Said engagement to said wonderful man!

Said engagement to said wonderful man!

Procrastination. It  is something I have turned into an art form. Well, maybe not everyone around me feels that way. But that is how I choose to view it. Throw in Christmas holidays, invites for parties and an engagement  (my own to my wonderful fiance Gabriel Reis!) and you have a fine recipe for as much procrastination as I can get away with. But, alas it has come to an end. And here I sit, just four days shy of the year’s end, finally writing my last blog of the campaign. Sigh.

 I think I just didn’t want to admit that the first chapter of the campaign was

Back in sunny St. John's!

Back in sunny St. John's!

closing. It is kind of sad. It feels like we took off for St. John’s, Nfld. about 100 years ago…. It even feels as though I have been home for months (mostly because I have been doing nothing but lazing around the house staring at my beautiful new sparkly ring and gorging myself on turkey and any dessert I can get my hands on like a jobless sloth… albeit a very relaxed and very in love jobless sloth).

All this free time hasn’t just been spent in a diamond, sugar and trytophan-induced coma. In all seriousness it has given me some time for reflection. I really can’t believe that it was just two weeks — and two feet of snow –ago that Brielle and I finished travelling across our great nation.

As my cousin mentioned we had initially planned on ending our travels in Victoria, thereby creating island bookends on our trip. But since I was going to be in Vancouver for a week anyways, and since we felt like maybe our connections there might garner some additional attention, we decided to give the campaign another final push.

And it was totally worth it. As Brielle mentioned our first presentation of the week in Surrey was a ton of fun. The students had a lot of energy, made us laugh and really seemed to accept our concepts. The same could be said for the Mme. Label’s classes at Kits high mid week. So for our very last day of school presentations, Brielle and I were feeling really motivated, energetic and excited. We were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by kids in a similar state of mind at Kits High (yes, again) and then at the stunning Hogwarts-esque St. Georges all boys school.

At Kits we met some really cool kids and again loved doing the quizes with them. We may  have mentioned the quiz a few times, but just to refresh,  it was a late addition to our school presentations and allowed kids to go head to head to answer questions about the Millennium Development Goals for a chance to win chocolate bars. It became one of the most fun and lively parts of our presentation, in my estimation.

Beautiful St. Georges

Beautiful St. Georges

After leaving Kits for the final time, Brielle and I headed to St. Georges. The school has two campuses. The first is the Harry Potter inspired junior school campus and the second is the newer high school located a couple of blocks down the road. It is the latter at which we would be speaking with a group of intelligent young men in uniform.

We were led a small auditorium-style class room to set up. We thought our final presentation of the campaign might be to a mere handful of teen boys, but more and more interested listeners trickled in during the first few minutes of the presentation providing us with an energetic and really engaged group to present to.  At the end of the presentation, the lovely teacher told us she would be making a donation to P7S via our website! It was excellent news and a great way to end the campaign.

The next day we intended to mark the campaign’s conclusion with a big celebration of family and friends. But our timing just wasn’t right. We were only 10 days away from Christmas and almost everyone we knew had another Christmas party to attend. So, we decided to cancel the celebration.

Those who know Brielle and I, however, know that we both love a good party and we couldn’t end the campaign there. So, while nothing has been put on paper yet, we are planning to keep the campaign going.  On the list of possibilities is a huge benefit dinner in the spring in Vancouver with family, friends and anyone else who would like to support Millennium Promise. We also are looking to keep in touch with the schools we have visited and possibly continue to do presentations. We would like to regularly send out some kind of e-newsletter to our contacts reminding people to SEND US THEIR .7%.  We are also going to be contacting politicians in the new year (before the proroguing is over) to discuss our government’s fiduciary and moral responsibility to increase aid to developing nations.  And who knows what else we will come up with. We come from a long line of “idea” people and multi-taskers, so the future plans are likely to continue to grow and change. And, of course, we will keep you all in the loop!

Until then, I want to thank everyone from coast to coast for their tremendous support and belief in Brielle and I and Point Seven Snowball. We couldn’t have made it through every province from St. John’s, Nfld. to Victoria/Vancouver, B.C .without help from some truly amazing people. THANK YOU ALL so very much from the bottoms of our very fulfilled hearts. Point Seven Snowball wouldn’t have been a success without you and we look forward to sharing all of our ongoing successes with you in the coming months and years.

happy20holidaysUntil then we wish you ….

AND ALL THE BEST FOR 2009!!

Posted by: pointsevensnowball | December 20, 2008

home sweet home

Vancouver - the beautiful city where Falcor once flew through the alleyways in pursuit of Bastian's bullies...Vancouver. The mountains, the obnoxious proliferation of Starbucks, the rain, the busy little city, the diversity, the traffic, the FOOD scene … the good, the bad and I’m in love all over again. While we hadn’t originally planned to campaign in Vancouver as we got closer we figured why not? Especially considering we planned to have a wind-up party at the end of the week so Tracy would be hanging around the Lower Mainland regardless.

So in a bit of a mad scramble, we emailed a bunch of schools in Vancouver and our hometown, North Delta. I’m sure many schools wrote us off as crazy given we were writing them during exams time to ask if they would like to work with us to set up a presentation with only one week’s notice. Ha. And while most of the follow-up calls we made days later did not result in booking presentations given the time of year and short notice, some of them did. In a few short hours we set up presentations at three schools – L.A. Matheson, Kitsilano Secondary and St. George’s. Sweet right?!

thanks Ramada!!!

thanks Ramada!!!

We thought so. And given that we’d be hanging out in Vancouver, we figured we might as well call our friend Ramada Hotel to see if they could put us up for a couple nights downtown. Wonderful Ramada. They very generously agreed to put us up and so now we were all set.

