How one small donation brings a whole lot of love

At the end of 2022, we held a fundraiser for LiveDifferent’s Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund (ERCDF) through our Give a Little, Love a Lot Campaign.

This ERCDF enables LiveDifferent to further support the communities in which we work by responding to urgent or critical challenges, assisting with community projects and providing emergency relief in the face of natural disasters.

Over the past several months, these funds have been instrumental in providing assistance to various individuals and community initiatives. Of the $7,080 raised, 80% have gone toward medical assistance and 20% of the funds have gone toward community development.

Here’s how the generous contributions have supported some of these cases.

Emergency relief

  • Cancer support

LiveDifferent aided the Mexican non-profit Isaac Everardo AC, providing crocheted and knitted blankets, toques and essential supplies like Pediasure for families with children battling cancer. This support helps families cope with the challenges of distant medical treatment and emotional strain.

  • Medical costs

This fund continuously supports individuals by giving them access to the medicine and healthcare they need. From helping children with allergies and asthma to supporting a young man who suffered severe burns, we’ve been able to help many people on their road to recovery.

  • Funeral costs

The fund has consistently supported families with funeral expenses during difficult times, including the passing of a young asthmatic girl and the mother of two staff members.

Community development

  • Community reading programs

LiveDifferent supported two community reading programs in Mexico,  providing books that teach important values and foster a love for reading among children, contributing to their educational and personal development.

  • Community Centre

The fund made a donation to a community centre in Padre Kino, run by a Canadian woman who provides valuable programs like crafts, English classes and a low-cost nursing program. This financial aid helps sustain the centre’s operations and services.

Rallying around families when they need it most

In the face of such adversity, meet Rafael and Yeraidi—a couple whose resilience and love shine through even in the darkest of times.

Rafael, a hardworking carpenter, experienced a life-altering accident when he fell from the second floor while working, resulting in severe injuries to his pelvis, back, ribs and legs. Miraculously, he survived, but the road to recovery has been arduous.

Yeraidi, his devoted wife, stands by his side, carrying the weight of their family’s future. With a 16-year-old daughter to care for and a baby on the way, she bears the immense responsibility of supporting her injured husband and preparing for the arrival of their new bundle of joy.

Beyond the emotional strain, financial hardships have added to their struggles. Rafael’s inability to work has made it difficult to make ends meet. There are days when they struggle to put food on the table, and they’ve been unable to afford basic necessities like medications and electricity bills. The family owed three months of rent, and their fridge and front door were both broken. The simple comforts we often take for granted had become distant dreams for this family.

Through the Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund, LiveDifferent has been able to cover their medical expenses while also paying for a new refrigerator for the family. One of our staff members has also generously paid their electrical bills.

Now that they have a refrigerator, Sandra, one of the community leaders who works closely with LiveDifferent, has committed to teaching Yeraidi how to make ice cream to sell within her community. This donation will not only help the family in their current circumstances, but it will also give them a source of income that will help carve a more promising future.

A collective effort is required to extend support and kindness to families like Rafael, Yeraidi and their children. Even the smallest gestures can make an enormous impact on their lives.

How can you help?

By donating directly to LiveDifferent’s Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund, you can help uplift this family and many others by showing them that they are not alone in their journey.

Even a small donation can make a huge difference in the lives of those struggling to get by – $50 has fed a family for a week, $30 has provided limb-saving medical attention and $80 has given a mother the medicine she needs to care for her family.

Become the change a family needs to transform their lives for the better! Donate today.

Author: Gina Alward

Date: November 3rd, 2023

WestJet and LiveDifferent: Going (beyond) the distance to make a difference

Since 2008, WestJet has been taking us to new heights, powering our program delivery, business travel and fundraising efforts with the gift of flight.

And in 2012, we decided to take our relationship to the next level.

Wanting to make a difference in one of WestJet’s most popular Caribbean destinations, we established the inaugural WestJet LiveDifferent Build, their first international Community Investment initiative.

2022 marked our 10th anniversary!

To date, more than 500 WestJetters have worked alongside local translators, contractors, and community and family members to build 53 homes with families living in extreme poverty in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

But it hasn’t stopped there.

Beyond building

At LiveDifferent, we are amazed and inspired by the incredible passion and commitment of our volunteers who consistently go above and beyond to make a difference.

When LiveDifferent volunteers exceed their fundraising goal for a Build, that money goes back into community projects through LiveDifferent’s Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund. This fund supports local needs and helps enhance the quality of life for people living in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

But with WestJet, things are done a bit differently.

