Enrol the C-Suite in Social Media

March 14th, 2017

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Isn’t life easier in a company when the senior leadership is supportive of the plan? My point here is that when you enrol the C-Suite in social media, the job of the communicator is almost free of hassles.  Once the c-suite sees the tremendous value and impact for their business, they will ensure that there are appropriate resources to deploy these strategic communication tools. Public Relations and social media together can have a tremendous impact on a brand or company profile. After all, they are in charge of the art of communication.

Shout to Seneca College Public Relations

I had the pleasure of speaking with the Seneca Media classes February 13th. They are graduate students in pursuit of a certificate in Public Relations and Social Media. These are the communicators of our future. I was stressing the importance of social media and public relations teams, within an organization, to ensure that the senior leadership embraces the power of their work.

The headlines of my presentation were intended to provide some coaching to these up and coming professionals. I suggested some ways of they might successfully enrol and engage senior leaders in their company, with social media and public relations. Social media and public relations should be regarded as valued practices and assets within the marketing mix.

CEO Support a Clincher

If you can become top of mind with the CEO or head of a business, your work will be that much easier. With a CEO supportive of social media and public relations in the mix, the rest of management and the organization will quickly align. CEO’s that value the impact of social media and public relations are no doubt witnessing strong consumer relations and enhanced brand loyalty. CEO’s that take an active role in social networks themselves will experience the power of these networks. We know from the latest Signal Communication Leadership CEO index that Canadian CEO’s are really just beginning to embrace the networks, let alone the value. The goods news is that the communications team can coach and counsel members of the leadership team to impactful social networking for the business.

A Senior Leader “sponsor”

A senior leader within the organization, leading the department that houses social media and PR, will also make a huge difference. A strong voice fighting for inclusion of social and PR, will help entrench the agenda within an organization. This will help raise profile and understanding throughout an organization. Social media and PR cannot be seen as add-ons. They cannot be there only in case of emergency. They must be seen and utilized as communication assets ongoing entrenched in the sales and marketing strategies.

Strategic Benefit Understood

Some might view social as tactical. I view it as strategically tactical. Social Media and Public Relations must be seen and understood as strategic, within the communications strategy of a brand and business.

Perhaps it is core to the brand’s voice in the market.

Perhaps it is critical in leading, protecting and reinforcing corporate reputation.

Perhaps it is a critical channel with which to support direct to consumer relations.

Or, all three of the areas of brand and business strength can be supported by a strategic plan in social media and public relations. The wonderful world of social media has so many analytics available now. There are rich and robust data and tracking platforms. This is not a subjective call.  Communicators; you can prove yourself with objective analytic proof. Go for it!

Social Role Defined and Supported

Social Media needs to have a clear role in the mix of marketing and sales. It can play a clear role, as the voice and face of a brand and business. Once that role is defined, the business must then invest in the assets; like they invest in other media assets. Social media voice is as important as an advertising buy. View it as “media”, just as you would view print, television, radio, outdoor and in the home. It is “media” – be sure that its role is defined and supported.

Part of the Marketing Mix

Social media deserves a box on the checklist, like all other aspects and elements of the marketing mix. Social media can play a critical and leading role in Product – Place – Price and Promotion. Don’t let social media become that eleventh-hour consideration. Don’t let social media only become important when that negative tweet is thrown your way and someone happens to stumble across it. Put effective monitoring and listening in place. Lead the conversation for the brand and business in social networks. That clearly puts social media and PR in play, as part of the marketing mix.

Keep it Top of Mind

PR folks need to practice what they preach. PR folks need to tell their story, show the results internally, build alliances, create stories of success and show the value that they bring to the brand and organization. The marketing folks will showcase their new ads. The sales folks will highlight sales. The supply chain team will show the new innovations. Step it up communicators! By showing your accomplishments you will be sure to have continued investment and belief in your efforts.

Wrap Up

If these variables are taken seriously, I truly believe that you will find those senior leaders in your organization and the C-Suite value social media. You will be demonstrating impact and value in the mix of the business.

