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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:

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
  • 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
  •  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,

I've Been Thinking About Moms

Friday, May 12, 2017 8:50 AM

One of the great honours of my work with One Spark is having the opportunity to meet women who share their stories: every story unique and every one of them – like all of our stories – rife with joy and struggle; questions and convictions; reflection and uncertainty; moments of complete peace interspersed with moments of complete upheaval.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood: about how while there are unquestionably shared experiences among the universal sisterhood of moms, being a mom looks poignantly different and unique in almost every home; in different communities; and in countries around our world.  When we celebrate Mother’s Day, we celebrate our treasured relationship to a woman who gave us life and/or nurtured our personhood, as we absolutely should.  If I can speak personally, my mom has been my model of kindness, determination and grace throughout my entire life, and one day a year doesn’t seem like nearly enough to capture how essential her strength, wisdom, and joy have been to my life experience and my growth from baby to girlhood to womanhood.

At the same time, Mother’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the value of moms to our world and on the work that is done by mothers globally to ensure the health, safety, education, growth, development, and well-being of their kids.  This brings me back to thinking about the stories that have been courageously shared with me over the past number of years.  I think about moms who have surrendered their right to almost all of their financial resources and entitlements to ensure the safe exit of their children from unsafe environments.  I think about how those same moms, as a result of trading financial security for safety, lack the financial and legal resources to advocate for their children and themselves, putting their safety at ongoing risk...and how they fiercely advocate anyway.  I think about moms doing all they can to patch together the income necessary to afford shelter and food, while wondering how they can afford the basics when daycare will eat the majority of every pay cheque.  I think about how those same moms will struggle – and endure - when their children need glasses or life-saving health care that they can’t afford.  I think about moms around the world that know education is a critical cornerstone to quality of life, but live with the knowledge that their children can’t go to school or face grave risks if they do. I think about moms in war-ravaged areas that are focused on the mere survival of their kids from one day to the next.

I think about these things and then I think about the moms I know (and those I don’t) that have shown courage, resilience, strength, power, creativity, tenacity, humour, grace, conviction, joy, fear, compassion, and a mama’s love when dealing with these – and so many other – challenges, struggles, and experiences.  I think about those moms and I feel love, gratitude, admiration, and hope.  And then I know that there are two things we have to do:

1.      We have to continue our work to ensure no woman – and no mom and child -  have to ever trade basic financial security for personal safety; and
2.   We need to celebrate and never lose sight of all the countless ways that we benefit from the strength and power of motherhood and to work towards a world that understands, values, and meaningfully supports the work – both challenging and rewarding – that falls on the shoulders of moms: work that they carry fiercely, even when it is overwhelmingly heavy.
Moms  - as you look to the days ahead, in all of your day-to-day sacrifices, may you also know moments of complete joy, rest that feeds your spirit, resilience to trek forward; and hearts at perfect peace.

Happy Mother’s Day.


Executive Director, One Spark

Ahead of Giving Tuesday, Some Thoughts from our Executive Director

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 1:08 PM

One of the most significant challenges faced by any charitable organization is demonstrating the impact of donations.  My wish from the time One Spark came into being has always been that everyone could see first-hand the unbelievable determination, resilience, creativity, and talents of the women we work with.  My wish has been that people could know the incredible women we’ve come to know. To witness the journeys of women as they rebuild and forge futures from a place of hope would, without question, speak for itself.  I wouldn’t have to write a word to show the impact of the donations we receive.

Because this is simply not possible, I am going to tell you what I’ve come to know about how the support we receive can be life-changing.  When we meet women that are being introduced to One Spark for the first time, we are connected to a unique story every time.  Some women have lived through months, years – perhaps decades – of abuse and violence.  All are facing poverty.  As one woman said to me, "You almost always have to walk through some form of poverty or lack of resources to escape abuse.”

But, the real commonality that every single woman I have worked with at One Spark has demonstrated is an unwavering commitment to moving forward: to forging a way to economic security.  It takes seven weeks to go through the full One Spark program, and women show up, engage, write business plans, register businesses, participate in training, and look ahead with determination every time.  They do it without fail.  We have worked with women that have started landscaping businesses, consulting businesses, home décor and self-care products businesses, cleaning businesses.  We have worked with a woman who invented a product and published a book.  We are so honoured to be able to provide the forum to bridge their experiences from living with violence/in poverty to owning income-generating businesses.  Providing the opportunity to live that transition is what your donations do.  You lift women up through possibility.

When I am speaking publicly, one of the questions I often field is how we raise our money.  We do not receive any government funding.  We are 100% reliant on the generosity of people: it is only because people reach into their pockets and so kindly give to One Spark that we can do our work.

Therefore, as we begin to celebrate the joy of the holidays – a time of year that can also powerfully remind us of income inequities and those struggling with poverty – I am asking you to please consider helping us to continue to do our work and reach even more women in 2017.  You can make a donation of any amount at (or through the button at the bottom of the page).

