World AIDS Day is Over – Now What?

“The willingness to share does not make one charitable; it makes one free”
– Robert Brault

Yesterday was World AIDS Day, a global event designed to increase awareness of HIV, the fight to eradicate the disease, and the people living with it every day. I marked World AIDS Day by attending AIDS Vancouver’s Red Ribbon Awards honouring pioneers in HIV research, and those people who for years have been dedicated to supporting the HIV community.

It was a lovely, moving event. And it’s over.

But the need to help this vulnerable community isn’t.

AIDS Vancouver will be holding its annual Holiday Grocery Day on Tuesday, December 15th from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm, with the goal to provide festive food to 700 people, on this single day.

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How can you help?

Volunteer your time. There’s a need for Holiday Grocery Event Day Volunteers  on December 14th for set-up, and again on the 15th during the event.

Make a donation online, by mail, or in person. Cash donations ensure that the AIDS Vancouver Grocery Program can continue to operate all year round.

Donate in-kind, or become a sponsor. Contact Heidi Morgan, Grocery Coordinator, by email at heidim@aidsvancouver.org, or phone: 604-696-4678.

AIDS Vancouver is located at 803 East Hastings St., Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A 1R8. Hours of operation are 9 am – 4 pm Monday – Friday.

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I plan to be there, camera in hand. Can you spare some time, or give to this cause?

Awesome Meets Reality

I had an amazing week on so many levels.

I was a roving photographer at Kerry Gibson’s fabulous Elevate and Celebrate event to raise funds to make elegant and historic Hycroft accessible to everyone.

Then, an unbelievable experience at my first SVI Women in Vancouver conference that brought together an incredible group of smart, talented, passionate and generous entrepreneurs for two and a half days. I was fortunate to gain admission as a volunteer photographer – and I poured my heart into producing a collection of photos that captured the intensity, joy and energy of the event through the eye of the lens. You can view all of the photos on my Flickr site. I’m pretty proud of them.

And, over this past week alone, my Flickr views have skyrocketed – up to an incredible (at least to me!) 28,300 views to almost 170,000 views! I know it’s probably not much of a leap to some, but that growth spurt means the world to me.

It’s given me a huge confidence boost at a point where I really, really need one.

It’s validated my belief that I can and do contribute to the success of an event by documenting it in my unique way.

I’m also hoping that it’s been an #EyeOpener for the people who’ve seen my photos.

Because I need more than an awesome week.

I need paid work. Badly. As much as I’ve loved all of these amazing experiences, and the people I’ve met along the way, real life and the need to make money can bugger up all the awesomeness.

So I’m putting it out there again.

If you or anyone you know needs a photographer, PR gal, writer, editor, community builder, accessibility consultant, public speaker, cat sitter, envelope licker or pretty well anything that doesn’t involve driving cars, waiting tables, or 20/20 vision – please feel free to contact me.

I have a hell of a lot to offer. Let me open your eyes.

 

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It’s Time to Give Back

For the past several months I’ve been writing and consulting for an organization I admire greatly. Canadian Women in Technology, also known as CanWIT, is Canada’s premier national grassroots organization dedicated to promoting tech careers for women.

And it’s an organization facing a huge challenge – one that may surprise you a much as it did me.

  • Canadian women make up only 25% of the technology workforce, with only a small number hold management positions.
  • A staggering 52% of these highly trained and qualified women will leave their jobs after only 10 years. This doesn’t bode well for young women considering careers in technology.
  • 38% of women hold leadership roles in Canada, yet only 16% hold leadership roles in the corporate sector (compared with 59% in the education sector and 37% in government agencies);
  • 37% of Boards of Directors and 17% of Senior Management Teams have no female representation in the corporate sector.

CanWIT has risen to the challenge, and with the support of Status of Women Canada has developed an online eMentorship program to bring seasoned professionals together with young women to nurture, encourage and inspire. CanWIT believes that mentorship matters, and can help turn these stats around, by encouraging the participation and advancement of females in tech.

As a woman who’s been a tech PR professional for more than 30 (!) years, I can really appreciate the value of mentorship, I like the online aspect, and I’ve been honoured to help contribute to its ongoing success.

But, you know…I haven’t done enough. I haven’t mentored anyone.

I can fall back on excuses – no time, too caught up in my life, too many commitments, etc. – but I know better.

I’ve been afraid to commit. I’ve held back, questioned myself, hesitated. For too long.

Why? Early on in my career I’m afraid I wasn’t always a good role model. I was too judgmental, too quick to criticize, too impatient. I’m not sure I always listened the way I should. And it’s not as if I didn’t love my job, and working with younger people. I didn’t have the confidence. I didn’t have the skills. To be honest, I could have used more mentorship myself.

