Saturday, September 29, 2012

TK Azaglo - Believe In Us

Torwomenye Kwasi (TK) Azaglo believes that the journey to change begins at home. Although TK lives in Waterloo after attending Wilfred Laurier University, his true home is Ghana and from 5471 miles away, he is making change in his home country.

PHOTO CREDIT: TK's twitter profile,

In 2007, TK founded the Future of Africa club at Laurier, committed to raising awareness and extinguishing misconceptions about Africa.

In 2009, TZ and his Journey for Change team went to Uganda for 10 weeks. The mission was a complete success, with the team helping to build a poultry farm and internet cafe as well as running  gender empowerment and sports programs.

As the trip went on however, TK started to feel uneasy. The villagers in Arua were starting to ask when the team would return and TK didn't have an answer.

I failed because I had no plans to sustain these initiatives. - TK Azaglo

TK went back to the drawing board and put together some long term visions for the club. The Future of Africa club has now gained non-profit status and has opened a chapter at the University of Windsor.

The Journey for Change Service Learning Experience returned to Africa in both 2011 and 2012.

While we've talked on this blog a lot about charity starting at home, that doesn't mean I support doing good works only in Waterloo Region. Home is a different place for all of us and if your home is 5000 miles away and you have the means to make change, that's what you should do. TK is not only a role model to the Canadian students he's mentoring through the Journey for Change program but his fellow countrymen in Africa who are seeing the world through the eyes of TK and his teammates. What better example could the kids in Africa have than seeing TK leave home to pursue an education and then return to make change in his home country?

Torwomenye Kwasi Azaglo, you rock.

I believe the future of Africa lies in the hands of children and youth in Africa and we are committed to providing opportunities to encourage these children to dream beyond their realities. - TK Azaglo

*This is part 13 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Aliçia Raimundo - Engage Me, Please!

Aliçia Raimundo says she didn't make any plans for when she grew up because she thought she would die young.

PHOTO CREDIT: Aliçia's twitter profile, find her @asraimun

Aliçia is a Mental Health Superhero. She was almost a suicide statistic. Anyone who has ever met her is extremely glad she didn't become one.

An estimated 10-20% of all Canadian youth are or have been affected by a mental illness or disorder. 

24% of youth deaths (ages 15-24) are caused by suicide.  

3.2 MILLION Canadian kids between the ages of 12-19 are at risk for developing depression. 

Only 1 in 5 Canadian children receive mental health services when they need it.

Staggering and gut wrenching numbers. And Aliçia is determined to end the stigma and open up the conversation about mental health issues.

After becoming a Survivor at the age of 13, Aliçia wanted to create change from the inside. She knew that agencies don't know how to deal with youth and she wanted to create a place where youth can feel free to share their emotions, talk about depression and find REAL answers on how to deal with it.

She's part of the team, the Mobilizing Minds team and an accomplished public speaker. She works with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Healthy Minds Canada and Lutherwood. She CARES about youth. Rather than just generating content, Aliçia is creating relationships. She encourages them to MAKE CHANGE when they don't like what they see and to stick with it. If they aren't able to make change where they are she works with them to find a better place where their voices will be heard.

Aliçia is engaging youth by encouraging them to tell their stories. To speak up and know that it's okay to be different.

1 in 3 Canadians suffer from a mental illness.... this isn't something we should hide behind.

Aliçia is giving a voice to people who never felt they had a voice. She's generating content to help youth at risk for suicide... and she's having that content written by other youth. She's been recognized as one of the five faces of mental illness in Canada. And if you look at this charming, smart, gorgeous young woman you'll know that indeed, if this is the face of youth mental illness, we really don't need to fear the stigma at all. 

*This is part 12 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mac Graham - Live To Give

PHOTO CREDIT: Mac's LinkedIn profile,

Mac Graham has taken pages from my two favourite books and put them together to teach people about saving for themselves and saving the world.

First off, Mac subscribes to the wildly famous (and smart) principles of The Wealthy Barber...


