Spirit of Giving

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From the bottom of my heart – thank you!

Boy reading a card

Tristan Gallant reads a congratulatory card with his mom, from one of his supporters.

As a Mom, you hope you never in your life hear the words ‘Your child has cancer.’ The reality is, many of us do hear these words at some point in life. And then begins the journey of treatment, sleepless nights worrying about and watching over your child, and hope and prayers. That journey – if you live in the Maritimes – ultimately involves the IWK Health Centre working with your local hospital to deliver the best possible care for your child.

Just three years ago my son, Tristan Gallant, was diagnosed with Leukemia. Today, thanks to the IWK and immeasurable support from family, friends, colleagues, schools, and businesses, locally and across Canada,  Tristan is a happy and healthy ten-year-old boy. When I was asked if he would be this year’s Change Bandit Hero for the 103.9 MAX and K 94-5 FM Cares for Kids IWK Radiothon, I was honoured. Tristan was very excited about his important role, and got busy right away telling all his friends and helping us spread the word about his goal to raise $15,000 to support the most urgent priorities at the IWK.

The Radiothon was held at Champlain Place last week – and when we found out the Change Bandits raised a whopping $24,594.12, we realized more than ever how much this community supports Tristan and the IWK! We extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported Tristan’s Change Bandit efforts, and special thanks to the following:

  • Big sister Jasmine J
  • Moncton Hospital
  • Claude D. Taylor School for sock hop, hat day, and lassoing loot!
  • All schools in Anglophone East School District for a very successful casual day!
  • Riverview Lions Club for lassoing loot!
  • Champlain Place, 103.9 MAX FM and 94-5 FM for supporting and raising IWK awareness
  • Atlantic Superstore and all other local Radiothon sponsors
  • Uncle Wayne Gallant for using his gift of music to raise awareness for the IWK and ‘drum up support’ (literally) for Tristan’s fundraising.
  • Tristan – for being our hero all the time, and for helping so many other children at the IWK through your beautiful personality, bright smile, and remarkable fundraising! We love you Tristan! 

Debi Gallant
(Tristan’s mom!)

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Playing games. Healing kids.

Nova Gamer for Left to RIght: Jon, Mark, Dan,  with Dave in the front centre.  Absent from photo: Austin

Nova Gamer from left to rIght: Jon, Mark, Dan, with Dave in the front centre. Absent from photo: Austin

Mark Devitt, co-founder of NovaGamer in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is fundraising for the IWK Foundation by participating in this year’s Children’s Miracle Network event. Extra Life.

My passion is gaming and I’m lucky enough that I am able to work in the industry too. At NovaGamer, my colleagues and I all share the same love for gaming and the gaming industry.  While we are committed to being active members of society, As gamers one of our challenges has been trying to find a way that we could make a significant contribute to our local community through our work. This was a task made very easy for us when we learned about Children’s Miracle Network’s Extra Life event.

Extra Life is a fantastic event that happens on November 2nd, 2013 to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network. Money raised from this event in the Maritimes goes towards the IWK Health Centre– our local children’s hospital. Essentially this event gives gamers, like me, a chance to get out into our community with family and friends to raise money for a fantastic cause. Believe it or not we do this by pledging to play games for 24 hours straight. We not only help support our local pediatric hospital but we are able to do so by participating in something we love. It’s a way to bring gamers together to make a positive change for others.

NovaGamer_500So why has NovaGamer chosen to fundraise for the IWK?  It is simple – because the support, services, and training provided by the IWK are crucial for our community!  Every parent to be, or sick child, that relies on the IWK needs to know that the very best resources are available when needed.  Extra Life is the perfect opportunity for those of us in the gaming industry to raise money and awareness for our local hospital. We want to make sure that the IWK continues to grow and offer services for families in need in the years to come.

Support Nova Gamer as they fundraise for the IWK Health Centre Foundation. To learn more about Extra-Life and other participants supporting the IWK Health Centre Foundation visit www.extra-life.org

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“I don’t know what I would have done if the Centre wasn’t here” – Participant, 33

Julie Harrington is a coordinator of the IWK Community Grants Program. Because of this program 34 Maritime community organizations received funding this year to help develop important and valuable projects that support the health and well-being of women, children and families

I’ve always been touched and inspired about the many ways our program helps improve the lives of women, children and families outside the walls of our Health Centre by funding projects dedicated to promoting wellness and healthy living among women, children and youth in the Maritimes. I’m very proud to share another grant success story today.

