Category Archives: YW Updates

Start Somewhere

Niagara Leadership Summit for Women

Sana Shah (Brock University)

On Saturday October 28th, YWCA Niagara Region hosted the fourth Annual Niagara Leadership Summit for Women. Since October is Women’s History Month, it seemed to be fitting to end the month on such a positive note. It was great to see a few men present in the crowd, who supported women’s rights and ability to lead in a rather male dominated community. I hope to see more men in the future at the summit because gender inequality does not only concern women; it is a larger problem concerning the Canadian community as a whole.

Ashley Callingbull was the keynote speaker for the summit, who became the first First Nations and Canadian woman to win the Mrs. Universe title in 2015. She is devoted to supporting the community. She shared with the audience her struggling childhood, and how she as a First Nations woman has to work extra hard to make achievements. Shining light on this issue, she further explained how she experienced racism from a young age. She brought attention to cases of missing and murdered indigenous women. However, most importantly she reminded the crowd that you can do anything you want to do, and be anything you want to be, and that the only person holding you down is yourself. So let us hold on to that and try to change the gender divide one-step at a time.

Once Ashley wrapped up her address, we had an opportunity to attend a workshop from a choice four, which included; Leadership in parenting, Women in politics, Breaking barriers in mental health, and Business and entrepreneurship.

I attended the Women in politics workshop, which focused greatly on the Niagara region. It was led by Elizabeth Zimmerman, Mishka Balsom, Debbie Zimmerman, Joyce Morroco, Carol Stewart-Kirkby, and Shirley Cordiner. We discussed as a group about Niagara’s democratic deficit in women’s representation in local politics. There is a link between low female voter turnout and low female representation in politics. After the workshop we took a short break and had a choice of attending another workshop from the following options; Aboriginal community justice, Conquering barriers to success, Decolonizing language, Disability leadership, Fair trade, Race and racism, Self-care for caregivers, Success in a male dominated industry, Women in STEM, and Volunteerism

I chose to attend the workshop on Aboriginal Justice, let by Celeste Smith. She spoke about the over-representation of Aboriginal youth as incarcerated individuals, regardless of Aboriginal people making up only 4% of the Canadian population. Smith is the director of Three Fires Community Justice Program, which is a diversion program that provides healing for Aboriginal youth and adults charged with criminal offence. It focuses on the community taking responsibility of the individuals that is at fault. The program begins with the belief that everyone is worth something.

Based on the two workshops I attended, I only wish I could have attended all of them, as they were quite insightful. The summit came to a closing with a discussion panel about women in politics; with a focus on voting, and closing remarks from Elisabeth Zimmerman (Executive Director of YWCA Niagara Region).

This summit was a Call to Action, a call to show up, take action and support one another. In order to make a large impact we need to start small, we need to start somewhere. Even the women’s rights movement started with only a handful of likeminded people who eventually got women the status of being ‘people’ in Canada and the right to vote. It may not be as bad as back then, but we are still far from being on the same playing field and having the same representation. As I end this piece, I encourage, just like most of the presenters at the summit, to save the date OCTOBER 22ND 2018 to go out and vote in the municipal elections. Have your voice heard. We can do anything we want; we just need to start somewhere.

International Women’s Day Events

This year’s International Women’s Day is Wednesday, March 8th, 2017. This day started in 1908 when 15, 000 women gathered to march in New York City with demands to have shorter working hours, increased wages, and the right to vote. It has since been “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women” (International Women’s Day website). The history around this day is incredible. You can find out more here.

But what is it all about this year? The theme for 2017 is #BeBoldForChange. What does that mean? You get to decided that for yourself. We may each have a different view of what needs to be changed and how to go about it. Even the website has a variety of ways we can create change for women. Through the website you can pledge how you will strive to be bold for change this year. The main points are:

  • I’ll change bias and inequality
  • I’ll campaign against violence
  • I’ll forge women’s advancement
  • I’ll celebrate women’s achievement
  • I’ll champion women’s education

Luckily, there are a few events that are happening in the Niagara region to celebrate women on this amazing day.

The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce’s Women In Niagara Council is putting on an International Women’s Day event on March 3rd which will have Teresa Cascioli as the keynote speaker. Tickets are $57.50 – $75 depending on if you are a member. The WIN council will also be presenting Rosemary Hale with the International Women’s Day Award.

 

On March 3rd as well, the Greater Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce is hosting it’s 12th Annual International Women’s Day Networking Luncheon at Cherry Hill Club. Tickets are $45 plus tax for members and $50 plus tax for non-members. The guest speaker will be Shannon Passero celebrating strength, perseverance, and power.

Broadband’s 25th Anniversary Performance of Women in Music Benefit Concert for the YWCA Niagara Region is happening on Sunday, March 5th from 4-7 pm at St. John’s Activity Centre. This event is to celebrate International Women’s day focusing on Women in Music. Tickets are $20 dollars with proceeds going toward the YWCA Niagara Region.

On the actual day, March 8th, Be Bold For Change event is happening at Gwen’s Teas. This will be a more affordable event happening in the evening to ensure that it is accessible to a variety of people. A $5 donation to the YWCA Niagara Region is encouraged. The focus will be on how attendees will #BeBoldForChange to close the gender gap.

If there are any events you are aware of that are not posted, please tell us! You can also let us know how you feel they went if you were able to attend one.

Tell us how you will #BeBoldForChange by tagging us on Twitter @YWCA_Niagara

Fighting Human Trafficking

Janet and Karen were 17 years old and lived in Thunder Bay when an older girl befriended them. She was fun, beautiful, self-confident and the two high school girls felt special for getting to spend time with her. Until that one day when everything changed. They had plans to meet in the park as they had so many times before. This time was different. He was there. They had never seen him before but there was something about him, something in his eyes, that gave Janet a shiver. What happened next, happened fast. The thought of it is almost too hard to bear and yet, it is all too common and we need to, have to, talk about it.
Janet and Karen were shoved into a trunk and brought to Niagara. They found themselves in a hotel room and were soon caught in a web of forced sex work, drug addiction, emotional and physical abuse and no way out.

Service providers in Niagara see victims of human trafficking come to their doors on a regular basis but often lack the knowledge and tools to address their specific needs sufficiently. “That is what brought on the idea to get together to develop an Anti-Human Trafficking Protocol,” explains Krystal Snider, the YW’s Skills Development Coordinator. In partnership with the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre and Victim Services, she brought forward a proposal to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “The main goal is to enable community members to easily and clearly identify victims of human trafficking and to then be confident in their ability to offer supports and information about intervention to them.”
We are fortunate that the Canadian Women’s Foundation acknowledges the importance of Snider’s idea and proudly announce that the YW is the recipient of a $25,000 violence prevention grant.

“We see it regularly in our own shelters at the YW: women are sent in to recruit other women and girls to come work for them.”

“This project is so necessary because Niagara is home to two border cities – Niagara Falls and Fort Erie,” says Krystal. “There has been an identified need for quite some time. We see it regularly in our own shelters at the YW: women are sent in to recruit other women and girls to come work for them.” For Janet and Karen, the YW was their way out. They managed to escape the hotel room that had become their prison and are back safely with their families in Winnipeg today.

A shared Anti-Human Trafficking protocol in the region will help more women like Janet and Karen to get the support they need to escape human trafficking.

The practice of child ‘marriage’ needs to end

Board member, Julie Rorison, writes about one of the most impactful experiences she had at the recent United Nations Conference on the Status of Women:

As a young Canadian woman, I’ve grown up to be empowered by many legal rights, freedoms, and protections. I think that as Canadians, we are all generally aware of how lucky we are to live strong and free and that is what empowerment is – it is the right and the ability to make decisions for oneself. Perhaps now more than ever in these “transitional” years, I am deeply aware of the most critical rights and empowering choices I can make as a young woman – the right to an education and the right to work and the right to choose if or when I want to get married and have children. Continue reading

No Fixed Address 2015!

No Fixed Address – A Humbling Ride

Well, what do I say about my first time being involved with No Fixed Address? When I came on as a summer student, I had no idea what I was really in for. I had done research into the YWCA and their signaturKids playing in lote event of course, before beginning, but nothing can really prepare you for actually living it.

Coming into work every day at one of the shelters the YW runs grounded me from day one.

Every morning I walk past the ladies standing outside, talking together and starting their day. I say good morning and smile, stop and chat if they show an interest, before heading up to the loft to start the day. Through the social media management, the meetings, the donor relations, the planning and running around, I always have these ladies in the back of my mind.Niagara Roller Girls Chalk drawing
The day of NFA brought them screaming to the front.