When learning to manage your money this is one of the key elements we often have trouble learning. Paying yourself first means you take the top 10% of your income and put it into savings. How often do we wait until all of the bills are paid before deciding how much to save? The problem is, there often isn't any left if we choose this method. Paying yourself first means that you have a nest egg, which of course leads to security and that leads to a mindset that allows you to give more freely.

Secondly, Mac is a tither.

tithe  \tīth\

1. a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax especially for the support of a religious establishment

The law came through Moses from God, in Leviticus 27:30 we read "A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord". Tithing in biblical ages was not money and in fact, although "tithe" is used 13 times in the Bible (and "tithes", 21 times), money is never associated with it. The system of tithing with money came long after biblical times.

2 Chronicles 31:4-5 reads:  “Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the LORD. As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.

So back to the beginning we see that tithing is a biblical principle and that Merriam-Webster defines it as a support for religious establishments. I can see how the word "tithe" can scare some people off. Searching atheist and agnostic websites I see that MANY MANY MANY of them support what they call either "secular tithing" or "secular giving". Because here's the catch...

We all know, regardless of what we believe, giving to others is incredibly important.

I wrote earlier on how volunteering often gives us more than what we put out when we volunteer. Giving our time, our support and our money are all very important ways of making communities grow and our world a better place.

Christians, Mormons, Catholics et al tithe because they believe it is biblical law. They also tithe because they want to. Not believing in the Bible doesn't mean others don't give, they may just call it something other than "tithe".

So Mac tells us to tithe (or GIVE) the second 10% of our income. You can give it to the church, you can give it to one social agency or 10. The principle is, people who tithe know the benefits. First of all, there are the tax breaks, the Canadian government gives us back close to 36% of what we give. Secondly there are the the goodwill benefits. If you volunteer and realize you get back more than you give wouldn't the same principle apply to monetary giving?

When considering tithing as a teenager someone gave me this illustration:

A man wanted to tithe but he always felt guilty that his tithes were so low, around $10/month. But he faithfully gave 1/10 of his income every month to his church. As time went on, the man became wildly successful in business and eventually he was giving his church $1000/month and then $10,000/month. Unsettled, he went to see his pastor. "Pastor" he said, "I am quite uncomfortable giving such a sheer amount of money to the church every month, it seems so much more than is necessary." And the pastor said to him, "If you feel that giving $10,000, only 1/10 of your income is too much, surely we can ask God to put you back in that place where you were only giving $10."


1. Make it a priority. Giving before you pay your bills can be intimidating at first. Trust that your good works will come back to you (because they will).

2. Focus your giving on charities and causes that you believe in.

3. Don't feel guilty about saying NO when the grocery store clerk asks you to donate $2 to a charitable organization. Those $2 donations add up and could add quite an increase to your regular charitable giving.

4. Make it automatic. Some charities can direct debit your paycheque or bank account (with your authorization, of course) and your bank is usually willing to set up an automatic monthly withdrawl to support charitable causes. Make it easier on yourself when the work is done for you.

5. Make it REGULAR. Charities plan budgets and count on regular giving. Make a pledge to your charity of choice so they can count on your $10, $20 or $1000/month. This allows your charity to make a bigger impact.

6. Small gifts can make a big impact, too. Each week I donate 1 dozen cookies to the café at my place of worship. The cost of 1 dozen cookies doesn't seem like much, in fact it's only about $2.50/week. Added up, that's 130 extra dollars each year that can be set aside for missions. Don't feel that your small donation isn't worth as much as a big one, it adds up over time.

Live to give. It's just one more way we can make a big impact on our world.

**If you've never read The Wealthy Barber, RUN to get it from your local used bookstore, library or a friend. Or check out The Wealthy Barber returns. The books, and their principles, will change the way you look at money. Should be required reading for every person, period.**

*This is part 11 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Madi MacIntyre - Take a Leap

Madi MacIntyre took the stage at Ignite Charity and acted like a stereotypical teenager. IT'S ALL ABOUT ME! ME, ME, ME!!!!!!!

