Two Of These Things Belong Together…#3ThingsThursday

…One of these things is not the same! (Special props to anyone who can leave the source of this song in the comments!) Normally I try to categorize my 3 Things Thursday posts so that the items ‘go’ together. They don’t have to be done this way, and you will see when you visit the other participating blogs that it’s actually quite fun to be random! But this week, two things did end up kind of belonging together (loosely, because they are about helping others) and the third thing…it’s just something I wanted to share with you!

Before I get into the heart of my post, I want to congratulate the hosts of 3 Things Thursday – Pink Chai Living, The Write Balance and Love Laugh Mirch – as they celebrate the first birthday of this linkup! They are gifting a lucky reader with some very cool items (some of my favourite things, actually!), and you can enter to win on their sites!

1. a good cause

My friend Stephanie (who is also the genius behind this site design) is raising funds for her volunteering trip to Nicaragua! Her humour totally shows through in her plea for pledges; depending on the amount you donate, she and/or her friend Amy will do something really silly and document it as proof! For just $5, you can watch Amy and Steph high-five all the Nicaraguan kids in their area! It’s no wonder my kids just love their Steph Chachi (aunty)!

Here’s why they chose Nicaragua: Nicaragua is the largest yet among the poorest of countries in the Americas. A vast 48% of it’s people live below the poverty line and 79.9% of the population live with less than $2 per day. This means much of the country is unable to satisfy their basic living needs. After learning of all this, Amy and I decided what better country to lend a helping hand to than the one that needs it the most. So we will be traveling to Nicaragua on April 2 to stay at Monty’s Volunteer Lodge for 7 days in the rural town of Jiquilillo. The lodge is owned by a school teacher from Kamloops, BC, Donald Montgomery. Upon traveling to Jiquillio in 2006, Donald had an instant connection with the people of the small and recently hurricane ravaged fishing village. The locals struggle daily to access sufficient food, clothing, education and health care. He established the lodge as a way for global travelers to assist the local community as well as bring the benefits of small-scale tourism to the population.

Check out her GoVoluntouring page for more details about the particular projects they will be helping with. ** They are collecting donations until tomorrow (Friday) so don’t put it off if you’d like to participate! 

Best wishes and safe travels, Steph and Amy!


2. a social enterprise

In addition to enjoying the talks at SheTalksYVR a few weeks ago, I had a great time visiting the vendors and sponsors. Social enterprises have a special way of making me happy. It’s like an inside-out kind of giddiness that makes me want to high five everyone involved in this win-win situation. So, meeting the good folks at Modern Fort was great fun! Check out this business that supports a different organization/cause each month in a very cool, creative way. Shop for a cause!

3. an update…on tea

If you haven’t guessed yet which item does not belong…it’s this one! I thought I’d give you an update on my quest for my signature drink. I had tried out the rooibos with coconut beverage, cardamom and honey. After trying out several configurations, I realized that rooibos is just too darn good on its own. Straight up: no milk, no honey. So, I do enjoy a cup of that, especially after a big dinner. (Did I mention it’s fat-burning?!) And then I thought, if rooibos is good the way it’s intended, perhaps an Indian-spiced tea with milk should be just that as well. So, I went out and bought some decaf orange pekoe (since one of my requirements was that it had to be decaf) and did a happy dance when I learned that orange pekoe, being a black tea, also has some supreme health benefits! I stuck to the coconut beverage because I never have to cross my fingers and hope I don’t bloat, like I sometimes do with cow’s milk. It does make the chai a bit lighter, but that can be a good thing, too, right?

There you have it – another week, another 3 Things Thursday post! Thanks for reading!

5 Gifts That Volunteering Gave Me

March 21, 2015 marks my 5th anniversary with Pandora’s Collective, a literary arts non-profit organization in Vancouver. In a nutshell, this small group of creatives works hard year-round to make the arts accessible to all as a tool for healing and inspiration. I came across it just weeks after my mom passed away in 2009, when I desperately needed to find a community that would encourage my inner writer. Writing was something that had been a part of my life since childhood, but in recent years I had stowed that love away. In doing so, I had lost an important part of my Self. On a mission to find writers, I Googled ‘poetry readings + Vancouver’, and found Pandora’s Collective. A couple weeks later, I attended one of their free, drop-in writing groups called Word Whips at the Britannia branch of the Vancouver Public Library. The executive director, Bonnie Nish, provided writing prompts and the opportunity to share.