Last year our program presented a grant to the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre, who, in partnership with the Leeside Society of Port Hawksbury, used it to help establish the Strait Area Women’s Place. Their vision was a resource centre for at-risk women and adolescent girls living in the Strait area that would provide services and programs to help them move towards wellness and make positive changes in their lives. Today, the centre has received grand reviews and has been embraced by numerous community organizations including the Community Health Board, Addictions Services, Public Health, Mental Health Services, and the Nova Scotia Community College, among others.

The need for such a place was evident. With a population of approximately 3,500, many residents who live in Port Hawkesbury do so in poor and inadequate housing. With the closing of the NewPage paper mill last year, hundreds of people suddenly found themselves unemployed, reinforcing the climate of financial disparity and forcing many partners and spouses to leave and find work in Western Canada.

In order to survive, those women who remained behind turned to Income Assistance in order to provide for their families. These women are often unemployed or under-employed and are victims of trauma, abuse or are struggling with addiction and mental heal issues. Since opening its doors in May of last year, SAWP quickly proved to be a welcomed and much-needed community resource.

Today, over 200 regular female clients participate in an ever-growing program that offers them a variety of support including:

  • Job loss support groups
  • Addictions drop-in counseling services
  • Public Health parent and baby drop in groups
  • Social groups
  • Legal information workshops
  • Technology services

It’s always our ultimate hope that a project we fund will become sustainable, and I’m thrilled to say that’s now the case with SAWP! As of April 1, 2012, the Leeside Society took full ownership and will continue to provide these essential services to those who need it most.

I’m honoured to be involved with the IWK Community Grants Program. Words cannot express how it feels to know that the work we do is helping to support women in other parts of my province that don’t have the same advantages that we enjoy.

For more information on the IWK Community Grants Program, please contact Julie Harrington, Community Grants Coordinator at julie.harrington@iwk.nshealth.ca.

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The Heart of our Community

Robbie Shaw is finishing his five-year term as President and CEO of the IWK Health Centre Foundation on March 31, 2011.

Philanthropy is closely linked with community; not just because charitable acts make our communities livable, but because these acts connect us to one another.  It is the power of these connections that can change lives and truly create the sense of community we often miss in these busy times.  It is this sense of community that has given me the most satisfaction over the years.

I would like to relate a story – perhaps the highlight of my tenure as president and CEO of the IWK Health Centre Foundation – that shows how great and touching things happen when we come together as a community. I am choosing to share it around National Philanthropy Day (November 15) as a rallying cry to others who have yet to experience the joys of being involved.

We call it the ‘double-double’ because it involves Ron Joyce, who many of you will recognize as the co-founder of Tim Hortons and part-time Nova Scotia resident. In November, 2006 we invited him to tour the operating suites before he was to announce a $1 million contribution to update them as part of the IWK’s Children’s Site Redevelopment Project.

During the tour with Chief of Orthopaedics Joe Hyndman, a little girl – she couldn’t have been more than four years old – was wailing as she was being wheeled into an operating room. Mr. Joyce watched this unfold, with tears in his eyes, and, in that instant, became firmly connected to the IWK community.  He stunned us all by announcing that he was doubling his contribution to $2 million.  He also became fast friends with orthopaedic patient Matthew Brown of Bedford; the pair still keep in touch.

That brings me to Matthew MacDonald, who, at 17, was the youngest person ever to be named Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in this region. Matthew is from Sydney Mines, a long-term patient of the IWK, and an amazing young man, who has pulled his entire community around him in his efforts to give back to the IWK.

Matthew’s started 10 years ago when he raised $92 by selling lemonade. He has become a fundraising role model in his community, raising thousands of dollars for the IWK, including more than $10,000 in 2009.

Matthew always credits his community’s efforts, but he is a catalyst because of his wonderful positive attitude and despite his numerous heart surgeries and reliance on a wheel chair. I once witnessed a sustained standing ovation for him in his high school that moved me so much. I often tell him that he will be the first physically challenged prime minister of Canada. He laughs, but knows I am serious.  

For me, this kind of personal connection is the most important, and most satisfying, part of community building; philanthropy is a great vehicle to forge those connections.

During my career to date, I have been involved in community building professionally and as a volunteer. Among my roles, I led a company that built Clayton Park and Colby Village, worked in Ottawa in economic development and had a leadership role in the major capital campaign for Dalhousie University and for the $123 million expansion of the Nova Scotia Community College. I have received as much satisfaction out of my charitable work as my professional accomplishments. Philanthropy makes you a better leader, hones your people skills, makes you more sensitive to the human element of everything you do, and more hopeful about the future.

Thank you to those who already support charitable organizations in our community, whether through donations or volunteering.  And I want to encourage others, especially young people, to look at philanthropy as a way of improving your own life, as well as the lives of others. Not everyone can pull off a double-double, but everyone has the power to build community and improve lives.