When the sky opened up and soaked me through, I thought of them, and wondered how many had been caught in weather with nowhere to go. Those moments when I felt a little lost because I was aimless, I thought of them and wondered what it must feel like to not belong anywhere. Finally, when it came time to sleep in my car I thought of them.
With the windows open, and loud people around me; with no sense of privacy or personal space, with cramps in my back I thought of them. Then I cried. I sat there in the front seat trying to get comfortable and thought of these women I talk to every day, and the journey that brought them to us.

Please don’t get me wrong, I had so much fun throughout the day. I made new friends, laughed, and danced (badly). I enjoyed the games and the feeling of working together to make a difference. I will absolutely be back next year to help in any way I can.

Ultimately though, this amazing experience humbled me, and I am just so grateful for it.
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NFA 2015: Past Participant Interview

Happy Thursday everyone! We are a little over a month away from next month’s NO FIXED ADDRESS 24 hour live-in-your-car-a-thon! Our big event takes place on August 14th and 15th in the Pen Centre parking lot! Our goal is to raise awareness about poverty and homelessness by having others experience what it’s like to live out of your car. Want to make a difference? Visit the NFA website to sign up, make a donation, or volunteer (www.nfaniagara.ca)!

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Maybe you aren’t sure if you want to sign up just yet. Maybe you need to hear what it was like from someone who has participated in the event? Well, we reached out to past participant Christina Papetti to answer some questions about her and her family’s experience at No Fixed Address. Christina and her family have participated every year since 2012.

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Y: What first caught your attention about No Fixed Address in 2012?

C: The first time I heard about no fixed address was from my sister. She was working at the YWCA and told me about it and asked if we would do it. I’m so glad we did.

Y: Why did you choose to register as a team with your family, rather than as an individual?

C: We register every year as a family because we use this to help the homeless and it’s also bonding time for us! We do everything as a team: our signs, getting the donations, and we make it kind of like a family day. We look forward to it every year.

Y: What was your first family experience like at No Fixed Address?  What was it like trying to fit yourself and your children into one car for the night?

C: The first year was a little difficult, we weren’t very organized. We now know that it gets chilly out in the early early morning, so we bring warmer blankets and socks. I now know how much my daughter moves when she’s sleeping and how loud my son can really snore!

Y: What are some of the things that you and your children have learned from No Fixed Address?

C: I love that every year when we get home after spending the 24 hours in the car, my kids ALWAYS  say how sorry they feel for the people that have no choice but to sleep in their cars. They say how lucky they are that they only have to do it once a year and then they get to come home to THEIR beds.

Y: How has No Fixed Address changed yours and your family’s perspective on homelessness?

C: My kids see that it doesn’t take much to make a difference, and they see that some people really don’t have a choice. I think they have learned a lot. I am a very proud mother of all 3 of my kids; all 3 have done things that put me in awe. One example is how they gave up THEIR lunch money to buy a coffee and muffin for a older man who looked like he could use it. When I asked my son what he had eaten for lunch that day, his reply was “I’m good, I know I can eat when I get home.” It makes me so proud to know that my kids know that they can change the world for a person in need.

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A very special thank you to Christina and her family for their ongoing support — and to everyone involved in No Fixed Address! Make sure you sign up for NFA TODAY!

Finer Diner Dinner 2015

On the evening of Friday, June 19th, guests were welcomed to the Lancer Family Restaurant in St. Catharines to enjoy a gourmet dining experience with a fun 1950s theme, all in support of the YWCA Niagara Region! There were classic records, poodle skirts, beautiful scarves and even an Elvis look alike in attendance!

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The idea behind this event was to have a gourmet dinner in a classic diner setting, hence the ‘Finer Diner’ title. Guests were served a delicious 5 course meal, which included tomato basil soup, beer pretzels, salad, delicious roast beef and old fashioned chocolate milkshakes. Each course was paired with a local wine or beer (thank you to Calamus Estate Winery, Brimstone Brewing, Fielding Estate Winery, and Konzelmann Estate Winery for your donations!). A very heartfelt thank you to Maria Donato for preparing and cooking the delicious food for the night. The cherry on top was a scrumptious 1950s themed cake made by Karen Teal. Our special guest, Elvis (Djino LeFrancois) cut the cake for our guests, provided us with amazing entertainment, and sang ‘The King’s’ greatest hits.