I joined their mailing list and vowed to attend Word Whips again, but soon found out I was pregnant with my second child. The pregnancy left me ill for the first half and feeling too pregnant for the second half to do much of anything. But a few weeks after my son was born in 2010, I received an email asking for volunteer grant writers. This was the perfect way for me to be involved because it was a work-from-home position and a way to use my writing to serve others. I saw the spark that this group of people ignited in me after just one session at Word Whips and I wanted to do what I could to make that available to others. I mark March 21 as my anniversary because that was the day I went to the volunteer orientation meeting, and the day the gifts started rolling in.

The 5 gifts I have gained from volunteering with a non-profit:

1. The opportunity to learn and expand my skill-set.

I had never written a grant proposal in my life but with Bonnie’s help, and the guidance provided by the arts councils we were applying to, I was able to make my way through the process. This is an area in which it seems there is always much to learn but it felt amazing to use my brain in this way! Problem-solving, collecting information, understanding budgets (that was huge for me!) were skills that I was refining and acquiring. These look great on a resume and can be applied to paid positions in other fields as well. Larger non-profits pay their grant writers and fund developers, so if you think this is something you want to do at some point, find an intimate group to volunteer with, learn some basics, get some training behind you and you could be well on your way to a fulfilling career!

2. Confidence in myself.

When I joined Pandora’s Collective, I was entering uncharted territory. I was a writer in my heart, not ‘out loud.’ The literary arts were like a secret lover to me, one I hadn’t spent a lot of time with. Though I originally got involved as a grant writer, I found the community so welcoming, and Bonnie so open to my ideas, that I boldly asked to lead a new Word Whips chapter – closer to my home! I am so grateful that Bonnie had the faith in me to do this. I’ve partnered up with Karen, a writer from the White Rock community, and we co-host on the first Wednesday of every month. We’ve just past our 4 1/2 year mark! Before getting involved with Pandora’s Collective, I didn’t have an avenue for my ideas or the confidence in which to say I am a contributing member of the writing community. This confidence can spill over into other areas of life – work, relationships, dream-chasing…and a volunteer environment is a pretty safe space to gain some.

3. Friendships and mentors.

Even though my work with Pandora’s Collective has largely been done from my home, based on the needs of my family, I have had many opportunities to get to know the other members and the tireless team who put together these events. Meetings are always fun and inspiring – have you ever hung out with people who live in their creativity? It’s very cool! And of course, in and around these meetings and events come the real life stories. We get to know each other’s family lives, work situations, good days and bad. And having Bonnie as a mentor as I ‘learn the ropes’ has been invaluable. I know that if a time came when I was no longer involved with Pandora’s Collective, I have some friendships that will go beyond that. Volunteering definitely provides a community so even if that’s the only thing you are searching for, it’s a great reason to spend your time this way.

4. Experiences.

Volunteering has given me the opportunity to do things I might not otherwise do. Call up magazines for back copies for swag bags. Correspond with the art gallery for a silent auction donation. Get up on stage and read my own poetry (doing this again on Tues. Mar. 24 if you can join us for a free evening of art, music and poetry). See how a festival is put together. Listen to established writers read their work. No matter where you volunteer, you get to see how things happen from many perspectives. And you will benefit from each one.

