Announcing LiveDifferent’s Compassion Fundraisers: Join us in changing lives

We are thrilled to announce an exciting initiative that embodies the spirit of giving and support: the launch of LiveDifferent’s Compassion Fundraisers. This initiative aims to address critical needs within communities that are close to our hearts, located in Haiti, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. And we need your passionate involvement to make a significant impact!

Why Compassion Fundraisers?

Our journey has led us to witness firsthand the challenges and hardships faced by communities in Haiti, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. From educational deficiencies to healthcare access issues, the needs are vast and varied. It is our belief that together, we can forge a path towards sustainable development and improved living conditions in these regions. By starting a Compassion Fundraiser, you’re not just raising funds; you’re raising hope, dreams, and the potential for a brighter future.

How can you get involved?

Claiming a fundraiser from the list provided is the first step towards making a tangible difference. Whether you’re an individual with a passion for change or a group looking to contribute to a worthy cause, we invite you to join us. Once you claim your fundraiser, LiveDifferent’s dedicated team will work closely with you to launch your personalized fundraising campaign. We’ll provide the tools, guidance, and support you need to ensure your campaign is successful and impactful.

The power of your contribution

Every donation, no matter its size, has the power to change lives. To make your fundraising journey even more rewarding, we’re excited to offer an incredible incentive. For every $25 donated to your fundraiser, donors receive one entry for a chance to win one roundtrip flight for two guests on WestJet! This means the more you donate, the more chances you have to win. It’s our way of saying thank you for your dedication and generosity.

Together, we make a difference

The Compassion Fundraisers initiative is more than just a campaign; it’s a movement toward compassion, solidarity and change. By joining hands with LiveDifferent, you’re not only supporting communities in need but also becoming part of a larger mission to create a world where everyone has the opportunity to live differently and thrive.

We believe that together, we can overcome the obstacles that divide us and build bridges that unite us. Your participation in Compassion Fundraisers can ignite a chain of positive change that reaches far beyond your immediate circle. Let’s make a difference together—one fundraiser at a time.

Join us in this journey of transformation and hope. Claim your fundraiser today and start your campaign with LiveDifferent. Together, we can change lives, one donation at a time.

  • Choose a fundraiser from our list: Lead the campaign solo or unite with friends, family or colleagues to start a group fundraiser.
  • Campaign set up: Our Gratitude and Engagement Specialist will help set up your fundraising page and offer continuous support, ensuring you have everything you need to succeed.
  • Spread the word: Amplify your impact by sharing your campaign across your networks by using online tools or in-person fundraising events. The more people you reach, the greater the difference you can make.

Claim your fundraiser today! 

*Terms and conditions apply.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 22nd, 2024

Celebrating 20 years of quilting for a cause

This year, LiveDifferent proudly celebrates twenty years of dedicated volunteer efforts by a quilting group in Penticton, BC. These passionate women have provided warmth and comfort through handmade blankets to families in need in Baja California, Mexico.

Impact in Baja California

In the Baja region, temperatures can dip to 5 °C, and many families lack adequate housing and do not have heat. Roughly 1,000 handmade quilts have travelled the 2,400 km journey! Each quilt represents three to four hours of collaborative effort, crafted over coffee chats and shared stories.

Edna Hill, a founding member, shares, “I think it’s such a win-win for everybody when you can get together or use your hobbies, skills, social work, and friendships to change people’s lives. The magnitude of impact on the receiving end is incredible while you also have an impact here.”

Hill also reflects on the gratitude from the families in Mexico, “The gratitude. It’s not something you see here. It’s different. It’s a different kind of gratitude.”

Building relationships through service

LiveDifferent emphasizes the importance of building positive relationships within communities and with the families it serves. Gabe, a long-time quilting group member, says, “If you’ve got a good mission and your heart is in the right place, I think you should go for it.”

The quilting group’s acts of compassion and service have not only brought warmth and comfort to those in need but have also forged lifelong friendships among the volunteers.

“An added benefit of the group is that you actually form friendships,” says Gabe.

Looking ahead

As LiveDifferent celebrates this 20-year journey, it extends its deepest gratitude to the volunteers. Their commitment has brought warmth, joy, and security to numerous families in Mexico. CEO Charles Roberts remarks, “Packing up these quilts and ensuring they reach their new homes has always been profoundly moving. Each quilt delivers love and comfort to those who need it most.”

