Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thank you! See you in 2017!

Thank you, everyone who participated in my birthday giving countdown. I am so encouraged by the generous hearts of so many people I know.

I don't know the total that we raised together. Right now, for those charities on, we've raised $678 (the page is open until midnight EST tonight if anyone wants to get in a last minute donation.) I'm also waiting until tomorrow for anyone who wants to vote in the decision regarding where I donate the generous gift my mother-in-law sent me. That will be added to the total; I don't know totals for the 7 organizations on Canada Helps, the amount for in-kind donations made, or for donations made to organizations not listed. I am fairly sure it's over $1000.

It was never about totals though. My heart has been so warmed by the number of people who have donated, who have engaged in conversations with me about this project, about different charities and our diverse interests in support, methods of support, the struggle to want to help all but not having the resources to give enough, to give everywhere that we see need, know there is need, in every way (never enough in-kind, not enough time to volunteer everywhere, never enough money.) Yet so many of us are trying to do what we can; all our attempts add up. All our conversations help us keep momentum.
I got to have so many conversations with people at many of the organizations too. It's really been tremendous. We have so many people in the world who care.

There were donations to all the organizations who have alternate methods of collecting funds. There were donations done in-kind to food banks in at least three countries, cloth diaper donations, donations to support people at Standing Rock, among others.

From all areas of my life, people donated. There were friends of Jen's who I have never met who donated. There were friends of mine, women I've known online for over a decade but never met in person, who donated. There were donations from Edmonton, from across Canada, from the US, from the UK, and from New Zealand.

How incredible a feeling it is to share my 40th birthday with so many wonderful people around the world. If I had hosted a traditional party, I could have requested donations in lieu of gifts. I would have missed out on all the interactions internationally, beyond the edges of Edmonton... I would have missed out on making new connections with people at the organizations. There wouldn't have been time to fit in all the conversations in the few hours of a conventional party.

I have really enjoyed this. I have loved everything about the conversations on social media, through email, with people I've bumped into, new people I've met... I sat with an incredibly talented artist at the annual fundraiser for the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts; I saw photos of her work on her sister's phone and forged two new friendships. I have someone whose art I would like to add to my collection; I'll be saving to buy one of her glass mosaics.
I feel a stronger sense of hope for our fragile planet, for all of us who, if we share nothing else, share this tiny space in the universe.

Thank you, everyone. Donations, conversations, shared desires to make things better... you made my 40th birthday magical through all this.

I was inspired by, and have felt a growing sense of inspiration,in the words of Shannon Zwicker: Love Is The Answer. I think about her words daily and about the immensely loving impact she made and the legacy she left; it grows. It is not a memory; it is a living legacy that has affected me and helped me confirm and commit to more than I once did (and I know I am not alone in feeling so.) I cannot sign off on this project without acknowledging the profound impact she had on me; she didn't know she did. Her sister Heather, who I've connected with more often in the past two months than every before, her four wonderful children, her sister in law, her husband, her parents; I want them to know. Shannon has become part of my daily thoughts; her philanthropy, her parenting, her embracing of life are things I think about all the time, things I aspire to in a real way. Thank you, Zwickers, Ramsbottoms, and Laura, for being the people who share Shannon's legacy and for your support and kindness, your generosity, as my fledging feet learn to do something of what she had come to perfect.

Love IS the answer. Thank you all for showing and sharing so much of it.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights-- Nov 11, posting early

All about the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights.

Please donate.

It's my 40th birthday!!! I hope donating to celebrate gave attention to need and helped us all realize that donating instead of accumulating can help change the world.

I'd like to leave a better world for all who come after me. Please help me with my birthday wish by donating to one of these forty organizations if you have not yet done so.


Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton

All about the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton.

Please donate.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Indigenous Women's Fund of Canada

Since making my selections of charities to support, some time ago now, the mistreatment, abuse, assault, cultural genocide, and murder of indigenous peoples generally and women specifically has been more and more in the news. With the horrendous governmental response to Standing Rock in the US, the suicides in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, it is all the more important that FNMI women are supported.

When thinking about violence committed abroad in Syria, Palestine, Ukraine, and other nations by the hands of Canada and the US, think also of the violence committed in our own nations, against the Indigenous people here. It is unacceptable.

Please stand with Standing Rock; please demand inquiries into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women; please be part of eliminating discrimination and mass cultural decimation.

Most of us on Turtle Island are not indigenous. We, the non-indigenous, owe all indigenous people our support in fights they should not even have to be undertaking, against colonists (the governments, the corporations, all created by colonial ancestors.)

