Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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On the twelfth day of donating…

And last but certainly not least in my twelve days of donating is the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA). VOKRA is a volunteer-run, no-kill rescue organization that helps about 1200 surrendered, abandoned, and feral kittens and cats per year by finding them permanent homes (or, for feral cats that aren’t adoptable, through their trap/neuter/return program). While cats are waiting to be adopted, they live in foster homes rather than a traditional shelter. And, of course, VOKRA is where I found my kitties!

Watson thinks the new garbage can is good place to hang out Crick

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On the tenth day of donating…

Today’s charity is another blast from my past: Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Remember that time I played hockey for 10 days straight to raise money for them? Can you believe that it was seven years ago! Seven! So it seems like it’s a good time to remind you about all the good work that CF Canada does.

Source: https://www.cysticfibrosis.ca/

Among other things, CF Canada funds researchers who are working towards finding a cure. Did you know that the gene for CF was discovered by researchers who were funded by CF Canada, in collaboration with the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, in 19891. They also advocate for better care for people living with CF, including advocating for newborn CF screening (which is now provided in all provinces except Quebec) and advocating for public coverage of medications for people living with CF2.

CF Canada is working towards a world without cystic fibrosis.

  1. Source: https://www.cysticfibrosis.ca/uploads/An%20Impact%20Story%20ENG.pdf []
  2. Source: https://www.cysticfibrosis.ca/uploads/An%20Impact%20Story%20ENG.pdf []

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On the eight and ninth day of donating…

Apologies for the missed posting yesterday! When I went to post last night, I found out that I couldn’t get into my blog! I texted the Overseer of Deb0rking and Tsar of the Nerdery, who figured out that it was one of the plugins that was b0rking my blog, so he deactivated a bunch and now I’m able to get back in! Thanks, Kalev!

I’ll  have to do some testing to see if I can figure out which plugin is causing the problem, but that will be another day’s problem. Today, I’m going to post about two more charities that I’ve donated to.

Eighth Day

First up is a blast from the past: Options for Sexual Health. Remember that time that I did a 24-hour blogathon and raised money for Options for Sexual Health ((OMG, when I just looked that up on my blog to make that link, I saw that it was nearly TEN years ago! TEN!))? 

To champion and celebrate the sexual health of all people in BC by supporting, providing, and promoting inclusive and accessible health care and education.

Options for Sexual Health Mission

Opt provides clinical services to 30,000 people every year and they are the “only organization training and certifying sexual health educators in Canada”! They also “supports the unrestricted right of all women to choose when and if to have children [… and] the right of young people to receive the sexual health education and services they seek, based on their informed consent.” I believe that work is important and that’s why I’ve donated to this organization. 

Ninth Day

Another organization that I think does really important work is the Centre for Inquiry Canada. In these times of misinformation and “alternative facts”, I’m glad there is an organization that promotes critical thinking skills and good science and basing policy on evidence.

Centre for Inquiry Canada fosters a
secular society based on reason, science,
freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

CFIC’s MIssion

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On the seventh day of donating…

The fifth and final organization that my students worked with this semester was The Equestrian Association for the Disabled (T.E.A.D.)

T.E.A.D. Equestrian Association for the Disabled

T.E.A.D. provides therapeutic horse riding lessons for people with physical and cognitive/communication disabilities. 

It operates on a 92 acre farm in Port Hope, Ontario, with a very small staff, an active board of directors, and more than 250 volunteers! More than 300 riders per year take lessons with T.E.A.D., but they have growing waiting list.

Riding has many benefits including:

  • development of mobility, balance, and coordination
  • improvement of muscle tone and strength
  • development of confidence and motivation
  • increased concentration and improved learning skills
  • a fun and challenging form of recreation
  • independence

When someone who can’t walk, rides a horse for the first time, it’s like a miracle.

T.E.A.D. Parent

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On the fourth day of donating…

Another non-profit organization that my class worked with this semester was the New West Hospice Society. This is a relatively new non-profit organization in New Westminster that is working “to provide services and to facilitate processes for those in New Westminster experiencing end-of-life and bereavement”.

Death and dying are a fact of life, but so often we don’t know how to talk about it or how to support people going through it – both people who are dying and those close to them. The Hospice Society is looking to change that.

We will work to build a community where death is no longer hidden or whispered about; where people know what to say and do to be supportive; where residents can die with dignity; and family and friends can grieve well.

New West Hospice Society Vision

One of the things that I learned as my students worked with the New West Hospice Society is that there is something called the Compassionate City Charter, which is “a framework to address 13 social changes/sectors to normalize dying, death and loss”. The Society works with partner organizations from a variety of sectors (including schools, trade unions, religious organizations, arts groups, etc.) “to support those at end-of-life to live as fully and comfortably as possible in locations that are conducive and appropriate.”