On behalf of the women we work with, I thank you in advance for any support you can offer and I leave you with words written by Nancy, a client who offered to share her One Spark experience to help make opportunities available to other women:

"What I would like to say is that for the first time, I have had the greatest experience during this whole endeavor and none of it would be happening without One Spark. I have gained confidence, not only in myself, but as a women with substance that does have something to bring to the table. One Spark has listened to my idea's, even during the current struggles that I continue to have. They give me a direction and keep me on track as this has to be one of the hardest things to accomplish as an abused women, especially with children. The support from all of the experienced board members and all that they have to offer is supreme to say the least.

All the support that I have received could not be written in this letter as there is not enough words to explain. What needs to be said though is that even knowing the experience that the board members bring to the table along with Corrie Schneider's knowledge, none of this could happen without funding. As we all know, all the experience, all of the hard work, no matter the idea, can't be done without money or funding in any way.

I hope that you see the benefits in helping this wonderful and well needed Organization and all that it will do for our future as human beings.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you again.

Donate Now Through!Corrie Schneider
One Spark Executive Director

A Letter to the St. Pat’s High School Football Coaches and Players

Thursday, October 6, 2016 10:27 AM

I want to begin by saying thank you.  I have worked in the field of violence against women for a while now and today was a first for me.  Today was the first time I witnessed action and advocacy on the issue of violence against women being initiated - and primarily championed - in a high school by the men in the school.  Wearing white in solidarity with our “MAVerick” campaign and ending violence against women and girls may have felt like a small action, but it felt revolutionary to me.

Each of you may have your own reason for having been part of today’s campaign.  I know many of your coaches are husbands and fathers.  Perhaps some of you have been personally impacted by violence, or know women and girls that have experienced violence.  To some of you, it may feel like a bit of an arm’s length issue: you might feel like it is something that happens to other people.  But we know statistically that violence against women touches every corner of our globe…and every corner of our communities.  The number is 1 in 3.  One in three women globally have experienced physical or sexual abuse.  That means that, in the course of your day, you may not know it, but you are almost certainly interacting with women and girls that are living with – or have experienced – violence.

The reason you may not be aware of the violence happening around you is that violence against women is an issue that is often shrouded in silence.  Women and girls may not talk about it for a number of reasons: perhaps their safety – or lives – are being threatened; perhaps they stay silent out of shame or fear of stigma.  By using your voices today, you have pro-actively shown your support and solidarity so that, even in the silence, women and girls are being acknowledged and heard.

I firmly believe that, if we are going to end violence against women, men like you must be engaged in meaningful ways.  And, so, I’ll end where I started: by thanking you for the incredible action you took today.

With gratitude and in solidarity,
Corrie Schneider
Executive Director, One Spark

One Spark Celebrates its Third Birthday

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 5:34 AM

As I sit down to write this blog and mark three incredible years of being part of One Spark’s mission in action, I am overcome with a sense of gratitude and peace.  I recognize that may seem counter-intuitive given both local and world events that have shocked and saddened all of us in recent months, but here’s what I’ve come to know: goodness, kindness, generosity and compassion live.  They live in abundance in people all around us.  I know this because I unfailingly see it every single day in my work with One Spark. 

As One Spark celebrates its third birthday, I want to pause and acknowledge the collective kindness and generosity that powers our work.  We have seen the most incredible generosity in our donors and supporters: your steadfast willingness to share what you have is truly the only reason One Spark’s work can happen.  And we have seen the most amazing, tireless hands at work through our volunteers: your skills, gifts and time are the foundation on which One Spark is built.  To all of the amazing people that breathe life into One Spark’s vision of ensuring no women faces financial barriers to living a life without violence, we are so thankful.

I’d like to especially take a moment to acknowledge our Board of Directors.  Jo-Anne, Marlo, Flavio, Howie, Lynden, Danielle, Lynn and Christina (and our amazing Board volunteer, Jo-Ann): I feel like I run short of words to describe your individual and collective impact.  The fearlessness, integrity and passion with which you have led a young – and ever-growing – organization is a true gift to the mission we are so diligently pursuing.  Thank you for being the critical core of this organization.

Our third year has been one of amazing growth and change.  Here are a few of our key highlights:

