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Purple Scarves and Supporting Your Local Women's Shelter

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 4:08 PM

Be part of the Wrapped in Courage Campaign by wearing a purple scarf this month.

November is Woman Abuse Awareness Month.  One of the amazing ways you can show your support for women and children living with violence is to take part in the "Wrapped in Courage" campaign, which asks you wear a purple scarf as a symbol of solidarity with abused women and children.  I'm going to ask you to do one more thing.

Please think about lending your support to your local women's shelter. Over the past 10 years I have worked closely with many shelters across Ontario and here's what I would like you to know: every shelter I have come to know has lived and breathed the plight of women and children living with abuse.  The Executive Directors, Managers, Front Line Workers, Counsellors, Advocates, Administrators, Support Staff, and Fundraisers that work in women's shelters are a 24-7, 365 day-a-year lifeline to women and children in crisis.  The work that happens in shelters saves and changes lives, usually with scarce resources, tight funding, and limited capacity.  But none of those barriers limits the work or indomitable commitment of shelter workers to provide safe haven and a way forward for abused women and children.  Similarly, I can tell you that the women that access shelter services are the very embodiment of courage and strength.  But as the "Wrapped in Courage" campaign reminds us: the courage of a woman alone is not enough.  Shelters need your donations, support, volunteer time, and advocacy.

So, yes, wear a purple scarf this month and let people know that you stand with all women and children living with abuse.  And then please lend your skills, time, and/or dollars to your local women's shelter.

Peace,
Corrie
One Spark Executive Director

An Amazing Day

Friday, October 3, 2014 6:42 AM

I'd just like to take a moment to thank everyone who made yesterday's golf tournament such an amazing and successful event.  From our title sponsor, CCI Studios, to our Board of Directors (and our trail-blazing President, Jo-Anne Liburd) to our Fundraising Intern, Fatima Amjad, to our incredible volunteers and our big-hearted golfers: you are the reason our work will continue to be done.  Thank you from all of us at One Spark.  Can't wait to see you all back next year.

Peace and courage,
Corrie Schneider, One Spark Executive Director


One Spark Celebrates its First Birthday!

Thursday, August 21, 2014 9:25 AM

It was a year ago this week - on August 23rd - that One Spark officially became a registered entity and life was breathed into a vision of ensuring that no woman faces financial barriers to living a life without violence.  As cliché as it may sound to say that time flies, One Spark's first year has come and gone in a blink, and yet has been packed with planning, activity, engagement, and excitement both about what has been accomplished and what lies just over the horizon.

Here are some of our favourite year one highlights:

  • On December 17th, 2013 the One Spark Board of Directors convened its first official meeting.  We are extremely proud of the dynamic group that has worked diligently over the past year to govern, guide, and serve as the heart and soul of the organization.  Our inaugural Board of Directors includes President, Jo-Anne Liburd; Vice-President, Flavio Volpe; Secretary, Rachel Ryan; Treasurer, Howie Paskowitz; Member Marlo Taylor; and Member Heather Lapier.  Their giving of time and talent is the reason One Spark can effectively deliver its mission.

  • On November 25th, 2013 One Spark launched its inaugural Candle Campaign.  For the 11 days between November 25th (The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and December 6th (The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women), we promoted the campaign, which asked people to place lit candles in their window on December 6th to honour, remember, and shine a light on victims of domestic violence.  We then asked people to share their pictures on the One Spark Facebook page and were so proud to see our page glow!  This year, we are raising the bar on campaign engagement and eventually hope to light up the world on December 6th.

  • We launched a drive to collect used laptops for women participating in our programs.  We had both corporate and individual donors generously give us computers for re-use.  We will continue to collect any laptops that are functional...your retiring laptop is a critical business tool for a woman escaping violence.

  • We met with potential community partners and developed opportunities for One Spark's programming to enhance the capacity of organizations already doing great work.  We were thrilled to be so warmly welcomed by the Workplace Group in Sarnia, one of the first program partners to come on board.

  • We reviewed, finalized, tested, and re-tested program components to ensure we are providing the highest and most effective levels of programming and service to women living with violence.  We were humbled by the work of Greg Zatulovsky and Leanne Ho, two accountants who so generously gave of the time to peer review our programs and make valuable recommendations for program enhancements.  We are also grateful for the amazing engagement of Lynn Bice, an entrepreneur that assisted us with beta testing and ensured we had thought of program development from every angle.

  • We laid the groundwork for the very first One Spark Golf Tournament happening on October 2nd, 2014 at Deer Creek Golf Course in Ajax, and we are thrilled to have brought on board our fabulous Fundraising Intern, Fatima Amjad, to help make it happen.  We were also thrilled and grateful that the amazing CCI Studios signed on as our title sponsor.  If you are looking for a birthday present to be treasured by One Spark, this would be it!  Come out and join us and be the spark that ensures that we continue to increase our impact on the lives of women and children living with violence.

  • On August 1st, 2014, One Spark officially became a registered charity, which means the charitable donation portion of your golf tournament fees are tax deductible!  We are thrilled about the ways in which our charitable designation will open doors for us to more effectively serve the women participating in our programs.

So, now we journey into the amazing possibilities of our second year.  We have big plans and vast work to be done.  We're excited to see you along the way in all the ways that you can be part of our mission to help women live lives free of violence.  Here's to another incredible year!!!

Honouring World Humanitarian Day

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 12:01 PM

Today is World Humanitarian Day.  We just wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on all who dedicate their lives to bringing aid, comfort, relief, and peace to so many around the globe.  In particular, we wanted to remember those who have paid the ultimate price for their commitment to relieving the struggles of others.

To put this in perspective, the year 2013 set a new record for violence against civilian aid operations, with 251 separate attacks affecting 460 aid workers. Of the 460 victims, 155 aid workers were killed, 171 were seriously wounded, and 134 were kidnapped. Overall this represents a 66 per cent increase  in the number of victims from 2012.

We, at One Spark, want to thank all who so selflessly walk into the crises and tragedies that most of us only read about or see on the news in order to provide comfort and dignity to those affected.  Here's to you, and thank you.

"To be bold, to be brave.
It is the thinking that the heart can still be saved
And the darkness can come quick
The danger's in the anger and the hanging on to it.
We are Love
We are One
We are how we treat each other when the day is done
We are Peace
We are War
We are how we treat each other and nothing more.
Tell me what it is that you see
A world that's filled with endless possibilites?
Heroes don't look like they used to, they look like you do."
                                                         -Nothing More by the Alternate Routes




One Spark Receives Official Charitable Status

Monday, August 11, 2014 8:06 PM

We are proud to announce that the Canada Revenue Agency has approved One Spark for official charitable status.  This is an exciting development and major milestone for the organization: it will open up funding channels for the important work of the organization and allow us to issue tax receipts for the generous donations made by our supporters.  We look forward to demonstrating to our stakeholders our firm commitment to the accountability standards expected of Canadian charities. 

Most importantly, we look forward to the many ways that charitable designation will ultimately benefit the women we serve and enhance our ability to assist women to access the financial means to escape violence. Access to charitable funding will allow us to maximize our reach and to diligently seek the resources that will sustain our work to end violence.  For all of these reasons, we celebrate this important and wonderful step forward for One Spark.

One Spark is Seeking a Fundraising Summer Intern

Monday, July 7, 2014 7:24 AM

FUNDRAISING INTERN


About One Spark

One Spark (www.one-spark.ca) is a new organization (launched October 2013) with the goal of eliminating obstacles to financial sustainability for women facing violence—a critical component of supporting women’s transition to a violence-free life. We work with women experiencing violence to create a simple business plan that outlines how they might contribute to their financial safety plan by generating income working for themselves. We facilitate the process of registering a woman's business, including covering the cost of registration, provide training on basic business issues, and provide women with a laptop computer and the basic software required to engage in business-related activities. As a new organization, we are pursuing fundraising opportunities and are looking for support from a summer intern.


About this Position

We are looking for a savvy intern to start immediately and work throughout the summer to help us prepare for our first large fundraising event – a golf tournament that will kickstart our ability to deliver services to women who need them and will introduce One Spark to potential long-term donors. The tournament will be held on October 2nd. The intern will work directly with the Executive Director and Chair of the Board to help us ensure the success of the event through securing sponsorships and silent auction donations.


The intern will be expected to conduct the following activities:

·         Reach out to and secure donations from prospects who can offer items worth $100-$2,000 for our event silent auction

·         Reach out to and secure sponsorships from organizations/individuals willing to sponsor various aspects of the event (e.g. lunch, dinner tables, golf holes, hole-in-one competition, etc.)

·         Communicate regularly with the ED and Chair and participate in periodic meetings

·         Share progress with the event planning committee (to meet at least once a month in the evening during July, August and September 2014)

·         Liaise with donors and sponsors as appropriate and steward our relationship with them to ensure their experience with One Spark is positive and meets their expectations

·         Arrange for silent auction items (and other items) to be delivered to the venue or designated location

 
Skills Required

We are looking for a smart, organized, tenacious and likeable individual. The ideal candidate isn’t shy about asking for support and loves to connect with people to create win-win situations. You are professional and well-spoken and sensitive to the important issues of domestic violence. You respect and will adhere to One Spark’s values and are excited to represent our organization to potential supporters. Prior sponsorship and fundraising experience is a definite asset.

 
Location

Flexible. The intern can work primarily from home if s/he wishes. Occasionally, s/he may need to work at or near the Chair’s home office in downtown Toronto in order to have immediate access to advice, answers, and plenty of junk food.

 
Work Term

Up to two months, starting immediately

 
Compensation

$800 honorarium ($400/month) + 10% commission on all sponsorship and silent auction revenue from the event.

 
To apply, please email corrie@one-spark.ca.

Thoughts from our Board Members

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 7:33 AM

One Spark has been built on the goodwill, passion, and commitment of an exceptional team of people willing to lend us their time and talents.  There are few things more exciting than seeing their passion for One Spark's mission and work being ignited and we are pleased to share with you the thoughts of Board Member and CCI Studios' Vice President, Heather Lapier.  After speaking to a potential new community partner last week, Heather was feeling particularly excited about our organization and captured her thoughts in her personal blog:

http://audreysupperstory.blogspot.ca/2014/05/one-spark.html

We are so grateful to Heather and our entire Board of Directors for the incredible work they do. They really are the spark that lights our organization.  To each of our amazing Board members, thank you!

To Mom: Thank You For Your Extraordinary (A Mother's Day Tribute)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 9:05 AM

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to enter my mom into a Mother of the Year contest, hoping like anything I could win her a K-Mart shopping spree or afternoon at the hair salon.  What (sadly, in hindsight) usually stopped me was the thought that for sure the contest would favour the entry by the kid that wrote about how their mom trekked to Antarctica to rescue a stranded whale or summited Everest without bottled oxygen or built – and taught in – schools in remote villages with little to no educational (or other) resources.  It’s pretty hard to argue with how amazing the uncommon is, but I always believed that if I could tell my mom’s story her everyday would almost certainly equal (and, in my adoring mind, trump) any other award-winning moment-in-time achievement.  

At the heart of my mom’s extraordinary is that she woke up every morning before we were the age of reason (and, let’s be honest, probably to this day) and lived five lives: hers and the life of each of her four kids.  When we were really little people, her multiple lives meant doing four additional times everything that she had to do to sustain life in herself: ensuring four additional people ate, slept, washed, learned, stayed safe, and maintained good health.  Moving up the hierarchy of needs, she invested all of herself into making sure those same four little people were actively engaged in our kid networks and, more broadly, in our community: that we learned critical information and values that would lead to good decision-making down the road.  But, teaching us values wasn't enough: she had to model them, and model them even when she might not have been feeling them, to boot.  As we got older, she was given the mom gift of being intimately connected to all of the emotions that came with four unique young person journeys: she simultaneously felt the ache of a child left out at school while feeling the excitement of another counting down to their birthday while feeling the fear of a child in a doctor’s waiting room and a fourth child nervous about an upcoming public speaking event.  Only she felt these things differently and, at times, worse, because she felt them with all the knowledge and life experience of an adult: understanding, fearing, and anticipating all of the possibilities that came with each of our life moments.  And she had to find a place for all of these feelings in the middle of her own, non-mom life experiences.  Her extraordinary is embracing all of that chaos as her personal reality while never stepping out of mom character...staying unwaveringly focused, calm, and able to lead us with a mom’s clarity and strength.

But, perhaps even more than what my mom has done, her extraordinary is defined by what she didn't do.  For all of her independence as a grown woman, she was bound at every turn.  The world was really only her oyster as long as her four little pearls had a safe place to go until she got home from work, or she could be sure that she and my dad could manage unexpected sickness, crisis, and/or the general life ebbs and flows of her little sea creatures.  She iron-willed herself not to put up stop signs at every corner, even when she knew that if we continued down the road her load would get heavier, more expensive, and sometimes lie-awake-at-night unnerving.  She never breathed a word to us about the opportunity costs of her sacrifices.

My mom’s extraordinary is not one single award-winning event, although there are many that qualify.  She has lived a child’s cancer, car accidents, moves across the province and across the world, putting four children through university (at personal expense that I’m sure we will never understand), and being a top performer in her career.  My mom is a nurse, which means that when she wasn't selflessly caring for us, she was selflessly caring for strangers.  Her extraordinary is waking up every morning choosing to pour her cup into ours instead of filling it up.  Her extraordinary is that for most of her life she has forfeited even having the option of hopping in the car on a whim, rolling down the windows, and driving wherever the road may lead.  When you think about it, as priorities go, that’s a heck of a commitment to make.

In so many ways, my mom is the reason I am so passionate about the work of One Spark.  As an adult, I understand and appreciate womanhood and motherhood because my mom has modeled it with such conviction and elegance and she has such a beautiful commitment to it.  When I think about how challenging many days must have been for her, it gives me pause to think about the women who make those same incredible commitments while living in the shadows of violence.  My extreme awe for how my mom managed motherhood in the absence of violence makes me champion women who want all the same wonderful things for their kids, but have to overcome the added contexts of fear and abuse to get there. I desperately want women to be lifted up and supported in that journey.

So, this Mother’s Day, I want to tell my mom that I love her for her extraordinary and to say to moms everywhere that One Spark salutes the extraordinary in each of your journeys.  My wish for each of you is that in all of your day-to-day sacrifices, may you also know moments of complete joy, rest that feeds your spirit, and hearts at perfect peace.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Corrie
Executive Director, One Spark

It's International Day of Happiness

Thursday, March 20, 2014 6:02 AM


Happy International Day of Happiness from One Spark.  We wish you a day of complete peace and joy.  To mark the occasion, we thought we would share a video that always makes us happy. :)

Peace.


For All Phenomenal Women

Friday, March 7, 2014 4:34 AM

"Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me."
-Maya Angelou

On International Women's Day, One Spark honours and celebrates phenomenal women everywhere.  Here's to our moms, sisters, aunts, wives, grandmothers, cousins, girlfriends, daughters, nieces, colleagues, mentors, teachers, and friends.  Happy Women's Day!

A Simple Call to Action on International Women's Day

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 5:56 AM

Our tagline at One Spark is “We believe in possibilities.”  In a way, it’s also our mission, our vision, and the bottom line to our values.  The struggle facing women globally, and in our own backyards, is well-documented by so many amazing organizations doing such great work to light a match in the dark corners of oppression: to educate women and girls; to end slavery and trafficking; to end the rape and brutalizing of women as a war tactic; to end child marriage and female genital mutilation; and to end intimate partner violence, among other important and impactful work.

One Spark is built on the idea of opening doors to new possibilities that provide options and alternatives to women experiencing violence.  Our great hope and vision is that having a financial safety plan could be a single, critical spark in the fire of courage and determination that leads to change.  In the process, women may feel more empowered over their circumstances and, systemically, we can also begin to address poverty, housing, unemployment, and other key issues that impact both individual and community health and development.

Our call to action is to ask you to do a simple thing this International Women's Day: please consider helping One Spark to access the tools women need to build their own financial safety plans to courageously work towards violence-free futures.  We are currently seeking used, but functional, laptops that women can use to help generate income.  If you are a business that upgrades retired computers, or an individual that has a working laptop that you no longer use, please consider donating it to our Entrepreneurship Program...a small act that will have incredible impact.  Computers will be used by women working to generate self-employment income: it will provide access to fundamental technology that can exponentially expand business/employment opportunities.  More information on our programs can be found at http://one-spark.ca/programs-services.

This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating hope and new roads that can lead to safety, security, and amazing potential fulfilled! Thank you in advance for your support!

To donate a laptop, please email Corrie Schneider, Executive Director, at corrie@one-spark.ca or call us at 416.697.0620.




On Family Day...

Monday, February 17, 2014 3:12 PM

On Family Day, we wanted to share with you one of our favourite videos: it's of Patrick Stewart answering questions at Comicpalooza.  A woman asks him what he is most proud of that is unrelated to acting and he answers with a response that pays tribute to his mom, who was a survivor of domestic violence, and also talks about work he has done to address challenges faced by his dad.  In the course of his response, he passionately states that "violence is never, ever a choice that a man should make" and provides comfort to a brave survivor.  He demonstrates how our love for and experiences with family - whether wonderful or challenging - can ultimately inspire us to do amazing things.

Happy Family Day from One Spark.

(You can read Heather Skye's first-hand account of her experience with Patrick Stewart at http://lemonsweetie.tumblr.com/post/51652237280)


Beyond Micro-Hopes

Monday, January 27, 2014 9:07 AM

“Microfinance is an incredibly powerful tool … but we must move beyond micro-hopes and micro-ambitions for women.”
                                                  -Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

In an earlier post, we talked about why One Spark is focusing on assisting women to become entrepreneurs.  We highlighted a vision of women building an individualized financial safety plan and financial security by exploring the options available to them through self employment.  In this TedxWomen talk, reporter Gayle Tzemach Lemmon talks about how far-reaching and powerful the outcomes of investing in women entrepreneurs can - and will - be.