We may not have a meeting room or a microphone, but as part of our virtual nomination and selection process, the three members selected in our nomination draw have been invited to make a brief written presentation about their nominated charities, to describe the work they do and how they would make use of a donation from 100 Women Who Care.
Due to ongoing COVID 19 concerns, 100 Women Who Care Guelph decided to replace our “in person” July meeting with a “virtual” nomination and selection process. To that end, we invited nominations for local charities to make presentations to our group. New nominations were vetted and previously qualified charities were also considered. Sharon and Tannis drew names from a hat and created a video announcement which was circulated to members.
We may not have a meeting room or a microphone for this meeting, but as part of our “virtual” nomination and selection process, the three charities selected in our nomination draw have been invited to make a brief written presentation to describe the work they do and how they would make use of a donation from 100 Women Who Care.
I joined the Children’s Foundation team six years ago, and in that time I’ve had the privilege of seeing first-hand the profound impact donors have on the lives of thousands of children and youth living in poverty in our community. Life can be challenging when there is barely enough money to cover basic human essentials like housing and proper nutrition. For many families in Guelph and Wellington, the reality is that ‘barely enough’ seems like a luxury.
Thanks to donor support, our four core programs nurture the well-being of the whole child – physically, mentally, socially and emotionally – by giving kids equal opportunities to be nourished with healthy food, to play and develop valuable life skills, to be educated, and to have the hope and inspiration they need to not only dream of a brighter future, but to have the building blocks to achieve it for themselves.
When COVID-19 first hit, our immediate concern was for the kids who rely on food support through our Food & Friendsstudent nutrition programs. For many, the food they receive at school is their primary source of nourishment for the day. To respond to this emergency, we created a new initiative called Fresh Food for Kidswhich is currently delivering about 5,400 family food kits weekly to over 1,400 children and youth in Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin. This food support is continuing into the summer months due to the urgent food insecurity that needs to be addressed beyond the usual school year.
Now, we are providing even more support by adapting our Free to Grow program to bring physical and creative activities, learning, and fun to kids’ doorsteps this summer. Normally, our program helps kids participate in recreational programs and life-skill activities, but with so many cancelled this summer, our Free to Grow at Home initiative is providing kits that will get kids’ hands and feet moving, spark their imagination, and support their learning and healthy childhood development, while also providing some respite for parents who have been parenting and teaching 24/7 during the shut-downs.
As a potential first-time recipient of 100 Women Who Care, the timing couldn’t be better as the need is significantly increasing while our fundraising through signature events has been negatively impacted with COVID restrictions. Your donations would be put to work immediately by purchasing supplies from local retail partners to bring nutritious food, fun, creativity and learning to kids this summer.
What gets me up in the morning is making a real difference in the lives of kids and their families. But what keeps me up at night is the thought of having to say ‘no’ to any child because of lack of funds. We currently have 423 kids on a wait list to receive a recreation kit. With your donations, you would be reducing our wait list significantly, saying ‘Yes!’ to bringing books, games, puzzles, arts and crafts, and outdoor games to 150 kids, as well as bringing nutritious food to 100 kids.
Beyond the crucial, tangible support provided during this time, your donations would also show the kids and their families that there are 100+ women who care about them and their health and well-being.
If you have any questions or would like more information, I would be happy to speak with you.
A serious problem for youth in our community has become a crisis, and it needs our collective support.
The basic problem is this. Canada’s health care system is a jigsaw puzzle with many different pieces that can be very hard to navigate – even for health care professionals. For youth seeking help, navigating the system can be a nightmare, and it often fails them. This was a serious problem before Covid, but now with the added mental distress from lockdowns and uncertainty, it has become an even bigger and more urgent problem in helping our young people to cope.
But there is a solution at hand, and our 100 Women Who Care Guelph team can help move it forward with our donations.