  • We are thrilled to be on track to have 20 women completed One Spark’s Entrepreneurship Program by the end of 2016.  We introduced group programming to great success this year, which has allowed us to reach more women simultaneously and to encourage natural support and business networking opportunities among the women participating.  We are looking forward to building on key learnings and outcomes in order to expand the group programming format in 2017.
  •  In June of this year, One Spark was honoured and grateful to be chosen to receive funding through the MasterCard Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Giving Campaign.  The funds we received have been critical in expanding the reach and impact of our Entrepreneurship Program and we want to acknowledge and thank the MasterCard Foundation for such a wonderful initiative.
  • Also in June of this year, we were thrilled to once again work with the amazing team at CCI Studios to launch One Spark’s “Be A Maverick” Campaign, encouraging men to speak out on the issue of violence against women.  CCI’s creative genius helped us bring to life an important and meaningful grassroots campaign started by the Original Maverick, Joe Palko. We are continuing to promote and expand the campaign to engage as many men as possible in using their voices to end violence.  Thank you to the always-fabulous team at CCI for being true partners in our work to end violence.  Check out the campaign at
  •  In September, 2015 we held our 2nd Annual Golf Tournament, which was a tremendous success and brought out a fabulous group of golfers and supporters.  We are incredibly excited to be holding our 2016 tournament in partnership with the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.  This amazing partnership gives us an invaluable platform to share the work of One Spark and to expand our fundraising efforts.  We are so grateful to our Board member, Flavio Volpe, for highlighting our work to APMA members and fostering this partnership opportunity.  The tournament will be held on September 22, 2016 at Granite Ridge Golf Course: we’re hoping to see you there!
  •  2016 also marked the first year that the Women Moving Forward Conference was presented under the One Spark banner.  We are incredibly proud of and grateful for the partnership we have developed with the WMF Conference Committee.  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.
  •  Over the past year, we have continued to develop our Professional Advisory Committee and to consider how professionals from a variety of key functional business areas can support the women entrepreneurs we are working with.  Our Professional Advisory Committee has been such a wealth of expertise and support and we look forward to fostering ongoing community support through this wonderful group.
  •  We are so grateful to have expanded our corporate support network over the past year, including being the beneficiaries of events and initiatives led by Energi PR and Thrive Fit.  Thank you to these amazing organizations for connecting our work to yours.
  • There were some truly wonderful community events that happened this year that were coordinated through our unfailingly wonderful and committed volunteer and advocate, Heather Lapier.  Over the past year, Heather organized a Karma Class at Inner Dawn Yoga and a contest through Handmade for you Love Lu for the benefit of One Spark.  We love the opportunity to highlight our work through innovative and creative channels like these: thank you, Heather!
  •  Finally, but not at all least, we have had the opportunity over the past year to connect with other partners and service providers in the community to consider how we can bring our respective work together to maximum impact.  We’ve made critical connections with organizations such as the Elizabeth Fry Society and the Women’s Rural Resource Centre in Strathroy.  We’ve also connected to an incredible network of business coaches that offer ongoing business development coaching and mentorship to the women that participate in One Spark’s Entrepreneurship Program.  We had the amazing opportunity over the course of this year to have Janice Gerol – the Vice President of International Business Operations for Pampered Chef – to provide an advisory/mentorship session.  Thank you to the community partners that work with us in the spirit of collaboration: the benefits of community connection are so critical to our work.
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,

The Story of #WhiteHoodieFriday

Friday, June 10, 2016 4:56 AM

Growing up in our house in Sarnia, everyone listened when my dad spoke.  My dad can have a big, booming voice and a very commanding presence.  You assumed he meant business with just about everything he said, but probably never so much so as when he reminded us of the first, and most unbreakable rule in the house: nobody was ever to hit our mother.

That was how the rule was phrased, “You NEVER hit your mother”.  And, to be sure, it was a literal rule.  Even if you were joking around and playfully pretended to give her a nudge or chuck to the arm, my dad’s laughter would turn to a glare I can see to this day.  That rule was never to be tested.  But, even as were instructed to take it literally, there was a not-so-subtle underlying philosophy to holding this rule as the central, most important, most oft-noted in the house: women are to be valued, respected, treated with dignity, and, when necessary, protected.

But, my dad also never saw the women and girls in our house as weak.  I’m vividly remembering coming downstairs one Christmas morning and finding two fully-loaded toolboxes under the Christmas tree for my sister and me.  And I can hear my dad’s words about that toolbox to this day: never become dependent on someone to do things for you.  You’re perfectly talented, skilled and capable of doing things yourself.

And so it didn’t surprise me at all when my dad announced last fall that he was going to wear a white hoodie every Friday to show his solidarity with the work of One Spark and to hold it as his personal sign that mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends, co-workers are NEVER to be abused in any way.  People that have heard my dad does this, or seen him in his white sweatshirt, think its brilliant.  So, with his blessing, we adopted it as a signature campaign and asked our creative partners, CCI Studios, to bring it to life, which they beautifully did with our new #BeAMaverick campaign, which you can check out at

To be part of the campaign, all you have to do is wear a white sweatshirt on Friday as a sign of your intolerance of violence against women (and if you are feeling really inspired, make it a group or office event!).  If you don’t have a white sweatshirt, we are selling them with our Maverick logo on the sleeve:  All of the proceeds will go to One Spark’s programs helping women to establish financial sustainability in order to move forward from their experiences with violence. To give visibility to the work of One Spark and your amazing Maverickness, post your white hoodie pics on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) with the hashtags #BeAMaverick #WhiteHoodieFriday and #onespark.

The impact of men speaking out on violence against women is critical to meaningful change.  Please consider becoming an advocate of this campaign.  And please use your voice to uphold my dad’s ubreakable rule of zero tolerance of violence against women.


One Spark Executive Director