After giving ourselves a day off on Monday, we headed to L.A. Matheson on Tuesday to present to a group of 70 or so students in the drama room.

We started off the usual way, asking the students what they think of when they hear the words, “extreme poverty”. From the back of the room came a chorus of teenage male voices, “Whalleeeeeey!” Ha ha. Not quite guys. The students at Matheson got really into the quiz portion of the presentation and it was awesome to seem them so engaged.

Classic Kits Secondary

Classic Kits Secondary

Wednesday we presented to four different classes at Kitsilano Secondary in Vancouver. Their teacher, Josee Lebel, was SO supportive. At the end of each presentation she put the kids into groups and asked them to brainstorm different ideas for the .7 Challenge. In the coming weeks, the students will carry out a fundraiser for the Millennium Villages. This is good :).

Mme. Lebel also gets huge points for recommending Greens & Gourment Vegetarian Buffet on Broadway. Mmm… delcious lunch of Thai curry etc. Mmm.

Mmm.

Mmmmmm.

I should also mention that Tracy’s Mom and my Onteeee Elaine came to watch us present at Kits Sec. Lovely lovely supportive woman she is. Afterwards, the three of us headed to Earls where Tracy and I spent the last of our Earls dollars (tear) and then we did some Christmas shopping.

Tune in for Tracy’s dramatic conclusion… expect EXCITING news on the personal front too 🙂

Posted by: pointsevensnowball | December 18, 2008

Final pop of the P7S campaign balloon? Not quite.

While I have been to Vancouver Island several times in my life, I have no real memories of Victoria. So,  I was really looking forward to visitng the city that received much acclaim from people all over Canada.

BC Parliament Buildings at night over the harbour! Ooohhh...

BC Parliament Buildings at night over the harbour! Ooohhh...

Aside from furthering our campaign goals in our western-most destination with some really awesome opportunities — from amazing schools to great volunteer gigs — Brielle had a small list of must-dos that we had to accomplish in Victoria. The list included shopping, eating at a delicious cafe and visitng Butchart Gardens. I was open to anything, so happily joined her in completing these tasks. The two things on my list were seeing the Parliament buildings (which we did at night) and being on CBC’s All Points West (hosted by Joanne Roberts who is a favourite host on CBC) which we also ticked off the list on Wednesday afternoon.

The following day, in between planning for our weekend carnival (I will get

Just one of the many buildings that make up SMUS

Just one of the many buildings that make up SMUS

to that later),  Brielle and I headed to one of the prettiest and most dignified schools in Canada. St. Michaels’ University School is a beautiful old, brick private school in Victoria. I knew to expect great things from there, as one of my friends attended the school.

While we had a small crowd for our presentation, we were really inspired by the amount of volunteering and humanitarian work the group of students had already completed at such a young age (they had even met Archbishop Desmond Tutu to talk about humanitarian work)! Anna, a particularly outstanding and brilliant student, had travelled to Africa to do some volunteering and told us she would be contacting us in the future to consult with us about ways of starting her own campaign.  Becky Anderson, a teacher, also asked if we could do some consulting for her! We were so flattered.

pic does the actual view no justice, just the best I could get).

The beautiful Butchart Gardens at night (note: pic does the actual view no justice, just the best I could get).

That night much to Brielle’s excitement, we indulged in free passes to Butchart Gardens, who were huge supporters of Point Seven Snowball. Thanks Butchart! Brielle and I spent a couple of hours (which I joked were VERY romantic) walking the path of the 12 Days of Christmas while sipping on hot apple cider. It was really magical and got both of us in the Christmas spirit.

Four pipers piping!

Four pipers piping!

The next morning,  still feeling all Christmassy and sprity, Brielle and I headed to Glenlyon Norfolk, another private school. This was our BIGGEST presentation to date. We presentated 300 students in a gym and I have to say it went really well. The students really listened and applauded and even cheered loudly at our presentation! Brielle and I both left feeling pumped. You see, prior to this presentation, we had sort of avoided doing assemblies. Not because we are shy or anything (quite the contrary, we both talk so loud we didn’t even need a microphone) but because we liked keeping our presentation interactive so as to ensure the students are getting  “it” which isn’t as possible with a large group. But, we both agreed that the students did seem to understand our material and responded really well. We even had some kids stop us in the hallway on the way out to tell us they really liked our presentation.Win front window features!

Our front window feature!

Our front window feature!

We left the school and headed downtown Victoria to spend the day doing something we both really enjoy —  shopping, well sort of!  We were volunteering at the  Victoria Women in Need thrift store. It was so much fun. Brielle and I were given the tasks of re-dressing all of the mannequins in the store. While Brielle and I tend to have fairly different styles (me more conservative and Brielle more Bohemian) we managed to combine our styles to create some pretty awesome outfits — if I must say so myself. It was a great way to spend a day in Victoria and was followed by a little bit of a self-indulgent shopping blitz in the store.

After finding some really great treasure, we were exhausted and could have just called it a day right then and there. But our day was far from over. We spent the remainder of the night prepping for the aforementioned carnival and then setting up for it until 1 a.m. (Am I just getting old or does 1 a.m. feel insanely late to anyone else? … You’re right, I’m just getting old). 

What is this carnival, you may ask? While let me tell you. It was a fantastic way to wrap up our campaign (even though it wasn’t exactly the end). 

Let me just back up a minute. Prior to attending Vic, Brielle and I had emailed and called various organizations, non-profits etc, about volunteering in the city. Winterfest, a winter carnival and artisans expo was the subject of one such call. After about an hour long conversation with the amazing Dory Thuot, Brielle told me we had been invited to partake in the Winterfest Giving Carnival Dec. 6-7.