5. Personal satisfaction of using my time authentically.

Time is constantly on our minds. It slips away from us, there’s never enough to go around, we are warned to use it wisely. It may seem like there isn’t enough time to volunteer. If you want to run a personal situation by me to ask me how it can be done, please contact me. I have done things like cut down to ONE T.V. show! Yes, just one (it can be done and I don’t know why I ever thought I’d miss it). And now that I’m attempting to use my internet and smartphone in a way that suits me better, I can see how there really are pockets of time hiding in the oddest spaces. I think the key to finding happiness in the way we spend our time is to be authentic in what we do. What do you love? What are you passionate about? What bugs the heck out of you? (Is it outrageous to you that people in your community don’t have enough food to eat? Go with that.) Chances are, if you do something that fuels your soul, you won’t think of it as ‘giving up your time’ or ‘doing something for free’ – you will instead be open to the amazing gifts that volunteering will bring you.

taslim jaffer writer

Do You #KnowhereToGo To Flee Domestic Violence? #ChimoBC

Sometimes, along with the inspiring endeavours that come my way, come the disturbing facts that remind me of why such endeavours must exist in the first place. To be honest, I make a conscious effort to focus on the helpers and the creativity behind what they are doing, in order to keep my spirits up. But there are some things that stay with me. And this morning, I am moved by these facts.

It’s still dark right now as I type this, just before the sun rises on another Monday. And I’m thinking about the 3300 Canadian women and their 3000 children who slept in emergency shelters last night as they fled domestic violence. I’m wondering what the other 200 did to stay warm and dry and safe after they were turned away from shelters filled to capacity? And my heart goes out to the ones who stayed in the same home as their abuser; I’m silently wishing them well and hoping today is…better.

But with stats like:

[Tweet “Spousal homicides have hit a 5-year high in #BC – #KnowhereToGo #ChimoBC”]

[Tweet “1/2 of all Canadian women over 16 have experienced at least one incident of physical/sexual violence – #KnowhereToGo #ChimoBC”]

[Tweet “Canadian shelters turn away 200 women fleeing domestic violence each night – #KnowhereToGo #ChimoBC”]

I know there is much more needed than my thoughts.

Chimo Community Services is doing something that has never been done in our province’s history: they are preparing to raise $100,000 to build second-stage housing for women fleeing domestic violence.

Chimo is a non-profit organization that serves people in the midst of crisis and transition. They focus on empowering individuals and strengthening families through education, and by connecting them with appropriate resources. Please read more about them on their website – if you are interested in volunteering, you can join the 200 amazing volunteers who are affecting social change.

To be a part of the social media #KnowhereToGo movement, in addition to tweeting out the above facts, you can:

1. Take a picture of yourself like this one below, and post to all your social media outlets:

2. You can join the Thunderclap movement 

Sign up in advance to support this message by Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. Then, on International Women’s Day which is Sunday Mar 8, there will be a mass sharing of all the messages. This will help our voices be heard. It’s quick and simple, and you can take a minute to do it right now! Please get your support in by Saturday Mar 7!

3. Contribute financially

To donate to the goal of $100,000 to build second-stage housing, please visit the KnowhereToGo website. It sounds like a daunting goal, but goals like these are always achieved by many people doing what they can.

Now the sun has fully risen, and a new day has begun. I truly wish it to be a new day. For everyone.

3 Ideas Springing Into Effect – #3ThingsThursday

I’m sitting in the pre-dawn inky-ness, and in the next 20 minutes or so I will be typing away to the soundtrack of birdsong. I heard them a few mornings ago for the first time this year – another reminder that time is moving along, waiting for nobody. Not even for me to be at the ‘perfect’ place to launch my ideas. So, in those sweet notes of Spring’s babies I made a promise to move forward with 3 things I have been sitting on, waiting for the right time. Which apparently, is now.

I’m linking up with Pink Chai Living, The Write Balance and Love Laugh Mirch for #3ThingsThursday. If you’re a blogger and want to share 3 things from your world this week, visit their blogs to add your post! I love reading all the unique takes on this theme!

1. #LMOKindness

This is an idea that came to me last summer, in a hotel room in Revelstoke, B.C. (A super cute town with an incredible restaurant called The Nomad.) We were on a family vacation, driving back from a wedding in Calgary to a lakeside cottage in the Shuswap when BAM! A few things I am passionate about decided to smack into each other and have a little party in my head! The end result: a cause marketing opportunity for socially-conscious, straight-up awesome businesses AND a unique way to surprise a deserving member of the community (your friend, colleague, family member, neighbour…YOU!) with a random act of kindness. I have all the balls rolling on this one and I’m going to have a bit more of a splashy intro than this when it is fully launched.