This year marks the final chapter for the quilting group as its members plan to pursue new passions within the community. The group’s legacy of creativity and dedication will undoubtedly inspire others, fostering new stories of support and engagement for LiveDifferent’s mission. By following their hearts, these quilters are paving the way for more impactful narratives, encouraging others to contribute to the causes close to their hearts as well.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: June 17th, 2024

Cultivating compassion: A journey of healing and connection

It’s Mental Health Week! This year, LiveDifferent is excited to share the transformative power of compassion. Join us as we explore the Canadian Mental Health Association’s theme of “Healing through Compassion” and discover practical tips for infusing kindness into our everyday lives.

Embracing Compassion

Compassion is a gift that knows no bounds. It’s a skill that each one of us can develop and share with others. At its core, compassion recognizes the shared humanity that connects us all, transcending social barriers and personal identities. By embracing compassion, we not only strengthen relationships but also cultivate a profound sense of community.

Tips for everyday kindness:

  • Practice active listening: Take the time to truly listen to others without judgment or interruption. Pay attention to both their words and emotions, fostering deeper connections and understanding.
  • Offer support: Be there for those around you during challenging times. Your presence and empathy can provide much-needed comfort and solace.
  • Volunteer your time: Look for opportunities to give back to your community, whether it’s through volunteering at a local shelter or lending a helping hand to a neighbour in need. Small acts of kindness can have a ripple effect, spreading positivity and compassion.
  • Practice self-compassion: Remember to extend kindness to yourself as well. Treat yourself with the same level of understanding and forgiveness that you would offer to others, nurturing a sense of self-worth and resilience.
  • Seek to understand: Take the initiative to learn about different perspectives and experiences. Empathy flourishes when we strive to understand each other’s unique journeys, fostering a deeper sense of connection and compassion.

As we dive into Mental Health Week 2024, let’s embrace the transformative power of compassion and embark on a journey of healing and connection. By incorporating these simple practices into our daily lives, we can cultivate a culture of kindness and make a positive difference in the world around us.

Together, let’s spread compassion far and wide, creating a brighter and more empathetic future for all.

Learn more about the impacts of compassion HERE.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: May 6th, 2024

Ice road tour reflections: A journey of resilience and connection

As LiveDifferent’s annual ice road tour came to a close, we found ourselves overwhelmed with gratitude, carrying with us countless stories of resilience, warmth, and the power of community. Over the course of six weeks, our dedicated road team ventured across the icy terrain of Northern Manitoba, bringing our Circles mental wellness program to 12 First Nations schools and reaching over 3,500 students.

Unforgettable connections

Setting out on this tour, we carried a message of hope and belonging, hoping to make a difference. What we found, however, was something truly remarkable—the incredible hospitality and friendship extended to us by these communities. The mental wellness programs we deliver are designed to initiate discussions on mental health, equip individuals with resilience tools, and nurture a sense of unity among students. The experience proved to be a profound journey of shared hope and understanding.

A journey like no other

Our team’s journey was nothing short of a testament to endurance, covering an impressive 5,000 km across the ice roads for over 90 hours, with travel speeds peaking at a cautious 20-30km/hr.

Finding billets in these remote areas presented its unique challenges, leading our team to stay in “teacherages”—lodgings for teachers—which offered us a glimpse into the lives of the locals. Dining on local specialties, especially moose meat, was not just about enjoying the meals but also about connecting, sharing stories, and celebrating the spirit of these unique communities.

Engaging with the youth

At the heart of this tour was our interaction with the students—laughing, learning, and sharing stories that transcended cultural boundaries and fostered a network of support and understanding. These interactions were not one-sided; while we aimed to inspire the youth, we found ourselves inspired by their resilience, optimism and warmth.

Gratitude and looking forward

This remarkable journey could not have been realized without the immense support and generosity of our partners, donors and community supporters. Your unwavering belief in our mission to enhance the lives of Indigenous youth has made a tangible, lasting difference. We are profoundly thankful for your support and are excited to continue this vital work together.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 27th, 2024

Haiti update: Navigating through challenges with strength and hope

With the recent escalation of conflict in Port-au-Prince, we want to provide you with an update, specifically relating to our operations and the community we serve in Haiti:

Current situation in Haiti

Haiti faces a critical period marked by political upheaval and social unrest, particularly in Port-au-Prince. The resignation of the unpopular Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the transition to a new government reflect the nation’s long-standing struggles with governance, natural disasters, and a significant humanitarian crisis. The turmoil has been escalating over the past year and has now captured global attention.