Cake

But that’s not all! A live auction was held and there were so many amazing prizes — everything from Niagara Falls Getaways to a Father’s Day Fishing & Beer basket! The auction was a huge success as guests kept bidding and bidding, all for a great local cause! Special thanks to Nicki Inch’s son, Nate, for hosting the live auction. Thank you to all of the guests for coming out, bidding on prizes and supporting the YWCA!

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And we can’t forget — a BIG BIG thank you goes out to the amazing planning committee who organized this event: Danielle Murray, Mary Comfort, Margaret Corbett, Sue Forgeron and Rachael Forgeron. These ladies used their creativity and connections to coordinate this one of a kind dinner and raised money for the essential programs and services at the YWCA! Another huge thank you to all the volunteers who came out and helped with the event for the night.  As always, without all the amazing volunteers taking the time to plan and attend events like this,  the YWCA would not be able to provide women with everything they need to reach their full potential.

Getting to Know You

Valentines Day has passed, but relationships are still on our minds! This month, our Bloggers chose three of five questions about all forms of relationships.

Evelyn

YWCA pictureTried, Tested and True – your best piece of relationship advice you want to share with the world is..?

Communication and respect. When we’re angry, some of us can say some really mean things and the filter that we usually have is ignored. There is a reason why that filter is there. I think we need to try and see through all of the “red” and decide on what is best for the long-term of the relationship rather than try and hurt the other person as best as we can in that split second. Communication is key on defining what needs to be compromised on or what makes us uncomfortable, etc. but without respect, there will be more harm done than good.

What do you think makes any relationship stand the test of time?

I think relationships will last if both sides reach out to each other. Nobody wants to feel like they’re the only one trying in a relationship!

What I love about my best friend is ..?

I’m close to my sister because even though we are not in the same city, we still communicate on a daily basis and share our fears and achievements.

 

Donna

Tried, Tested and True – your best piece of relationship advice you want to share with the world is…

Don’t keep score.

 You knew you were in love when..?

It wasn’t the flowers, dinners out at fancy restaurants or even the weekend away during our first few months of dating.  These were all lovely and very much appreciated.  It was the moment he stopped, looked concerned and then easily fixed my front door screen from slamming shut, so the girls and I wouldn’t get hurt by it. 

That small gesture, melted my heart.

What I love about my best friend is ..?

I know, without a doubt that she will tell me exactly what I need to know – not always what I want to hear.  She is my sounding board, my champion and partner in crime!

 

Cate

Tried, Tested and True – your best piece of relationship advice you want to share with the world is..?

Appreciate the little things; and this applies to any relationship, be it romantic, familial, platonic or professional. Oftentimes as we grow within our relationships, we can lose sight of why we enjoy spending time with that person or what drew us to them in the first place when we initially met. Sometimes our focus can be redirected towards how we can benefit from our relationships in a material way; unfortunately disregarding the other person is as an innate and caring individual. We tend to expect more out of people who we’ve known for a long time and as time goes on, this can build up to astronomical levels where your efforts, or theirs, don’t seem to meet the expectations anymore. Instead, I focus on the little things, such as bringing extra food to share in the office, giving them a ride to school, or setting aside an entire day or weekend to do things that we both love. It’s the little things, I find, that I remember the most.

You knew you were in love when..?cate

I caught him looking at me for an oddly long time, once during our first summer together. We were driving around in my hometown and as we stopped at a red light, I could feel him looking at me, so I looked at him in return. He wouldn’t break his gaze with me and at first I thought that there was something on my face, or there was something wrong with my hair or clothes. So I asked him, “what is it?”, to which he replied, “Nothing. Can’t I just admire you?” Three years later and he still does this periodically, each time reminding me how much I love him.

Fill in the blanks: I’m close to __________ because _________?

I’m close to my little sister because she is the most compassionate and patient person I know.

 

Marilyn

marTried, Tested and True – your best piece of relationship advice you want to share with the world is..?

My best piece of relationship advice is to remember to continue growing with your partner!  We all change and evolve over time and if we don’t embrace these changes, we risk growing apart. Keep each other in the loop about new and interesting changes or opportunities that are happening in your life. Continue to grow as an individual and learn new things to share with your partner. Take an active interest in your partners hobbies.  Date nights and romance are very important! Make time to pamper each other. Treat each other to thoughtful gestures or meaningful gifts to create beautiful lasting memories. And lastly, be kind to each other!

