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hope

This tag is associated with 22 posts

Do what is required

That is what I am doing. Doing what is required for me. I struggle a lot with what that means and depending on the day it may mean that I need to be meditating more, working out more, working more, allowing myself some time off or to tell myself to stop thinking….about myself and to think more about others. And most of the time that is what is required. Think more about others.

Give. Share. Help.

That is why I get involved in my community and I do that in different ways. My community may be right around me or it may stretch much further. With the Internet and social media there are no boundaries. How I get involved goes from donating financially to different organizations, giving my time (I am president of De la rue aux étoiles 2015 for Dan la rue this year), or why I am writing this post, by riding my bike for two different organizations that are looking to find solutions to cancer.

Team Hope & Gratitude 2014

Team Hope & Gratitude 2014

I will be doing two rides again this year to raise money for cancer research: The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer to benefit the Jewish General Hospital and the Team Ian Ride to benefit the Princess Margaret Hospital. I am not sure that I need to explain why I am doing this. At least not after hearing a radio commercial from an insurance company I heard recently that started along the lines of:

Protect yourself in the case of a cancer diagnosis…..

Cancer has become such an insidious disease, so much a part of our daily lives. It is just there. Until it hits close to home and someone we know gets it, then that disease that seems to be everywhere becomes very real and not just cancer. The fear, the pain, the unknown become all too real and we do what we can to deal with it. What I do is I ride my bike to help raise money to help fund research. The research that these rides are funding is working. It is making inroads. It is making treatments easier and better and people are living longer.

Team Ian 2014

Team Ian 2014

I could go on but I think we know it all. In many cases we know too much. So I am simply asking you to donate to one of my rides and let’s continue to fund the research that will help us get closer to finding more solutions to cancer.

Let’s do what is required.

To donate to The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer: CLICK HERE

To donate to The Team Ian Ride: CLICK HERE

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“I’m curing cancer. What do you do?”

Those are not my words. Those are the words of Ian Lawson Van Toch. He used to say that to challenge his friends. Ian was a student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario who had just graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Computing. He was about to begin graduate studies in Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto when he died tragically in 2007. Ian had been interning in the field of cancer research when he died of heart disease at 22. He had found his passion, to help find the cure for cancer.
Team-Ian-web-header-2014
I never knew Ian, but I met his father, John two years ago on a bike ride. As we rode along the bike path next to the river in Montreal, John told me about his son and the Ian Lawson Van Toch Cancer Informatics Fund that was established to continue his legacy. The Team Ian Ride, a cycling event from Kingston to Montreal that has raised over $130,000 so far, helps to support this fund. The ultimate goal of the fund is to provide opportunities for other young scientists like Ian to experience the same thrill of discovering their passion as Ian did and to help them launch their careers in the field of cancer informatics.
Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 8.21.06 AM
I had wanted to do the Team Ian Ride since I met John and he told me about it, but last year I had committed to the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer and I was not sure I could raise the funds to do both. This year I was only planning to do the Enbridge Ride and I was asked again if I would like to participate in Ian’s Ride, I hesitated again and then said, “YES!”

I said yes because I realized that not doing it because I had to raise another $1000 was a lame excuse. I said yes because I saw the difference that our fundraising for Enbridge had made and that I could help to contribute to the $60,000 that Ian’s Ride is targeting this year. I said yes because I love to be with people who have a similar vision of life that I do; where there is nothing that is impossible and giving and caring are core values. I said yes because I was touched by the story of Ian and what that boy wanted to do and the passion that his family had to carry that dream on.

I met the rest of the family, Jane, Ian’s mother and Andrea, Ian’s sister, last weekend. The Team was out spinning on a street corner in front of one of the sponsors of the Team Ian Ride, the Royal Bank of Canada, where we collected donations. We asked and begged, we rode our bikes, we made bubbles for kids, we told the story of why we were doing this, we stopped passerby’s and people in cars stopped at red lights, we laughed and then at the end of it all I almost cried. Almost because there is great joy in what we are doing, but there is some sadness in this story.