I live on Treaty 6 land and respect the history, languages, and cultures of the First Nations, M├ętis, Inuit, and all First Peoples of Canada, whose presence continues to enrich our society and whose individual and cultural survival require the support of ALL citizens.

All about The National Voice of Aboriginal Women in Canada.

Please donate to the Indigenous Women's Fund hosted by NWAC.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

HIV Edmonton

Our family supports HIV Edmonton, participating in the annual walk and making the Heroes for Zero pledge.
I've had the opportunity to get to know some of the staff at HIV Edmonton personally; they are amazing people deeply committed in their work and personal lives to supporting people living with HIV, to education programs to reduce HIV transmission, and to do all they can in terms of harm reduction and prevention. They are among the most dedicated staff of any organization I've encountered.

I am a Hero for Zero:

With my hero daughter

With my former boss hero

There are so many ways to support HIV Edmonton. Please join me in doing so!

All about HIV Edmonton.

Please donate.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Canadian Mental Health

Who among us has not struggled with mental health at some point? If anyone is lucky enough to never have experienced any invisible, heavy, smothering stress and pain of mental health troubles, then you most certainly know someone who has, who is, who will, so to may you in the future.

Mental health conditions are among the most stigmatized health conditions people face. Please donate to the important work that the Canadian Mental Health Association does-- provision of support and advocacy.

I, like many who will see this, have had support from CMHA. They save lives every bit as much as ER surgeons do. We need to ensure CMHA has the financial support needed to continue the breadth of service provided.

You are not alone. We are not alone. Thank you, CMHA.

All about grief and suicide support groups with CMHA-Edmonton.

Please donate.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

PLAN Canada

PLAN Canada is an amazing charity that helps under-resourced areas build capacity in ways identified by the areas being supported. They do more than child sponsorship (which is, though connecting individuals for communication, not designating funds specific to the child, but to their community,) and are the only charity of its type in Canada that does not have a religious missionary bent.
PLAN Canada is involved in crisis response as well as on-going projects. They have many opportunities through their Gifts of Hope program for donors funds to be matched by anonymous supporters (some of you will have received Gifts of Hope from our family at times in the past.)
It is a charity that does amazing, strength-building, capacity-building work and has a major section of it's work dedicated to increasing support for women and girls.
I love PLAN Canada. Please consider a donation to them through the link on the blog sidebar or on their webpage, where you can choose a specific campaign, a Gift of Hope, or make a general donation.

All about PLAN Canada, including the Because I Am a Girl campaign.

Please donate.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Kids' Help Phone

In my mid-teens, Kids's Help Phone kept me alive. I heard their advertisements on the radio. The sing-songy announcing of their phone number worked; it stuck. I can still tell you the full number without hesitation.
I didn't have a therapist. I didn't have someone to whom I could talk. I was alone. Nameless, faceless volunteers at 1-800-668-6868 had time and support and care for me.

I can't thank them enough.

All about Kids Help Phone.

Please donate.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Posting lengthy tracts is incredibly time consuming and for the most part duplicates information available on the websites of the organizations I'm featuring.

From this point on, the organizations' logos, website, and donation location will be provided daily.

I love all these organizations. Maintaining this as I have been is almost a full time job with the back end work on the blog, communication with organizations and individuals... and it's emotionally draining to spend so much time on being aware of how much need there is EVERYWHERE in our society, EVERYWHERE across the globe. It hurts. Not like the people experiencing the pain. As an autistic person though, I feel the intensity of pain, immediately, concretely, in my body. Not the same as living it. Incredibly difficult nonetheless.

Thank you for understanding.

Amnesty International

I first became involved in letter writing with Amnesty International in my teen years when I heard the story of a young man, unjustly imprisoned, tortured in horrible conditions in India. He was there doing volunteer development work; he was thrown into jail without trial for being a terrorist.

He had immigrated to Canada previously, to Edmonton; his story made the news. It was, in 1988, for me, my awakening to social justice. I joined Amnesty and a letter requesting his release was my first social justice act.

I've since had the pleasure to meet Amarjeet Sohi. He was released. He returned to Canada. He became a city councillor, working to make his city a better place.

He is now an MP in our Federal Government, a Cabinet Minister. He is The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

We had sushi together last summer: me and the person who was, unbeknownst to him, the catalyst of my social justice work and my political awareness. We talked about this and both teared up. I haven't seen him since; I can only imagine how such a massive change of circumstances in a few decades must feel. We thanked each other mutually that day, for what each had done for the other.