What I love about my best friend is ..?

What I love about my best friend is his loyalty, dedication, and sense of humour. I love having him for my trusted companion. 

What do you think makes any relationship stand the test of time?

I think commitment and hard work is what makes any relationship stand the test of time. You have to be willing to ride out the tough times without turning on each other. 

 

Joan

What I love about my best friend is ..?

What I love about my best friend is that she is funny and she is always there for me. She gives me realistic advice and always has my best interests in mind. 

Worse relationship advice you ever got, and from who?cosmo

I think Cosmo gives unrealistic and terrible flirting/relationship advice. To further prove my point, here is a BuzzFeed video that shows girls trying these tips on guys.

What do you think makes any relationship stand the test of time?

I think communication is important for a relationship to be able to stand the test of time. By communicating with your partner, you guys get a clear understanding of how one feels towards an issue and how to best resolve an issue. 

Michelle

What I love about my best friend is ..?

I love that my best friend is as completely crazy and insane as me and we are able to cry laughing while doing completely mundane things like grocery shopping. It doesn’t matter how often we see each other because I know regardless of my circumstances she is just a phone call away. She’s the person I can call at 4am from across the country and she would find a way to pick me up. 

What do you think makes any relationship stand the test of time?

I think common interests and goals are very important when considering if a relationship will work out long term and I think too often we try to sell the mantra that “opposites attract”. I think that while opposing perspectives might initially bring you two together, I think being able to find common ground will likely KEEP you two together. 

carrieBest relationship advice you ever got, and from who?

The best relationship advice I have received would definitely be from none other than Carrie Bradshaw (#sexandthecity), who showed us that life can begin again after a disastrous relationship and that best friends are our true soulmates in life. 

 

Sami-Jo

Tried, Tested and True – your best piece of relationship advice you want to share with the world is..?

SAMIErase the illusion of perfection. Everyone likes to brag about their significant other. What you say to others is your business, but the expectations you hold to each other should include room for imperfections. Whether that be in ways you handle anger, sadness, or happiness, how you fail to pick up wet towels from the bathroom floor, or how you suck at cooking and wouldn’t be alive if the other didn’t take time to feed you every day, flaws exist and should be embraced. Sounds easy, but we tend to put the toughest expectations on the ones we hold the closest. They should be the ones we shower with forgiveness for not being perfect human beings, yet still the one you’ve chosen to build a life with. Remember, you’re not perfect either, and at some point, you’ll need understanding more than an anecdote to brag about.

You knew you were in love when..?

My sixteen year old heart thought I was in love the moment my husband – then boyfriend – grabbed my hand in the lobby of the movie theater back in 2000. And maybe I was. I do remember him leaving on the train for basic training in the army less than two years later and thinking if I never saw him again that I would be compromised as a human being, that I wasn’t sure I was equipped to deal with that loss. I wanted him in my life day in and day out and the separation was near unbearable. At some point between not shying away from holding his hand to crying in the train station, love had formed without me pinpointing the moment, but I knew it existed.

What do you think makes any relationship stand the test of time?

I should have a great answer for this because I’ve been in a relationship for 14+ years, but I’m not so sure I do. Over the years my husband and I have had issues like any couple. Maybe the difference between us and others who have since fallen apart was our refusal to give up on each other. Understanding can be the most difficult, especially when you disagree so wholeheartedly with whatever issue you’re facing. Reminding ourselves that the other thinks the way they do and acts the way they do for a reason, and that there’s much more to the person you love then this current debate or perceived ‘irreconcilable difference’, can get back to the core of the relationship and find a way to move on. As long as you’re not compromising your base values, a solution is always possible for those who would rather fight to be together than take the easy way out by ending it all.

Happy New… Changes!

2015; New Year, New Changes!

Our Bloggers have been hard at work behind the scenes to come up with new stories, new content and now, new features! This month we’re excited to launch three new regular posts to our Y’s Women Blog:
Monday’s Creative Corner where you can come to find recipe, DIY, or any quote or poem that inspires us to be CREATIVE!
Friday’s Friday Finds posts will be something one of our Bloggers would like to recommend; a new restaurant, a book, movie, or product we love!
Lastly, we want you to know that we’re real women, with real opinions and stories, so we’re introducing our monthly Getting to Know You feature. We’ll pick 3 of 5 questions to answer that relate to our theme of the month. We would love if you weighed in and answered them too.
To kick us off, here are January’s Getting to Know You questions about Happiness!