It was near the end of January 2012 and she was contemplating the special thing that was about to happen... Leap Day. The thing that happens every 4 years and we get an extra day on our calendar.

But how to celebrate? She wanted to make it special, something unique. And then something hit her.


For some, an extra day means an extra day hungry. It means that some have to put off paying their rent in order to fund an extra bus trip. It's an extra day of depression. An extra night sleeping in the cold.

In 3 days, 29 Leaps was born. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, website.

29Leaps is about celebrating life and happiness for everyone. Let's show people that an extra day is something for EVERYONE to celebrate. Through the good and the bad, it always helps to know that someone cares about you. That's why we want to take the opportunity to use the number 29 as a benchmark for spreading the good. - 29 Leaps

Madi had a goal. She wanted 29 people to participate in 29 Leaps with her. As of this writing: 

That's a lot more than 29 participants.

Whether you prefer a simple or creative approach… donate 29 cents or dollars to a cause, spend 29 minutes with someone, send 29 care packages, donate 2.9% or 29% of your profits for the month or on the 29th… even if you want to do 29Leaps 29 times for all 29 days, we simply ask you to get involved and spread the message. Each time you do your 29Leaps, come back to the website and click the button on the right to add your 29 to the grande total! - 29 Leaps

Following 29 Leaps on Twitter I saw people donating 29 lbs of potatoes to the food bank, $2.90 daily to charity, playing music in public square for 29 minutes... and a lot of people went above and beyond the number 29.

29 things that one person can do to make a really big difference. - Madi MacIntyre

290,000 good things happened because of one 17 year old girl who wanted to make a difference. Madi is truly an inspiration to all of us, but especially for young adults who think that they can't create change. Madi proved it... you can.

*This is part 10 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kelly-Sue Labus - Valuing Humanity in Waterloo Region

PHOTO CREDIT: Kelly-Sue's LinkedIn profile,

Kelly-Sue Labus has an important message for all of us: Charity starts at home.

We all tear up during the commercials of starving children in Africa. We all want to help victims of tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes. I agree, it's very important to think as global citizens and work on making a healthier world around us.


It's hard to help children thousands of miles away when one of your child's classmates is hungry. It's hard to donate blankets for an overseas missions trip when there's a guy sleeping in the vestibule of a bank downtown.

Kelly-Sue had some staggering numbers to share:

There are 120,000 children in Waterloo Region. 13,000 go hungry every day. Even more live in poverty.

5.7 MILLION Canadians make less than $14,000/year (the poverty line is $18,421 for 1 person).

And to add a few of my own:

9.6 MILLION Canadians used a Food Bank in 2011.

38% or greater than 2.6 million of those people were children/youth under the age of 18. **

That's a lot of hungry kids.

Kelly-Sue is the Executive Director of Nutrition for Learning in Waterloo Region. She sees hungry kids and she knows the effect that hunger can have on children. Nutrition for Learning has 134 local, community based programs providing breakfast and/or lunch to local kids and 1,300 volunteers making those meals happen. They are also operating under a $1,000,000 shortfall.

We need to feed every single hungry child in Canada.

Can you pick which child we don't feed? - Kelly-Sue Labus

She tells we are one of few countries that doesn't have a national student nutrition program. How is this possible? We are home to tech giants. We build BlackBerries and have Steven Hawking visit us on a regular basis. We have residents that pay upwards of $400 to watch a perpetually losing hockey team play. We invented Nanaimo bars, Poutine and basketball. Insulin and the Wonderbra.


Across the Earth, people need help. I'm not saying we shouldn't help them. But if we can't keep our own children healthy how can we expect to save the ones in Africa?

*This is part 9 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

** 46% of food bank recipients in Waterloo Region are children/youth.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Carlos Benevides - Mr. Deeds

PHOTO CREDIT: I stole it from Carlos' Facebook profile.