Wishing communicators of the future much success. C-Suite executives…be proud and glad you have them.

Cheers !  @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

 

Kenora Thistle Stanley Cup Champions

Small Town Spirit

February 13th, 2017

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There is just quite something unique, authentic and empowering about small town spirit. The people of Kenora will reach new heights of spirit this week, as they host #Scotiabank #HockeyDay in Canada.

Centre of Canada

Growing up in Kenora Ontario was just an awesome experience. Having the Lake of the Woods lapping up along the shore of our town, being two hours from Winnipeg, six hours from Duluth, five hours from Thunder Bay, ninety minutes from Dryden, two and a half hours from Ignace, three hours to Sioux Lookout, three hours to Red Lake, an hour and a half to Ear Falls, thirty minutes to Sioux Narrows, sixty minutes to Vermillion Bay, thirty minutes to Minaki, forty-five minutes to Falcon Lake, two hours to Fort Frances and the International border crossing to the USA at International Falls, two hours to Rainy River and the international crossing at Beaudette Minnesota and everything in between and beyond; how could you beat being in the centre of Canada experiencing the four seasons this country provides?

Lake of the Woods

Kenora sits on the northernmost channel of beautiful Lake of the Woods, at the headwaters of the Winnipeg River.Lake of the Woods is over 70 miles (110 km) long and wide, and contains more than 14,552 islands and 65,000 miles (105,000 km) of shoreline. It would amount to the longest coastline of any Canadian lake, except that the lake is not entirely within Canada. Lake of the Woods is the sixth largest freshwater lake located (at least partially) in the United States, after the five Great Lakes. Northwestern Ontario is located in the far reaches of the province of Ontario, a full two-day drive. Yes, a two-day drive – or 24 hours straight through; if you must. Whether you cross at Sarnia into Michigan State and start the US “south of Superior” route, or head north from Toronto along the top of Superior on Highway 17, or take the “truckers route” up along the longest street in the world (Yonge Street from Toronto to Rainy River,over 1,896 kilometres or 1,178 miles long); it is a great distance way from Ontario’s capital to the capital of lake life and the great outdoors – Kenora Ontario. Actually, the official slogan is “North America’s Premier Boating Destination”.Enough context, let’s get back to talking about small town spirit.

Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada

February 18th, 2017 Scotiabank brings #HockeyDay in Canada to Kenora Ontario. As all of the Canadian NHL teams face off against each other, Kenora will be a buzzing with hockey related festivities along the shoreline of the northernmost channel of Lake of the Woods. Hockey Night in Canada personalities Don Cherry and Ron MacLean will be hosting their Coaches Corner from Kenora. SportsNet will be broadcasting all day long and into the evening starting at 12 noon ET (11 am Central Time in Kenora).

All eyes of our nation, hockey fans coast to coast to coast, will turn their eyes to capture wonderful grassroots stories about Kenora and its hockey heritage. Did you know that Kenora is the smallest town to have won the Stanely Cup? They will play a re-enactment game on the lake in front of the “Thistle Pavillion” Saturday morning. More recently the Stanley Cup returned to Kenora and was proudly hoisted high by local hockey hero Mike Richards, member of two LA King Stanley Cup Champion teams. And the Kenora Thistles’ name lives on with their current AAA Midget roster. They will play Saturday afternoon.

When it comes to small town spirit, there will be nothing to compare with February 18th as Kenora’s 15,000 population welcome the eyes and hearts of the nation, and visitors to their town. Be sure to take in the winter beauty of Kenora Ontario, in celebration of our national sport and Scotiabank’s Hockey Day in Canada.