Team Ian Spin-a-Thon 2014

Team Ian Spin-a-Thon 2014

When I first met Jane, our conversation was more about passing off the donations and thanking her for an egg salad sandwich. Then at the end as we were packing up I stopped Jane and asked her how it was to do this, and did it help with her loss. As the crew around us cleaned up we talked and I thought I would hear about what it was to have lost her son but what I heard was the strength and hope she has found in what they are doing together as a family to raise money so that other kids may not only help in the search for a cure for cancer, but that they may find their passion in life as Ian had done. I heard what an outgoing and kind and caring kid Ian was but I also saw a determination in Jane to carry on his legacy, the same determination that I first heard from John when I met him.

I am honoured to be taking part in this ride with 27 others and a team of volunteers who understand not only why this is important but also what small grass roots organizations can do and how their generosity may affect change. It shows me that we need to be ready to be generous and caring in all that we do. It shows me once again, that when we have the opportunity to give, we will, and in giving there is hope for a better future.

If you would like to sponsor me and donate to the Team Ian Ride: Click Here

The Ride to Conquer Cancer Montreal 2013: Come Ride With Me!

I am going on ride, a ride that is supposed to conquer cancer. Impossible?
I don’t know. The word impossible doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. All I know is that from July 6th to 7th in 2013 I will be riding from Montreal to Quebec City to raise money for cancer research and cancer care at the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and throughout Quebec.

How it all started!

How did this happen and why am I doing this? Well the short answer is I saw a post on Facebook from my friend Rob Callard, who is a cancer survivor himself and has done two of these rides, saying that he was looking for people to join his team called Gratitude & Hope 2013 and participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and I heard myself saying: “Hmmmm….”. Actually, that is exactly what I wrote in the comments section of his post. Then Rob and I spoke, I signed up, and here I am.

The long answer is that a friend of mine, a very dear special friend of mine, Sam Pelc, did this ride back in 2009. But Sam died of cancer in the fall of 2010 and somehow when I read Rob’s post I felt that I owed this to Sam and I just had to do it.

For you see, Sam taught me everything that I know about charity and more importantly about giving. We worked together on different charity events and projects and I learned many things from him, and here are a few:

1. Impossible doesn’t exist
2. There is no limit to what you can do
3. Don’t be shy to ask for help or donations
4. Allow people the opportunity to give, they want to, it is in our very human nature
5. It is our responsibility to give back to our family, our friends and to our community with no questions asked, and for nothing in return, including applause
6. Allow whatever you do in your everyday life to include giving back, for that is our true reason for being here on this earth

Going for the yellow JerseySam made this ride because he had cancer and wanted to help others. Here is a link to the blog that he wrote before, during and after the ride: GOING FOR THE YELLOW JERSEY. There is much to be learned from what he wrote for all of us to better understand what it is to live with cancer and what that journey was all about for him.

This journey will be very different for me. I started my training by attending a spinning class at the YMCA last weekend and as I climbed on that bike and started to pedal I knew that the next six months were going to be a challenge to say the least.

There is a lot ahead. I have to get a bike. Yes, I am not a cyclist, more of a runner than a cyclist, but I am up for the challenge of those tiny seats and funny shoes. I have to get into some spandex that makes me less than excited especially at this time of year after one too many Christmas cookies. I have to train and get myself into shape and ready for this ride, which to me will be the easiest part and the part I am looking forward to the most. I have to reach out to those around me to ask for sponsorship to help me reach my goal. I have to raise $2,500 to be able to participate in the ride, but I have set my goal as $10,000. Why? I guess $2,500 just doesn’t seem like enough, it’s as simple as that. If I read through those six points above, then my goal should have even more zeroes, or no end to them at all.

And so here I go and I hope you will follow along, because I know I am going to need you there with me. Then again, I know that Sam will somehow be there too as my journey for the Yellow Jersey unfolds…..

If you would like to donate, click here.
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Dad, This Moustache is For You

Movember 2012

Down below, maybe I better start this again considering the subject matter, is a post that I wrote two years ago when I first participated in Movember. I didn’t participate last year because I found out that my father had prostate cancer at about this time of year and my father was a very private man and it would have been hard for me to have participated without mentioning that the doctors had found it and he was only given a few months to live. He was 91 years old when he passed away last January. He lived a full and incredible life, but if they had found the prostate cancer earlier who knows. It doesn’t matter now. My father had a moustache all of his life and I miss him.

