloggers, you don’t have to be one to attend! That’s why I’m telling you about it; it’s the perfect opportunity to make some new connections. If you read Vancouver-based blogs and want to meet the voices behind your favourites, there’s no better time. Also, if you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, or love writing in other ways, why not come down and talk to other like-minded women? Over the last couple years I’ve really come to realize how important face-to-face conversations are for me, and maybe you agree.

Consider this your invitation – tickets are $25 and the event includes a wine-tasting from the Oliver-Osoyoos Wine Association plus delicious local chocolates.

And I love how it’s being hosted at Roundhouse Radio 98.3 FM – a community-centred radio station. I thought that was pretty creative and a lovely way for those with a passion for communications to get to know one another.

So, will you be there? Grab your tickets and let me know! I’d love to see you on Wednesday June 22.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

One Girl Can – Funding Scholarships For Girls In Africa #iwant2be

Did you know that I was born in East Africa? So were my parents and grandparents. My parents grew up in Kenya, in a beautiful, port town with white sand beaches. Mombasa is a tourist’s delight and a historical trading centre. We left when I was less than a year old so I have no memories of my own, but was raised on stories and pictures by nostalgic parents.

Growing up, I always said I’d go back. In high school, I dreamt of returning to Mombasa to work in some capacity. I hated the perception people around me had of Africa; I knew it to be a place of creativity and beauty and joy and so much potential. Like every land, it has its dark side. But every land is so much more than its dark side.

I never did go back but still plan to. This time my dream includes a husband, whose family has history in neighbouring Uganda, and 3 children. I want my children to know that their roots run deeper than all they are accustomed to in Canada. We’ll get there.

In the meantime, my desire to give back to a country my family once called home has never been extinguished. So when my friend, Jamie, told me she was volunteering with One Girl Can to raise funds for scholarships for girls in Kenya and Uganda, I felt that familiar twinge in my gut. Maybe I can do something here.

One Girl Can essentially does 3 things: they build and restore schools in rural Kenya and Uganda, they provide scholarships for girls wanting to go to vocational school or university as well as fund secondary schools, and they mentor students throughout the whole process. I personally like that they aren’t affiliated with any particular religion. My greatest pet peeve is a charity that offers help plus religious propaganda. I was relieved when Jamie said this wasn’t the case with One Girl Can, and thought I’d share that in case that was something that was important to you, too.

So, how am I helping? I’m attending their second annual fundraiser on Thursday April 21, 2016 at 6 pm at the Imperial in Vancouver (325 Main Street), eager to learn more about the work being done by this Vancouver-based organization. I’m most looking forward to listening to founder and executive director, Lotte Davis, who is also from Africa; she’ll be sharing her story and her inspiration for creating this charity. Those kinds of stories are my favourite! Her husband’s company, AG Hair, is a sponsor and will be providing a swanky gift bag (valued at $68) for everyone who buys a ticket to the event.

This year’s fundraiser aims to double last year’s funds raised, and every dollar goes directly to Ganze Girls Secondary school in Kenya. Their dormitories and washrooms need some major expansion and refurbishing; these girls live at school because if they don’t, there is a danger that they won’t come back. Every girl deserves an education and clean, appropriate living conditions.

If you want to join me, let me know so I can look out for you! I’ll most likely be hanging out at the silent auction table with a plateful of appetizers in hand. If you can’t come but would like to donate, you can do so on the eventbrite page – you can even specify which item you are buying! Click through to buy your ticket or donate, and if you know anyone who is passionate about Africa, girls’ education, gender equality, or simply doing good, please share this post with them.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative