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One Spark Celebrates its Fourth Birthday

Monday, September 4, 2017 8:49 AM


When the last week of August approaches each year, I am filled with a sense of gratitude, optimism, and hope. Marking another year of One Spark's mission in action is a reminder that generosity, kindness, community, and compassion are the powerful drivers of change that persist, even when our news feeds seem to be dominated by stories fueled by anger and conflict.  Our One Spark community is unquestionable proof that the desire for a peaceful, just world lives abundantly.

At the helm of that community is our incredible Board of Directors: Jo-Anne, Marlo, Howie, Lynden, Danielle, Lynn, Sapna, and Christina (and our amazing Board volunteer, Jo-Ann).  It is impossible to overstate how this amazing group both leads and impacts One Spark's work.  They are the living model of how one small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  For four years, they have unfailingly shown up ready to be that change, and I am so grateful to each of them.

Of course, One Spark's work would not be possible without the phenomenal generosity of our supporters who, on a daily basis, are building our capacity to assist women impacted by violence. They do it in a million different ways, but always with hearts wide open to our mission and work, and with the desire to bring about impactful change. We thank each of you for responding to the call, and for building our community into a place of strength and hope.

In a word, our fourth year was outstanding.  Here are a few of our key highlights:

  • As we continue to work with women to start businesses (we had two new women register their businesses just last week!), we are also now starting to see the businesses started in previous years really take root and grow. Women are reporting positive growth and outcomes, both in terms of business performance and in terms of taking courageous personal steps forward.  We could not be more proud to be aligned with the amazing women that make up our One Spark alumni.
  •  Last fall we had the opportunity to partner with Humber College Public Relations students in Marlo Taylor's PR class.  These amazing students, under Marlo's innovative leadership, spent a semester advising One Spark on our PR initiatives and developing creative and impactful ideas to increase our public engagement.  We were incredibly grateful for this invaluable opportunity.
  • One Spark subsequently had the opportunity to work with another fabulous group of Humber students in Denny Young's Fundraising class.  These students - Chelsea, Elysha, Megan, Robin, Klim, and Ambar - developed and carried out our "Light a Spark" event in April. The Light a Spark cocktail reception was headlined by Olivia Chow, emceed by Kavita Dogra, and featured our amazing guest speaker and peer advocate, Shannon Stanley.  As the result of an incredible group of supporters that joined us that evening, Light a Spark raised more than $20,000 for One Spark's programs.  We are so grateful to the Humber fundraising team that made it happen, with special thanks once again to Shannon, Kavita, and Olivia.
  • At the beginning of 2017, as a result of the work of Board Member Lynden Evers, One Spark was accepted into Deloitte Canada's ACT program, providing One Spark with access to a talented team of consultants that assisted us with our fund development strategy.  The outcome was "Spark Tank": an exciting new corporate engagement program that will be introduced in 2018.  We are so grateful to the team at Deloitte, and particularly Stephanie Hauck, Victoria Tersigni, and Carlo Aloe who met with us regularly to ensure optimal support and outputs from our collaboration.  Thank you, Deloitte Canada!
  •  In September, 2016 we held our 3rd Annual Golf Tournament, which was another tremendous success, and was a particularly exciting event because it was the first year holding the tournament in partnership with the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association. We are so grateful to our Honorary Board member, Flavio Volpe, for highlighting our work to APMA members and fostering this partnership opportunity.  We are thrilled to be once again partnering with the APMA for this year's tournament which is being held on Thursday, September 21st, 2017 at Granite Ridge in Milton.  You can be part of this fabulous event by registering at http://one-spark.ca/2017-golf-tournament.
  • One of the amazing highlights of the 2017 golf tournament was the introduction of our MAVerick video, engaging men in speaking out on Violence Against Women.  This video was the incredible work of our partners at CCI Studios.  We simply cannot say enough about CCI's commitment to the work of One Spark and creative genius in bringing our campaigns to life. We want to sincerely thank CCI for all they have done to support our mission, but particularly for the invaluable gift of the MAVerick video.  We hope you'll take a minute to watch the fruits of their labour: 