I thought a lot about posting this because  public versus private sharing of information like this was the one thing that my dad and I didn’t always agree on. I am pretty open and out there when it comes to helping and he always did it quietly. Perhaps that is the one thing I never quite got right from all that he taught me.  A different generation you may say? I think though, that he would understand that I am telling all of you this because I just don’t want what happened to him, to happen to your father, or to happen to you. There is so much that can be done for prostate cancer now if it is caught early.

If you would like to help out, and I say it every time I ask for a donation for any charity, any amount helps. I am a member of the Movemboys team and my store Etiket has sponsored the team (all money goes to Movember) and my amazing staff at the store are participating as well. See them here: Etiket Bares All for Movember and then once they did ‘bare all’: We Did It For Movember!

The Fabulous Etiket Team for Movember 2012 (Photo: Jonny Rueda for Movemboys)

Sponsor me: Simon Tooley
Sponsor the girls: Équipe Etiket Mo Sistas
Sponsor the team: Movemboys
For more information on the cause and where the money goes: MOVEMBER

The below post is from my old blog A Charmed Life post on November 3rd, 2010

Move over November, here comes MOVEMBER

What?
For those of you who don’t know, MOVEMBER (the month formerly know as November) is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health and specifically prostate cancer.
Why am I writing about it? You can’t tell by the Day 3 stubble on my upper lip?
Yes, I am participating! I am a man and I uh, well have a prostate.
(Dad, you were worried about me swearing? Watch me walk on eggshells with this one!)
I mean really, we talk about anything these days, but talk about ‘that’? Talk about, you know ‘what’. Because you know where ‘it’ is right? And you know what you have to do to get ‘it’ examined don’t you? Forget it. Let’s go back to another topic. My moustache.
I am thinking handlebar, except I only have a month.
A thin fine line a la Rhett Butler? Not a great idea as my facial hair is blond and you won’t see it? And how many people know who Rhett Butler is these days, he doesn’t have a Facebook page.
Then again, I could grow a gringo except I think I am a gringo.
Let’s go back to why we are here. We don’t want to talk about prostate cancer; we certainly don’t want to get examined for it. Above all, we don’t want to die of it. Plain and simple.
That means we need to talk about it. Get it examined and deal with it.
Now I am not going to go through the details because when I went to the Prostate Cancer Canada site I started to feel a little queasy. Then again, I am usually the one the doctor is looking after when I go to visit anyone in the hospital. It is us 6’2” 200 pounders that are the worst.
Go to the site yourself and check it out. Then get checked out. I am going to. And no, I won’t write about that. The reality is, these days there are different ways to test for prostate cancer. A physical exam is just one of them.
If you just want to watch the progress of my moustache that is okay too. Just do us men a favour and spread the word about Movember, you just don’t know who you may help. And if we don’t talk about ‘it’ we can’t help.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow


I’m at a payphone trying to call home
All of my change I spent on you…
Maroon 5

I was listening to the radio in the car yesterday and I heard the announcer talking about the new Maroon 5 song called Payphone. The producers were concerned that no one would get it because there are no payphones anymore. Kids these days wouldn’t know what the song was all about. It is #1 on the charts right now.
Now this post was going to be sentimental and touch you in so many ways. I was going to take you back to when you were a child and talk about walks to the ice-cream store and running through the sprinkler. I am sure if you were under forty you wouldn’t have related to most of what I was going to write because you may not have known those things in your lifetime, or maybe under thirty. And then I watched the video to this song.
When I got to YouTube I saw that it was marked, Explicit I figured there must be a swear word or two. It is a little more than that. Let’s just go with needless violence and destruction. I am posting it here although part of me wonders if I am only promoting the violence but you will go look for it anyway. So here it is:


I just have to ask: WHY? Why does it have to be that videos (and movies and TV shows and video games) are being made like this? All we hear about these days are shootings and bombing and death. Do we need to glamorize it in our music videos too? I know I sound like an old fuddy duddy and God I hope so! If I were in my twenties would I think it was cool? I hope not. Or worse, in my teens. I don’t even know what you do if you are a parent. Do you tell your children they can’t watch these videos? How do you police that?