In the meantime…YOUR HOMEWORK is to make a list of people you think deserve a random act of kindness! No deed is too big or too small – if you think they are bringing some awesome to the world just by being who they are, they are in the running! Hang on to that list until I ask you to do something with it. Ok? Thanks!

AND, if you are a business and are excited about an opportunity to make someone’s day fabulous (and will allow me to tell the world about it and then some, when it all goes down…) please contact me for more information with #LMOKindness in the subject line.

Ahhhhh…how exciting to get this out there!

2. #FamiliesGiveBack

This is a series I have developed for ChatterBlock, a parent resource website to which I contribute a couple times a month. #FamiliesGiveBack features all the amazing families around the Lower Mainland who are fundraising, volunteering and otherwise supporting causes they believe in. I’m interviewing them to find out what cause they support and why. But I also want to know how they are doing this as a family, why they are getting their kids involved…and I’m getting the kids to chime in too with their thoughts on the whole thing.

The first article in this series should be published at month’s end, and I’m looking for suggestions for more families to interview. This is really just a matter of me emailing questions and having responses sent back by email. If this is something you would be interested in participating in, I’d love it if you would help me inspire others with your vision! Please contact me and use subject line #FamiliesGiveBack. Follow the conversation on Twitter, too! We can all share our thoughts and ideas there.

Buying food for Surrey Food Bank with my son's birthday money last year.
Buying food for Surrey Food Bank with my son’s birthday money last year. He would not stay still for this pic!

3. #CookLikeNasim

So, Nasim is my mom, in case you were like, cook like who? There have been many things, countless things, I have missed about her since she passed away nearly 6 years ago: cuddling up to her in bed on Sunday mornings (and yes, I was in my 20’s when I did that), slapping her butt then running away as she pretended to chase me, her hugs, watching her get ready for an evening out, listening to her stories of Mombasa, Kenya – her homesickness for the town she grew up in never quite left her. There is so much I miss that I could get lost in it all if I sit here for too long. (I don’t know where the birds are this morning, but the cars are already driving by with people going to work which marks the time for me to start the morning routine around here!)

When my mom left Mombasa to start a new life in Canada with my dad and yours truly, she put together a recipe book. She wrote out a glossary for the Indian terms, numbered the pages and the recipes, and then finished off the elaborate piece of work with an index in the back. She showed me this book at some point, and then after she passed away I hoped it would turn up in all of her things. It didn’t. I tried to get it out of my head, but I just couldn’t, so every so often I’d ask my Dad, “Are you sure you don’t have it with your things?” Finally, last month it struck him to ask me about the boxes he had dropped off to my house last year – perhaps it was in one of those? But I thought I had rummaged through those and found mostly photographs and albums. On a shred of hope, I went down to my basement and pulled out those boxes from the spare closet. Albums. Photographs. More albums. More photographs. And then one box that didn’t look like it had been opened yet!! BOOKS! Novels, biographies…cookbooks…AND HER RECIPE BOOK! I was so blown away, all I could do was shout, “Thank you!” repeatedly for like a good two minutes while the baby looked on, wide-eyed. I was bubbling over with gratitude and this was how it was going to come out, me clutching the treasure to my body, claiming it and promising to never let it out of my sight.

I’ve tried a few of the recipes and have had a lot of fun doing it. I love this book; when I hold it, I can feel my mom’s young self, about to embark on an enormous adventure and trying to hold on to her home in the ways she knew how. Through the taste of homecooking. I totally understand that. It’s why finding this book and recreating her recipes is important to me. It’s a part of my sense of home, and my kids are definitely enjoying their taste of it. One day, I hope, it will be part of their home too.

Chicken bhiryani – one of my favourite dishes of all time!


BUT, I haven’t been posting these recipes here because I get held back by one aspect of food blogging that I feel very inadequate in: photography. I want to do these recipes justice by making you want to lick your screens! I do have some photos up on Instagram (follow me @taslimjaffer) and have started using #CookLikeNasim to give her the fame she deserved for being a pretty awesome mom. I do want to share these recipes, because my mom loved to cook for people and did it often. So, maybe I shouldn’t wait till I become a professional photographer just to do what I really want to do: serve you up some delicious Indian homecooking, the way my mom did.