The carnival allowed non-profit organizations to host a midway style game or two for kids at a free booth for both days of the festival. All of the proceeds of the 50-cent tickets youth would use to play the games would be given to the various organizations. So, after much deliberation Brielle and I organized two games: Pop the Snowballs and Guess the Number of Snowballs in the Jar. Pop the Snowballs allowed kids to throw darts at balloons for a chance to win prizes (which were generously donated by several Victoria businesses, including Boston Pizza, Rogers Video and a couple of dollar stores).

The Guess the Snowballs game allowed players to guess the number of mints in a large jar with the closest guess winning four passes to Butchart Gardens (thanks again Butchart).  I may be biased but I have to say I think that our booth was the busiest in the giving carnival. We had a non-stop flow of kids visiting our booth. It was a lot of fun for us too! We had a lot of laughs over the two days of the event and our shoe-box, in which players put their tickets, was pretty packed by the end of the weekend. We have since heard from event organizer Dory that we were really successful and a cheque for Millennium Promise is already in the mail!! Hurray!!

We give two thumbs up to our P7S submissions! Thanks Victoria!

We give two thumbs up to our P7S submissions! Thanks Victoria!

Another great benefit of the carnival was that we were partnered with an artisan, in this case a really sweet woman who had just started her own tea company.  Not only did P7S receive a joint spot on A Channel with our artisan partner, she also gave a portion of the proceeds from her sales over the weekend to MP as well!  Finally, the event offered us another opporunity to collect .7% submissions, which we pinned all over a huge snowball. What an amazing event and worth every minute!

Sunday, after tearing down our booth, popping the rest of the balloons and counting 624 mints three times,  Brielle and I packed up our stuff and headed to the ferry for our final ride to the mainland. While we had initially not planned on campaigning Vancouver, we couldn’t help ourselves. More on that in my final blog!

Posted by: pointsevensnowball | December 17, 2008

Channeling the Grinch on Canada’s favourite island destination

mmm White Spot anyone?

mmm White Spot anyone?

After a great week in the Okanagan, Tracy and I zipped into the Lower Mainland. Knowing we only had an hour or so to spare before catching the ferry in Tsawassen, we made plans to lunch with my Dad and Tracy’s Mama. And while our parental reunion was perhaps not quite as fraught with emotion as Tracy and Gabe’s reunion, it was very nice to squeeze my pops. So fast forward through laughs, love and a ferry ride and you’d find Tracy, me and a pizza in our hotel room at the Ramada Victoria (thanks Ramada Victoria!!!). We were exhausted and happy to unwind by watching a little So You Think You Can Dance Canada (go Niko with your incredible self, that little lisp… sigh).

Next day we were up EARLY to present to 100 or so leadership students at Oak Bay Secondary. A few students in particular impressed us with well, their leadership. One girl showed her support for World AIDS Day by wearing all red. When we asked for a volunteer to stand up in front of the class she put her hand up confidently. With groups of 100+ we often ask one student (let’s call her Rachel) to stand to represent .7% of the room. Then we ask 1/6th of the room to stand up to represent people who live in extreme poverty on our planet. Then we say, “If Rachel can increase her Official Development Assistance to .7% by 2015 then half of the people in the 1/6th group can take a seat because they will no longer be living in extreme poverty. And if Rachel can maintain that .7% level of giving through 2025, the rest of you can take a seat because no one will be living in extreme poverty”. The point is to illustrate how much of an impact .7% and/or one person can have.

We're Grinchy like that

We're Grinchy like that

Later that day, Tracy and I scored a giant snowball – woohoo!! As volunteers at the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health, we helped to sort through a bunch of Christmas decorations given to the Centre from the mall. Basically, we were picking out the cool decorations and sorting out the recyclables. And then we came across a giant round cotton wad on a skinny wooden stand. It used to be a snowman apparently but now… now it was a GLORIOUS SNOWBALL! And the perfect accessory for our booth at the upcoming Winterfest. So in manner of the Grinch, we took that (unwanted) Christmas wad, stuffed it in the trunk, patted Cindy Loo Who’s wee head and commanded the little reindeer mutt to pull us back to the Ramada.

Tuesday Trace and I presented to another group of 100 or so students at Lambrick Park. Due to some technical issues at the beginning we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked with the students. I think it’s a bummer when we don’t get a chance to engage the students in discussion at the end. By giving them a bit of time to reflect on our points and then asking for their feedback or challenges, I think it deepens their understanding. Plus it makes for a more dynamic experience on our end as we get a lot of unique questions/feedback.

Vic High - oldest school West of Winnipeg and North of San Fran

Vic High - oldest school West of Winnipeg and North of San Fran

Mid week. Let’s see, what’d we do. Oh right, we presented at beautiful, old Vic High in the classroom of a very cool, very chilled out teacher. The vibe in the classroom was awesome. When we saw that students were free to help themselves to peanut butter on bread in the corner we knew we were in a special class. And the students didn’t disappoint, challenging us with insightful questions and giving us their full attention and sincere feedback. They were a really bright group and Tracy and I particularly enjoyed presenting in their class. Oh, and their teacher, Mr. Pine, was another teacher to pass a collection jar around the room in support of our fundraising for the Millennium Villages project. As we never request donations from the students, we are always extremely honoured when classes make that extra effort. Thank you Vic High.

Tracy and I with JoAnn Roberts!

Tracy and I with JoAnn Roberts!

After the Vic High presentation, we had a couple of media dates. I did the first radio interview with a local talk radio station and then we teamed up to do a radio interview at All Points West with Jo-Ann Roberts. We both felt the interview went well. Jo-Ann was really supportive of our mandate and made us both feel at ease during the interview. The next day we were excited to see an email come through from a CBC listener who while supportive of our mission, was critical of what she perceived as our failure to communicate the fact that Canadians are part of the government (as opposed to being a seperate entity). She made an interesting point but we didn’t fully understand her criticism and asked her to elaborate in our reply.