In addition to their personal fundraising goal, WestJet challenges its WestJetters to fundraise over and above to support a community project. WestJet sets out the goal that they will match WestJetters over-fundraising efforts up to $5,000. Pooling and matching the funds allows us to plan for more impactful community projects that WestJetters can be a part of during their annual Build. This ensures they can see first-hand the tangible results of their efforts.

Any additional funds raised that are not allocated to these projects will then go to LiveDifferent’s Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund.

“When we issue the over-fundraising challenge to WestJetters, it’s amazing to see how they go above and beyond and start to connect to the cause before they get to the Dominican Republic,” says Brittany Tough, WestJet’s Community Investment Advisor. “Year over year since we’ve asked them to do so, they have surpassed their goal – and in some cases doubled it – allowing us to make a bigger impact in the communities we know and love. It truly is WestJetters’ care, passion and commitment to making a difference that propels these projects and fuels their hearts to be a part of something that connects them to the communities we serve and the people we care about throughout our network.”

Over 10 years, WestJet and WestJetters have raised more than $105,000 in additional funds.

And these funds have opened up a world of possibilities.

Choosing community projects

We strive to ensure that our annual over-fundraising projects are sustainable and truly benefit the entire community. Each year, we work with local leaders, organizations and our team in the Dominican Republic to see how we can make a positive, sustainable and lasting impact.

WestJet has always been enthusiastic about staying involved to see how they can contribute, not only with WestJet homes and projects but in other areas as well.

WestJet has made significant enhancements within local communities by …

  • buying land and playground equipment for a new children’s club (and later providing maintenance for this equipment);
  • buying equipment for a local medical clinic and underwriting the salary of a doctor to be at the clinic three days a week for one year;
  • refurbishing basketball courts for local youth;
  • improving roadways and infrastructure;
  • assisting with funding for hurricane relief;
  • building an ocean breaker wall;
  • cleaning and assisting at the local dump (and later building a waste management centre); and
  • supporting house renovations and other humanitarian items

“WestJet has been an incredible partner and to be able to recognize 10 years of working together – hands-on with WestJetters from all areas of the WestJet community – is something we are extremely proud of,” says Alison, Interim Director of International Programs.

“The sheer number of WestJetters we’ve been able to work with and the magnitude of their over-fundraising illustrates the strength of the partnership and the commitment to having a positive impact on others. However, it’s the re-engagement of WestJetters along with their colleagues, friends and family – the depth of the WestJet community, in and outside of the work day – that truly speaks to the sense of community that WestJet and LiveDifferent share.”

Soaring higher together

This amazing connection between WestJet and LiveDifferent has grown and developed over the past 10 years. From the homes that love built to the connections that the WestJet LiveDifferent Builds program has helped to foster and the incredible over-fundraising that supports entire communities, we have created something truly special.

Through our commitment and dedication to one another, as well as the communities we serve, we have been able to make a difference and show the world what love can do.

And we will continue to do so in the years to come.

Author: Gina Alward

Date: April 28th, 2023

Giving a young man his life back one donation at a time

Starling Martinez is a young adult from the Dominican Republic. In November 2021, he got into a terrible motorcycle accident that almost cost him his life.

Starling collided head-on with another motorcyclist while driving on the main road to the community. He suffered a broken arm, leg, skull, jaw and throat, and needed multiple surgeries to save his life. But because Starling doesn’t have a birth certificate, doctors were unable to treat him without payment upfront.

Fundraising for medical help

Having little money to begin with, Starling’s family started borrowing money from friends and family and asking for donations on the street. They then had to prioritize which surgeries to do first since they couldn’t afford to do them all at once.

Five days had passed since the accident before Starling was able to receive his first surgery. Doctors had to focus on the surgeries that would keep him alive, and many untreated injuries worsened. Starling had to have part of his foot amputated due to gangrene that developed over this waiting period.

Word about the accident reached LiveDifferent and, using funds from the Emergency Relief and Community Development fund, we were able to help with the medical costs to help Starling recover from his injuries. We provided financial support for pre-surgery tests, blood transfusions, as well as surgeries for the throat, jaw and leg. In total, Starling was hospitalized in Santiago for nearly three months.

“The foundation helped in many ways,” said Starling’s mother, Ines. “They helped me figure things out because I didn’t have the resources to get through this and, because of them, I received the help [I needed for my son].”

Starling is still facing many challenges along his road to recovery. He will need more surgery on his jaw to secure the metal plates; his flesh has been rejecting the screws supporting the rods in his legs, and he has also developed a respiratory deficiency causing shortness of breath. He’ll also need significant support through medications and at-home medical equipment.

And what’s more, we are still unsure of how Starling’s mental health will be affected by this trauma.