Well, my birdie friends are having a grand sleep-in this morning but I must sign off and get my own little chickadees out of bed soon! Thanks for reading and I hope you will join me in all 3 adventures!


3 Things February Brings (That Are Not Valentine’s Day) – #3ThingsThursday

Hello hello! Welcome to this week’s edition of #3ThingsThursday, the first one of February! Ah, February. The month of ‘in-between’; we’re moving toward Spring, but not quite out of Winter. Christmas feels like a distant memory, but Summer too far in the distance to contemplate.

What does this second month of the year bring? Most of you probably have images of Cupids and hearts dancing in your head. Yes, we’ll be celebrating love and friendship in just over a week. And, perhaps you read my post yesterday – my son celebrated his 5th birthday and we are fundraising for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice! But today I am sharing with you some things outside of Valentine’s Day and birthdays, and bringing you another dimension of awesome!

Check out the #3ThingsThursday hosts: Pink Chai Living, The Write Balance and Love Laugh Mirch to see what they are thinking about this week!

1. Family Day Celebration/Collaboration Between Chimp and Science World


Hooray! B.C. caught on a few years ago and we now have Family Day – a statutory holiday all about the fams. I LOVE having this day off right about now because like I said, Christmas is a distant memory and I sure could use a mini-break to hang with my favourite peeps! It’s my husband’s crazy(er) busy season at work; this one extra day tacked onto a weekend is the perfect little re-boot for the 5 of us.

This Family Day, there’s something really awesome happening at Science World! The Science of Giving is a one-day special event in collaboration with Chimp (remember – the online bank account that makes charitable giving easy and transparent). It’s a full day of exploring the different cause categories you care about: science, health, environment, animals, housing. Learn how to make charitable giving a part of your daily life and how you, as a family, can impact the world.

I am noticing a huge and truly spirit-lifting trend of parents consciously teaching their children the value of giving. Well, here is a fun and engaging tool for that journey! Admission is by suggested donation of $25 per family – and all proceeds will be DOUBLED (up to $25,000) to support Wonder, Science World’s new early-learners gallery.

You can register in advance HERE.

2. International Development Week

Kids in AKFC’s early childhood education program in Bangladesh

Taking it to a global level now, the first week of February is International Development Week, and Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) is celebrating by offering these daily one-question quizzes to test your knowledge on global development.

Does international development really affect you? Can you make a difference in a faraway land for people you will probably never meet? How can you get your children involved in a meaningful way from right here at home? What are some local events that take place that might help you be part of a global movement? Start exploring those questions on AKFC’s website and see where that leads you. And learn more about World Partnership Walk through their Facebook page. It’s a GREAT place to start and may end up becoming one of your favourite family days of the year!

3. Say ‘Hi’ To A Stranger!

While our weather may be something to brag about, Vancouver has a bit of an icy reputation! A couple years ago, an article was published by Vancity Buzz claiming that Vancouver has ‘forgotten to be friendly.’ Do you think this is true? (I’m more of the opinion that a city is only as friendly or as unfriendly as you make it…) Well, whichever side of the fence you sit on, a Cue Creative Consulting and a team of change-makers/local businesses are partnering up to bring you the second edition of #sayhitoastranger. During the weekend of Feb. 13-Feb. 15, Vancouverites are encouraged to say hi to people they pass in the streets, or line up with at coffee shops etc. Local businesses are hopping on board this movement and offering free goodies in exchange for the phrase ‘say hi to a stranger!’ For more details check out their website and my article published on ChatterBlock.

What is February to you? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear!

Help My Son Be A SuperHero For @CanuckPlace Children’s Hospice! #FamiliesGiveBack

Upstairs, in bed, in the wee hours of this morning, my son was transformed. Under some sort of cosmic magic, the earth went ’round the sun one more time. And by the same magic, my son turned 5. The day he was born I said to my husband, “I now know why son and sun are homonyms.”