Carlos Benevides is an all-around nice guy. He plays the part of funny man on the radio but deep down inside his slightly sarcastic crust is a guy who is using the power of the airwaves for a very important message:

Community matters.

So on November 25, 2011, Carlos set out on a mission, complete 30 Deeds in 30 Days, showcasing the different types of agencies and volunteer positions in our community and promote them on the air each morning. It was a massive call to action; if he can get up at 4 am every morning, host a radio show plus attend/MC all the other events he's required to attend as a radio personality and still find time to volunteer, we all can.

Carlos visited 30 different agencies in Waterloo Region:

Habitat for Humanity
Community Support Connections 
Foster Families Association of Waterloo Region
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region
St. John's Soup Kitchen
Marillac Place
Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank
Popcorn House Community Resource Centre
Community Living Cambridge
MCC Generations Thrift Store
Lion's Club of Kitchener Seniors Party
Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society
Pride Stables
Haven House
Mosaic Counselling
Nutrition for Learning
Food Bank of Waterloo Region
House of Friendship
Traverse Independence
Cambridge Memorial Hospital
Alzheimer Society of Waterloo Region
Grand River Hospital
Cambridge Shelter
Canadian Blood Services

Exhausting list. And I'm sure that Carlos was exhausted when he finished his project. But he didn't stop there.

When Carlos spoke at Ignite Charity, he challenged us to all find one day and one hour a week to volunteer.

And it is that easy.

Volunteering doesn't always have to be in the places or in the positions that you expect. Volunteering can mean sitting on the board of a local agency, it can be picking up trash in the park or shovelling driveways for your elderly neighbours. People volunteer in PR and marketing roles, as accountants and as special event coordinators. If you find an organization that you are completely passionate about but they don't have a volunteer position that suits you why not send the Executive Director your resume, outline your skills and expertise and present them with a package detailing exactly what you think they're missing and what you can bring to the organization. I've had several volunteer roles created to suit my unique abilities.

There's nothing stopping you from volunteering. If you think you're too busy, you need to check out this post on Brendan Sheehan, the King of Busy. If you think you have nothing to offer, you're wrong.

So why not take up the Carlos Challenge? One hour a week. One hour a week where you will be changing lives. Making a difference. Being a change maker in your community.

In that 30 days I probably did the greatest thing I've ever done in my life. - Carlos Benevides

And I'm willing to bet it won't be the last. You truly are a community hero, Carlos.

*This is part 8 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Would you give the shirt off your back?

This video proves, you don't have to give the shirt off your back but for heaven's sake, if this man can give the shoes off his feet there MUST be something you can do to help.

Watch here, be inspired.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brendan Sheehan - Busy

Brendan Sheehan is a recovering Busyaholic. He thought life had more meaning when he was racing from one event or meeting to the next, not realizing that in the process of trying to be a modern-day Superman, he was actually alienating friends, family and community leaders at the same time.

He's still a busy guy. But now he's a busy guy with priorities. He's a student at the University of Waterloo with many more years of school to complete before he becomes an emergency room physician. He's the manager of Strategic Operations at the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation (a very worthy local organization, check it out!), he is on the Board of Directors and is the Fundraising Chair for the HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre  and in his "spare" time last year managed the vendors and grounds exhibits for the Waterloo Air Show.

Wow. Even for me, that's a lot. 

But he used to do more. Ask Brendan to be on a committee? Sure! How about running an information booth? Of course! Make 3000 paper cranes for a fundraising event centrepiece? He'd probably even do that.

And then he realized that he was late to committee meetings, his information booth was probably missing some key info and those paper cranes looked more like hedgehogs.


He noted, as many of us have experienced, that turning down an opportunity seems crazy. If you have the skills you ought to be using them to help others!

Many of us learn this valuable lesson, although often at a much older age than Brendan's. We work and work and work and the buildup overtakes us and then POOF. Nothing. An underwhelming event takes place. It's at that point we realize we're burnt out and that's when we take a step back.

