Dec 01, 2021 /

12 Days 4 Good

We’re highlighting the work of some of our amazing partners who engage in inspiring work all year long. Click each day or scroll down the page to find out more.

Day 1

What is 12 days 4 good?

The #12days4good social media campaign was first launched by House of Friendship. Inspired by the giving spirit during the holiday season, local communities were invited to give back through simple good deeds for 12 consecutive days in December.

Over the next 12 days, we’ll be highlighting the work of some of our amazing partners who engage in inspiring work all year long through the lens of our Community Inspiration Framework.

Kindred’s Community Inspiration Framework is a living guide for how we make our purpose tangible in the communities we serve.

Please tune in over the coming two weeks to learn about how our community partners fit within the Community Inspiration Framework and help advance Kindred’s purpose!

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Parents for Community Living (PCL)

At Kindred, we understand Financial Empowerment as a journey, starting with:

inclusion – who is welcome by design?; then
literacy – is there understanding of what products and services are for?;
capability building – is there understanding on how to use/select a product and service that best suits their needs?; and finally
celebration – how do we identify milestones and achievements?

Parents for Community Living (PCL) operates from a person-centred perspective, providing Group Living, Supported Independent Living, Employment and Day Supports for children, youth, and adults in the Waterloo Region.

PCL is part of an innovative affordable housing partnership with MennoHomes and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Kitchener, ON. Through this partnership, PCL was able to support ten individuals to live more independently. Transitioning out of group living to independent living has come with new opportunities, including one important piece around financial empowerment.  

“One of the goals identified for many of the folks we support has been around managing their finances so they can make choices and plans for themselves.”, shares Katherine Loveys, Chief Executive Office of PCL. The ten individuals living in the building have been focusing on budgeting and financial planning. “They’re really excited about the potential of what this new independence means.”

Hear from residents of the new building on what this project has meant for them by watching the ‘Grand Opening’ video. Learn more about the work of Parents for Community Living. Learn more about MennoHomes.

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Crow Shield Lodge

Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation is a journey of moving towards right relationships built on respect, dignity, and equity. It is learning the hidden history of the lands we live on, following the lead of Indigenous nations as they identify what their communities need, and addressing the deep-rooted systems of oppression that continue to cause harm.

Crow Shield Lodge has a mission to walk alongside those who are in need of healing. Through Indigenous land-based healing and education they offer connection and belonging to a community dedicated to responsible land stewardship. They aspire to remain grounded in the seven teachings of respect, truth, wisdom, honesty, humility, courage, and love.

“It’s meant for non-Indigenous and Indigenous people to come together as equals, to work together, to walk together, to heal together,” shares Founder Clarence Cachagee said. “We don’t call people out, we call them in. We call them in and we create a safe space and a place where people can lean into those hard discussions.”

Crow Shield Lodge has a vision for the future of a thriving community which is founded on unity, equality, and understanding as we walk forward together in healing and reconciliation.

Stay up-to-date on opportunities to connect with Crow Shield Lodge.

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Mennonite Central Committee

Nonviolence is an active response that directly addresses harm or the potential of harm. It works to change systems of powers and build communities of safety and belonging.

Our partner, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), puts nonviolence into practice through the Training Active Bystanders program.

MCC wants to see people striving and working toward healthy relationships with each other, and doesn’t believe peace can be achieved through violent or coercive means.

Rod Friesen is the Restorative Justice Program Coordinator with MCC. Part of his work is to mobilize a network of organizations in the Training Active Bystanders (TAB) Canada Hub. Working with partners across the Region of Waterloo, including Kindred Credit Union, participants are trained as ‘active bystanders’ to identify, analyze, and respond in nonviolent ways to resolve conflict and harm in the community. Rod explains, “the nonviolent response in TAB recognizes that today we may be a witness or a target of harm; however, another day we may ourselves in fact be a harm doer.” He continues, “being aware of different roles – the target, harm doer, a passive or active bystander can help us understand and respond with greater empathy as we recognize that we all have the capacity within us to interchange these roles.”

Since 2019, the TAB network has trained community members, faith-based organizations and businesses to notice and respond to harm-doing. “People trained in TAB understand what inhibits us from responding and what promotes active bystandership. We understand how helpful actions promote healthy communities and how harmful actions, if left unchecked, can become normalized”, shares Rod.

Connect with MCC to bring a TAB training to your community. Learn more about Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Learn more about the Training Active Bystanders program.

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The Raw Carrot

An important companion of Financial Empowerment, Income Equity is focused on bridging the gap between those that earn the most in society and those that earn the least. Increased economic growth has not been fairly shared, leaving a widening gap.

The Raw Carrot is a social franchise that believes every person who wants to work should have the opportunity for “a hand UP (instead of just a handout) in life.” Individuals on the Ontario Disability Support Program (OSDP) are hired to cook and package handcrafted gourmet soups that are sold in farmers markets and retail locations.

Rebecca Sherbino, founder and co-Executive Director, shares that, “The Raw Carrot began as a way to provide income, community connections and dignity. People might not have had an experience in an environment that meets their needs, so we’re trying to create that opportunity for better income.”

The Raw Carrot has locations in Kitchener, Paris, Woodstock and Mount Forest, with 29 staff currently working. Staff gain skills and certifications that they’re able to use to secure employment at other places.

Lori has worked at The Raw Carrot for seven years, “This job has helped many people – like me – build their confidence and grow their skills”. Due to failing health, Lori hasn’t been able to continue working, leaving her monthly budget $82 short each month. Reflecting on this, Rebecca shares, “I wish people understood how tight to the margins folks are when they’re on social support, such as ODSP, and how important meaningful employment is for everyone.”

If you’re interested in supporting meaningful employment and enjoying delicious soup, check out if there is a Raw Carrot retail location near you. Learn more about The Raw Carrot.

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Coalition of Muslim Women of KW

Restorative Justice is a way of addressing conflict that enables a person who caused harm, people who were affected by harm, and the community, to create a meaningful solution.

Kindred believes in and supports restorative justice in our operations and in our communities. One restorative approach to addressing community harm is the Sulah program developed by our partners the Coalition of Muslim Women of Kitchener Waterloo (CMW) and Community Justice Initiatives of Waterloo Region (CJI).

Sulah uses restorative processes to bring individuals and groups together to build understanding, repair harm, restore relationships, and/or foster accountability. “Sulah offers restorative justice and mediation processes for cases that involve conflict stemming from Islamaphobia, racism, and xenophobia,” says Mifrah Abid, Coordinator of CMW’s Together Against Islamophobia program. “Sulah means reconciliation in a number of languages. It’s a concept that several cultures have grown up with.”

The Sulah process is always voluntary, and will only bring participants together if further harm will not be created. “We are trying to build understanding and accountability by bringing both parties into the conversation,” shared Mifrah. “It doesn’t mean there is a lack of accountability for the person that caused harm. We ask the person who caused harm to come face-to-face with the impact their actions created. Sometimes there is no one individual that has been targeted, but a whole community has been affected.”

Sulah was launched in 2019 and is grounded in the question: “How can we create an atmosphere where we understand each other better?”. Trained CJI mediators support participants – those who experienced harm and those who caused harm – to be directly involved in decisions regarding resolutions for the issues at hand.

Learn more about Sulah and how to access the program. Learn more about the Coalition of Muslim Women (CMW). Learn more about Community Justice Initiatives of Waterloo Region (CJI).

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Mennonite Community Services of Southern Ontario

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion seeks to create meaningful change for all to thrive with a sense of dignity and belonging.

Mennonite Community Services of Southern Ontario (MCS) has a vision of creating an inclusive local community where newcomers feel a sense of integration and belonging. Primary serving the Low German speaking community in the Aylmer area, MCS has developed unique ways to meet people where they are at.

De Brigj Radio Station was started in 2003 to support newcomers moving into the area, many of whom didn’t speak English, with information and education in Low German. Over the years, more programming has been added, including financial literacy, that continues to meet the needs of the surrounding community. Abe Wall, the Business Manager at MCS, shares that “De Brigj provides a necessary tool to disseminate information that isn’t available anywhere else because of language barriers.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, De Brigj was an important vehicle for Public Health to share updates with the Low German population.

Providing worship services and event announcements, and local and international programming, Abe also noted that the “24/7 radio programming provides a sense of companionship and connection for many listeners.”

Learn more about De Brigj radio.

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Shalom Counselling Services

Mental health is a state of well-being where an individual can find enjoyment in aspects of their life, cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and be able to contribute to their community.1 As in all aspects of our lives, our mental health needs different things at different times.

1 World Health Organization (2018)

Shalom Counselling Services has a mission of helping people grow toward peace and wholeness. Skilled at supporting individuals, families, churches and communities to integrate emotional, relational, and spiritual dimensions, Shalom has also been a leader in supporting their staff’s wellbeing.

“Being a therapist can be a difficult, isolating job because all your work happens behind a closed door”, observes Susan Schwartzentruber, Shalom’s Executive Director. When province-wide lockdowns were announced in March 2020, staff at Shalom found themselves able to adapt nimbly towards new ways of service and connection.

“We had great practices in place before the pandemic,” notes Steven Reesor Rempel, Business & Operations Director at Shalom. Susan expands, “we had pre-pandemic weekly check-ins – often with food! – as an opportunity to get to know each other as people, and we were able to adapt this to a virtual setting.”

Steven notes how important trust has been for the mental health of individuals and of the work culture. “Trust already existed, and that trust allows you to work through tough things together. But, this kind of trust comes through effort; it needs space, time, and resources.”

Susan shared that the way in which Shalom’s staff were supported was a great parallel to the individual work of the people they support. “We practice what we try to teach our clients.” When care and effort are allocated before a crisis happens, the individual or organization is better able to adapt.

“We’re doing this work together,” shared Susan. Building a community of trust has supported Shalom in creating an environment where their staff can thrive.

Visit Shalom’s website to learn more about how they are supporting individuals, families, churches and communities.

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The Bridge 

Housing is considered affordable in Canada if it costs less than 30% of a household’s pre-tax income. Safe housing occurs when the health, welfare, and safety of an individual or family is not at risk in the home. This includes being free from interpersonal violence, living in a space that does not create negative health impacts, and having your rights respected as a tenant.

The Bridge is a resource centre, accepting youth as they are, with warmth and empathy. The Bridge supports young people in Leamington in many ways, including accessing safe and supportive housing. Their mission is to bridge the gap by providing youth with resources and hope for the future.

In January 2020, The Bridge launched The Quiring Family Fresh Start Housing facility, offering supportive housing to youth for up to a year. Part of this program includes capacity building to empower youth to live successfully once they move beyond The Bridge. These programs include topics like financial literacy, life skills, and how to find housing.

“As an agency, we support youth to develop plans to get them ready for independent housing”, shares Morghan Shearon. Morghan is the Youth Outreach and Leadership Coordinator at The Bridge; Morghan is also a ‘rent smart’ educator. Rent Smart is a program that covers themes like communication, conflict styles, and tenants’ right. Through this program, youth are provided with a certificate that can increase their chances of accessing housing.

While this program is new for The Bridge, since 2009 it has been offered to over 6000 people across Canada. Morghan sees a lot of potential for this program in her community. “We’re exploring a collaboration in Windsor-Essex to draw on the strengths of different organizations and reach more people.”

The Bridge benefits from the engagement of dedicated volunteers and welcomes community members to get involved. Volunteer with The Bridge. Learn more about The Bridge. Learn more about Rent Smart.

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Canadian Credit Union Association

Climate action is taking urgent action to tackle climate change and its impacts. As we see the impacts of a changing climate worsen around the world and in our communities, Kindred has a responsibility both for our emissions and those that we fund.

At the Canadian Credit Union Association’s (CCUA) 2020 Annual General Meeting, members adopted a resolution to establish a working group to explore the emerging issue of climate-related financial disclosure. With members from credit unions across the country, this group has shared resources and learning, explored how methodologies could be applied, and created opportunities for credit unions across the system to integrate meaningful climate action into strategy and operations.