My relationship with my son-shine is rather cosmic, too. I waited and waited for a little seed to plant itself inside me and finally, after I wrote him a letter coaxing him to this world, he came. All through my pregnancy I dreamt of angels bringing him to me, placing him in a crib for me, touching his head. I knew I was being told to appreciate this gift.

I am trying to teach all my children that we are each gifts to this Universe – that no matter what our circumstances, genetic makeup, skills and interests, we are here to be a part of the circle of giving and receiving. We each have needs and we each have things to offer others. I have been saying these words to them for a long time now, but only in recent times have we, as a family, made solid commitments to do our part.

We have turned birthday celebrations into celebrations of others. While honouring ourselves, we are honouring the rest of our community. Each child chooses a charity, and instead of receiving gifts from family and friends, we ask instead that the gifts be extended to that charity. Last year, my son chose the Surrey Food Bank; he collected $200 plus canned donations. We shopped and then dropped off the food and received a tour of the facility at the same time!

This year, we gave our son some options: the SPCA, the food bank again, or Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. He immediately chose Canuck Place – and can I be honest and say, I am sure his little 4 year old mind did it because of the word Canuck! He wouldn’t know that Canuck Place is a pediatric palliative care facility. But when I explained it to him, and what that meant, his eyes grew wide, his face rather solemn. “Canuck Place!!” he yelled, then charged about the room, like a superhero.

His birthday is the perfect time to grant his wish of being a superhero and supporting other children in their medical care. We have appealed to friends and family for help, but I thought I would put it out here as well, in case you are looking for a way to be a part of the circle, or feel like performing a random act of kindness! (Tax receipts are available). Click HERE to see where your money will go.

Here are some facts about Canuck Place (from their fundraising literature):

  • Canuck Place, BC’s recognized pediatric palliative care provider, brings clinical care and hope to children and families on a difficult journey when there is no cure.
  • The focus is to celebrate each moment and build precious memories together, regardless of the child’s situation or the time they have left.  
  • Canuck Place is only reaching 20-25% of the children with life-threatening illnesses who need this specialized care in British Columbia.
  • The unique and talented team of physicians, nurses, recreation and music therapists, counsellors, staff and volunteers provide 24/7 respite and family support, province-wide phone consultation and in-house clinical care, pain and symptom management, grief and loss counseling, including music and play therapy, art, education and recreation therapy, and end-of-life care.  
  • With caring, professional staff and over 325 volunteers, it is a place for children and families to come in their greatest time of need.

We hope to make a trip down to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice over Spring break and, if it works out, receive a tour of the facility.

If you would like to help my son be a superhero on his birthday, feel free to join in the celebration HERE.  Thank you!

Giving With Dignity

I’ve told you before what I don’t like about charity. Knowing how I feel about handouts, you understand that hearing the phrase, ‘give to the less fortunate’ all holiday season long, irks me. There is so much packed into that expression that feels condescending and stagnant. It implies that there is one group of people that ‘needs’ things, and another group of people that ‘has’ things. Judging one’s fortune isn’t productive at all; it only leads to guilt and shame.

Every single one of us has needs and every single one of us has gifts. Our gifts are our talents, passions, skills, money or time. Needs include all the physical necessities of being safe and cared for. But there is one need that is just as great as those – and that is dignity.

So, if we all have needs and we all have gifts, then instead of a linear division between the ‘haves’ and have-not’s, we are in a circular relationship where everything each of us does and thinks and feels affects the rest of the community. With that in mind, when we have something to give, we can do it knowing that the person on the receiving end is a valuable, contributing member of society who may very well one day be serving us through their gifts. There’s humility in that, and hope, and most importantly, there’s dignity.

Imagine if every time we look at a fellow human being we see his or her potential, ability…amazingness – no matter where or how they live. Imagine if we were in the business of ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to develop their gifts and talents.

There is an organization I know whose mandate is just that: Boys and Girls Club of South Coast of B.C. (BGC). Their job description is to be the champion of kids, knowing and believing that every kid is amazing. The end products of their business are human beings who have the opportunity to shine like the great kids they are.