So that’s about it for the first half of the week. On the food side, lots of Earls and just for a change, we ate at Rebar one night. Mmmm… awesome veg fare. Okay, I must sleep. Night e-world.

Posted by: pointsevensnowball | December 15, 2008

Home for a good time, but not a long time

My heart was pounding as we pulled into Penticton on Nov. 23. (I know Brielle covered my reunion with my sweetie but I have to say a few things about how totally exciting it was). For the entire trip, Gabe and I talked every single night, either on the phone or on Skype. So, because we were on Skype and could see each other, I didn’t think I would get that weird feeling that I think most people get when they haven’t seen their significant other for a long time. But I did.

As we came over the mountain from Okanagan Falls into Penticton, I almost pulled over to ask Brielle to drive because my heart was pounding so hard it was making me feel  dizzy. It felt surreal that I would actually get to see Gabe. So, when I got to the apartment, I just ran straight into our building. The elevator was at the top floor, so rather than wait, I just ran up the stairs and flung open the door. There he was. It felt so, so weird but so very good. I cried and we hugged and hugged and kissed and hugged some more (all of which poor Brielle was subjected to). The worst part was that we would only have  a couple of hours together before we left again for Kelowna. Throughout the week, I was happy to be able to see him a couple of more times.  But our schedule in the Okanagan was packed and with only a few more weeks left in the campaign, we both wanted to put as much energy into it as possible.

We stayed the week in Kelowna, as Brielle mentioned, with Gabe’s cousins. It

Bryan and Brewser hanging out in on Brielle's and my bed in the living room.

Bryan and Brewser hanging out on mine and Brielle's bed in the living room.

was a ton of fun to stay in the house with this group of very energetic and supportive family members, playing games, eating (DQ and cinnamon buns were a highlight), watching Brielle wrestle with Chris and Karina’s dog, singing my heart out to ACDC on Rock Band (sorry to everyone’s ears for that one)  and watching some great classic movies (read: Scarface). Thanks and lots of love to Chris, Karina, Alex, Bryan, Breanne and, of course, Brewser for putting up with us …. er … I mean putting us up. Good times.

Regarding the campaign itself, our week in Kelowna was really successful. The time was nicely split with the first half focused entirely on schools and the second half focused on volunteering with media sprinkled throughout.

Volunteering at the Canadian Cancer Society

Volunteering at the Canadian Cancer Society

After our first few days of speaking at schools,  I  awoke Thursday ready for  an interview on CBC’s show Day Break followed by a day volunteering at the Canadian Cancer Society, an organization we had been wanting to volunteer for the whole trip.

The CBC interview went really well.  I arrived early and the Day Break host Marion welcomed me into the studio (I was looking forward to meeting the host of a show I listened to on the way to work every morning). The spot lasted about five minutes. The interview felt really good and after it I heard from some friends that they thought it sounded good and I had gotten the message of Point Seven Snowball out without stuttering or stumbling too much.

Brielle and I spent the remainder of the day in the Cancer society office learning the geography of Westbank  (or West Kelowna or whatever the city is calling itself these days). We were helping to identify and map out the routes for the upcoming spring door-to-d00r campaign. While the work was tedious, it was nice to lend a hand and give the staff a break from such work.

The next day we awoke to pouring rain and cold weather. Brielle and I were supposed to spend the day outside selling buttons for the upcoming Day of Remembrance hosted by the Kelowna Women’s Centre. We decided, before leaving to call the office and ask exactly how long we would be spending outside and exactly how many layers of clothes we should be putting on. The very nice lady told us that perhaps it wouldn’t be the best day to sit in front of a grocery store and sell buttons (thank god). Instead she suggested we drive around and hang posters in a few businesses around Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood.

So we took a bundle of posters and set out. It didn’t take us long to post them all in stores, restaurants and offices around Rutland. That afternoon we were also supposed to meeting with Kelowna MP Ron Cannan, but the meeting was cancelled as a result of the weather (his plane couldn’t land in Kelowna Airport).

For our final day in Kelowna, Brielle and I spent the day at a Pow Wow. It

The .7 Snowball cupcakes we made for the potluck at the Pow Wow

The .7 Snowball cupcakes we made for the potluck at the Pow Wow

was her first and my second. We worked as baristas, so to speak, serving hot chocolate and coffee to the guests while taking in some of the amazing dancing and equally beautiful costumes.

One of  the highlights of the Pow Wow was meeting this very statuesque man named Nathan who we found out had been in Dances with Wolves. Brielle and I also loved a

Nathan, the fellow we were told was in Dances with Wolves -- also an amazing traditional dancer.

Nathan, the fellow we were told was in Dances with Wolves -- also an amazing traditional dancer.

dance performed by two little boys. It was called a Hoop Dance and someone told me it was one of the hardest and most technical of all aboriginal dances.  It was absolutely amazing to watch these kids, who couldn’t have been a day over 10 years old, and one of whom was the third best hoop dancer in the WORLD!

Finally, the Pow Wow also offered us another chance to promote P7S, as Brielle got on the mic during dinner and told the audience about it.

 

The absolutely awesome hoop dancer!

The absolutely awesome hoop dancer!

After the Pow Wow that night,   Brielle and I drove to Penticton where we spent the night at my house. In the morning we headed off again to our final destination in the campaign, Victoria. It was exciting to think that after almost 14 weeks of travelling we would finally be hitting the western most destination in our campaign. We couldn’t wait!

Posted by: pointsevensnowball | December 8, 2008

the world chico, and everything in it…

Gabe had beautiful roses for Tracy... and nothing for me (I mean the NERVE!)

Gabe had beautiful roses for Tracy... and nothing for me (I mean the NERVE!)