Dennis Cunningham is the Manager of Environmental Sustainability at Assiniboine Credit Union in Winnipeg and a member of CCUA’s Climate Action Working Group. Thinking back to the origin of this group he shares, “There were many credit unions focusing on taking action on climate change in different ways. By bringing this group together, which is representative of the system, we can start driving towards alignment in thinking and action.”

There are seven principle that co-operatives around the world share. Dennis highlighted this working group as an example of two co-operative principles: co-operation among co-operatives and care for community. “Credit unions vary in size across the country; some have had the resources and capacity to explore climate action, while others haven’t. This working group has done a lot to lift the credit union system as a whole, rather than a small handful of credit unions each attempting to work independently.”

What’s next for this working group?
“We will continue to meet and work on capacity building within our membership, informing the conversation within the system related to climate change financial disclosures and climate change risk.” Dennis also sees a direct benefit to credit union members. “I think we’ll start to see business members rely on credit unions to support their transition to lower carbon emissions. As this work continues, credit unions will be able to provide resources to members they may not have had in the past.”

Learn more about CCUA’s Climate Action Working Group and access tools and resources. Learn more about Canadian Credit Union Association (CCUA). Learn more about Assiniboine Credit Union.

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The Neighbourhood Group

Community food security is a condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice.

The Neighbourhood Group, a fellow B Corp, operates restaurants that promote locally crafted, natural foods and beverages, while championing the farmers and producers that make them.

Over half of the food produced in Canada is wasted each year. As part of the Our Food Future Initiative, Guelph-Wellington is creating Canada’s first circular food economy. Led by Provision Coalition, alongside other partners in Guelph, this year The Neighbourhood Group participated in North America’s first fully circular meal made from food ‘waste’.

Court Desautels, president of The Neighbourhood Group reflects, “the intriguing part of the initiative was the shift in mindset. There are so many opportunities available that we just aren’t looking for. We wanted to do this to show that it’s possible.”

“When you lay out the full cycle of food, you can see how much is wasted. There are so many things we consider to be waste that are still filled with nutrients, ”Court shares. “We might think about the food wasted when we throw away groceries, but what about what’s lost in production? How do we create businesses and opportunity out of that ‘waste’?”

Court also explains that this pilot highlighted the importance of shorter food chains for our local economies. “We need to understand the impact that we have on our communities by the choices we make when it comes to food.” He challenges us to ask, “Who is making our food? Where is it coming from? How is it being governed? Are those involved earning equitable wages?” He believes greater knowledge of closer food systems makes people more emotionally invested in these companies. “That’s what creates strong, sustainable growth.”

So, what’s next? Court believes we’re starting to see the emergence of a new economy. “We can prove that the mindset shift is actually working. What is the long-term impact of the things that we’re trying? I think they’ll be driving change.”

Learn more about these ideas and The Neighbourhood Group’s circular meal. Learn more about The Neighbourhood Group. Learn more about the Our Food Future Initiative. Learn more about Provision Coalition.

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Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement

The ten themes identified in Kindred’s Community Inspiration Framework do not exist in silos. They are dynamic and fluid approaches that guide us to transform our communities.

The Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement is home to peace-oriented innovators, artists, and academics, as well as established organizations from the region’s vibrant peacebuilding field. Working on all ten themes in our Community Inspiration Framework, the 2021 12 Days 4 Good participants share the common goal of advancing peace in collaborative and creative ways.

Emily Charron, interim Coordinator at the Centre for Peace Advancement, attests to the importance of building a sense of community in this work. “Participating in community transformation or social innovation as your goal can be a really isolating experience; sometimes it can feel like you’re the only one working for change. Building a community around creating change with a shared ethos – whatever that change looks like for each individual organization – is so important.”

Whether working on nonviolence through peace education, advancing safe and affordable housing, or focusing on community-based solutions for climate action, participants at the Centre for Peace Advancement “benefit from a space where these organizations can learn, grow, and try new things. In community they can experiment, knowing they have people to fall back on.”

The Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement is built on the belief that everyone has a space and place to catalyze transformation in our community. Connect with them to see how you can inspire peaceful, just and prosperous communities.

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