Donna

If you could choose one word to describe yourself, (and only one) what would it be?

HOPEFUL (printed in all capital letters, and in the brightest of colours found in the crayon box)

List five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.MyGarden2

In Order: My Family, My Closest Friends, the Sunshine, My Garden, and A Sense of Humour.  Everything else, I consider a bonus!

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

A heart filled with gratitude.

 

 

Ellen

Which of the four seasons makes you the most happy? And why?

Summer, because the days are long and warm and everything from getting dressed to travelling (with the exception of gardening) requires less effort and forethought. Summer passes quickly, so I appreciate the long sunny days (even when they are humid), fresh produce, sounds of crickets and cicadas, and everything else the season brings. There’s also spectacular thunderstorms to watch over the lake, and fireflies in the backyard (or sometimes, magically, millions of them in the Niagara Glen). 

What do you do to change a bad day around?

It depends on what constitutes a bad day. Sometimes its a negative or fear-filled interpretation of reality and that’s something that I can work on (as opposed to getting devastating news, which oddly I don’t think about when I think “boy, this is a bad day”). So, If I don’t think about it as “I am having a bad day” and reframe it as a rough morning, or something like that, I can work on making it better. Often, I go for a walk or a hike. I may start out feeling anxious or frustrated about something but an hour of walking in my neighbourhood can make me wonder why I was all worked up (or sad or disconsolate) in the first place.

Finish this thought, Happiness is..?

So many things. But not always easy.

Carli

Carli

If you could choose one word to describe yourself, (and only one) what would it be?

Optimistic. While I freely admit that I am one who can easily become stressed out and bogged down, I’m also one who tends to look on the brighter side of things and can usually find some optimism for most situations.

List five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.

My family and close friends

My memories

Personal photographs/mementos

Moments of peace and quiet

Hope

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

Sitting down at the end of a long day in a clean and organized home relaxing with my husband and son—glass of wine in hand! 🙂

 

 

Franziska

n608437755_584356_6494List five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.

  1. Family
  2. Beer
  3. Music
  4. Faith
  5. Sunshine

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

Vent. Cry. Laugh. Eat chocolate cake. Or chocolate cookies. Or both. Turn up TNT by ACDC and turn into dynamite in the living room. Do my dance routine to the “YMCA” tune in the living room (although in my version, it’s YWCA of course).

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

…feeling loved.

…a hot, moist double chocolate chip cookie.

…a cold beer on a hot day.

Evelyn

Which of the four seasons makes you the most happy? And why?

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SUMMER! It’s almost always sunny and I can go outside whenever I want without worrying about wearing a jacket, scarf, gloves, etc. I also don’t have to worry about temperatures dropping later in the day and getting sick from it if I don’t have warm enough clothes on. I also love that everything is in full bloom; trees and flowers line the gardens in the neighbourhood, birds are singing, and people just seem happier in general and that makes me happy! Towards the end of the season, if it gets cold enough, the leaves start to change colours which is beautiful too.  

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

On a bad day, I look up really great movies to watch! It doesn’t even matter what genre the movies are, as long as they’re really good. It gives me a chance to live somebody else’s problems and struggles as well as their happier moments; movies really put my own issues into perspective! 

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

My reason to live!

Rachael

rachaelList five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.

My family, a hot cup of tea, Jane Austen’s novels, naps and peanut butter.

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

Winding down at the end of the day by beading (making jewllery) on the couch!

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

1. Call my Mother. 2. Chase a little black ball around a squash court (and sometimes hit it a little extra hard!)

 

 Marilyn

marIf you could choose one word to describe yourself, (and only one) what would it be?

The one word that I would use to best describe myself is SURVIVOR! In spite of everything I have lived through, I still get up every day and keep moving forward. I continue to better myself through education and commitment.

List five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.

The 5 things I couldn’t possibly live happily without are: my family and husband, reading and collecting books, regular visits to the beach, my writing and music.

Which of the four seasons makes you the most happy? And why?