  • 2017 marked the first year that One Spark held "One Spark Rocks", our curling bonspiel.  It was a fabulous day attended by an energetic and enthusiastic group of curlers and laid the foundation for another great event in 2018.  Thank you to all who attended.
  •  We are so grateful for our continued collaboration with the dynamic Women Moving Forward Conference Committee who presented another incredible conference in May of this year.  It is an important opportunity for One Spark to be connected to an event that provides networking, learning and personal growth opportunities for women as well as to provide the women who attend the conference with exposure to One Spark programming: a perfect match for growing and expanding our mission and work.  Thank you to Cindy Stradling and the entire committee for your ongoing work.
  • As we look to optimize the programming offered by One Spark, we are incredibly honoured to have the opportunity to work with Systems Navigation Specialist, Peer Advocate and One Spark Alumnus, Shannon Stanley.  Shannon continues to provide invaluable insight and guidance into the experience of women impacted by violence and the navigation of systems that affect them.  We are greatly looking forward to the release of One Spark's collaborative publication with Shannon which explores the role and possibilities of peer support in the context of our work and in the support of women impacted by violence.
  • This year, we have also developed a wonderful partnership with Coach and Advisor, Cheryl Campbell.  Cheryl has been instrumental in assisting One Spark to explore the possibilities for women to access financial counsel, education, and ongoing support and we look forward to sharing new collaborative initiatives with Cheryl.  We are so grateful for her enthusiastic support!
  • This summer, we were honoured that author Lee Bice-Matheson announced that $1 from the sale of every book in her Paige Maddison series would be donated to One Spark.  Thank you, Lee, for being so incredibly generous, and thank you to our Board Member, Lynn Bice, for bringing this wonderful partnership together.
  • This summer we were also fortunate to be the recipient of a grant from Canada Summer Jobs, which allowed us to hire our summer student, Rehaab Rifdi.  It was great to benefit from Rehaab's hard work and expertise for the past 3 months and we want to thank Arnold Tutoring for providing the space to work with Rehaab.
  • We want to acknowledge in a special way Intuit Canada who this year donated QuickBooks licences for each of our program participants: access to technology and software breaks down critical barriers for the entrepreneurs we work with and we sincerely thank Intuit Canada for assisting us to achieve this important goal.
  •  On October 16th, 2016, the amazing Dean Taylor completed his first marathon in support of One Spark, raising $4,000 in support of our Entrepreneurship Program: we can't thank Dean enough for his dedication to this fundraiser and are so proud of him for completing his marathon quest!  We are thrilled that One Spark's annual marathon tradition will continue this year, with the amazing Mike Arnold running this year's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon to raise money for our programs.  Mike has been a die-hard supporter of One Spark, along with his sister, Danielle, who is one of our fabulous Board members.  If you can, please support Mike in his marathon journey by donating at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/262-for-one-spark/.
  •  On September 28th, One Spark is excited to be participating in the Women's Business Enterprises (WBE) Canada Conference.  It is an amazing opportunity to engage business leaders and entrepreneurs in One Spark's mission and work and we are grateful to be part of this exciting, innovative event.
  • Our work continues over the next 2 years guided by the Strategic Plan developed in November of 2016.  We look forward to the goals we have set to provide holistic, impactful services to women as they work towards financial independence in the wake of being affected by violence.
Every year, I am amazed when we find ourselves already marking another One Spark birthday.  And every year I close my eyes and say a silent thank you to the incredible people that make it happen.  Most importantly, I pause to acknowledge the courage, strength and fortitude demonstrated by the women we work with.  We look forward to another year of diligently working towards breaking down the financial barriers women face when moving forward from violence.  Thank you for being a critical part of that journey.

In gratitude and peace,
Corrie

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