Tune in to SportsNet

Throughout the day, check it out on SportsNet . The small town spirit will shine through proudly. Happy #Scotiabank #HockeyDay Canada! We’ll be “posting” small town spirit from Kenora. @FergDevins

Consider Blogging

February 12th, 2017

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A @ChrisBrogan Nudge

In Chris Brogan’s weekly newsletter February 12th , I was reminded of the wonderful early days of exploring social media in 2007. It prompted me to suggest that you consider blogging. 2007 was a time when blogs were exploding. If you couldn’t get traditional media to tell your story; you could develop your own media and shout your story out as loud as you wanted. Well, that said; you could create and post it – the level of sound and noise was up to you. In fact you had to follow through with your integrated and well-defined communications plan.

You Are In Control

They were the best of times. Brands were “early adopting” and exploring social channels. Marketing practices and long-standing media planning was put to the challenge. A community was unfolding and growing as people sought out social networks as channels for communication.

Chris’ Sunday newsletter wasn’t so much about challenging readers to write blogs, but it was a nudge to embrace what we have in our command. I see his nudge as a challenge to stand in a place of action, rather than contemplation. How many times have you seen a post and let it pass? Have you ever read a blog and considered commenting, but didn’t? Now more than ever, it is time to engage.

Channels are Open – Start Communicating

We have more social networks and media channels at our fingertips today than ever before. Many traditional media outlets have opened up their journalists and reporters to comment and debate. Unfortunately, some members of the public have been hiding behind trollish profiles and crass comments, compromising this dialogue in some areas. Respect is key, in creating meaningful dialogue. Mutual respect and appreciating and valuing that there are differing opinions, is critical to meaningful engagement.

Tell Your Story

What opportunity are you missing by letting others tell stories about you, your brand, your cause, your business or your community? Why let someone else lead that conversation?  You can embrace the opportunity to jump into the dialogue and bring your voice to the discussion, or sit in the stands and watch the play go back and forth. There’s more fun in the heat of the action, isn’t there?

Choose a Channel

For me, I like to be in the conversation. You need not be a techno expert to get into social media and generate a conversation. There are so many platforms options to consider blogging. Platforms today are built for any and all levels of comfort with technology. Gosh, if you can type or use a key board – you can create media for yourself, your brand, your cause, your business or enterprise. If you’ve got a solid idea or concept then write, click, drag and drop – you’re ready to roll. Personally, I’m active across many different social channels – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Obviously, this “blog” is also part of my footprint. I use a few tools to keep it all singing together. These include but are not limited to EClincher, Promo Republic, Commun.it, Buffer and Co-Schedule. I utilize CisionPoint, for media outreach, and Constant Contact for CRM. Canva is wonderful for developing photo assets. Filmora is terrific for video editing and pulling together quick video clips. Lots of resources to discover once you start exploring.

Naturally, it is not just about posting the story and they will come. It will take some planning and targeting of an audience. These channels are also wide open and easy to access and use.

Happy to Assist

If I’ve sparked something here for you let’s chat further. If you’ve got a story but don’t know where to start, connect with me and I’d be glad to talk about your business or peronal brand or cause purpose and where you might begin.

Truly, the first step is really up to you. If you don’t consider blogging, at least consider what network might help you get in a conversation with your community.

Let’s get that story out there now. @FergDevins 

PS – If you’d like some terrific ongoing coaching from a couple of guys that “get it”, check out @ChrisBrogan and @RobHatch and all that they’ve got going on at Owner Media Group.

Thanks to Social Media Today for posting this great infographic on some compelling social media facts. Often times people question the “why” of social networking. I truly believe that this snap shot gives you some valuable insight and facts around the power of social media. These facts provide a top line illustration of some of the channels and their relevance to various audiences. Enjoy the view ! CLICK here for the Infographic.  @FergDevins

#BellLetsTalk

Supporting #BellLetsTalk Day

January 25th, 2017

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A shout out to Bell and their major commitment to make a difference in getting people to talk about mental health. Thank you for creating #BellLetsTalk.

January 25th

January 25th is a wonderful day to bring attention to mental health issues coast to coast to coast. Bringing situations to open conversation will start a journey of recovery and hope.