I continue to support Amnesty International because there are countless people in prison internationally, held against international law, held without evidence, killed, focus of discrimination. Not everyone will be released. Not everyone will become a major political force. I certainly will not, 27 years after writing a letter, meet each person for whom I have written my support. I don't support Amnesty International for me or the potential of sushi with a lovely man!

Everyone deserves basic human rights. THAT is why I support the work Amnesty International does.

Please donate.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Anyone following can see posts to FB event provided by my partner. Thank you.


Jen wrote this post as well, about JTMF West, a memorial fund into which our dear friend Joyce LaBriola pours her heart and soul:

Today's organization is one Kim and I love and support in large part because it is the heart-child of Joyce LaBriola - If you don't know Joyce, I feel sad for you, because she is one of Edmonton's biggest powerhouses. She makes amazing things happen, everywhere she goes. She is a gorgeous light and we are lucky to call her a good friend.
JTMF West came to be because Joyce lost someone to complications from the AIDS virus. And she turned that loss into a major fundraising initiative that supports agencies who, in turn, support street involved youth and other communities at increased risk of exposure to the AIDS virus.
Here's more info about JTMF West and where you can donate, if this is your cause.
Also, they have a SUPER FUN event coming up and you could support them, and have a BLAST by buying tickets, here:…
More about the event here:
Little known fact: Kim and I had our very first date at a JTMF fundraising event. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Canadian Cancer Society

My wonderful partner Jen did the post for me on the Canadian Cancer Society too:

The Canadian Cancer Society - This year Kim and I lost too many people to this asshole disease, and anything you can do to make sure fewer suffer and those diagnosed suffer less, well, we'd appreciate it.

Please donate.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers

My thanks to my lovely partner for having shared this charity on FB.

The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers has been one of the leading agencies in welcoming Syrian refugees to our city. They are tireless. The work they do makes Edmonton a better, richer, safer city for so many.

Please donate.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Tiger Family Fund- In Memory of Shannon Zwicker

Today is October 14, 2016. It is Shannon Zwicker’s birthday. It was Thanksgiving Day the year Shannon was born. I know that I am not alone in being thankful that Shannon was the person she was and did all that she did. Shannon is someone whose full reach and impact can probably never be known; there are people in many places, in many organizations, that have been supported by Shannon’s work but who don’t know that she was responsible for it.

Shannon was a fundraiser, a donor, a visionary, a person who believed that great things could happen. She was an inspiration to many and was behind the financial beginnings and the sustainability of several of the charities featured in my 40 Days of Giving.

I was lucky enough to cross paths with Shannon several times, all, not surprisingly, at fundraisers. Much of the public, especially people who worked with her professionally, will remember her fundraising legacy most prominently when they think of her.

Personally, I think of her first as a mother, because that is how I first came to know of her.

Shannon’s sister, Heather, was one of my favourite professors in my undergraduate years. I took a class on literary theory taught by Heather; it was amazing how often Heather could fit loving anecdotes about her nieces and her sister into lectures on Althusser, structuralism, Derrida, postcolonialism… She even borrowed Lego from her nieces, noting her sister’s generosity in the loan, to illustrate something (sorry Heather, I remember the Lego and nothing whatsoever of what you did with it.) I recall her saying she demonstrated her idea to her nieces (who must have been toddlers at the time) and having laughed about it with her sister.

Shannon’s way through life, her philosophy of “love is the answer” and her positivity in the face of what would make many people crumble, was amazing. Her philanthropy, her fundraising, and her personality all made me like her from the moment I met her. (I met Shannon through my partner, not through Heather, but immediately knew they were connected. I said to Jen, my partner, "If she looks like a Zwicker and she walks like a Zwicker and she talks like a Zwicker, she must be a Zwicker. Is she related to Heather?”)

Her mothering is what I have heard much so much about, a couple of decades ago and recently, and is what I admire most, what inspires me, and from all I have heard, what motivated her. Her children meant the world to her, as did she to them.

Today, I am featuring the Tiger Family Fund. The Tiger Family Fund existed before Shannon died. She and her husband Josh set up the Tiger Family fund in 2009 to engage their children in philanthropy. As a family, they selected a cause to support each year. The Tiger Family Fund is a legacy for Shannon’s children and for our society, as the ongoing selection of causes and contributions continue.

As I mentioned, today is Shannon’s birthday. I admit that I rigged this particular date (in consultation with her sister) because of the somber coincidence that this is her first birthday since dying and it falls in the period of a fundraiser I’m running, motivated in part by Shannon. Her belief in giving back, in doing what she could, in just jumping in and trying something, and infusing her mothering with passing on all that love for the world to her children encouraged me to just go ahead and try this when the idea struck. It seemed apropos that the Tiger Family Fund being one of my selections, I should feature it on Shannon’s birthday.

