LiveDifferent Achieves Charity Accreditation with Imagine Canada

We are thrilled to announce a significant milestone for LiveDifferent—we have officially received charity accreditation from Imagine Canada, the country’s most widely recognized nonprofit standards organization.

CEO Charles Roberts says, “We see Imagine Canada’s accreditation as a mark of distinction, affirming our commitment to best practices, transparency, and accountability in the nonprofit sector. It reassures our stakeholders that they can instill their trust in us as an organization dedicated to engaging youth in a lifestyle of compassion and service.”

Imagine Canada’s nonprofit standards provide invaluable best practices that empower organizations like ours to strengthen governance and operations. These standards draw upon the collective wisdom and expertise of the nonprofit sector, covering crucial topics such as board governance, financial accountability and transparency, fundraising, human resources and volunteer involvement.

“I’m very proud of our team’s dedicated efforts; it was great to witness the collaborative work with Imagine Canada throughout the entire accreditation process,” Roberts adds.

By adhering to these standards, any organization can enhance its practices and contribute to the greater good. However, we are proud to share that LiveDifferent has taken our commitment to excellence a step further by successfully completing an independent peer review process to earn this accreditation.

“On the journey toward great governance, organizations pursue accreditation as a public testament to their commitment to the highest standards of transparency and accountability. We offer sincere congratulations to the recently accredited and re-accredited organizations, key players in our Standards community of over 270 organizations nationwide,” said Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Imagine Canada.

This accreditation not only reinforces our dedication to accountability and performance but also signifies our unwavering commitment to serving our community with the highest standards of integrity and transparency.

Thank you to our incredible team, partners, volunteers and donors for their unwavering support and belief in our mission.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: January 30th, 2024

A journey of growth and impact: “Where are they now?” with Parker Willis

The beginning: A teenage Parker’s first Build

Parker’s journey with LiveDifferent began in the summer of 2011. At 14, Parker joined a Build in the Dominican Republic alongside his mother, longtime LiveDifferent employee and supporter Alison Willis. What was intended as a bonding trip turned into a life-altering experience. This initial exposure to LiveDifferent’s work ignited a passion in Parker, leading to a lasting involvement with the organization.

The path to Academy Coordinator

Following the first Build, Parker returned to the Dominican Republic in 2012 with friends and, after graduating from high school in 2014, participated in the LiveDifferent Academy Program in Mexico. The summer after the Academy program, Parker experienced a leadership role as an intern in the Dominican Republic, significantly influenced by the late Benjamin Cole Brown’s teachings and leadership style.

These experiences raised profound questions about global inequality and poverty for Parker, guiding him towards an International Development degree at York University, with a focus on Latin American studies, global economics, and world cultures, complemented by a master’s certificate from Humber College.

In the 2022-23 school year, Parker volunteered at the Deninu School in the Northwest Territories, enriching his understanding of Indigenous cultures and affirming his commitment to community service.

Parker facilitated the collaboration between LiveDifferent’s Road Teams and schools in the Northwest Territories, helping to bring the Circles mental wellness programming to Indigenous youth. This initiative provided a platform for students to engage in meaningful dialogues while highlighting the transformative power of volunteering.

When asked what stands out to him about LiveDifferent, he said, “The emphasis on human connection and meaningful relationships. The idea of being an individual is an important part of personal development and is extremely enticing to young people, but there is more to life than that. I’d say that’s one of the main lessons LiveDifferent has taught me. Without meaningful connection, an individual is all that we would be limited to and that can be a dark place to be.”

Returning to lead

Parker’s personal experience as a former Academy student inspired him to take on the role of Academy Coordinator in September 2023. He was driven by the opportunity to influence change within the communities LiveDifferent serves and to mentor youth seeking new adventures and learnings.

“The opportunity to help shape young minds and help students grow into the people they want to become is not something I take lightly.”

Through his volunteering experiences, Parker has developed a deep appreciation for humanity’s collective existence and the importance of simplicity in life. Embracing differences, authenticity, and integrity have become key tenets in his life.

Advice to youth

Parker’s advice to young adults considering a gap year or volunteer work is unequivocal: embrace the opportunity. He emphasizes that the journey of self-discovery and growth is challenging but immensely rewarding. He encourages young people to take their time in understanding themselves and the world, as these experiences are invaluable. He says, “If you truly wanted to discover yourself, it is going to take time and effort, it won’t be easy, it will challenge you, but it is so, so worth it.” 

Get Involved

Are you considering taking a gap semester or know something who is? Get involved with LiveDifferent! Learn more about our Academy Program.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: January 10th, 2024