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An Open Letter to Our Supporters: Thank You for 5 Years of Lighting a Spark

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 8:43 AM



I know it’s cliché, but I can’t believe how fast 5 years comes and goes.  When I sat down to write this love letter to all of the amazing people that have given life to One Spark over the past 5 years, I did it with an overwhelming mix of emotions.  Just today, an article came up in my newsfeed about the number of women killed in 2017 as a result of gender-based violence.  The statistical highlights included:

  • More than half of the approximately 87,000 women killed globally in 2017 died at the hands of intimate partners or family members, according to a report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.  The report estimated some 50,000 were killed globally by someone they knew.
  •  That works out to 137 per day -- nearly six every hour.

If you’ve ever heard me speak publicly about One Spark, you know some of the other statistics that weigh heavily on my heart: in Canada, a woman is killed every 6 days at the hands of her intimate partner.  Every night in this country, 3,491 women and their 2,724 children sleep in shelters because it isn't safe at home, and approximately 300 women and children are turned away because the shelters are already full.

And so, a part of me thinks about the scope of the problem and, honestly, wants to put my head in my hands and cry.  Violence against women and girls is endemic; it is in every corner of our globe, countries, and communities; and it isn’t going away.

But, then, I pause and think about what I have seen, heard, witnessed, been overwhelmed by, and fell in love with over the past five years at One Spark.  I think about this incredible organization that is made up of the most inspiring people I have ever met, and the voice in my head that is part dreamer/part warrior, says that we can and are getting at this in ground-breaking, innovative, meaningful, and impactful ways and that we need to unflinchingly stare down the issues that perpetuate and sustain violence, while continuing to feed the groundswell of impactful responses and supports that has been started.  We need to continue to have laser-like focus on our vision of a world where no woman faces financial barriers to living a life free of violence.  We need to insist that no woman ever has to make the choice between living with violence and abuse or facing poverty.  No woman…no person should have to make that choice.

For 5 years, we have worked with women to help them generate income through entrepreneurship so that they can afford their basic necessities and work towards the financial sustainability that will assist them to move forward from abusive situations.  We’ve seen incredible outcomes and received unbelievably inspiring feedback on the impact of our programs. We’ve assisted more than 25 women to start businesses and have given out more than $40,000 in business start-up grants. We know that empowerment – personal and financial – is a game-changer.  We’ve seen how empowerment leads to women finding safety and living securely.  We’ve seen how the empowerment of moms changes the realities of their children. And so our work continues with fierce determination.

But, the only way it continues is because of the amazing supporters that have been there since One Spark’s doors opened, and the supporters that continue to be there in countless amazing ways.  This includes our phenomenal Board of Directors: Christina, Marlo, Lynn, Jo-Anne, Jo-Ann, Howie, Golubina, and Bob.  I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: our Board is the soul, hands, and heart of this organization. It includes our past Board members who steadfastly stood with us as a start-up, when we were just a hint of what could be. It includes our outstanding advisors, including Cheryl Campbell, our incredible lead Financial Advisor, and Shannon Stanley, our amazing Peer Support Advisor.  Cheryl and Shannon have changed the face of One Spark with their amazing support of the women we work with. It includes our donors and supporters, especially this year Libro Financial, H.U.B. Inc, Thrive Fit, Trish Barbato, Mark Trifunovic, Lorree Appleby, and Deb Crowe.  It includes everyone who shows up to curl and golf with us so that our programs continue to be funded.  Everyone one of you has impacted our capacity to do this work, and has fed our resolve to be unflinching in our mission and mandate.

Finally, but most importantly, this is also a love letter to the women we work with.  Every time I meet one of you, hear your story, experience your resilience, I more deeply understand what you – and tens of thousands of women around our world - face every day…and I constantly learn what it really means to be a survivor.  The countless ways you demonstrate courage and will yourself forward are the reason I believe we will one day shift the statistics – and more importantly the realities – of women impacted by violence.  To each of you, nothing but the deepest respect, admiration, and love.

It’s no mistake that I am sharing these thoughts on Giving Tuesday.  I know your hearts and purse strings will be pulled in a million directions today, but if you’ve got just a few extra dollars to give, we will put them to work because there is so much work to be done.  One Spark does not receive any government funding: we rely on the enormous hearts of people who believe in our work.  If you’re able, please help us to continue to be a source of opportunity and possibility for women.

Thank you everyone for an incredible, awe-inspiring 5 years.  And thank you to everyone who will continue to stand with us in all that is yet to come.  We will continue to believe in possibility, because possibility is where change begins.

With heartfelt gratitude and in solidarity,

Corrie Schneider
Founder and Executive Director, One Spark

If you would like to support our work, please visit our CanadaHelps page: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/one-spark/

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