Brendan tells us that we're not getting away with it. We think we have a higher capacity for work? No. You're just putting things on the backburner to complete something else. Your friends are starting to dislike you because you always flake at the last minute, your family thinks your laptop is more important than them, your toilet has some funky green stuff growing in it because hey, you're out saving the world, you don't have time to clean the bathroom.

Sit down and make a list of your priorities. There are some incredible organizations out there and giving one of them 5 hours of your time is probably much more beneficial that giving 5 different organizations 1 hour of your time.

You deserve to pare down your commitments. You get to know yourself, your friends and worthwhile organizations better. - Brendan Sheehan

**Author's note: I do not, in fact, know if Brendan has ever been asked to make thousands of paper cranes for an event or even if he know how to do origami (although one can guess that with his many other talents, he probably does). Being my blog, I take extreme liberties with illustrations and do not wish to be cited as a source that Brendan does have funky green stuff growing in his toilet or that he can make hedgehog-looking paper cranes. Why not contact him on twitter and ask for yourself @B_Sheehan.

*This is part 7 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Carson Kolberg - The Importance of Camp

Carson Kolberg reminds me of a boy, a delightful, energetic, SMART boy, trapped in a man's body. His enthusiasm is infectious. After he spoke at Ignite Charity I'm sure everyone in the crowd wanted to go to camp... immediately.

PHOTO CREDIT: Carson's LinkedIn profile,

Again, the focus of the talk was role models. Are we starting to gain a clearer picture of how important role models are in our society? Carson says we all deserve to have a role model. Young people, especially, NEED to have grounded, stable, vision-minded role models that can SHOW them how to be successful grown-ups. And this is why charities like Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Junior Achievement are so important. They give kids a chance to dream, believe and achieve.

What Carson taught me, having been a kid who didn't go to camp, was how many role models you can find in a camp setting and the long-term beneficial outcomes a young person can gain from going to camp. He spoke of soft skills gained at camp, of learning how to manage conflict, overcome bullying, teamwork, communication skills and finding resolution.

Who knew? I thought camp was all about the fun times spent far away from your parents.

He also spoke of the importance of BEING a role model and how we all DESERVE to be a role model. As an active volunteer, I certainly understand this concept. As much as people think that volunteering or role modelling is about the people we are serving, the volunteer or role model understands this important fact...

More often than not, we GET just as much as we GIVE.

If I didn't do street outreach, I wouldn't know all these amazing warm-hearted souls that are my clients. If I didn't get out and give needles to addicts, I wouldn't know their stories. I wouldn't have understood the WHY of how they got there. I would have instead just sat in my happy little Waterloo home and denounced them for having given their lives over to something so toxic.

You deserve to be a role model, to have people look up to you and believe in you. - Carson Kolberg

Let's all live like we're on Big Brother. Someone is ALWAYS watching. Someone is ALWAYS emulating. Whether you like it or not, you ARE a role model to someone right now. Now it is time to decide what kind of role model you want to be.

*This is part 6 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sara Casselman - Social Justice for Long-Term Solutions

Sara Casselman was noted this year by The Record as being one of Waterloo Region's Top 40 Under 40. She was also awarded a Leading Women, Building Communities award in 2011 and is setting examples across our fair city by educating and supporting women and helping men stand up in protest of violence against women.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sara's LinkedIn profile,

She's the Public Relations & Operations Manager of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASCWR) and she has a message that while direct service is an essential service in our area, becoming more and more important in the fight against ANY issue if we hope to eradicate it rather than clean up the aftermath, is social justice and advocacy.

Direct service provision is a simple concept. Direct service helps women after a sexual or physical assault. Direct service feeds the homeless on the streets. Direct service helps a person get back up after a mental breakdown.

The disconnect is often that these services offer no other support or strategic planning to go to the source of the problem. Eradicating homelessness isn't possible until we've built out all the possible ways that would lead a person to homelessness in the first place. While direct services are needed in our community, we always need to keep our eyes on the bigger picture...