If happy ever after did exist
I would still be holding you like this
All those fairytales are full of sh*t
One more stupid love song I’ll be sick….
Maroon 5

I grew up with happy ever afters and I believe in them. I really do.
I grew up with running through the sprinkler and ice-cream cones on hot summer nights.
I grew up with 45’s and 33’s and dancing in my bedroom memorizing the words.
I grew up where the channel was changed on the TV if the show was too violent and the language was too course and let’s not even talk about nudity. We didn’t.
We sat down to dinner on Sunday nights and had to finish our peas whether we wanted to or not.
We took the bus and got a ride with the milkman to the corner in his truck.
We delivered newspapers and didn’t expect a tip.
We knew when we did something wrong, we waited for the punishment we knew we deserved, and we were sorry. Truly sorry.

But we didn’t watch videos like this.

I am the biggest believer in freedom of speech in all ways. I believe in the joy and hope of creativity and that we have a need to express ourselves. What are we doing wrong that videos like this are what we want to create? If this is what our world is creating and expressing then do we have any hope for a happy ending anymore?

I will not give up.
I will make a wish on the first star I see at night.
I will say RABBITS! on the first of the month.
I will keep money in my pocket when there is a new moon.
I will remember what happens when I step on a crack.
I will hope that the violence and destruction that surrounds us will come to an end one day.
I will say my prayers before I go to sleep.
And I will pray that there is a happy ending somewhere at the end of the rainbow.

Renewal

I haven’t written here in a very long time. The last time was just after the New Year in fact. Then recently I received an e-mail from WordPress asking me to renew the domain for this blog. I had to make a decision if I should continue this blog or close it down. I have been doing what I am quick to criticize everyone else of doing: nothing. Well not nothing exactly, but I have been so busy wrapped up with work that I haven’t been doing anything else. Sound familiar?

I have been in the garden watering and weeding over the last few days. It has been hot and beautiful, perfect weather to be a gardener. I love the process of the planting and I love looking after the garden once it is done – the weeding and the watering. For me it is like meditation. There is sitting and walking meditation, could there be gardening meditation too?

I learned how to garden from my father over forty years ago as a child. I had my own garden in our backyard and he would help me plant pansies and marigolds. He showed me how to take the seedlings out of the pots, how far apart to put them, and then how to dig the hole, put the young plants in, and then fill in with the earth and finally to water them. It’s what we would do my Dad and I in the early spring after the May long weekend in sunny old Winnipeg.

I usually forgot about the garden as the summer progressed and we headed down to the lake for July and August. When I would come back after the Labour Day long weekend for school I would run down to see the garden and it would be bright with pansies and the marigolds would be strong and high. My Dad looked after it all summer for me.

My father passed away in January and I am wondering if that is why I stopped writing my blog. I think I always wrote it for him. I don’t really like to admit that, but I know it is the truth. It gave us something to talk about, something that kept us connected as we each grew older. I know that he didn’t always agree with what I wrote but he loved that I wrote. When my brothers and I were cleaning up his things we found files of everything that I had ever written. Not strange for a parent to do that, but I found it strange for my father. It was not how I thought of him: sentimental. Perhaps I didn’t know him as I thought I did, or I am more like him than I thought.

My garden this year is quite spectacular. There aren’t any pansies or marigolds, but I planted it exactly the way my Dad taught me to. I get out there on the weekends and I prune, deadhead, weed and I water. Just as I know my father did when I was down at the lake for the summer. He was there making sure it would be there for me when I came home.

I am not sure that writing this blog, or life, for that matter is any different. We need to be consistent, and work at it and give it the love and respect that it deserves.  A garden, a blog, or life: You water it and weed it and give it some love. You work at it. I thought my father was showing me how to garden when I was a child, I think now that he was simply showing me how to live.