I want to mark her birthday both to honour her memory and legacy and to celebrate her. I hope donations enable a small part of the mothering she did to continue, to help her children have the funds to continue the philanthropic ideals she was helping them develop, to ensure the living memory of Shannon, their mom.

On that note, I have been given permission to share something else of Shannon’s legacy of mothering. It’s something less serious than all I’ve written to this point. Shannon wrote a poem for her children that one of her daughters shared at the celebration of Shannon’s life. I think her whimsy, playfulness, and fun need to be remembered today too; those attributes are inseparable from the fundraising mom who always said, “love is the answer.”

Please read her delightful, silly poem and join me in donating to the Tiger FamilyFund. And this evening, please raise a glass to the incredible person Shannon was and to the legacy of love and caring that lives on in her children, her parents, her sister, her husband, and her sister-in-law as well as the countless lives she touched. My thanks to her family for allowing me to share this poem with you and for their kind words offered with their consent to feature the Tiger Family Fund today.

Twenty-Five Cats Named Sam
By Shannon Zwicker

Did you know Andy Warhol had twenty-five cats?
Well, it’s true – or at least it’s been said.
We can’t ask him to count them or verify facts,
For, alas, Andy Warhol is dead!

But when he was alive (and had so many cats)
An amazing young artist was Andy.
His print-makings, paintings, shows, drawings and films,
Made him famous, which no doubt was dandy!

His art was so strange, it created a stir.
It was weird; it was fresh; it was new!
And just as his fame and his fortune increased,
So his feline collection, it grew.

Do you think having twenty-five kitties is odd?
Well, I’m telling you truly, I am,
That the craziest, zaniest, makes-no-sense part
Is he named every one of them Sam!

Sam was the Persian with sea-foam blue eyes,
And Sam was a loud Siamese,
Sam the orange tabby and Sam the Maine Coon
Sam the Blue Purebred Burmese.

White cats and tortoiseshells, long hair or short,
If they meowed, they were Sam, one and all.
When their dinnertime came, it was simple enough:
Just “Sam!” was all Andy need call.

I do wish that Warhol were still here today.
I’d grab fifteen minutes of fame,
To have a Last Supper with him and his cats
And give every pet a new name.

One I’d call Campbell, another one Soup,
There’d be Pop Art and one Light Fantastic,
A black one named Velvet and one Underground,
One Inkblot, one Exploding Plastic.

Eight Elvises, yes! And four Marilyn Munroes,
Silver Cloud and a Platinum Wig,
Tainted Tuna (a tabby, I really do think)
And a calico Fiesta Pig

How many is that now? I think twenty-four.
I have but one name to assign.
What shall we call that one? I have an idea!
Don’t you think the name Sam would be fine?


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation

The Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation was founded in 2001, though had been active long before, to raise funds for the Stollery Children's Hospital. Named for the Foundation's founders, the Stollery aims to provide superior healthcare to very ill children and to children with unique health needs.
Our children see more specialists at the Stollery than I can count on my fingers. Like me, my biological children are autistic. Being autistic is not an illness but it can present some challenging co-morbid conditions and some needs that require specialized attention (if only anesthesia for examinations.) Between specialized paediatric dentists and specialized paediatric neurologists, MRIs, CAT scans, the Stollery has helped our two youngest in numerous ways. But they are not sick.

Many children who enter the Stollery are very sick. The Stollery was still new when I, as a child, was prepared by family and friends for the death of the child who was then my best friend. Her illness was a mystery; it was the early 80s and there was speculation of AIDS, then hepatitis... but tests came back negative time and again. Despite negative tests, she deteriorated. And, as inexplicable as her condition was, so to was her recovery. We were both 10 years old; she didn't die.

Those who know my family know that my oldest biological child and youngest stepchild participate annually in the Hair Massacure, a fundraiser that benefits the Stollery and other organizations that support sick children, primarily focused on children with cancer. We became involved with Team Aaron through his aunt. My stepson had already participated in Hair Massacure; we came to know of Aaron when he was 8 and had been declared in remission. He had been through treatment for stage 4 neuroblastoma. Unjustly, unfairly, having been diagnosed at 4, he had two declarations of remission after a full year of being cancer-free each time. Unlike my friend who did not die at 10 years old, Aaron did. He spent most of his life in and out of the Stollery and fundraising whether he was in a cancer-free period with as much devotion as he had from his hospital bed at what would be his final Hair Massacure. The Stollery was there for Aaron and his family at every turn.