Why is this _____________ (insert social epidemic here) happening in the first place?

She demonstrated with an illustrated story.

A townsperson saw a child drowning in the water. She ran in to save her. Then another child floated down the river, then another and another. Soon, the river was full of townspeople pulling their drowning children out of the water. 

This is direct service. These townspeople are cleaning up the aftermath of whatever horrible thing is causing their children to fall into the river and drown.

Eventually, someone realized that perhaps they should wade upriver and find out what was causing the children to drown and stop THAT.

And this, my friends, is social justice. This is the people like Sara who are helping with the aftermath but are also forging ahead to find the root cause of the problem.

Sara is a true leader in our community, showing us how to think forward and find true SOLUTIONS to social issues. In this way, she is not only a hero of the Not For Profit world, she's also a business leader and teacher, and we should be thankful that we have community heroes like her, teaching us how to become better global citizens and neighbours.

You can connect with Sara on twitter @SASCWR or find more information on Women's Issues on the SASCWR website.

*This is part 5 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mayor Brenda - Get Your Hands Dirty

Who doesn't love Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran?

Photo Credit: City of Waterloo website

In my previous post about role modelling, I said "If you are out in the community, you are being looked at. Everything you do reflects on yourself and the legacy your are leaving in this world." Mayor Brenda reflects this statement with every fibre of her being and she is one of my local role models.

Mayor Brenda started her Ignite Charity talk with the always relevant Ghandi quote, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Then she challenged us to go one further... "Can you be the change you want to see in our community?"

Being change-makers in our community is one of the most important tasks we can embark on. Being change-makers involves your civic duties of voting, cleaning litter and being respectful of your fellow citizens. Being change-makers means you go out of your way to make our community better.

In order to make change, Mayor Brenda says you need to get your hands dirty. You need to get involved. Not everyone is gifted to work with the homeless. I am and so I do. But that doesn't mean that there's nothing you can do to help the homeless and vulnerable in our city. You don't need to be on the street; you can be organizing press releases, sitting on a planning committee, putting a coat of paint up in a run-down apartment or donating funds to buy food and hygiene items. Maybe you can't volunteer within the hospital but with a passion you can help organize a penny drive for the Cancer Centre or you can be the lucky dude that gets to roll all those donated pennies.

There is a job for you. You are creative, talented and worthwhile. You have a lot to contribute to our community.

As much as we all want to help third-world starving children and women's rights, we all need to be thankful for those who are willing to dig in, contribute at home and continue to work to make our home the kind of place that other people dream of living in.

Step up. Fill a void. - Mayor Brenda Halloran 

*This is part 4 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Phil Noelting - The 1-Minute Education

We've all been there. We've started a new job, we're working our butts off and wondering if anyone notices. We work and work and work and eventually, because we think no one notices or no one cares we start to slip. Really, do you clean your house as well on a regular Saturday as you do on a Saturday when you're expecting guests? I didn't think so.

Phil Noelting emphasizes what we already know as workers but sometimes forget as leaders... feedback is crucial. Here's the kicker though, it's not just your boss that needs to give feedback, it's you too. Regardless of whether we want to admit it or not, we are all role models to someone. As parents, we are role models to our own children and the children around us by association. A grade 12 student is a role model to a 9th grader. As we sit on the bus, we are role models to the people around us. Business leaders become role models for entrepreneurs, students and their team members. If you are out in the community, you are being looked at. Everything you do reflects on yourself and the legacy your are leaving in this world.

So now that we know that we are all role models and we all have something to share we return to the first point. Feedback. Whether we are in a work, volunteer or social situation, it is imperative that we give feedback.

feedback |ˈfēdˌbak|
 information about reactions to a product, a person's performance of a task, etc., used as a basis for improvement.

Feedback can be both positive and negative and often should be both, using positive feedback as a qualifier for negative (or constructive) feedback. i.e. "John, I loved your use of visual graphing during your presentation however I feel that there were too many graphs to keep track of."