I don’t think I’m alone. I think many of us are too hard on ourselves. We forget that we’re human, we make mistakes, lots of mistakes. But life happens to stretch and shape us. it may be a painful process, but we do grow.

And now, at this stage of my life, at the time of the year when thoughts turn to giving, I am ready to give back. Do I feel I have something to offer now? You bet!

I’ve got a lifetime of experience that stretches back to the days of typewriters and liquid paper and includes the launch of voicemail, email and cell phones. It’s a life that has seen enormous advances in the technologies younger generations can’t imagine being without. It’s a life that has embraced all kinds of change and is still absorbing, adopting and learning. And hopefully, it’s a life that offers some inspiration as a seasoned PR gal who just happens to be legally blind.

So I’m going to become an eMentor – and I’d love to take you with me. I know without even having to think about it that I know hundreds of men and women who have talent to burn, time to spare and a passion for the technology they’ve loved over many years.

Please take a few minutes to learn more about CanWIT’s eMentorship program and sign up. Be the role model these women want and need to grow and advance in their careers. I can’t think of a better gift.

Share. Guide. Inspire. And have a hell of a good time doing it. I know I will!

 

Time to Spare? Time to Share…

Last year, I was fortunate to discover and lend my support to a charity that was so unique, so creative, that I had to get involved again. Let me tell you about the 3rd Annual Timeraiser Vancouver event that’s happening this coming Thursday, September 23rd at the Roundhouse Community Centre in the heart of Yaletown.

Timeraiser was started in 2002 by a group of friends who wanted to find meaningful, relevant volunteer opportunities in their home community.  It’s blossomed into an annual event that operates across Canada.

It’s a charity with a twist, using a silent art auction as an incentive for what they call “speed dating for volunteerism”. For a $20 ticket, people can view works of local artists, then bid on their favorites. But the currency during Timeraiser isn’t cash, but volunteer hours which are so desperately needed by cultural, social and health agencies.

Participants meet with representatives from more than 25 diverse agencies – including Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Canadian Autism Network, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Immigrant Services Society of BC, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation – and match their skills to the needs of the organizations.  Once they decide where they want to get involved, they bid anywhere from 20-125 volunteer hours on their favorite piece of art.  Winning bidders then have 12 months to complete their pledge before they receive the artwork as a reward for their dedication.

So far, Timeraisers have prompted 3,600 Canadians to volunteer, generated more than 45,000 volunteer hours for some 250 different charities, and invested $300,000 in the careers of cutting-edge artists.

Interested? I’d love to see you there. In fact, let me help make that happen.

I have two Timeraiser tickets to give away. Simply comment to this post and tell me why you want to attend, and what volunteerism means to you, and I’ll pick a lucky winner at random tomorrow at 5pm.

It will be my pleasure to meet you there and introduce you to the wonderful, committed people who’ve made this happen for the past three years.

Giving the Gift of Time

Like many people, I sometimes complain about how social media can bring out the worst in people.  But social media also brings out the very best in us.  I’ve seen it Danny Brown‘s remarkable 12for12K campaign, in the two Twestivals I’ve attended in Vancouver – and in the latest charitable event that’s happening this Thursday, September 24th at the Roundhouse in Yaletown – the second Vancouver Timeraiser.

Timeraiser was started in 2002 by a group of friends who wanted to find meaningful, relevant volunteer opportunities in their home community.  Seven years and 10 Timeraisers later, the initiative has grown into an annual event that operates in six cities across Canada.

It’s a charity with a twist, using a silent art auction to raise not money, but something equally as valuable.  Time.  That precious commodity we all have so little of, and is so desperately needed by cultural, social and health agencies that are chronically short of volunteers.

Participants meet with representatives from more than 25 diverse agencies – including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Operation Eyesight, Special Olympics and the Urban Native Youth Association – and match their skills to the needs of the organizations.  Once attendees determine where they want to get involved, they bid anywhere from 20-125 volunteer hours on artwork by some of Vancouver’s most talented emerging artists.  Winning bidders then have 12 months to complete their pledge before they receive the artwork as a reminder of their goodwill.

It’s a unique concept, and it’s captured the imagination of many across the country.  So far, Timeraisers have prompted 3,600 Canadians to volunteer, generated more than 45,000 volunteer hours for some 250 different charities, and invested $300,000 in the careers of cutting-edge artists.

Admission is $20.  I’m going to attend.  I haven’t volunteered in years.  It’s about time I did.  After all, I belong here now:-)

How about you?   For more info, or to register, visit the Timeraiser site here.