So many stories of children who have entered the Stollery and never left or have entered the Stollery and left with clean bills of health could be told. What matters is the care received while there. The Stollery Children's Hospital supports children and their families with exceptional heathcare and care at some of the most difficult times of their lives.

There is no monetary value that can be put on what the Stollery does. However, there are financial costs to the operation of the Stollery, to in patient and out patient programs, that are in dire need of support.

Please join me in donating to the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation, the organization that provides that needed funding, to ensure that all children in the hospital get the best care possible and that through funded research, more and more children leave healthy, having entered sick.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hope Mission

Hope Mission provides programs and services to people at site across Alberta. The offer holiday meals, a mobile support unit for people in crisis, shelters, assistance and wraparound support for long-term housing, addictions supports... the list goes on.

Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, and Wetaskiwin all have a Hope Mission presence. I've served dinner at Hope Mission; the name really is eponymous. Hope fills the air; people who are the most under-resourced and struggling with multiple, debilitating barriers, offer smiles and welcome.

I've said of other inner city agencies; those who have the least materially and know pain and suffering the most intensely are so very often the ones who are the most generous with what really matters: genuine human kindness.

Hope Mission fosters hope and resiliency. Though it has a religious foundation, Hope Mission does not require religious affiliation or turn away people who practice a religion different than their own. (I'm, as my Nana lovingly says, her little heathen, and I've never been greeted with anything but respect and love at Hope.)

A number of charities supporting homeless and street-involved people are on my list of 40 charities. Each and every one is a gift to this city (and in the case of Hope Mission, to others as well.)

Please join me with a gift for Hope Mission to celebrate my 40th birthday. Financial gifts can be made here (as with all other charities hosted by, please scroll through the list I've assembled to locate Hope Mission.) Many volunteer hours are needed and in-kind donations are likewise desperately needed; whatever you are able to give-- time, money, clothing, toiletries-- all are graciously accepted.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Refugee Child

I learned about Refugee Child from a friend in London whose friend is the organizer of this initiative. On a regular basis, volunteers from the UK take much-needed basics to refugees camping in areas outside of walls, barriers, and blockades preventing their entry to certain nations in search of protection.
The focus is on helping children; no child chooses to be orphaned, homeless, nationless, starving. No one at all does; the group focuses on children but assists everyone in the areas they visit with supplies. From food staples to a defibrillator, Refugee Child has been helping young to old exist as they wait for a safe haven somewhere, anywhere.

Please donate to the ongoing efforts of Refugee Child as they head to areas most impoverished in their wait for safety.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Egale Canada

Egale is a national LGBTQ2+ organization that focuses on advancing human rights for the LGBTQ2+ community across Canada through research, policy development, education, advocacy, and community engagement.
Since its inception in 1995, Egale has been active across the country, working to improve the daily lives of sexual and gender minorities so that our lives are free of oppressive and discriminatory barriers impeding success.

As the only national organization working on LGBTQ2+ human rights, Egale brings together a diversity of voices from all regions of Canada to inform programs, services, education, and direction.

Please join me in supporting Egale today. More info on all they do is on their website.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Safe and Caring Schools and Communities

The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities describes themselves best:

Who we are:
Safe and Caring is a centre for knowledge that fosters effective networks and partnerships to improve the quality of life for all Alberta children.

What we know:
1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently.
47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying.
1 in 3 Albertans think that “bullying is just a normal part of growing up.”
Children and youth learn more effectively when they feel safe and included.
Bullying, violence and sexual exploitation can have traumatic and long-lasting impacts.

Our shared vision for Alberta:
89% of Albertans agree that bullying prevention should be an urgent priority for their community.
84% of Albertans agree that bullying prevention should be an urgent priority for the provincial government.
Alberta’s Social Policy Framework, the Children First Act and the new Education Act highlight the importance of students, parents, school boards and community partners working together to support the safety, well-being and development of children.

Whether a parent or not, who could not want a better world for the generations that come after us than what we have now? Safe and Caring is a relatively new organization in Alberta with big goals. I like the quote, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." (I disagree with those who suggest this means we should be happy with not achieving dreams; rather, it says that if we try and put energy, resource, community, and heart into our goals, we may end up in a place we didn't anticipate, but it's still going to be a good place.)

So, help me help the Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities aim for bettering our world. All that can happen is... a better world!

More about Safe and Caring is on their website.