A Gift From Me to You

When I first heard the news, I remember what one affected teenager was quoted as saying: “It all happened so fast. I feel lost, misplaced. They can’t bring our town back.” It turned out to be true.

a-gift-from-me-to-you.jpgWhen the residents of Slave Lake, Alberta went to bed one Saturday night in May, many of them were concerned about the forest fires that were burning just south of their town. But their minds were put at ease by the local police and authorities who assured them that there was no danger. When they woke Sunday, they were told there was still no need to evacuate – and they were sent to local Walmart and Canadian Tire parking lots in town to wait it out. But by Sunday night, that proved to be very wrong, as 40% of the town had been consumed by the fire, leaving hundreds of families homeless and in total shock.

Georgia and Aidan’s family was one of them.

However, along with Gabrielle, another friend from their town, they still managed to show up in Toronto this summer, ready to depart for a Hero Holiday in Dominican Republic. Together with all of the other Hero Holiday participants that met there, they had made a decision to do something meaningful with their summer vacation: they were going to build a house for a family that needed it in a tiny port community tucked inside Puerto Plata. And they did. In fact, they built a house that is now home to 7 people: four adults and three babies.

a-gift-from-me-to-you-3.jpgBuilding a house for someone else at your own expense in terms of time, money, and energy is a noble feat. But, builiding a home for someone on the other side of the world when you have just lost your own family home is an undeniable expression of character and passion. When I sat down with the three of them and heard their stories, as they spoke about the drastic changes in their community and what it was like to live through such a shocking experience, the three of them were in total agreement: they couldn’t not do this. They had made a commitment to travel halfway across the world to help a family that desperately needed a home, a circumstance which now seemed all the more real to them, and they had every intention of following through on what they’d set out to do.

a-gift-from-me-to-you-2.jpgThere was something one more thing that impressed me about them that has left a mark on my heart. It was about more than the fact that they joined us this summer despite what they were in the middle of. It was about their level of passion to see past what they knew as reality, and to believe that they were capable of making a difference for someone else – even when it was not convenient for them. People like Georgia, Aidan and Gabrielle make us proud to be able to do what we do every day: work and bring hope and change alongside of unsung heroes who deserve to be thanked for their simple acts of bravery. Their bravery to keep going and to reach out to others is their gift to the world around them. And that will never go unnoticed.

Want to join us on a Hero Holiday? Check out

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 25th, 2011

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 20th, 2011

Openings for bands on Absolute’s School Tours

Band at LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) ShowLiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) is accepting applications for performing artists to tour with our Think Day presentations during our Fall 2011 tours and our Spring 2012 tours. This is an incredible opportunity for up-and-coming bands that have what it takes to rock out in front of tens of thousands of high school students. Some of the bands that we’ve worked with in years past include: Hollowick (Rides Again), All Left Out, Hundredfold, Kiros, Hello Kelly, The Ocean Buried, and Tonight Tonight (Beauti). This is what we are looking for in a band:

  • Message, lyrics, and lifestyle are consistent with LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s positive and school-friendly message. If you sing about and/or promote sex, drugs, and alcohol, this is not your gig. Profanities in your lyrics also won’t get you many points.
  • Good sound that appeals fairly broadly to a high school auidence
  • Professionalism in image, merchandise, and album production
  • Good work ethic and attitude.

If you are interested in applying, please see our internship page

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 18th, 2011

Scout Canada’s Build a Home Challenge!

