Since both my spouse and I are educators, we do always look forward to summer break! As I have mentioned in an earlier post, the break also allows us to volunteer a little more. One place we volunteer each summer is with Send'em Off Smiling. This local organization was "established in 1994 by a group of local women who had observed the visible impact of poverty on school-age children in their communities and wanted to make a difference." Their mission is to "set children in need on a more hopeful path, by outfitting them with clothing and school supplies, intended to send’em off smiling on that first day of school each September."
I have had the opportunity to volunteer in several different roles over the last number of summers including 'shopper' and 'delivery person', but lately I have enjoyed spending my time in the warehouse. Here, I help sort through all of the donated school supplies and new school outfits and make sure they get packed and sent off to the right location. This role definitely appeals to my organizational side, plus it's really touching to see how much thought goes into preparing these backpacks for children in our region!
As I mentioned, there are a variety of ways to support Send'em Off Smiling. If that interests you, find out details here. If you'd like to know more about how the whole process works, click here. #365ofgoodWR
City Resolution #15
I wanted to share this city resolution from Brent Toderian on a Saturday because most Saturdays for our household are "Market Days". This resolution reminds us to "Support your local public/farmers’ markets (and Christmas market). If you don’t have public markets, lobby for them, and help get one started."
We are fortunate to have so many options to access fresh, local produce in our community. In fact, my first visits to Waterloo Region (many years ago) were always to go to the market. I know those fond memories of my childhood definitely influenced my decision to attend university here and then to make it my permanent home. I still love seeing so many families enjoying the market every Saturday! And this year we have another opportunity to pick up fresh produce and grocery items with the addition of the mid-week market at the Kitchener Market every Wednesday from 4-8pm until July 17th.
In addition to the more well-known St. Jacob's and Kitchener markets, I have noticed several smaller neighbourhood markets popping up in recent years, such as the one at Mill Courtland Community Centre on Wednesday mornings (pictured above). Where's your favourite market? Do you have any market traditions? Comment below! #365ofgoodWR
As you may have gathered from this blog, I really love neighbourhoods as I feel they can provide a very needed sense of belonging for many of us. I also adore local music and feel fortunate that we have so many amazing local artists in our region. So of course when I heard about a neighbourhood digital radio station featuring local artists was starting up, I knew I had to get on board with that!
Midtown Radio is a local, volunteer-run, commercial-free digital radio station. Shows include Midtown Mixtape by the creators of Devil's Cut Podcast, the Midtown Pre-Game, Cing a Sept, Midtown Fam Jam and much more. I've been helping out with Midtown Conversations for Change, a show where we explore themes of social good, including community, reconciliation, and education.
I've really enjoyed listening to the station since its launch on June 14th. In addition to hearing some interesting discussions, it's been a place where I can consistently hear new-to-me local music like The Rhinos, and Alysha Brilla, as well as hear some of my long-time favourites like Richard Garvey and The Oldest Man I Know. If you haven't had a chance to listen yet, use this long weekend to tune in! You can also read more about Midtown Radio in this Community Edition article. #365ofgoodWR
It's the last day of school for many students in our region and summer break is about to start. So that's got me thinking about summer plans. I have often used the summer break to help out with a new organization as the need sometimes goes up with many volunteers taking a much needed break at times over the summer. It also allows me to become more familiar with the work of some local organizations. Last year I volunteered at Habitat for Humanity and really enjoyed that. I wasn't building houses but did feed those who were doing the building! Every summer, I also get to volunteer with Send'em Off Smiling which I will be posting about soon. Also, food supplies at the Food Bank are usually at their lowest over the summer, so that's always a great time to host a food drive or drop off items at a local food drive bin (found in many grocery stores).
Do you have any plans to give volunteering a try over the summer? Is there an organization you would like to learn more about? Comment below!
City Resolution #14
I'm pretty excited about Brent Toderian's 14th city resolution because not only is it important, it's also really fun! It states, "Support your local and downtown public libraries. They aren’t just for books, they are real civic places where public life and community building happen."