Take the Challenge

It is incumbent upon “us” to take the challenge, accept the nudge and truly undertake our own personal campaign to engage in removing the stigma attached to mental illness. By embracing the challenge, we can turn to helping those in need.

Listen

As much as there is a need to talk, there is a need to listen. Listen for those who may be dealing with a difficult situation in their lives. Listen for those who are struggling alone. Listen to those who many be signalling to you that they need help. Listen for opportunities to help a loved one. Listen for those who may be on the street, with hat in hand and in need of your support. With a small action, you might make a huge difference in their day.

All Year

Through the awareness that #BellLetsTalk brings to us all, we can embrace this day of January 25th. We can “click and drag” its impact to the other 364 days of the year. Mental health challenges are not a one day and done effort. It will take effort each day, each hour, each moment with our family and friends, colleagues, neighbours, acquaintances or strangers in need –  to truly support each other on this journey.

From I to WE

I recall a message on a bulletin board at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. It suggested that we should all consider taking the “I” out of Mental Illness and replacing it with a “WE”. Transform the challenge from Mental Illness to a context of Mental Wellness.

By thinking of how we can work through the issue, the challenge, the strife, the moment, the depression or anxiety; we may be able to move from ill to well. I am not in any way mimimizing the huge challenge faced by those dealing with mental health issues, and their care givers. Each situation is individual. Each requires its own attention. Each will differ in plan for care and recovery. Each will require a plan from ill to well.

However, if we can all be a little more sensitive to the fact that mental health challenges surround us, we can listen, we can talk and we can move forward in this journey of getting better.

#BellLetsTalk

Thanks for engaging on this day of #BellLetsTalk. Wishing you wellness, today and all year long.

Swimability Ottawa a great cause

Support a Cause this New Year

January 2nd, 2017

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Day Two 2017 – Support a Cause

The dawn of a new year. We give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. There is a multitude of opportunity to support causes in our society. On this second day of the new year, we are stepping up to support a cause in our nation’s capital. There is no shortage of cause, charity or not for profit to choose from in Canada. In fact, there are over 170,000 charities and not for profit organizations in this country. This suggests that every Canadian could likely find “a cause” that aligns with their values or interests.

I have had the honour and pleasure of being engaged with many different causes over the years. In my role at Molson Coors, I had chaired the Molson Coors Donations Fund. I was exposed to tens of thousands of charities that had benefited from over two centuries of giving, led by the oldest brewer in the Americas.

My interests have taken me to involvement with Variety Village, Raising the Roof, several Food Banks, Queen’s University, Coney Island Music Festival, United Way, Bladder Cancer Canada and Swimability (formerly Making Waves). I have also had the honour and pleasure of serving on several not for profit boards. It is of great satisfaction for me to see the difference that we can make in our community. That difference comes from our decision to take action as individuals. We can truly make a difference, by choosing to support a cause.

This Year’s Cause

This year, the Devins Network will continue to call upon members of our greater community to get involved and support a cause. Through your actions, we can truly make a difference for those in need. Whether through financial support, or volunteerism, we can make a meaningful impact.

I am delighted to announce that the Devins Network is renewing our support of Swimability Ottawa . The team of student volunteers truly make a difference in the lives of ability challenged youth in Ottawa. My daughter Helena was personally involved as an instructor, while she was attending the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College. Given that Helena is no longer a student, her duties as an active volunteer have come to an end. The Devins Network is proud to continue our association and support of Swimability Ottawa. We are proud of the difference that they make in the lives of youth and their families in Ottawa. Keep up the great work!

The Mission of Swimability is clear

SwimAbility Ottawa is a not-for-profit student initiative founded as a registered chapter of SwimAbility Canada in 2009. Our mission is to provide affordable and accessible one-on-one swimming instruction to children with disabilities. For more information about our parent organization, as well as about the history of the SwimAbility movement, please visit www.SwimAbility.org.