An awesome group of scouts and leaders from Manitoba joined Hero Holiday in Mexico this summer for their ‘Build a Home Challenge’! While they’ve been keeping their own blog on we wanted to highlight some of their stories here, but make sure to check out their own site for the full versions!First Post From Mexico!Today is our second day in Mexico! So much has happened so far! After 2 days, we have put up the walls and most of the roofs on the houses. Each house is slightly different in it’s completion so far, but we are making good progress. Tomorrow our goal is to shingle the roofs, install the paneling/trim, and re-paint. We still have to build and paint the additional interior wall. The families are great, and have been so willing to help, and have been so happy, it has been just amazing. The awe and excitement in each family member just makes you smile, Even though most of us cannot speak Spanish, it has been incredible how easily we have been able to communicate with each other. (We do have a translator, but he is not always present). The contrast between life here in Mexico, and life in Canada, is just…unfathomable. The sheer poverty here is overwhelming, and the lack of hope can crush even the strongest soul. By building these homes for this family, we are giving the a step up from the deep pit of poverty, and giving them the means to make for themselves a far better life. We are giving them hope.mexico-build.jpgHouse build Complete!We have completed the construction of the houses today! Some of our team members went shopping today for the new beds, mattresses, and other furnishings for the home, all of which we will be installing tomorrow. The plan is to take the families out for ice cream while other members move in all the furnishings, and that way they everything will be a surprise. Each family will also be getting somewhere around 2 roosters, 8 chickens, and 5 fruit trees, each. We also found out today that each family is behind in payments for their land plots, and all chipped in money (about $750) to split between helping each family with their rent. On top of all that we brought a bunch of gifts for the families from Canada, which we will also be presenting to them. One thing that touched me in a special way was how hesitant each family was when asked if they wanted anything extra. Santiago (our translator, sorry if I messed up the spelling buddy!) had to really coax an answer out of them. Tomorrow is going to be a very emotional and overwhelming day for all of us. Today we also went to a local graveyard. Over half of the bodies buried there belonged to young children. It was very sobering to see the numerous graves of the babies who died on or close to the day they were born. It makes you realize how different life is here than from Canada. Our translator, Santiago, has a child buried there, who passed away 15 hours after it was born because it was born slightly premature. If that child had been born in Canada, it would have almost certainly survived. I heard today that many parents avoid becoming too attached to their children until they are 4-5 years old, because the survival rate is so low. It really drives the term “LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) poverty” home. The line between life and death that they walk in Mexico is a lot thinner than in Canada. They don’t get the “second chances” that we do. The amount of things we take for granted, such as water, shelter, income, hairdressers, shoes, holidays, clothes, healthcare, schools, consumable entertainment, food. The people here posses few, and work unbelievably hard for those that they do.On the brighter side, it is amazing how happy people are here! They always seem to be smiling and laughing. Everyone wants to put in a helping hand. Kids from all over the neighborhood would come to the job site everyday and try to help out, be it with painting, or hammering, or whatever job we put them too. Some of our members have been spending most of the work day just mingling and playing with the kids. Everybody has utilized their own special talents in this build, whether it be building, entertaining, communicating, photographing, etc. Everybody has been doing their share, which is awesome! bano.jpgDedication DayHere it is! today is the day the families get their new homes!! First stop was both the yellow and green homes, where we dropped off the groceries and got the beds delivered and started building them. There were a few complications like having an important piece missing from one bed and not having the correct bolts for the bunk beds :p in the end it was accomplished! When the families opened their doors and we saw their faces, there were no words to describe the joy that they had! There were tears of joy and it seemed that a huge weight was lifted up off their shoulders all the girls were extremely happy to have their own beds – they showed us where each one was sleeping and they really enjoyed their little gifts we got them! After all the dedications were finished we all gathered, and the families cooked us all a fantastic meal. There were three different kinds of chicken, one was deep-fried, fried, and BBQ. There were potatoes, two different tomato salsa, pasta salad, egg salad, and coke to drink. It was all very delicious! We said our goodbyes and gave hugs and then we were on our way.mxteam.jpg

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 15th, 2011

Esta es la Llave de mi Casa

I drop them all the time and I can often forget where I put them. I put one into the ignition of my car countless times while I hold my breath hoping that it will start! I run out the door and use it without even remembering at times, and I find old ones lying around that don’t fit any of the locks in my life. mi-llave-2.jpgKeys have played a part in our lives for over 4000 years. The early Egyptians are credited with first putting them to use, including wooden and metal lock and key combinations. In our modern world, the humble little key has taken on many upgrades and new faces and uses, but always it represents one thing above all others – security. A simple little turn of the key when you leave your house or when you are trying to get your car to start can change the way you feel, relieve your anxiety, and even make you look forward to the day ahead. The key is an unsung hero.marina.jpgThere are often many people who come into our lives that we can learn from, despite how far apart our worlds may feel. Marina is someone like that in Rose’s life. Marina had been adopted by a Canadian/American family that had taken in 18 kids. Rescued from a life of risk and insecurity, she flourished under their love. However, their house was only so big,and so when Marina was old enough, she had to step out into the world on her own, and hope that she was ready. The family wanted to make sure she was taken care of and that she had a chance to make the most of the future in front of her. When Rose went to see her, she knew that she was going to be okay – because of what she kept repeating to them.In that small town of Vicente Guerrero, Mexico, there is a nursing home, Bueno Samaritano. It is full of amazing staff and grateful residents. And behind it, attached to the back side of the large building is a neat and well maintained little house. That day, standing in front of it was Marina, waving at Rose as she held up a key and repeated in Spanish, “This is the key to my house!” It was such a simple statement that held so much pride, hope, and assurance. She was going to be ok. That house was built for her because she is valuable and because she needs someone to believe in her.mi-llave.jpgFor Rose, that simple key gave great insight into what life is like for the families and individuals that we work with through our Hero Holiday program. There is such peace of mind, hope and and assurance that can be brought by holding a key. Life can become more stable, nights can become more restful, and children can be better protected – all because of what that key represents.Next time you hold your house key in your hand, I hope you remember Marina and the countless Marinas around the world who need someone to believe in them and acknowledge that they are worth it. Because they are.To find out more about our Hero Holiday program and how you can be a part of building a home for someone like Marina, check out

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 12th, 2011