I suspect that Kitchener Public Library has been featured more than any other organization in the #365ofgoodWR project, and with good reason. I believe that libraries are an essential part of any vibrant and caring community. Not only do they provide books, but as Brent Toderian suggests, they are community building hubs.
The Kitchener Public Library (and WPL and the Idea Exchange) offer such a variety of services, resources, and supports to our community. A quick look at what KPL offers includes: adult literacy support, health and wellness resources, English Conversation Circles, and the Heffner Studio which is an audio and digital media production lab. There's also a ton of programs and events on every week, in addition to being able to borrow books, movies, museum passes, and even musical instruments! And if you're still not amazed by the awesomeness of our libraries, read this article about a cool garden initiative happening this year.
If you haven't visited one of our local libraries in person recently (or even if you have!), I encourage you to take some time to do exactly that this week. I know you'll be amazed at the good things happening there. And if you end up at KPL Central at 85 Queen, don't forget to look up and admire one of my favourite public art installations, Flux :)
Last night, Kitchener Council discussed the need for declaring a climate emergency and the benefit of introducing a municipal carbon budget. Here's Monday's article outlining the proposed discussion.
Many people came out in support of this proposal, with several delegations speaking to it as well. There was a referral made to one paragraph (meaning staff will look into this and report back at a later date), an amendment, and the original motion. I'm thrilled to report that everything passed unanimously! If you're on Twitter, you can read my thread about the meeting here. As you can imagine, Council Chambers was full of very happy people last night! Thanks to everyone who came out and filled the room :)
There were several other decisions made at Council last night, including one about the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. You can read more about those here. #365ofgoodWR
Alright, I admit that detours don't seem like a good match for a blog dedicated to finding the good stuff happening in our region. However, the detour will lead to good things happening on the Iron Horse Trail so I think it qualifies :)
Starting today, the Iron Horse Trail will be closed between Queen St S and Ottawa St. You can find out some details on the city's website. Improvements will include wider trails, painted lines, and lighting. The trail is expected to re-open in October and suggested detour routes are listed here. #365ofgoodWR
I have noticed that many of the things that are created for the benefit of a particular group tend to be something that most of society can benefit from (think curb cuts for accessibility). This seems to prove true again with Gay Straight Alliances.
This article states that, "Students in Canadian schools with gay-straight alliances were less likely to be discriminated against, had lower odds of suicidal thoughts and had fewer suicide attempts—regardless of whether they were gay or straight." This seems to be just one more example of how supporting folks in traditionally marginalized groups is actually a good thing for everyone. #365ofgoodWR
I'm a firm believer that we all have a role to play in keeping our planet healthy. On that note, here's an article that discusses 5 local businesses who are trying to make low or zero waste living easier for their customers. Personally I love Full Circle Foods and it seems each week they are bringing in new low/zero waste options. I look forward to trying some of the other businesses as well.
That being said, I also think it's necessary for us to put pressure on companies that are creating this packaging. As consumers we can demand better and more sustainable alternatives to packaging. When we do that, we may see actual changes in the industry such as Loop Packaging. Not yet available in Canada, and perhaps not an affordable option for all, it does demonstrate that change is possible.
And for those attending the Multicultural Festival today, I have always had a warm reception when I bring my own plate and cutlery to the food vendors for my meal. You may want to give that a try this weekend as well. Comment below with your favourite zero waste tips or products! #365ofgoodWR
Happy ION launch day everyone! I'm thrilled about it! Though, given my distaste for large crowds and long lines, I think I'm going to hold off a couple of days before trying to hop on board (I know, how can I even say I'm a fan then?!)
Just a reminder that it is also National Indigenous People's Day and there's many events happening in honour of it. Perhaps you'll even brave the lines up and take the ION to one of them!
Comment below about when you hope to take your first ride on the ION! #365ofgoodWR
About this Blog
A blog to highlight some of the great organizations and people in our community!