The solution is most simply described as having “Youth Hubs” where young people can access a range of services through one place. More technically, here in Guelph Wellington we’re building an “Integrated Youth Services Network.” The intention is to provide INTERVENTION and PREVENTION services utilizing the service providers we already have in our community, so we are all working together. In fact, over 30 community organizations have already come together in this shared vision. The Youth Hubs are being designed to be welcoming spaces that provide help to young people in navigating the system, both physically and virtually. Youth Hubs are not a magic bullet that will solve our youth crisis, but they are a piece of the puzzle that will make it easier for youth to access services.
Here in Guelph Wellington, we’re building on successful Youth Hub experiences from other Canadian cities and regions, and we’ve enhanced the local model to have not only one centre but SEVEN locations in Guelph Wellington where youth between the ages of 12 and 26 can have immediate access to services, including tutoring, housing support, employment counselling, primary care, mental health and substance abuse. The seven micro-sites will be networked together so service providers can access files, and youth will not have to repeat their story each time they request help. Furthermore, youth will be deeply engaged in the design of these sites to serve them in the most meaningful way.
This Guelph Wellington Youth Hub program is a highly significant new development for our city and county, partnered with CMHA-WW (Canadian Mental Health Association – Waterloo Wellington) for health care and the Guelph Community Foundation to help raise funds.
I am asking 100 Women Who Care to invest our collective donations so we can immediately provide virtual care to 70 youth in our community. These funds would be used to provide youth with activities in helping to design the Youth Hub space they want to see, for access to the services that are often out of reach. This will also help us determine the necessary steps to scale up across all of our micro-sites.
Our community needs this, and our young people need it, now more urgently than ever. Please help the program move forward with our donation.
Cyndy Moffat Forsyth
Member of 100 Women Who Care Guelph I began working on the IYSN concept in November 2018 as a Rotary volunteer. In July 2020, I accepted a fulltime role as the IYSN’s first director.
Lakeside HOPE House is a well-established poverty relief organization and care provider in the Guelph area advocating that poverty, food insecurity, inequality, health and community are all interconnected. They currently offer services and programs to over 1100 households per year and have assisted over 5100 households since their inception in 2012. They challenge stigmas surrounding poverty and allow community members to maintain dignity while providing them with tactical skills developed in a community environment. The focus is not about “hand out, but hand up” by creating long term skills to facilitate self sufficiency. Approximately 30-45 new household intakes are received each month and are community funded.
The Community Backpack Project, in partnership with the Guelph Neighborhood Support Coalition. is a program in need. Children in our community have been under additional stress and challenged during the pandemic and starting school is something they look forward to. Whether the school year begins virtually, live or a combination of both, HOPE House would like to provide needed supplies to children in poverty across the community to assist them to thrive and learn. New this year is an online application form and additional supplies to support at home learning. There have been 895 registrations as of June 30th. The goal is to provide 1500 new, fully stocked backpacks to children at a cost of $45,000. HOPE House receives NO government funding for this project and relies on community sponsors in order to provide students with confidence, excitement and readiness to learn – HOPE!
I visited HOPE House in downtown Guelph and was impressed with the volunteers and staff who provide a caring, respectful atmosphere to those in need. I was introduced to the organization through a client who volunteers at the centre. The environment at HOPE House is a friendly, positive and caring one in a family setting. Children in poverty are especially vulnerable to stress and judgement. I believe that education is critical at an early age and giving children more opportunity to achieve their goals will benefit our community as a whole.
I learned of a few stories from recipients who spoke of the benefits of the Backpack Project:
One parent was speaking of how she was trying to manage the clothing, shoes, boots, etc. and how much it meant to her children to be able to choose a new backpack for school that contained needed supplies for school.
Another mom is starting a new job, stressed about the demands of working and household tasks plus preparing children for school. Without the support of HOPE House, she would not have been able to provide her children with a new backpack. She was worried her children would be stigmatised by other, more privileged children. With the children receiving their backpacks and her starting a new job, they are ready to begin a new year together and have a fresh start.
A young lady spoke of how HOPE House helped her family when she was younger and how happy she was when she received a new backpack. Now she visits HOPE House to volunteer and give back.
It is documented that youth and children living in poverty have poorer educational outcomes compared to wealthier peers leading to struggles with truancy and dropout. We can change that by giving children HOPE in our community and contributing to an excellent cause.