One example of this is a partnership with the non-profit that I wrote about yesterday, the Arts Council of New Westminster! For example, the Hospice Society and ACNW are jointly holding a short story contest on the theme of “compassion through sharing stories of loss, grief, and healing.”

 

When my dad died, my mom, sister, and I received a lot of love and support from our family and friends and work colleagues and classmates. But not everyone has that kind of support. The New West Hospice Society is working towards a future where everyone is supported – and everyone knows how to be supportive – around death and dying. And I think that is very important work.

 

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On the second day of donating…

knowledge should be free

Today’s charity is the Wikimedia Foundation1

To empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

Wikimedia Foundation mission

I use Wikipedia all. the. time. It’s a wealth of information on a huge number of topics and it’s my go-to place to learn the basics on pretty much anything. And it’s clearly a go-to for many people, as it’s one of the top 10 websites in the world!  And because it’s completely ad-free, you don’t need to worry that information is being spun, censored, or altered to placate advertisers. 

But even for something like Wikipedia that runs primarily with volunteers, there are still costs that need to be covered. Like the cost of servers on which Wikipedia lives, and the cost of software to run it, and legal costs, just to name a few.

And there’s where Wikimedia comes in. It is the nonprofit that supports Wikipedia, as well as other knowledge projects. And the way to ensure that Wikimedia’s work to “give access to knowledge to everyone, for free, forever” succeeds is for those of us can to kick a few dollars their way.

  1. Wikimedia is an American non-profit, so as a Canadian, I can’t get a tax deduction for donating to them, but I think the work they do is important enough that I’m willing to forgo the tax deduction! []

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On the first day of donating…

As I’ve mentioned before, my charitable giving “strategy”, well, doesn’t really exist. I typically end up giving to charity when someone I know is doing a fundraiser, like a fun ride or the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Some years I get a lot of asks and end up donating to a variety of charities. But this year, I haven’t seen any asks like that from family and friends. I’m not sure if people have become tired of fun runs or if everyone is just asking on Facebook instead by email and I’ve missed them all. So in the interest of actually doing some giving, I decided to do my own version of the 12 Days of Christmas, featuring one charity per day that I’ll give some money to.

Today I’m starting with the one ask I’ve actually seen from people that I know – specifically, the trainers at my gym. As I have mentioned before, the people at my gym are the best people ever and here’s yet another example. They encourage gym members to donate to the Purpose Society, which is a social services agency located about a block away from the gym. And the trainers have to lift a kilogram for every dollar that is donated. So if we donate $1000, they have to lift 1000 kg! (Not all at once, of course, but enough reps with enough weight so that they’ve listed the total).

 The Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Families is “a community-based multi-service organization that delivers a continuum of programs to children, youth and families.”

http://www.purposesociety.org/

They offer a variety of services, including:

  • youth health clinics
  • outreach workers for high risk youth
  • youth groups
  • family therapy
  • early childhood programs
  • parenting groups
  • a rent bank
  • an independent secondary school

…just to name a few!

So that’s my charity for the first day of donating. Check back tomorrow for another instalment!

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Donations

My charitable giving “strategy” has typically been to wait until one of my friends is doing a fundraiser, or someone passes away and the family suggests a donation in their memory, and then to donate to those. I do have a few charities that I give to at least once a year without prompting from someone I know doing fundraising – Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) (from where I adopted my beloved kitties), Centre for Inquiry (CFI) Canada (which I believe does important work), and the Wikimedia Foundation1 (because I think it’s important for knowledge to be freely available to all). I also have some money that I’ve leant out through Kiva ((Props to Sarah and Dave who introduced me to Kiva many years ago by giving me a gift card of funds to start loaning through Kiva)), which I just re-lend to new borrowers as existing borrowers re-pay their loans.2 This year I also gave to the BC NDP during the provincial election, because I thought it was really important to get the BC so-called “Liberals” out of power3. But this year it seems like not very many people I knew were doing fundraising, as I’m looking at my 2017 charitable tax donations and I haven’t donated very much at all. So I’m thinking I should probably come up with a better system than just waiting to be reminded to give.

I recently heard about Give Well, which makes recommendations for charities to donate to that are “evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, and underfunded”, so you know that your donations are doing the most good. As someone who values evidence, this appealed to me! However, this is an American website and being that I am selfishly interested in getting a tax deduction when I can, I tried to find a similar one for Canadian charities, but the only one I found was Charity Intelligence Canada, which does give charities a score for the impact they have, but doesn’t include it in their rating of the charities, which seems weird. Then when I was playing around on their website, I discovered that to get some of their ratings, you have to subscribe! And the only other stuff I could find was articles rating charities based on things like how much of the money they raise goes to overhead vs. how much goes to the services for the cause itself, and other articles talking about how that’s not a good way to rate charities (because does it matter if all the money goes to the “cause” if it’s not effective in making a difference?)