Wishing you well in 2017

We thank the many student volunteers that help to make Swimability a success in the Ottawa community. We are proud to support their efforts in 2017. We are hopeful that you will join us and support a cause this new year in your community.

Have a great 2017. Working together to support a cause, we can make it even better.

FERG DEVINS @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Twas the Night Before Christmas

December 23rd, 2016

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Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

The country was a buzz from St. John’s to Grouse
The stockings were hung by the chimneys with care
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there

Each province was covered with a blanket of snow
And ploughs ready with salt in their yards row on row
RIDE checks were in place for the high season drive

Telling folks to be safe being sure to arrive alive

When out on the lawns there arose such a clatter
The US election had caused quite a chatter
The New Year should bring more political debate
Hoping free trade continues, because it has been great

The moon on the crest of the new-fallen snow
Families gathering together by travelling to and fro
When what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, pulled by Canadian reindeer

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
The goodwill he could bring was like a magical trick
He was dressed all in red like the flag of our nation

His whistle stops lined up including Union Station

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
In the west, through Ontario, across Quebec and Atlantic

His journey would begin and it would be quite frantic

From the east coast to west and then through the north

A big country to cover as he went to set forth
Near rivers and lakes over tree tops and valleys
Close to ten million square miles, with no dilly dallies

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
He’d made it to our place so soon on this night
He slid down the chimney with ease not too tight

He was dressed all in fur, red and white to the top
Said the snow on the prairies should yield a good crop
He was a weary old traveler with joy from inside
Said the country was glowing on his celestial ride

His eyes how they twinkled, his cheeks full of frost
Across provinces and territories his path quite criss crossed
He spoke of goodwill and joy across our great land
Encouraging young and old to just lend a hand

He toasted our country with so many people
And our cultural mosaic including mosques and church steeples
He said we are peace keepers with intent that is great
Bringing the world closer together is really at stake

He smiled ear to ear for Canada’s 150
Citing many celebrations and no doubt they’ll be nifty
From Cities to Towns whether urban or rural
Canada’s birthday celebrations will be sure to unfurl

He googled his route and loaded up his apps
With his mobile device positioned solidly on his lap
He was ready to tweet from his red glow in the sky
Pleasing those on the ground with a twinkle their eye

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim, as he flew east to west

Merry Christmas to Canada you’re truly the best


Love My Blog

Tips for the New Blogger

December 18th, 2016

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A Blog ?

The Holidays offer a time to relax, consider new pursuits, adjust your plan for the new year or perhaps just try something you’ve never thought of attempting before. In that regard one might consider writing a blog.

Blog Support

Sarah Smith had reached out to me about this great article and infographic that she has produced for the “new blogger”. I thought that is was certainly a great infographic capturing terrific tips for the blogger just starting out in the wonderful world of the blogosphere. Thanks to Sarah. I hope that bloggers find it useful. Cheers to the season.

Do you want to become a blogger? You might think that blogging is easy, just like what other people may have told you.  You just have to go to the Internet the entire day and write about ideas that you have in your mind. Well, the truth is, starting a blog is not as simple as it seems.

When you start writing your first blog, you will certainly realize that it is harder than what you thought it would be. You will encounter different issues that you must learn to overcome. Even the ones who have been blogging for a long time also experience some challenges or difficulties along their way.

Do not feel bad if you make some mistakes. Mistakes will not end your world. It is fine as long as you take them as a chance to learn and step up. You can also learn from other bloggers’ mistakes in the past to avoid committing such similar mistakes.

Blogging is fun and convenient for some people, so we want to help you make it a bit easier to start with. We have prepared this amazing infographic that contains a list of generally known mistakes a beginner blogger usually makes.

See the image below and gain information from the list. You can also follow the team on Twitter at Start Blog.

 Be aware of these common mistakes in blogging so you can avoid them when you start to create your own blog. Our website http://www.startbloggingonline.com can provide you with more helpful and simple blogging tips that you can also share with your friends.

beginning blogger mistakes to avoid

 

Goodness and Joy

Spreading Goodness and Joy this December

December 4th, 2016

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The month of December and the final month of 2016. It makes me think of how powerful this month would be, if we all could think of how we could bring some goodness and joy into action; each day coast to coast to coast.