 

After many hours of Jack Johnson and a few roadkill sightings, we rolled into Penticton (aka the homeland of Tracy and Gabe). Tracy was all nervous excitement as we cruised down into the happy little Okanagan city, rubbing her hand on her thigh and tapping her feet. We pulled into their complex and Tracy flew into the building and up the three flights of stairs to their little love nest. It was all sweetness and pie for the next few hours as Tracy and Gabe couldn’t keep their eyes or hands off one another. Hurrah for love 🙂.

 

We didn’t linger long in Penticton however. After another lovely dinner at Earls

Thanks to our mama & papa Kelowna hosts, Chris & Karina!!!

Thanks to our mama & papa Kelowna hosts, Chris & Karina!!!

(Santa Fe Chicken Salad-style), we drove to Kelowna where we’d be spending the week at Gabe’s cousins’ house. And yes that was a deliberately plural ‘cousins’. Like Tracy and I, Gabe’s family takes the form of cousinly herds.

There were a lot of Portuguese people in that house plus a couple partners of. Subsequently there was lots of good-natured yelling, laughing and eating throughout the week. Good times.

As for P7S, the beginning of the week was filled with school presentations and media interviews. We started off at an ungodly hour (sometime before noon), at Okanagan Adventist Academy where our presentation was met with resounding er, silence. Not really a bad silence, just that first thing Monday morning silence. The kids were polite, attentive listeners and we got the job done. Later that afternoon we presented to a pile of students crammed into the library at beautiful Glenrosa Middle School. Once again the students listened well and offered up some particularly impressive questions considering they were a bit younger than our usual crowd. And their teacher, Mr. Orloff, was extremely supportive of our campaign, suggesting we submit a funding request to the provincial government (thanks Mr. Orloff :). 
say hello to my new favourite Pacino movie

say hello to my new favourite Pacino movie

After a busy day of presentations, we rewarded ourselves with a treat from Booster Juice and headed back to the house of Portuguese. There we were treated to a little Pacino. Scarface had been on my list of movies to see for a looong time so I considered the viewing to be another landmark campaign accomplishment.

The next day was AWESOME. We presented to a couple of classes at Okanagan Mission Secondary and the students there were wonderful brainy little people. After presenting to a thoughtful group of grade nines, we went to Earls for lunch with teacher Katie Nault. Tracy and I loved meeting Katie as she’s close to our ages and into a lot of the same issues. She told us about a Millennium Scholarship Challenge based out of Kelowna that invites kids to develop a project in response to one or more of the Millennium Development Goals. What an awesome idea. Tracy and I would love to learn more about this process and possibly get involved on some level.

That afternoon we spoke to a group of senior-ish students in Katie’s after school social justice club. It was awesome to meet a group of young adults so well-informed on issues of extreme poverty. We asked them to name the Millennium Development Goals and they were like “psssssht! No problem”. And it wasn’t. Then we took Katie’s suggestion about engaging the kids through a quiz and that turned out to be a wicked idea. We divided the students into two teams and had them square off against each other (for fair trade chocolate) to answer questions about the MDGs, Canada’s aid commitment and extreme poverty in general. The kids brought their ‘A’ game to the table and the competition was heated good times. I would have liked to spend another couple hours just talking with these kids as they seemed so full of ideas and energy. Hopefully, we’ll meet up with them again down the road.

Wednesday guess what we did? We presented to students at schools about Point Seven Snowball!! I know, CRAZY right?! In the wee hours of the morning we dragged our butts off the air mattress we’d been sleeping on to drive to Summerland where we presented at Summerland Secondary. The group was forgiving of our initial technical difficulties and responded with lots of challenging questions. One young man criticized the idea that we should be spending on Official Development Assistance in spite of the current domestic economic crisis. We responded by pointing out that aside from the basic moral principle that those in CONSIDERABLY better positions than others should do whatever’s in their power to help out (and save lives), it’s also in our best long-term interest as Canadians to increase ODA. From an environmental perspective alone, it’s crucial that we help countries handicapped by extreme poverty to develop sustainable environmental practices – especially as populations soar out of control. Globalization means we are increasingly interconnected with other countries and cultures and we need to level the playing field to ensure global sustainability. I could write more about this as I think it’s a very important question that demands thoughtful reflection and debate but I’ll leave it at that for now.

I should also mention that there was a Summerland newspaper reporter out to cover our morning presentation. Similarly, a Penticton journalist came to cover our afternoon presentation at Penticton High School. It was nice to see some local papers out supporting our local initiative. Tracy also made the big times with a CBC radio interview but I’m sure she’ll write about that…

Okay peace and love and Christmas to everyone xo 

I wanted to steal Chris & Karina's dog, Bruiser, from the house of the Portuguese.I wanted to steal Chris & Karina’s dog, Bruiser, from the house of the Portuguese.

 

Posted by: pointsevensnowball | December 2, 2008

Finishing the prairies on a sugar high

After several months of travelling (albeit with my beloved cousin) I was happy to see some more familiar faces as we drove into Lethbridge. Staying with my boyfriend’s cousins Susan and Scott was fantastic. They are avid gamers and I expected our week would be filled with strategic board games and, as Brielle said in her last blog, we were not let down. But what I didn’t expect, and had forgotten about Scott, was the pantry chock-a-block full of delicious candy! Scott, you see is a chocoholic. He claims to have a separate stomach just for chocolate. I can relate. So, when the cousins – which I also claim as my own cousins – said we could help ourselves to said pantry, we did. Did we ever!

So we were hopped up on a sugar high pretty much all week as we headed out to our Christmassy volunteer gigs and our one school presentation in the city. The presentation was at another Winston Churchill (I swear there is at least one in every city and we have managed to hit them all). The class was a world issues class and the kids were really energetic — I don’t know if it was our energy rubbing off on them or vice versa but

Me and Bri with our gift-wrapping guru!