Phil teaches us that our feedback, however brief, and in whatever context, is used as part of a person's 1-minute education, and that education can be invaluable throughout our life. He spoke specifically of the value of feedback from our peers and other respected figures and the precedence it carries over feedback of our inner circle (i.e. Of course my Mom is going to say I look great today, she's my Mom!).

Build feedback into your day-to-day life, make it a point to notice and comment, always make your feedback constructive (build people up), know the right times to use it and don't overuse your influence.

Share what you know and be part of someone's 1-minute education. - Phil Noelting

PHOTO CREDIT: Phil Noelting twitter profile,

Phil Noelting is the founder of Qwalify Inc. He's a Superhero in the business world, helping businesses increase efficiency in sourcing, selecting, hiring and retaining employees. You can find Phil on twitter @pnoelting

*This is part 3 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Madeline Cranston... Pint-Sized Tidal Wave

When Madeline Cranston stepped onstage at Ignite Charity: Waterloo heads turned and eyes grew wide. Being in the back, I thought I was witness to a speaker falling on her face because I couldn't see anyone up there. Then I lowered my gaze down and down until my eyes fell upon the sweetest speaker ever to grace an Ignite stage.

Madeline is 9 years old and in 4th grade. She dreams of being a Marine Biologist and Conservationist. She's determined to save our oceans and all the marine life in them. She's an ambassador for AfriOceans Conservation Alliance (AOCA) and on Earth Day, she raised $250 through a bake sale with her Save the Shark club. She is also the creator of the Cool Clicks to Save Our Planet website.

Madeline's blog is a resting place for all links marine life on the web. She fundraises for, AfriOceans and National Geographic, she blogs about planet saving tips like going vegetarian for a week, the dangers of plastic bags and her real-life marine biology heroes. She teaches us that there are more squirrel attacks in a year than shark attacks (I had no idea!) and that one pint-sized girl can have a heart as big as an ocean.

I created this site with the help of my mom who inspired me because she is a blogger.  I also wanted to blog because one day in Science, my teacher, Mrs. Bradley, told us about how little fresh water is left on our planet.  The amount has dropped a lot and it makes me really sad.  So sad that I cry whenever I think about it.  So, I want to tell you how to save water, how to save our oceans and the animals that live in it.  Our planet is precious.  Help me save it. - Madeline Cranston

Onstage, Madeline was confident. She held 270 captive adults in the palm of her hand, waiting to hear what she was going to say. When she stumbled slightly, the crowd cheered her on and at the end, a standing ovation, one of only a few I've seen after 13 Ignite events.

If Madeline can change the world, so can you. Here are a few of her tips on how you can make our Earth a better place:

I'm trying to help save our planet by doing little things everyday.  You can too.  Here are some tips:
* try being a vegetarian for a week. 
* buy a low flow toilet that uses rain water
* try to watch less television
* if you see trash (even if it isn't yours) pick it up and put it in the garbage
* recycle as much as you can 
* try not buy new things

Some of these tips may be harder than others to do.  Just try, okay?

Just try, okay? If for nothing else, don't we want to help keep our planet as beautiful as possible for the kids like Maddie?

*This is part 2 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jim Moss... Turning Small Gratitudes into a Big Movement

Right now, Jim Moss may be best known as a former professional lacrosse player in the NLL. At least, that's what Google thinks. But even the world's best search engine can be wrong at times, because what I know Jim for is something different... it's the Smile Epidemic.

In short history, Jim's an all-star athlete... from what I gather he's the kind of guy who'd be good at any sport he tried, even if he'd never heard of it before that day. In September of 2009, Jim started experiencing pain and swelling in his arms and hands and one day, found he could barely walk, his legs just weren't listening. Soon after he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. It's an autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system attacks the nervous system and leaves inflammation that causes muscle weakness or paralysis, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, fainting and other frightening symptoms.