Canadians have such a worldly reputation as “caring people”. We are seen as philanthropists, those who help, ready to give, peace keepers. When traveling, people know that Canadians bring light hearted fun and joy to the conversation. We light up the room. We have the humor and disposition to bring out the best in people. Does that resonate with you ?

Here at home, we have our own issues. What a wonderful month, in the spirit of Christmas , to step up and out with a little more goodness and joy for those who are in a time of need.

With that in mind, I did a quick search on some of the agencies and outlets that are found across our great land; with some goodness and joy in mind. I realize that there are many more examples that could be added to this list. Please feel free to add your favourite charity or not for profit to this list as well. Let’s spread the word about goodness and joy in our community.

This December, lets help spread some goodness and joy to help those who are in need. For many of us, this is a season of happiness with family and friends. However, for many, it is one of the toughest times of the year; as they face personal issues and challenges in making ends meet. When others are celebrating “good times”, I can only think that it must be very lonely and dark for those who are less fortunate.

Let us join together this December in helping Canadians bring some goodness and joy to our communities. Whether it is some pocket change to a person on the street with hat in hand, a donation to a charity, a box of food to the food bank, a Christmas tree bought via the boy scouts, a five dollar bill in response to the ringing bell of the Salvation Army, or a bag of “old clothes” from the closet – there are so many ways that we can help make a difference this December for an individual or an organization in their time of need.

Some Highlights of Goodness and Joy

Victoria – British Columbia

Starting on the west coast of Canada on Vancouver Island, I can’t think of a better place than to consider challenges for the homeless. Given the climate, it is a natural place for people to seek the street, away from the harsher weather realities of other parts of Canada. However, the street is not a  place that any Canadian should find themselves. Hats off to the Greater Victoria Coalition to end homelessness. It is but one example of services that are spread across Canada in support of those who are faced to meet the challenge of life on the street.

Lethbridge – Alberta

Ever thought of missing a meal? Many people struggle with making ends meet, but the challenge of being able to feed their loved ones remains a fundamental challenge for some families. Food banks continue to be challenged on their supply, with the explosion of those in need. In Lethbridge Alberta, I point to the Lethbridge Food Bank Society as a great example of making a difference in generating food for those in need. Food banks abound in all communities, most fire stations accept donations, if you see that as an action in your day today. Here is a link to food banks across Canada.  You will find one close to you.

Regina – Saskatchewan

Ability is often something that able-bodied persons take for granted. However, those who have lesser ability are truly challenged with access to public buildings, events or just entering or exiting a restaurant or store. Thanks to the fine work of the Saskatchewan Voice for People with Disabilities Inc., those who have challenges with ability have an advocate in their corner to support them. We can all rise to the challenge of considering all persons in an inclusive context. What action might you take to ensure that physically challenged individuals can enjoy what you anjoy without any barriers for them to confront? How can we make it easier for access to our communities?

Southwest Manitoba

Westman Dreams for Kids is a wonderful organization in support of answering the dreams of kids in Southwestern Manitoba. It is a wonderful example of people coming together to make a difference for youth who face difficult challenges and situations in their lives. A little joy can go a long way in bringing comfort to kids with their own health challenges. Hats off to the Children’s Dream organizations across Canada.

Toronto – Ontario

There are now a multitude of support networks and charitable organizations to support families and loved ones who face challenges with their own ability. Over the years Variety Village, the childrens’ charity, has continued to perpetuate its wonderful facilities and programming for youth and adults in need. Variety Village remains a pillar of support for individuals with physical and mental challenges, and their caregivers and support network. With facilities spreading over 160,000 square feet, an indoor pool, track and common space, Variety Village continues to be a wonderful community institution, serving the Greater Toronto area.