Me and Bri with our gift-wrapping guru!

it made for a really fun presentation. The kids weren’t afraid to ask questions, participate in the discussions and share a lot of laughs with us. We even showed them pictures of the mysterious insect-thing we had found, and photographed, at the Jingle Bell Run a few days earlier. The teens told us our creature discovery was actually a crustacean, a crab. One kid said he even ate one once. Even though I like Ocean crab, the thought of eating that thing was gross. Crab aside, the kids seemed really engaged in our presentation and asked some good questions. We also got a really nice email from the teacher Kevin McBeath the next day saying he really liked the concept.

Bowing down to Christmas

Bowing down to Christmas

The following day we headed to the mall – it wasn’t for a shopping trip, although we couldn’t help but do a little browsing on our lunch breaks. Rather it was to wrap presents for the YWCA. The annual booth was set up right next to Santa’s workshop (which was still sans Santa). At the gift wrapping booth we helped set things up for the next few weeks, which would likely be insanely busy, and even managed to wrap a few presents before the day was up. The gig also brought us two media interviews. One with the Lethbridge Herald, the daily paper in which we made Page 3 (Ahem!). We were also interviewed by Mark Campbell, a fellow who does community pieces for Global News. Here is a link to the seven-minute spot we garnered: http://www.globaltv.com/globaltv/lethbridge/video/index.html (go to the Scene and Heard and click on Nov. 24 if you want to watch it).

We spent our last night in Lethbridge (you probably guessed it) playing games and eating treats. The following morning we would be starting the first leg of our journey home. But not until we spent some time painting tiny little faces at the Chinook Hospital.

Brielle and I were told we would be in charge of the face-painting and colouring stations for the annual

Painting an aforementioned puffy cheek

Painting an aforementioned puffy cheek

Breakfast with Santa. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant until we arrived to find out it actually meant painting faces. Now, I should tell you the last time I took art was in Grade 8 and it was the only time in my life that I almost failed a class. If that can’t pretty much sum up my artistic skill I don’t know what can. Anyways, Brielle and I, armed with colourful painting crayons sat down hoping kids would ask for things like circles or triangles to be painted on their face. No such luck. But I do have to say we did a pretty good job. We even got some ooohs and aaaahs from kids who liked our artwork (well, mostly Bri’s). One of the things that made the job the most challenging was the puffy little cheeks of the youngest patrons. It is not easy to draw a Christmas tree, present or any gingerbread man on a puffy cheek with a crayon. The crayon just sort of sinks into the cheek and smears around a bit. But what we found is that most kids just want something on their face, some sort of colour. They don’t really care that much how it looks. My two most challenging patrons were a little girl who asked for a princess to be painted on her face (try drawing an intricate face on a puffy-cheeked four-year-old, no easy task). Another little four year old also wanted me to make her into Rudolf’s girlfriend. I started with the red nose, a little deer mouth and then some big black eyelashes. Then I went to far. Rather than stopping there, for some reason I decided making her whole face brown like a reindeer was a good idea. Not so much. Her face ended up all streaky and brown and when I showed it to her, she asked me to wipe it off and start again. I felt bad and so I did it, even though there were about 30 other little tykes waiting patiently behind her. With Brielle and I working as fast as we could, we still weren’t able to make it through the whole line of anxious tots before we had to leave to pack for our drive to Trail.

The last vestiges of the praires as we head into the Rockies

The last vestiges of the praires as we head into the Rockies

And it was a good thing we left when we did. We returned to Scott and Susan’s house, shared some big hugs and then hit the road. Brielle snapped so many photos as we headed toward the Rockies (and into our home province! YIPEEEEEEEEEEEEE!) that my camera battery died. As we ascended into the Rockies, night fell and the snow started. But we were careful , driving slowly and eventually making our way over the slightly scary Salmo-Creston pass and into Trail. We were starving when we arrived and decided to immediately go for food. We located a new little Mexican restaurant called Mazatlan, where Brielle ate what she said was the best Mexican food of her life (and she has been to Mexico). Then we drove to my boyfriend Gabe’s aunt and uncle’s (and Susan’s wonderful parents), where we snuggled into our own beds. I was exhausted and totally crashed, but grew restless as I knew the next morning we would be heading to my house, where I would see my boyfriend for the first time in three months! I could hardly wait!

The long road home....

The long road home....

Posted by: pointsevensnowball | December 1, 2008

Bring on the Nobel Prize!

 

Hurrah for wind-power! You go Alberta

Hurrah for wind-power! You go Alberta

The drive from Regina to Lethbridge was eventually quite pretty. Why eventually? Well for those of you who’ve never done the drive, let me fill you in. You start out marvelling at the flatness. Then the marvel turns to sleepiness and you bang your forehead around on the steering wheel a few times (at this point it’s a good idea to slam back a couple Clif bars or play your favourite ‘sing in the car’ mix). Then suddenly you make friends with the prairies – seduced by the unassuming simplicity, the sameness and the Corner Gas-sity of it all. Oh, and we got to see a wicked sunset. And as we were driving West and the world was flat flat flat, it felt like we were driving right into the sun. Tri-Peeeee…..

But for those of you in the ‘forget the journey, it’s all about the destination’ school, there’s good news for you too. Lethbridge was a well-rounded success. For starters, we got to stay with some extended family – Tracy’s boyfriend’s cousin Sue and her husband Scott – in their beautiful new home. And we got our own rooms AND our own bathroom. No more accidental cousin-spooning – nice! Plus Scott and Sue were fun hosts. They taught me how to play Settlers of Catan and introduced Tracy to her new favourite game, Ticket to Ride. Check out the dorky picture of us holding the train game peices we came to know very well.

