My life was forever changed in one diagnosis: cancer. After 25 years, I had finally learned that the rash on my body was the precursor to a rare form of cancer called for Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (CTCL) that would need to be treated with full-body radiation. My treatment plan was as unique as my diagnosis.
In early May, we buried an amazing 19-year-old-boy. This was Ryan Marston, an inspiration to us all. He fought the good fight three times before finally losing his battle, but in his passing, this young man left behind a legacy -- he was determined not to be forgotten, though he did not know it then.
As seniors age, much of their time is freed from the commitments of work and family and they start to look for ways to participate more actively in their communities. As the saying goes, doing good makes you feel good, and the seniors who continue to make a difference every day are true testaments to that.
Every year, charities reap the benefits of Canadians' generous holiday spirit, seeing a significant bump in December donations. In fact, more than a third of CanadaHelps' annual donations are achieved in this one month alone. While that seasonal generosity is important for charities, there is an unfortunate downside -- as the seasons change and the weather gets warmer, donations tend to dry up, leaving gaps for many organizations. I call this the "summer drought."
You see a pamphlet or a charity commercial about suffering kids in third world countries. Do you feel the kind of empathy that facilitates generosity, or do you feel the uncomfortable guilt that you try to avoid? At first, the shocking statistics and graphic photos worked -- the message was powerful and emotive. But after one too many pamphlets and commercials, the message is plain.
Considering we now live in an age where virtually any piece of information is at our fingertips, it should come as no surprise that Canadians have become increasingly interested in seeing how their charitable dollars are being spent. People now want visibility into the impact their chosen charities are making in the world, and it is a charity's ability to drive results which will inspire donors to give more.
When my grandmother was in her early 70s, her children and grandchildren quickly learned that something wasn't quite right. My grandfather had recently passed away and my grandmother was living alone in her house in Charlottetown. When we went to visit her, we were never sure if she would recognize us.
Imagine a life where a saucepan is your most treasured resource. Where having access to a single a garden hoe can make a world of difference to your family's livelihood. Where that family consists of several orphaned grandchildren, many of whom are HIV positive. And you, an elderly grandmother, are their only hope for survival.
Our world has some incredible non-profit organizations that are working to solve some of the greatest challenges of our time. Unfortunately many of these organizations are not equipped to effectively articulate their story to the public, potential donors and supporters, thought leaders, and politicians.
Some 31,000 women are currently pregnant inside the Islamic State. These children born out of conflict will form the future ranks of the group. School curriculum is being altered and reshaped to support extremism and strict adherence to the Islamic State's view of religion and philosophy. Children are desensitized to violence and trained for combat from an early age. This presents a complex, yet vitally important, challenge for any nations engaged with the Islamic State.
This desire to 'do good' without any financial reward might help explain why the number of Canadians taking advantage of charitable tax credits plummeted from 29.5 to 21.9 per cent from 1990 to 2013, and why under six million people claim the federal Charitable Donation Tax Credit each year despite the fact that about 24 million of us (about 85 per cent of Canadians) make an annual financial donation to charity.
As Martin Luther King Jr. saw it, to those living on the margins of our communities, acts of charity and compassion should be our very first response to meet the need. But then there is the next stage. What caused it? Who is responsible? How can we change things at their source so that acts of charity are not as required as those where we help those who begin to find their footing?