Community of Cap Haitien

Despite the challenges in the capital, we want to reassure our community that our operations in Cap Haitien (northern Haiti) remain unaffected and steadfast. Cap Haitien is calm amidst the nation’s broader struggles, allowing us to continue our programs without interruption.

Operations at Ecole L’Union and Freedom Village

Our students are still attending school, and are engaged in learning and community activities. We are committed to ensuring that their education continues uninterrupted, fostering a safe and supportive environment for their growth. Freedom Village also continues to operate as usual.

One of the impacts we are seeing at the moment is the rising cost of food and fuel. This has been a challenge over the past few years, both for us and certainly for the local families who struggle every day for their basic needs.

Safety and monitoring

The safety of our team, students, teachers and community members is our top priority. Our local team closely monitors the situation, keeping us informed with daily updates. We have comprehensive safety measures in place and are prepared to respond proactively to any changes in the local context.

We understand the concerns that have arisen due to the situation in Haiti and appreciate the outpouring of support and inquiries from the LiveDifferent community.

Looking forward

Our hearts go out to all Haitians during this turbulent time and we remain hopeful and committed to making a difference in the lives of those we serve. We believe in the resilience of the Haitian people and the strength of our collective efforts to foster positive change.

We will continue to follow the situation through news outlets and, most importantly, our staff team on the ground.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 15th, 2024

Q&A with Board Member Kim McIntyre-Leighton

We’re shining a well-deserved spotlight on the incredible individuals on LiveDifferent’s Board of Directors! Each person plays a pivotal role in guiding LiveDifferent’s vision, strategy and impact—fueling our mission to engage youth in a lifestyle of compassion and service. Their unwavering dedication and expertise have been instrumental in transforming countless lives and communities.

Meet Kim McIntyre-Leighton

Kim’s journey with LiveDifferent serves as a remarkable example of how passion, commitment, and a desire to make a difference can lead to meaningful change. As a dedicated member of the Board of Directors, Kim’s experiences—from her first Build in Mexico to her ongoing involvement in governance—highlight the profound impact that volunteering can have on both individuals and communities. This spotlight shares Kim’s insights and reflections on her journey with LiveDifferent.

Q: How did you first hear about or become involved with LiveDifferent?

A: Originally I heard about LiveDifferent through Malinda Roberts, back in 2006/2007. She told me about her brother Charles and moving his family to Mexico to facilitate the Builds program. Malinda and I worked in the same sector and my family wanted to volunteer somewhere so we planned our first Build for 2008 and brought my two kids! We loved the culture, the people and community, and the spirit of building. We went back for the whole next summer to help wherever we could with volunteers – we helped cook, serve food, transport volunteers, maintain the tools, and more.

Q: What inspired you to join the LiveDifferent board?

A: After many years of volunteering with different Builds after our first Build, and as our lives got busier in Winnipeg, I wanted to stay involved with LiveDifferent in some capacity. Charles was now the Executive Director and wanted to formalize policies and board governance. I was also an Executive Director with a charity so I could assist in helping with those goals.

Q: What is your favourite thing about being a board member?

A: Everyone has different opinions and viewpoints but can feel free to share. It’s a respectful environment and everyone has the same passion and values shared with LiveDifferent and why we do what we do. We all align with the reasons why LiveDifferent exists and how it supports people. You can see that in how the board talks, communicates and shares. We have lots of fun and laughter, but it always comes back to dignified service to the communities with which we have a connection. It’s an honour to be a part of the board.

Q: How has your experience with LiveDifferent changed you as a person?

A: It’s helped me to recognize that it’s important to work in our communities, along with other communities globally. We can all be a part of this work. When we returned from our first Build, we also started volunteering locally in Winnipeg.

Q: If you could pick one project or initiative that you are most proud of, what would it be and why?

A: The family that we worked alongside on our first house Build had kids the same age as mine. We still stay connected with that family to this day.

Q: What have been some of your most memorable moments with LiveDifferent?

A: The family on our first Build could not afford the school fees for their kids. We left enough money with them to start the kids in school. A couple of years ago, the son graduated high school and the daughter is now in teacher’s college. It shows that a hand-up, even a small one, makes a huge difference.

Q: How does your work with LiveDifferent fulfill your passions and values?

A: My values are showing dignity and respect to all people and those align so well with LiveDifferent, knowing that LiveDifferent goes into schools to address mental health and instill the values of kindness and compassion, especially up north.

Q: What advice would you give to someone considering getting involved with us?