So Jim started a gratitude journal called Why Moving Sideways is Actually Still Moving Forward... a place where he could heal through writing and where his family, friends and fans could keep in the loop on his progress. The blog is very insightful and heartwarming... even at the worst, you can still almost literally feel his upbeat attitude coming right at you through the computer screen.

Eventually, Jim, his wife Jennifer and their son moved back to Canada. Jim started at Wilfred Laurier University and is working towards a bachelor's degree in psychology. Now, Jim learns that he doesn't have Guillain_Barre Syndrome at all but an as yet to be diagnosed movement disorder and he's found a new calling that doesn't involve hurling rubber balls at people's heads. He became an instructor with The Happiness Enhancement Group and then launched The Smile Epidemic blog. 

The Smile Epidemic is a "shared digital gratitude journal" where readers send in pictures with their paper smiles and the simple things that make them happy. 

"Starbucks delivered - with a hug"
"Great conversations"
"Big Bang Theory marathons"
"Being married to my best friend"
"Bonfires & family bonding"

These are just a few of the vast amount of smile provokers on the blog. One look at the cover page has me grinning from ear to ear.... really now, who can resist a great smile?

Jim also won a grant from the KW Awesome Foundation (we know the Awesome Foundation, now don't we? FoodLove won a grant in July 2011) to adapt The Smile Epidemic for schools.

In a world that can at times, be overwhelmingly sad and depressing, Jim Moss has given us a way to remember the little things that make life better. Whatever you're grateful for, be it your morning cup of coffee, a hug from a friend or a blog that reminds you that there are great people out there doing great things (meaning this blog, of course), why not take a picture and submit it to The Smile Epidemic? Be a part of the worldwide phenomenon of taking a moment to be grateful for what you have, because what we have is often all we need.

Smiling because of all the awesome events in Waterloo Region.

*This is part 1 in a series of 15 blogs detailing the amazing projects presented in the world's first ever Ignite Charity: Waterloo. For more info on Ignite Charity visit and follow the conversation on twitter @IgniteCharity.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Igniting a Spark!

Ahhhh, the poor, poor neglected Baking the World a Better Place blog. It's not that I've been ignoring you, it's just... well... there are so many people out there that need help and you, dear blog, are in a place on the interwebs that nobody sees. I'd say it's not you, but it kinda is.

But things change, and life sometimes gives us opportunities that we didn't have before. Opportunities like the transition from being a business owner to being a full-time volunteer, mom and prospective college student on the path to a career change. So suddenly, while I'm still working with the same amount of hours each day, my time priorities have definitely shifted and the Better Place blog has found a bigger place in my heart, one where I will be able to share some amazing stories about amazing people.

Hopefully someone out there will find you, dear blog, and be inspired. 

Tomorrow, I will start on a 15 blog re-cap of the World's First Ignite Charity: Waterloo. If you haven't heard of Ignite events before, here's the 411:

The first Ignite was held in Seattle in 2006. It is now a global event, run exclusively by volunteers         and the speakers are each given 5 minutes to speak about their ideas, passion and projects. While speaking, 20 slides (usually relevant to the topic) auto-advance at a pace of 15 seconds each. Theoretically, the presentations "Ignite" the audience, spawning discussion and action on the subjects presented. 

The above has certainly been the case for every Ignite event I've attended, 13 of them now! It can be raw and emotional, heartfelt, funny, quirky and downright bizarre and by far, Ignite is one of my favourite events to attend.

When I heard organizers were bringing the World's first Ignite Charity to the stage, of course I knew I had to be a part of it. Charity is what I do. So through the action of a thoughtful Twitter friend I hadn't even met yet (thank you Tina!) I got my ticket and prepared myself for an evening of being surrounded by like-minded people. It was FABULOUS. 14 incredible speakers. Each of whom deserves more than   a paragraph describing their passion. So watch out tomorrow and for the next 15 days as I profile speakers, passions and causes you'll want to learn even more about.