Summer is my favourite season because I feel and look better. The sunshine tints my skin and reflects my Italian heritage. I don’t look pale and pasty, like a plant that wilts and loses colour when they don’t get enough sunshine. My arthritis and fibromyalgia isn’t as painful in the warm weather so I am more active. I have more energy in the summer and participate in more activities when the weather is warm. I am happier all around in the summer months. I truly believe I would thrive in a warmer climate like California, but I still make the most of my life year round regardless of the weather.

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

Sometimes I have a difficult time turning a bad day around, but I do have some coping mechanisms I use. I listen to music and sing my heart out to relieve stress. I love dancing to my favourite songs. I love to take a long ride in my sporty little car, singing along to one of my favourite CD. I meditate to alleviate any anxiety I am suffering from. Sometimes cooking a really tasty meal for my husband gives me great satisfaction. I use writing as means to express myself and release pent up emotions. I also like to work on creative projects like starting a new quilt for myself that reflects my true personality.

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

Happiness is being content with the life you have created!

 

Joan

If you could choose one word to describe yourself, (and only one) what would it be?

Quirky

List five things you couldn’t possibly live happily without.

Starbucks, phone, Macbook, scented candles, Twitter.

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

Happiness is coffee. 

 

Sami Jo

SAMIWhich of the four seasons makes you the most happy? And why?

My favourite season is Fall, always has been. The moment summer tapers off, leaves start to turn, and I can pull on my leather jacket, is the moment I can take a clean breath of fresh air and cozy in. Give me a book or my computer, a snugly blanket, and cool drink and I’m in my own personal heaven.

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

To turn around a bad day I drop my stuff at home and escape into either my writing, a book, or a hot bath with Epsom salts. Sometimes taking even 30 minutes to myself to recalibrate is all I need.

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

Happiness is…Home. I don’t care if I’m doing anything important or half-way interesting, if I’m at home, I’m a happy girl. Boring? Never, I’ve got everything I need under one roof.

 

Michelle

Which of the four seasons makes you the most happy? And why?

Fall, because of sweater weather and my birthday 🙂

What do you do to change a bad day around? 

Do some yoga and getting in touch with my inner chi

Finish this thought, Happiness is…?

 Happiness is Ben Affleck.

Christmas Spirit at the YWCA

As a new front-desk volunteer this year, I discovered quickly that it was very easy to discern which holidays were approaching simply based off the décor in the YWCA. I saw the YWCA change from cozy to spooky when Halloween approached and cobwebs hung from the ceiling. However, nothing could compare to the Christmas spirit that I felt this December.

I entered my first December volunteer shift feeling the stress from impending exams and last minute assignments to find the YWCA transformed overnight to something seemingly decorated by Cindy Lou Who herself. My senses were immediately bombarded with sparkle and the smell of peppermint making it impossible to feel anything but absolute joy. It was amazing to see how the presence of a Christmas tree and a few other decorations seemed to change the entire morale within the shelter. It seemed as if the happiness was contagious as many of the guests began discussing how grateful they were for being able to stay in the shelter over the holiday season, a time when so many struggle to find shelter and food.

The Christmas spirit seemed to continually infect everyone in the shelter as mid-December approached. The willingness of the guests to help one another within the shelter was very inspiring as they offered their time and advice to others. Most touching was watching one guest help another guest, an older woman who was unable to speak English, call landlords and visit prospective rental properties. This guest also took it upon herself to help this older woman learn the bus system in St. Catharines and showed her around the area. The older woman was so grateful that she began to cry (I might have been crying by this point too) and described how the YWCA was her Christmas miracle.

The Christmas spirit, however, did not end at the confines of the YWCA property. It rather seemed as if all of St. Catharines was in the giving mood, providing the YWCA with very generous donations. The previously barren Kate Leonard room became piled high with donations including personal care products and winter jackets. I was also finally forced able to learn how to fill out a donation receipt as generous people flooded the YWCA with monetary donations. I also saw numerous students finish off exams and immediately come in to inquire about volunteer opportunities within the shelter.

Perhaps it was a sugar high from helping myself to a bucket of candy canes at the front desk, but I really felt more in the Christmas spirit during these days volunteering than I could after any Christmas movie marathon. And while the importance of decorations can seem very miniscule in the grand scheme of things, their ability to awaken the holiday spirit cannot be taken lightly. Also, the importance of donating even something as simple as time (especially if you’re a broke student like me) is crucial to the running of community organizations who rely on volunteers to function. It also allows us to remember how lucky we are to have shelter, food, family and friends in the holiday season.