The road ahead

While the journey to recovery has been a trying and unstable one, we are so grateful for the improvements Starling has made over the last year. Because of generous contributions to the Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund, we were able to step in and help this family in their time of need and are hopeful we can continue to support them as Starling recovers.

But not without your help.

You can ensure Starling and others like him get the treatment they deserve by donating to LiveDifferent’s Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund today.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to everyone who has donated to this fund for helping others when they need it most.

Author: Gina Alward

Date: December 20th, 2022

How LiveDifferent’s Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund Changes Lives

Supporting families and communities

The core strength of everything LiveDifferent does is centered around authentic relationships where we learn from and are encouraged by each other.

We first partnered with communities in developing countries to build homes so families could get the security and care they need. But the more closely we worked with the people of these communities, the more we understood how unexpected challenges bring about additional hardships to families and communities working hard to get ahead.

That’s why we created the Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund.

Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund

It’s thanks to our enthusiastic volunteers that this fund has been brought to life! Seeing volunteers over-fundraise for their Build and wanting to do more, we knew we could use these funds to help meet critical needs while also investing in long-term sustainability.

Through the Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund, we’re able to have a timely and ongoing positive impact in local communities. Funds continue to be replenished by volunteers over-fundraising for Builds, as well as direct donations from our generous donors.

While working with local leaders, government officials, community members and organizations, we are able to:


Respond to immediate needs

There are always unforeseen challenges that arise, so we use this fund to meet the immediate needs of the families and communities we work with. Some of these challenges include restricted access to medical care, food insecurity, school fees and funeral costs (costs which can total to one years’ worth of wages).


Assist with community initiatives

We invest in projects that can help strengthen the community as a whole. This fund has been used to make repairs and upgrades, and build recreational facilities, roads, bridges and water cisterns.


Provide emergency relief

Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and major storms often cause a lot of damage to houses in the community. This fund is used to help make repairs and provide supplies to rebuild after a disaster.

Case Study: The Pancho Family and COVID-19

LiveDifferent volunteers have helped give families a fresh start over the years, and these families have spoken about how having a new home has resulted in them being less stressed and more physically healthy. Many also shared how they were able to put rent money towards their children’s education as a result.

While it’s been amazing to hear of the positive impact that having a home has had on their lives, it was also clear that many of them were still struggling — and those with children seemed to be hit the hardest.

Without any safety nets or paid sick days, households like the Pancho family could do little as they watched their earnings drop significantly while facing increased financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pancho, who has diabetes, was temporarily laid off to protect his health and received only half of his usual income from his employer. However, their weekly food budget increased because his four children that had been receiving a free hot lunch program at school were now at home doing remote learning. Pancho also needed to increase the size of his phone package to include more data so that his children could receive and send their homework assignments.

Through the Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund, LiveDifferent was able to ease the burden by providing much-needed food packages to them — and over 100 other families in Mexico!

How can you help?

By donating directly to our Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund, you can help give families and communities the support they need to not only survive, but to thrive.

Even a small donation can make a huge difference in the lives of those struggling to get by – $50 has fed a family for a week, $30 has provided limb-saving medical attention and $80 has given a mother the medicine she needs to care for her family.

Become the change a family needs to transform their lives for the better, and visit our Give a Little, Love a Lot page to donate.

Author: Gina Alward

Date: November 16th, 2022

Water Returned to a Special Rural Community

Facing intermittent electricity, one community in the Dominican countryside has set up a system to ensure that each house has access to water all day. This system relies on a water pump, but what happens when the pump fails?
Thankfully, through direct donations and people deciding to add a little extra to their fundraising goals, our Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund was in great shape to help the community buy a new pump.
Watch the video below.

Looking for a way to help ensure stability in the communities we work in? Contribute to our Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund.

Author: Joshua Dueck

Date: May 9th, 2018

Cleaning supplies for Nuevo Renacer – Nov 9th 2016

The Dominican Republic is currently facing one of the harshest and rainy “wet” seasons in the last 5-7 years. Waterways are overflowing and some homes have even been swept into close by rivers. Although our ongoing development in Nuevo Renacer has helped reduce the impact of the flooding, in recent days the heavy rains have caused the waters to rise higher, creating difficult situations for many families. The water drains fairly quickly after the rain stops, however, many homeowners are struggling to avoid mold and bacteria from occurring.

One way that Sandra, a community leader in Nuevo Renacer, suggested we could help is by providing cleaning products. Using money from LiveDifferent’s ‘Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund’, our staff purchased cleaning products that Sandra is distributing where needed. This is a small example of how the fund, and an ongoing relationship with the communities we work in, can make a difference.

Contribute to the ‘Emergency Relief and Community Development Fund’

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: November 9th, 2016