I Dare You

At this time of year most of us sit down to make new years resolutions for the coming year. We decide on all of the things that we are going to change, do differently and resolve to do better. Most of the time these resolutions revolve around losing weight, spending less money, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, or changing our lifestyle or habits in some way.

Think big

What if you were given the chance to do something bigger than that?
What if you were given the opportunity to do something that you have always wanted to do?
The only requirement is that it cannot be about you, that you have to look beyond yourself and your own goals to a bigger vision. You have to change the lens on your camera from the usual one to a wide angle one that will take in all those around you and go even farther than the lens or you can see.

What if someone said to you: What do you want to do?

What would you answer?
Would you have an answer?
Or are you too wrapped up in the everyday problems that surround you to look beyond to something that you may have always wanted to do?

If you don’t ask

I don’t ask you these questions without asking them to myself first.
My answers I am sure are like yours and revolve around my small world and me. Yet that is not what the true answer is if I am honest with myself and slow down long enough to think of a real answer and not just the one I am supposed to give to pass the test.

This isn’t a test.

This is life.

And it is precious.

And it seems to be getting more and more precious each day, each week and each year.
So let’s challenge each other and ask the question now:

What do you want to do?

Now answer it.
Let’s mark our calendars for next year on this same day and time and see if we did what we said we would do.

I dare you.

Have we remembered enough?

Depending on where you are at in the world, November 11th, 2011 could be already done and if it’s not, it must be getting close. There has been a lot of talk this year because of the whole 11-11-11 thing. Has it really made a difference to what this day is all about?
Today is a day that we remember those we have lost to war. I almost didn’t write a post today even though I have written one ever since I started blogging. Before that I used to send a mass email on this day. You see my father, who is 91, fought in the Second World War. Was that the war to end all wars? If it was, it didn’t. My father flew a Spitfire. I am proud of that as much because of what he was fighting for as because I cannot imagine doing what he did. I don’t really know what he did, he never spoke about it. Why would he?
I thankfully have never lived what he and so many others lived and still live today in wars that are going on throughout our world. I am far too naive in how I look at the world. I expect everyone to see things like I do. If we look around at all that is going on how could we think that more fighting, more killing, and more war could be the answer?
Everywhere in the social media channels today we are seeing poppies in profile photos, reading stories of war veterans, sharing of children’s takes on all of this and I want to say it is enough, but I will challenge you on if it is and ask that we all continue to talk and share about the possibility of peace and by doing that, just maybe, we will find our way to a true peace one day.
I want to think that maybe if we all would do that, then things would change. I have to hold on to that maybe, for in that maybe there is hope. And hope is why my father flew a Spitfire so many years ago and it is why we wear poppies today and why we must continue to remember.

Send in Your Knickers! The Bra Bank Appeal

The mission of The Social Effect is: through the Internet and through Social Media platforms, to help each other connect, learn from one another, and share information to make change in our communities where and when it is needed.
Back in August I came across a Tweet from BraBankAppeal that said:
Determined to make a change for Africa’s females, arm them with bras and new found security need support and advice…
And so I asked BraBankAppeal, what they wanted to do exactly and to see if there was a way to help.
The answer?
At the moment I want awareness of the issue and of my Project so that when the time comes to start collecting underwear people will respond.
So I did a little digging and found out that there was a Facebook Page and what the Bra Bank Appeal is all about.
I also sent a direct message to Beth, the woman behind The Bra Bank Appeal, and we started to exchange emails. In learning what Beth was doing, I wanted to help if I could.
Here is an interview I did with Bethany Staff about her project The Bra Bank Appeal.

What is The Bra Bank Appeal?
The Bra Bank Appeal is a small project I started before I went to Uganda to work in an AIDS orphanage in July. It aims to collect underwear, the new and old, (the decent and the not so decent) to send to countries in the third world (Uganda to start with) to protect their women from sexual abuse.