Anyway, I guess all this is to say that I still don’t have a solid charitable donation plan for the new year, but I’m thinking about how to come up with one. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

The other thing that I really should be donating is blood. I’m needle phobic, especially when it comes to someone taking my blood (more so than I am about, say, getting a vaccine injected into me) but I feel guilty about not giving blood when people whose need is much greater than my mere queasiness at the thought of a needle poking into me and my blood pumping out of my body into a bag4.

Image Credit: Posted by Jamez Picard on freeimages.com.

  1. I really wish there was a Canadian arm of the Wikimedia Foundation, as when I give to this charity I don’t get a tax receipt since it is American. []
  2. I also started supporting a podcast through Patreon, but I that doesn’t count as a charitable donation, since you are technically supporting someone to create something, but if feels a bit like one, since one could just listen to the podcast for free. In case you are interested, the podcast is called Onlightened and it’s by one of the former hosts of Caustic Soda, a podcast that I loved but only discovered as it was ending. It’s just getting started and I’m hoping that in 2018 there will be more regular episodes! []
  3. And donations to political parties give big tax deductions – except if you are donating to municipal campaigns, which don’t give you any tax deduction. But that’s a story for another day. []
  4. Oh man, just typing that makes me want to hurl. []

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Running for the Kitties

So now that spring has sprung in Vancouver and all of the various pathogens with which I’ve been infected appear to have left the building, I’ve gotten back into the swing of things running-wise. I’m really, really slow from having taken so much time off from running1, but I’m confident that if I keep getting out there, the speed will eventually return.

I met up with my BMO Marathon Relay teammates for brunch on Saturday to discuss logistics, and I’m really looking forward to that event, which a mere 20 days from now! Fortunately, I’m training for the Scotiabank Half Marathon and the 13 km I will need to run for my leg of the relay is in line with my training plan2.

And speaking of the Scotiabank Half Marathon, I’ve signed up to run as part of Team VOKRA, which is raising money for the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Organization (VOKRA), which I’m sure you will remember is where I got my kitties from. They do good work in rescuing kitties and finding them safe and loving homes, so I’m happy to help support their work. While VOKRA is run by volunteers, there are lots of costs that need to be covered when it comes to rescuing, caring for, and eventually placing homeless cats in their forever homes such as:

  • prenatal, natal, and bottle feeding program
  • trap/spay or neuter/return program
  • supplying all foster homes with food and supplies
  • medical emergencies/medications

The team has a goal of raising $10,000 through our Scotiabank Half Marathon fundraising, so please consider donating on my fundraising page:

Watson in a bow tieWatson & Crick say “Please Sir or Madam, won’t you donate to help the kitties?”

  1. Not to mention the [redacted number] lbs that I gained over the winter thanks to taking so much time off from running and also Drink-cember. []
  2. I’m scheduled to run 13 km the week before BMO, as it so happens. The weekend of BMO is supposed to be a “rest” week where I go back to 8 km, but I figure two 13 km long runs in a row will be fine. []

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Everyone Deserves Access To Healthy Food

As you may recall, my friend Dr. Dan, in addition to his more-than-full-time job as a professor at the U of G, also runs a non-profit organization called Farm 2 Fork (F2F), in which they

“develop tools to help address food insecurity in the City of Guelph, and beyond. In 2012 and 2013 the students developed Farm To Fork – a website that links people who can donate food to the real-time needs of food banks and food pantries, to improve the quality and quantity of food donated. In 2014 the students worked with the Guelph Community Health Centre to develop programs for the Garden Fresh Box program – a program that brings fresh local fruits and veggies to people who need it. This year the students worked with the national charitable organization Meal Exchange to develop tools for their Trick Or Eat campaign. This campaign – which runs in Canada and the US – sees thousands of university students collecting food for the food banks during Halloween.” (Source: D. Gillis, personal communication that I was too lazy to paraphrase and besides, he said it so eloquently in that email!)

Well, F2F is currently running a fundraiser to support those students. While F2F started as a class project, students really have gone above and beyond – they’ve volunteered hundreds of hours of their time, sometimes even volunteering over the summer instead of taking on full-time jobs to, you know, pay for tuition and living and suchlike. If you donate, the money will go to support these students with things like computer equipment, stipends, and travel to go present about/meeting about/etc. the project. If you donate by the end of December the Dean of the College of Physical & Engineering Science at the University of Guelph will match donations, dollar for dollar, up to $5,000.

So while you are thinking about your end-of-year donations, why not consider donating to F2F?