Sherbrooke – Quebec

La Grande Table is a terrific resource in Sherbrooke supporting families in need. They are a resource to ensure that families are fed, but extend to broader support and services for those families with little income or find themselves in an occasional precarious situation. They offer services that demonstrate open listening and then personal recommendations for support. A wonderful community asset. Merci pour votre effortes La Grande Table.

Moncton – New Brunswick

Volunteering is such a wonderful opportunity to give back. Often times people may feel that they cannot give financially, or through gifts in kind. One of the greatest and most impactful ways that an individual can give is to give of their time. Through volunteerism, you can truly make a difference in supporting a cause and the work that they undertake in their community. The Volunteer Centre of Southeastern New Brunswick, based in Moncton is an example of one of these resources. They welcome individuals who have a desire to lend some time to making a difference in their community. Young, old, able, physically challenged – we can all participate in volunteerism and help to make a difference in our community.

Charlottetown – Prince Edward Island

An example in Charlottetown of the critical care provided by hospices across Canada is Hospice PEI – “A Community of Care”. Sad as it may be, when someone is faced with dying; they and their families need extra support. Hospice PEI is committed to easing the pain and assisting with comfort for those involved in dealing with matters at the end of life. It is but one example of the tremendous care and support that is provided by hospices, their staff and volunteers across Canada. Thanks to all who work to bring comfort at this fragile final stage of one’s life.

Halifax – Nova Scotia

You might find somewhat of a reoccurring theme related to homelessness across our land.  Adsum House in Halifax offers a range of services and support to women, families, youth and trans persons during periods of homelessness. Adsum operates four Halifax locations: an emergency shelter, second-stage housing and two apartments complexes where housing is supportive and affordable. Adsum also has three condos that are rented, as permanent supported housing, to women-led families. They shelter or house up to 80 people each day and more than 400 persons in a year. They provide services and support to more than 1,000 people each year. A treasured resource to help meet the challenges of individuals and families in a time of need. Thanks to those who support and work in thousands of shelters across Canada.

St. John’s – Newfoundland and Labrador

As we jump from the Maritimes to the far eastern province in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador the theme of water safety strikes me as so appropriate for this Atlantic Canada province. What greater need than the assurance that youth know how to swim and how to be safe near our coastal waters. This is obviously true for any community in Canada, however particularly relevant and strong this close to and surrounded by the Atlantic ocean. The Lifesaving Society does wonderful working in educating the public about basic life-saving skills. If you don’t find the resources on their site, they have plenty of affiliates to whom they will re-direct your inquiry.

Nunavut

Circling back up northward and west toward Nunavut I turn to the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association. It is so important that culture, arts and crafts continue to flourish in all communities. In Nunavut the association is all about promoting the art and artists of Nunavut. What a wonderful organization supporting the creativity of artists in this fascinating part of our great country. It is but one example of how people in our communities across Canada can help to promote the arts and encourage our youth to be actively engaged in the arts.

Northwest Territories

The Aboriginal Sports Circle in Northwest Territories is focused on engaging all aboriginal people in NWT to ensure that they have the opportunity to participate in sport and recreational activities at a level of involvement that they find meaningful and valuable. They foster community involvement in sport and recreation encouraging involvement from initiation to high performance. They work to integrate Aboriginal culture and traditional values in sport and recreation activities. We can all embrace our First Nations people coast to coast to coast.

Yukon

Teegatha’Oh Zheh is dedicated to promoting community inclusion by providing meaningful support services, and advocacy for individuals who have a developmental disability. Their vision statement captures the essence of their work in the Yukon. Teegatha’Oh Zheh envisions a fully inclusive community in which all individuals have dignity, rights and respect and are encouraged to reach their full potential.