Why did you start this project and where did you come up with the name?
A few months before going to Uganda I was desperately researching ‘what Uganda needs’ so that I could do my bit, no matter how small to take something with me… I managed to find a website which listed the order of which the containers (full of used goods) that are sent to Africa are emptied: shoes were first (I thought this was fairly obvious) then second was bras… I was intrigued by this and did some further research and found out that women who wear underwear are less likely to be raped. Also, bras sell for roughly three times the cost price (more than any other used item) and so were very much so a luxury item. So I spoke to my amazingly artistic best friend who designed lovely posters, I revamped card-board boxes I was given by local shops in to hot pink ‘Bra Banks’. I got the mums of friends to put posters in their work place and store bras in their car boot and posters and Banks placed all around my college, local schools and the local tourist information office, I had an advert in the local newspaper, I was mentioned on peoples twitter accounts, I walked around local clothing outlets and begged for help and I just watched the message spread. The response was phenomenal!
The name, I knew it would be the bra … something! So I rattled around a few ideas ‘Bras for Uganda’, ‘The Bra Box’ I finally settled on ‘The Bra Bank Appeal’ as I felt it was simple, like the cause, nothing fancy – it’s a necessity that we take so for granted and sexual abuse is a subject close to every women’s heart. So it simply had to succeed! Well, that’s what I had to tell myself during the first few quiet weeks!

Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I am 18 years old and I am studying the International Baccalaureate in Cornwall (UK). I hope next September to go on to study Economics and Spanish at university. My ultimate dream is to forge links between western governments and successful organization and those in South America to try to improve their economies and give advice to businesses. Basically when I was little, I decided I was going to change the world, now I’m just trying to climb that ladder!

It looks like you want to affect change in our world – why?
This question looks complicated but it’s actually very easy! Someone has to, so why not me?

Do you think this is everyone’s responsibility?
I think everyone should try to do their bit, even if saving the world isn’t on the top of your priority list, there are so many things that you can do to help! For example, it astounds me every time I get on public busses how very few people will give up their seat for the elderly or a child anymore! Little things you do can just keep the world ticking over a little more smoothly.

Is changing the world your goal?
In an ideal world – of course! In reality, so I don’t feel like I’m not achieving anything, I’d prefer to say that making a difference is my ultimate goal. Whether that is to one person or to an entire country, it’s still an improvement! If I protected one girl/woman from a sexual attack with the underwear I took with me then I will sleep easy! But there’s always more you can do…

What do you find most challenging about your project?
I’d have to say before I went to Uganda, were the critics. I know every notion of change will always face criticism, but people said that I was naïve (which with my age, I expected), that I had not researched this enough and that by giving the Ugandan women and girls underwear I would encourage prostitution and rape and men would see it as ‘an exciting challenge!’ Needless to say I was outraged and informed the relevant people that I was incredibly and personally offended that someone would accuse me of encouraging the very thing I set out to prevent!
Today it is the day to day running of the social networking, juggling this project around the floods of college work, a family life, a social life and working part-time is a definite challenge!

Tell me about some of the people you have met doing this that have had an effect on you.
Being in Uganda itself was an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life! For me the most memorable people along the way were some of the ladies I gave underwear to, I asked all the orphans of bra wearing age, the ‘mamas’ (a women is in charge of each orphan house on the village) their daughters and the women of the village to come and choose themselves some underwear one afternoon when we covered our ‘Mission House’ with underwear. The women who were unable to attend that afternoon I invited to come any time before then. One girl who was my age came to me excitedly one afternoon, bringing with her, her mother and the mama who had been cooking for us during our stay. I showed them all to my room and opened some of the massive bags of underwear, the mother stripped off down to her knickers and proceeded to try as many bras on as she could, the mama looked down at her chest then grabbed my boobs, thought for a second then said: “Yes, I think I’m your size help me find things that would fit you!” And the girl burst into tears and told me that God had finally had mercy and that may I be blessed. Unforgettable!

What do you do when you are not working on the Bra Bank Appeal?
Generally, college work! I do also work in a wine bar, sing, meet friends, play the guitar, spend time with my family spend time with my boyfriend. To be honest I’m just your average teenager!

Is The Bra Bank Appeal full time?
I wish it could be but I’m strong believer in education and it being the key to everything else I want to do with my life.