[Tweet “When a kid’s amazingness is hard to see, it is because of their circumstances ~ @helpbgc”]

That paradigm that governs their organization allows room for growth, for both the families who are involved with BGC, and for our community at large. These children who are really being seen and heard for the unique individuals they are, aren’t the recipients of a handout – they are the future leaders we choose to invest in. Our return is a healthier, safer, stronger community. That makes sense logically, but also feels like a sigh of relief. That paradigm obliterates the negative by-products of a linear relationship.

I’m not saying we should think of charitable giving as a simple business transaction, devoid of feeling. That would be impossible and unacceptable since we are talking about human outcomes. But let’s replace guilt, shame, and pity with hopefulness, compassion and pride. Everybody in this circular relationship should feel these things when a ‘transaction’ is made.

For example, when a Christmas hamper is delivered to a BGC family with extraordinary needs, it is delivered by the staff member who already has an established relationship of trust with the family. It’s that touch of humanity that takes an act of giving and makes it an act of giving with dignity. For those of us who don’t have a direct relationship with the people involved in this organization, or any other non-profit, we can still give with dignity by doing it with the knowledge that we are just one part of the equation, doing what we can to make space for others to contribute to society as well.

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

We are all in this business of human outcomes. We are all participating in this circle of giving and receiving, each of us with our unique needs and gifts. Looking at it this way, we add ‘dignity’ into the mix: a need we all share.

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



P.S. Don’t miss out on your chance to win $80 to donate to your favourite Canadian charity before Fri Dec. 19 at midnight PST- enter HERE! 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. However, the opinions expressed within are entirely my own.

Win $80 From Chimp To Give To Your Favourite Canadian Charity! @wearechimp

You know that feeling that’s best described as being like a kid in a candy store?

That’s how I felt when Chimp, a charitable account system I talked about here, asked if they could give Let ME Out!! $160 to donate to any Canadian charity! Giving to a charity you love feels pretty awesome. Doing it with someone else’s money – how do you beat that?

Photo Credit: winnond/
Photo Credit: winnond/

This was a great opportunity to test drive their system, and it is as easy as they say. It took me just a few quick clicks to set up my free Chimp account from which I could directly donate to any of the listed charities. Clicking around on their super user-friendly site, I understood why people love Chimp so much they’ve used it to donate more than $32 million to over 3590 charities in this first year of its existence!!

Huge thanks to sponsor Hootsuite; during December, they are absorbing the already-minimal 1% service charge that accompanies a normal transaction. (This is the lowest rate you will find in Canada – elsewhere it’s between 4-7%).

It didn’t take me long to locate my favourite charity, Pandora’s Collective Outreach Society, via Chimp’s Find A Charity link. One click later, Pandora’s Collective ended up with $80 toward their programs, and I ended up with a happy heart!

Oh, but I said they gave me $160, right? Guess who gets the other $80? ONE OF YOU!

Chimp would love to have you try out their system and donate $80 to any Canadian cause that you wish!

To enter to win is almost as quick as using Chimp! The rafflecopter below closes on Friday December 19 at 12 AM (midnight) PST at which time it will randomly draw a lucky winner!

**Please make sure to click I Visited/I Followed/I Commented after completing each task or your entries won’t go in the pot! 

If it’s your name, you will have 24 hours from the time I contact you to claim your prize, or another winner will be drawn.

When you claim your prize, all I have to do is click once more from my Chimp account and the money will be transferred to you by email. So easy. So awesome.

Good luck!


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From Murder To Forgiveness To Hope – The Incredible Story Behind @TKF_SanDiego

I’m about to tell you a story that somehow was thrust in my path nearly 20 years ago and has never left me. The details of how I came across this story are foggy but that isn’t what matters. What matters is that I know it was no accident that I came to know it, and it has floated to the surface of my consciousness countless times in the past two decades. Lately, I have not been able to let it go; I’m sharing it here because I think you may need to hear it.

In 1995, 20 year old college student, Tariq Khamisa, was doing his job, delivering pizzas in San Diego, CA. What happened at one delivery changed the lives of many. When Tariq went to one particular address it became clear that nobody had the intention of paying for the pizza. Tariq turned around and got back in his car. That’s when an 18 year old gang member put a loaded gun in the hands of 14 year old Tony Hicks and told him to shoot. Tony did. In an instant, Tariq lost his life and Tony became the first child to be tried as an adult in the state of California. Tony pleaded guilty and asked Tariq’s dad, Azim, for forgiveness. He received 25 years in prison.