Paying nerdy homage to `the train game`

Paying nerdy homage to `the train game`

Trains and sunsets aside, we managed to get some work done too. Sunday morning we headed to Henderson Lake to help out with Arthritis Society’s Jingle Bell Run. After checking in with the organizers and receiving our shirts and jingle bells, we were given the task of manning the water table mid-course. Although it was cold, we had fun (I know we always say that but it’s TRUE man! We’re that perfect breed of human that has life-altering good times EVERYWHERE we go. Okay maybe not life-altering, but there’s usually something to be amused by or feel good about). I think I’ll list the Jingle Bell Run highlights in bullet form for a change:

– Bottomless hot chocolate

– Adorable if slightly ridiculously dressed dogs on the run who lapped at our water bottles

– The extremely nice men who stood and chatted with us at our posts about P7S and hooked us up with media connections

– Making a Nobel Prize-worthy discovery on the grass by our table (see picture of freaky beetle/scorpion/deathbug hybrid)

freaky bug/crab/scorpion demon at Henderson Lake

freaky bug/crab/scorpion demon at Henderson Lake

Tracy offers water to a fast dude at the Jingle Bell Run

Tracy offers water to a fast dude at the Jingle Bell Run

So that was the run. Good times. The next day Tracy and I caught up on administrative stuff – following up with schools in Victoria and setting up volunteering. As we both like to write but have different writing styles (Tracy’s competent, mine less so), sitting in front of the laptop co-typing emails all day is not, perhaps, our favourite part of the work we’re doing. That said, we always feel good at the end of those ‘email/phone call days’ as we usually get a lot accomplished.

On Tuesday, Tracy and I visited a school called The Third Academy. After giving a short presentation to the small school, we spent some one on one time with the students. We read with some of the younger ones (I love The Outsiders) and checked out the P7S website with a couple older students. It was a nice way to spend our morning, hanging out with some really sweet kids.

What else did we do in the first half of the week… oh, we set up lots of press for the latter half. But I’m sure Tracy will cover that in her second-half-of-the-week-sum-up.

Also a quick shout to Jayme, my Lethbridg-ian friend whom I LOVE and was so happy to catch up with.

And finally, did anyone catch Stephen Lewis on The Hour the other night? For those of you unfamiliar with Lewis, start familiarizing as he is 100% inspiration. A good place to start is his book, Race Against Time.

Okay, THE END.

our favourite Jingle Bell Runner

our favourite Jingle Bell Runner

Posted by: pointsevensnowball | November 28, 2008

Regina: thinking pink, being dealt a losing hand and painters paradise

I wasn’t sure what to expect as we headed to Regina. The only thing I really knew about Saskatchewan, aside from the fact that there is a lot of farming there and that it is very flat, is that old joke about how the last person to leave Saskatchwan should turn off the lights. Knowing that a lot of people had left the province, I wondered what those that were left would be like. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Regina was a lot of fun.

After singing our hearts out at Karaoke on Monday night (Gangsta-style), then seeing Craig Kielburger on Wednesday, I already considered the week a hit and we still had half of it left.

But the last few days didn’t let us down. I have to give Regina props for having some really great residents.

Our new friends at SARBI

Our new friends at SARBI

Case in point was Thursday morning when we went to SARBI, a brain injury rehabilitation centre where we met some really inspiring people recovering from car accidents and strokes primarily. After losing a game of crib to Brielle and another fellow, Kris the recreational therapist and I teamed to try and kick some serious crib butt, but to no avail. The fellow next to me, whose commentary included some of the most creative curse words I’ve ever heard, had us all laughing and took away the sting of the second consecutive loss. It was a great way to spend the morning.

That afternoon we headed off to Dr. Martin Leboldus high school, where we did a presentation for a group of grade 10 students. The presentation came as a result of another happy coincidence. The students from Leboldus were some of the many in attendance at the Kielburger talk the previous night (and he had visited the school earlier that day). So, we went in knowing that the students were already thinking about giving back. The teacher, Liz Fogarty was also really supportive of the campaign and said she would like to get the class involved in a .7% fundraiser of some sort! We can’t hera that enough times. Seriously.

That night we met some really cool kids at the Eastview Community centre. The centre is located in a neighbourhood where the poverty rate is high and where the majority of kids come from single parent families. So, the centre co-ordinator said the centre gives the kids a safe place to hang out, play games, check email and just generally be kids without having to worry about some of the other issues in their lives.

Brielle was super stoked to see the kids setting up a volleyball net in the gym, so I knew she would probably be posted there for the remainder of the night. I decided to hang out with the younger kids, supervising them while they painted. It was hilarious. I wasn’t sure exactly how far we were allowed to let the kids go, so I basically just let them go wild with paint — mixing the colours together with their hands, throwing paint at windows and smearing paint generally everywhere. I then became paranoid and spent the rest of the night wiping it up.

After managing to clean up most of the paint smears and drips (with help from the awesome kids), we spent the end of the night tracing the kids on paper and then letting them fill their outlines with whatever their imaginations could dictate.  It was so much fun and the kids got really creative. I especially loved meeting a family of sisters who were from Tuktyuktuk and who told me a lot about their people and their traaditions as Inuit. It was a great night and I learned a lot from the kids. The centre co-ordinator, who often spends the night alone trying to manage all of these kids, was an amazing lady who should be commended for her dedication.

We spent our last day in the ‘Gina speaking with students at Luther College, a sort of private faith-based school which has a large international student population. The day went well – the students asked a lot of   questions which always leads me to believe they are getting it.

After our day at high school, we headed to university where we met a “our new best friend” Nakia. Brielle and I were volunteering at the University of Regina, where the girls and boys basketball teams were taking on the University of Victoria. We couldn’t help but cheer for our home province team, even as we sported University of Regina Cougars t-shirts.