What networking do you do to help get more goods?
I’m on Facebook and Twitter, I’m probably a disappointment to my generation but I really don’t know where to start with these things! My heart’s in the right place though!

Did you have a strategy when you started this project?
Ha! This is where I wish I could regurgitate some very complex strategic plan to you… No I really didn’t at all, it was a cause that I believed spoke for itself so just went for it and kept my fingers crossed! (This probably is not recommendable to others thinking of starting something similar!)

What is your greatest fear?
Failure. Failure in anything and everything, when I choose to do something I put so much of myself into it, I really put my heart and soul into everything I do!

What is your mission?
To have done everything in my power, to arm as many woman and girls with underwear, to help to protect them in the never-ending battle against sexual assaults.

What is your goal?
To forge links with organizations that are able to help me to transport bras and knickers across the globe, safely and directly into the hands of those who need them most.

What has been your greatest challenge so far?
Besides carrying home bin bags full of underwear (which are very heavy I’ll have you know) every day? Definitely dealing with the criticism, I remember bursting into tears when I was criticized, it makes you doubt everything you are doing!

You had an idea to help others, what gave you the push to take that first step, what would you suggest to anyone else who had an idea to help others?
Definitely, having a brilliant cause for doing it! If I had an obscure issue that not many people could relate to then it would have crashed and burned. My advice would be to do your research, be able to fire back answers to any questions you could be asked and above all else, have a damn good cause that you are passionate about – and don’t be ashamed to show how important the cause is to you, people will follow a worthy cause!

Do you ever feel like giving up?
Not give up, but not bother to do more… yes everyday! We all feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day and have a seemingly never-ending list of things to do, but then I remember the overwhelming feeling of crying with woman after woman while they pray and thank the lord for the underwear I brought them. I have never been a theist myself but their faith was astonishing. Also I remember playing with a tiny little boy on a woven mat; his mother was kicked out of her home after falling pregnant due to being gang-raped on the way to collecting water for her family. She was 14 years old. So no, I won’t let myself give up.

What do you consider your greatest achievement (s) so far?
Getting over 2000 items of underwear to Uganda without exceeding baggage allowances!

Who are your heroes?
The 14 year old girl I have previously mentioned who had to mature beyond her years to live alone, caring and providing for her little boy. She is a beautiful mother.
Also an elderly woman I met in Uganda who has a paralyzed torso and walks on her toes and knuckles, she cares for her four grandchildren in a small mud hut. All of her children died due to AIDS.

What would you like to be remembered for?
For helping people when they needed help, for making people happy when times are hard, for giving, advising and for being someone that people would turn to.

Where do you see The Bra Bank Appeal in 6 months or a year from now?
I would love for ‘The Bra Bank Appeal’ to be a flourishing charity with underwear being sent all over the world with various organizations who would offer to help. Not making a penny but making a difference.

The philosophy at The Social Effect is it only takes one person to affect the world and that person is each one of us. We must make a cultural shift to see the possibilities we each hold and to learn first to give and to help each other, which in turn will help those around us. Beth and her project illustrates this perfectly. Thank you Beth for all that you are doing to help others.

If you would like to help Beth and her Project I would encourage you to ‘LIKE’ The Bra Bank Appeal Facebook page, click here.
If you are on Twitter, follow the BraBankAppeal, click here.
You may also contact Beth at ourbras@hotmail.co.uk

(All photos are the property of The Bra Bank Appeal)