Your Month of Goodness and Joy

These are but a small list of organizations across our great land that are making a difference in the lives of Canadians. Feel free to add your comments and favourite outlets that demonstrate acts of goodness and joy in our community. Here’s wishing you and yours the very best this holiday season, and I hope that you will extend a helping hand to someone in need this December, and every month that follows. Be well, stay warm. @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Always a story

November 26th, 2016

One Response

OK, I know that our Thanksgiving (Canada) weekend was many weeks ago. But, with so many American friends and such close neighbours, and Black Friday spill…I felt that a Thanksgiving post was in order. As you sit with family and friends this weekend in the comfort of your homes, I hope that we can all be thankful for our good health and harmony in our lives. And when we have challenges, we are thankful for a supportive network of family and friends. Let’s remember and give thanks for our blessings and remember those who have suffered or are suffering in this world today. Let’s also remember that we never know “the story” that might stand behind those around us. This is but one example I just felt I had to share.

Always A Story

My daughter and I were traveling across northern Ontario the past few days and stopped in a great little restaurant  for dinner one night. The meal was outstanding and the service magnificent.
In fact, we had large portions and requested “to go” containers.
When the woman serving us returned with the styrofoam containers, she pulled out a pen and placed a “happy face” on the top. What a wonderful little gesture and farewell to traveling guests. It appeared to be somewhat of a unique design and I asked her if she was an artist.
She exclaimed “no” and then asked if we would indulge in her story. Obviously, there was something to my question of her artistry. We were also intrigued to hear a story on our journey and asked her to please go ahead. She said the last time something like that was said was when a woman customer told her, “if that’s a happy face, it is a good thing that you are a server and not an artist”. As humorous as that might be on the surface, our server says it really struck a chord with her.
In fact, she exclaimed to the woman; my four-year-old son used to make those happy faces. The woman being waited on then said “well yes it looks like something an adolescent would do”. The server then told her the sad story. He used to say that happy faces were made with numbers. He’d draw a large zero to start, add in 6’s for the eyes, zero’s for the pupils of the eyes, a 7 for the nose, a nine for the mouth and 11’s or two one’s on each side for the eye lashes. The server explained that she always likes to use this happy face to remember her four year old, because unfortunately he drowned when he was 12 years old. Apparently the woman then curtly, asked for her bill and left.
Did you have the kleenex handy?  The woman (server) went on to tell us more about this heart wrenching story. She said that her son loved to fish. He had wanted a new fishing rod prior to the day he drowned. When shopping for the fishing rod he asked his mother if he could find a book on “angels” because he had dreamed about angels the night before.
When she was leaving her son to stay a few more days, at her son’s request with grandma; the boy rang back out to the car hugged and kissed mom and said; “I just want you to know that I will always love you”. She said, “I know, see you Saturday” and he said “good-bye”. Tingle down the spine starts now…
She then went on to tell another story about the funeral. At the funeral, a woman kept waiting around until the end. At the end of the exhaustive funeral service this stranger approached “Mom” to tell her a story about her son – the day before drowning. In fact, her son had saved their daughter from drowning when their young daughter had ventured into the water to catch a toy that had blown into the water. The young boy had pulled the girl from the water and she was revived and was saved thanks to the heroic efforts of the 12 year old boy.
The next day the young boy, at age 12, was lost by drowing in the waters while fishing.
So. It is often said, to “judge not”. There is certainly almost always more to a story on the other side. Each person has something that they are dealing with that certainly strangers don’t know, and sometimes those even close to them do not even realize what might be on their mind.
Next time someone does a little act of kindness or a gesture, like a “happy face”, just receive it for what it is and be thankful. This world would be such a better place if we just all gave a little more kindness and goodness to each other each day. I’m sure glad I asked about whether the woman was an artist. Her story certainly left us with much to be thankful for in our lives, and deep sympathy for the family, loved ones and friends of that young boy so many years ago.
Thanks to this wonderful woman for her story. Again, we express deepest sympathies to her family and friends for their loss and thanks for the memory of her son, and his courageous act of saving a youngster from drowning, the day before he drowned himself. No doubt he is now with the angels he dreamed about.
May we all give and express our Thanks at this time of year.