When I first heard this story, I was 18 years old. Now, as a parent, I replay the scenario in my mind with another layer of emotion, and when I imagine the mountain Azim had to climb every day just to get out of bed, my heart grows in admiration for him.

Now here’s the part of the story that I really want you to hear, because it may add to your life as it has mine.

Azim realized that Tariq was not the only victim of this shooting. There were “victims at both ends of the gun” – Tony Hicks was now going to be raised behind bars.

[Tweet “The quality of the rest of my life would hinge on how I handled this tragedy ~Azim Khamisa”]

This moment of clarity led to Azim reaching out to Tony’s grandfather, Ples Flex, which initiated something beautiful: The Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF).

TKF’s goal is to stop youth violence through education, mentorship and community service programs. Since 1995, they have reached millions of kids internationally and have made significant differences in school attendance and behaviour at school.

I ended up writing to Azim Khamisa in 1996 and in response he sent a personalized letter and a package of newspaper articles, brochures and other information. It also turns out that my dad and he were classmates for a short time in Kenya and when Azim was visiting a nearby city the following year, we went to meet him.

Leading up to the time I heard about TKF, I journaled a lot about injustice in the world. There was so much heartache and despair; I so desperately wanted to make a change. “I don’t want to leave this world without making a difference,” I wrote on October 20, 1996. Two months later, I was holding a package from TKF, a real-life example of where that kind of thinking can lead.

In the 18 years that have passed (almost exactly to the day that I received that package from him) a lot has happened in my own life. I have had to forgive people, I have had to say goodbye to people. As a mother, I have had to evaluate my path and learn to follow my dreams. In recent years, I have remembered more clearly the type of person I am, the things I want to say and do and be in this world. TKF has always been like a beacon of hope, a lesson in forgiveness and a prayer for our next generations. It has been a reminder that from what we perceive as injustice there is always an opportunity to rise above and make a difference.


And that’s the story I wanted to share with you this Saturday morning, as the sun rose outside my studio window. – An Easy Way To Know Where Your Charitable Dollars Are Going

Last week, I almost published a blog about a particular charity…but then I deleted it once I realized I was having way too many ‘weird’ feelings about the particulars involved with what the organization was seeking to do. (Beware of hidden agendas, among other things, when it comes to charities. You must do your research and go with your gut, too!) But today, I am happy to share with you! This gives you total freedom to choose your own Canadian registered charity with confidence. This service is just a year old and already more than $32 million has been donated through it to over 3590 Canadian charities! People are singing its praises and here’s why:

  • Chimp proudly maintains the lowest fees in Canada on charitable donations and ensures the largest part of any donation actually makes it to the charity. To give you an idea, its fee is 1%, whereas competitors usually charge 4-7% in processing fees.
  • Chimp has joined forces with global social giant Hootsuite to cover all administration costs, which guarantees that every cent donated goes to the charity.
  • Chimp has an efficient, simple and easy to navigate interface. Through it, you can see your current account balance, choose any charity you wish, have access to functional statistics about the charity, and know where 100% of your money is going. You can see everything like revenues, expenditures, and a breakdown of the programs.
  • A donation of $5 or more will get you a tax receipt.
  • Individuals and companies can easily set up matching campaigns and other incentives for their fundraising efforts, making their impact go further. Anyone can set up their own donor advisor fund.
Photo Credit: kibsri/
Photo Credit: kibsri/

And International Day of Giving is coming up on Tuesday December 2 which is also called Giving Tuesday. Last year, thousands of Canadians participated in Giving Tuesday and it is expected to grow exponentially this year. Chimp allows donors different options to give – whether it’s individually, as a workplace, or a group of friends. Or you can start a Giving Group and invite friends and family to join in the giving. A nice way to start the giving season with confidence, ease and happy spirits! And something I am glad to share. Let me know if you try this out – either as a donor or a charity – I’d love to hear your feedback!