A: You’ll understand it when you experience it – whether it’s a Circles presentation, a Build, visiting the school in Haiti…when you watch a family open their front door for the first time – wow – it can’t be explained without experiencing it and any age is great to start. Start them young, instilling the values of compassion for other people. There is good leadership and great supervision that happens in a safe environment and it will change their life.

Learn more

We are immensely grateful to the extraordinary individuals like Kim who comprise LiveDifferent’s Board of Directors. We are privileged to have such an exceptional group who wholeheartedly believe in our vision and generously share their time, skills and resources to ensure our success.

Learn more about our team and get inspired to create change alongside them.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: February 14th, 2024

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

Spreading joy and smiles: The Papa Noel Christmas party at Ecole L’Union

In the community of Calvaire, Santa Claus made an early visit this year, and it was a day to remember for the students of École L’Union. Thanks to the unwavering support of our friend, Corey Evans, and ATCO EPIC, our children experienced a day filled with surprises, laughter, and the true spirit of giving. Welcome to the third annual Papa Noel Christmas party!

A heartwarming Christmas in Haiti

Santa Claus himself, made a grand entrance, complete with his traditional red suit. Despite the sweat and the heat (30 degrees!), Santa’s dedication to bringing joy to the children was palpable.

The Papa Noel Christmas party has become a heartwarming tradition at École L’Union. It’s a day when Santa doesn’t just deliver presents; he also serves a delicious lunch and a festive cake, making it a complete celebration of the holiday season. For the children in this area, who don’t have many opportunities to celebrate and receive gifts, this day is nothing short of magical.

Santa’s sack was filled with carefully chosen gifts, catering to the different ages of our students. School supplies were a priority (pens, scientific calculators, notebooks, geometry boxes, etc.), and there were also colouring books, small games, little cars, and water bottles. These thoughtful gifts brought immediate joy and will assist our students in their educational journey.

A heartfelt thank you

Our deepest gratitude goes out to Corey Evans and ATCO EPIC for their continued dedication to making a difference in the lives of our students. Year after year, they have brought smiles to our children’s faces and hope to our community. Their generosity and commitment to École L’Union are truly remarkable.

Learn more

Join us in spreading the holiday cheer and making a difference in the lives of these incredible children. If you’d like to support our school and our mission, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Your kindness can truly change lives.

Want to get involved? Become a monthly LoveLegacy partner and watch your contributions change lives.

Sign up for our newsletter for monthly updates about our Compassion Projects in Haiti.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: December 22nd, 2023

Fueling Dreams for Indigenous Youth

Empowering Indigenous youth through mental wellness programming

This winter, LiveDifferent embarks on a vital journey across the ice roads of Northern Manitoba, reaching out to remote Indigenous communities. Our mission is clear: to connect with and empower Indigenous youth, whose voices and stories often remain unheard. With the distressing statistic that the suicide rate among these youth is 5 to 6 times higher than the national average, our initiative is not just timely; it’s crucial.

We’re bringing our 2-day Circles program, specifically designed to support the mental wellness of these young individuals. This program is more than just an event; it’s a lifeline, offering motivational assemblies, interactive workshops, and a space for meaningful conversations that inspire and foster resilience.

“This campaign embodies our commitment to making a tangible difference in the lives of Indigenous youth,” says Mary Anne Roy, Manager of Community Engagement at LiveDifferent.

The program is facilitated by our road team volunteers who travel by truck from Niagra Falls, Ontario to the first Indigenous community of Saint Theresa Point First Nation, Manitoba – a distance of more than 3,000 KM which takes them about 40 hours!

The fundraising goal for this campaign is a minimum of $10,000 and the initiative is designed to engage donors in a unique way – for every $25 contribution, participants gain an entry to win two round-trip WestJet tickets, making their support even more rewarding.

“Our partnership with WestJet adds an exciting dimension, giving our supporters a unique opportunity to gain while they give. We believe this approach will not only raise the necessary funds but also increase awareness about the critical need for mental wellness support in these communities,” says Roy.

Donations will directly subsidize the Circles program, ensuring that more Indigenous youth can benefit from this life-changing program.

Together, we can ensure that this winter, the ice roads lead to more than just physical destinations; they become pathways to understanding, growth and hope.

Join us in making a difference, in not only bringing a program but a promise to these communities. With your support, we can create a brighter, more inclusive future for Indigenous youth in these remote areas.

Donate today!

The “Fueling Dreams” campaign runs from November 28, 2023, at 12:01 a.m. GMT to December 31, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. GMT.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 28th, 2023