We were there to help out with a breast cancer fundraiser called Shooting for the Cure, in which the girls

Brielle, Sarah and I

Brielle, Sarah and I

donned pink Russell Athletic sweatshirts (with an embroidered Cougars insignia on the front, a Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation pink ribbon on one arm and the individual player numbers on the others) for their warm up. The sweatshirts were then auctioned off, with all of the proceeds going to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The most touching part of the event was that a lady (somehow connected to the team, but I am not sure how) decided to collect funds to purchase the sweatshirt of a player from Europe, whose family couldn’t be there to support her. Her sweatshirt ended up going for more than $300. We had a lot of fun and loved hanging out with the lively and energetic Nakia, a soccer player for the university.

The next morning, we finished our week the way we started it, enjoying a meal with Sarah and her boyfriend Curtis before we hit the highway for a very flat drive to Lethbridge. On the drive Brielle and I were treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen and I couldn’t help but snap about 100 photos of it.

Beautiful sunset (pic 1)

Beautiful sunset (pic 1)

Sunset on the way to Lethbridge (No.2)

Sunset on the way to Lethbridge (No.2)

Posted by: pointsevensnowball | November 25, 2008

Masmatchewan…

For the sake of your reading pleasure (well hopefully it’s a pleasure) and my writing pleasure I like to try and vary my blogging style when and if I can. So I was thinking of writing a poem about our time in Regina but then I realized I’d never think of anything that rhymes with SAKATCHEWAN so I’m scrapping that plan. That said, if anyone CAN think of a single word that rhymes with the S-word, I’ll be happy to write you a poem…

As mentioned in our last couple blogs, Tracy and I try not to repeat the same kind of volunteering twice as we’re trying to convey the many different ways to ‘give .7%’. (So just to be clear, we’re not down with repetition when it comes to volunteering during the campaign… but we ARE cool with repetition when it comes to blogging about how we’re trying not to repeat ourselves… got it?).

washing up at the Souls Harbour soup kitchen

washing up at the Souls Harbour soup kitchen

That said, it’s really tough to say no to an invitation to help out at a soup kitchen. Whereas many organizations that we contact can’t make use of our offer to volunteer because it’s the wrong time of year or they’re looking for long-term help only, soup kitchens will ALWAYS say yes to some extra help. So Tracy and I said ‘sure’ to the Souls Rescue Misison soup kitchen in Regina. The young man who runs the kitchen told us they serve 150+ people PER DAY. That’s a lot of hungry people. Fortunately there were TONS of volunteers helping out that night – a few of them first-timers like us. Hee hee… one man fell easily in love with Tracy whom he referred to as ‘PENTICTON!!’ (from across the room) and I’m guessing he ate at least 4 big bowls of stew just so she’d have a reason to come back to his table and clear his plate. Along with the funny PENTICTON! guy, several other diners and many volunteers wanted to know about our campaign. We filled them in and were stoked a few days later to see that they’d filled in the SNOWBALL EFFECT on our site – hurrah!

dig our Christmas creation man

dig our Christmas creation man

The next day Tracy and I bundled up and walked from our hotel, the Ramada (yep, Ramada AGAIN – we sooo appreciate the sponsorship!), to the Kids Help Line headquarters. We’d been invited to help decorate giant Christmas wreaths for their upcoming fundraiser, Homes for the Holidays. In a word, this was fun. We both love Christmas and well, being put in charge of something – even if it’s something as simple as deciding how best to disperse coloured baubles and giant ribbons on a large circle of er… tree bits. Dorks to the core perhaps, but we were proud when the wonderful staff at Kids Help Line approved of our wreaths. And here we have to say a huge thank you to said staff for helping to line up some media coverage. A reporter from the Regina Leader-Post was there to interview us as we wreath-ed. Sidebar: for those of you who SAW that article, please be assured I’m not actually a professional female wrestler although the picture might have led you to believe otherwise.

)

Craig Kielburger we love you 🙂

After finishing up the wreaths, we received an AWESOME invitation to accept two tickets to see Craig Kielburger speak at a centre in Regina that evening. (While I’d never heard of Craig prior to our tour, his name has come up consistently along the way). Of course, we accepted and wow, what a speech. For those of you who have never heard of Craig, he started up his own non-profit when he was 12 years old after reading an article about a kid his age who had been subjected to child slave labour and then murdered. Now 25, Craig and his organization, Free the Children, have built over 500 schools in developing countries. Craig has written several books, spent time with Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, etc. and he’s received FOUR honourary doctorates. Exchanging a few words and our ‘business cards’ after his presentation, I felt like I was meeting a living legend – someone who will be remembered years and years from now for his leadership and vision. I could write a book about his presentation but he already wrote one so it would probably be faster if you just read his – Me To We. All in all, it was a nice mid-trip hit of inspiration.

Speaking of inspired, I should also mention our evening of ‘cheesy-oke’ with Tracy’s friends Sarah and Curtis in Regina. We showed up at the red-walled Irish bar just as the karaoke was getting started. After learning that first-timers score a free pint we started flipping through the book in search of the perfect song. Sarah and Tracy soon hit the stage to pay tribute to classic Coolio with a little ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’. Tracy was clearly lost in the ‘magic’ of the moment, closing her eyes and dancing along with the music. Later the three of us went up to sing (read: ruin) ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The bar was packed with college kids and the crowd was awesome, woohoo-ing everyone regardless of talent or lack thereof. And finally after a few more beers (and years of Bridget Jones watching), I bared my soul to the tune of Celine Dion’s ‘All By Myself’ – high kicks and all. Hey man, the campaign trail can be a lonely road 🙂

Under attack by Sarah & Curtis' insane (and very cute) cat

Under attack by Sarah & Curtis' insane cat

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