Occupy Wall Street: Fear is Optional

I went to New York this past weekend for work and for fun. In the back of my mind I kept hearing a nagging voice:
Occupy Wall Street – are you going to check it out or not “Mr. Each One of Us Can Make a Difference
Sunday was a beautiful morning and I headed downtown. First stop was going to be to see Ground Zero and second stop: Occupy Wall Street. No need to mention the appropriateness of the two side by side. That is the whole point of where the occupation is. I never got to see Ground Zero, I didn’t have photo ID with me, but I did get to see Occupy Wall Street, actually I got to smell it as well.
There in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan were I don’t know how many people sitting, talking, making posters, eating, doing what you do when you live in a park protesting against the divide between the have’s and the have not’s. I am not going to explain the movement, you can Google Occupy Wall Street and you will have more links than you will be able to read or watch. This is just about what I saw on Sunday when I sat down with a few of the protesters to do my best to understand this.
Hey, my name is Simon, I am from Montreal and I have a blog called The Social Effect which is all about the idea that each one of us can make change in our world if we want to….and I guess this what you are doing here. Mind if I ask you a few questions about what this is all about and why you are here?
I usually added in, I am an old guy from…. as to most of these kids, I am sure that is what I was. And that is part of what this is all about. But I am getting ahead of myself. Each person I spoke to talked to me about the obvious reason that all the protesters were there, the financial chaos that they see affecting the world and the need for regulation to stop this. But there is more to it than that. Much more.
The first person I spoke to was Trista, she is 23 years old and came up from West Virginia and had been there for three days. She knew the ideology behind the movement and was certainly the right person to speak to first. Here are her thoughts:
This is a movement for occupation, an opportunity to rebuild and to fight against the enemy. Who is the enemy? Those trying to oppress. We are fighting for a better world, for the essence of what it is to be human, to reconstruct.
I asked her if she was afraid of anything.
Fear is optional. This is an opportunity.
She was a little intense for me and I did feel like she was trying to indoctrinate me and perhaps herself in everything she was saying, but in any grass roots campaign must there not be the zealots who believe, who fire up the others, who keep the message clear and protected? That was Trista.
I made my way along and sat down next with Brendan, who is 20 years old and he had been there for five days, he studies history in Connecticut.
Money is buying the politicians. There is no true voice because they have been bought and paid for and the one with the biggest purse behind them always wins.
He spoke to me about poverty and about not wanting to live in a country that based itself on money alone. He was heading back home that day.
Next I sat down with Collette, who is 37 and from the Lower East Side. She was surrounded by a group who seemed not too impressed with me, but once we started to talk they opened up. Collette was quick to point out that she has a job and lived near there but believed in the cause. She hadn’t slept there every night but she was there as much as she could be when she wasn’t working. For her this wasn’t about the 99% versus the 1% this was how the two could unite. She had seen a big change since Giuliani had been in power.
We don’t talk to each other anymore. The dividing line between rich and poor is so great that we don’t care anymore about just being people. I stop now when I see garbage on the street and pick it up. I talk to people. This really is about feeling part of something, about not being alone.
I got that. I started to feel like I was getting more and more of what this is all about.
Next I sat down with David, 23 years old and from California and had spent one night there. He hadn’t known anything about this but his Mom had told him about it and he and his friends were doing a tour of the country and thought it would be cool to check it out. They all had matching red, white and blue velour track suits on and I wasn’t sure if their hair was real or they were wearing afro wigs from the 70’s.
There is no unified message here. We need higher taxes for the rich and more regulation on the financial side.
He didn’t know quite what to say after that. I wasn’t sure if he really knew why he was there or it seemed like something to be able to say he had done on his trip.
Then I saw a group all wearing blue t-shirts that had “Blue Crew” written across them. I sat down with Sean, 20 years old who was studying sociology from Cincinnati. Sean talked to me about job loss and foreclosures, about the poverty in Appalachia.
Whoever has the money wins. We need to touch hearts, to make change. This is about greed. But no one is really able to articulate the movement.
I know what I heard as I talked to each one of those protesters, I heard myself back in college thirty years ago. I heard myself saying:
I would never be like ‘them’. I would be different. The world was wrong. It wasn’t fair. It shouldn’t be like that. It doesn’t have to be like that. I would make it different.
But I didn’t. I finished college and got a job and bought in to everything I said I wouldn’t. I gave up. I forgot what I believed in.
That’s what these protesters are doing, fighting for what they believe in.
Is this a revolution?
Maybe.
It is certainly a voice that is getting stronger and stronger and spreading as I write this.
This is an opportunity for all of us to make change.
What if we didn’t make fear an option and chose change instead?
It is your choice, and in many ways I think that is what this movement wants to give us, a choice.
So what’s yours?

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