Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Give a Child a Jump Start on Life

Several years ago I had a friend who was trying to raise a couple of kids on welfare. Every once in a while she would hear about some families in her situation that got some sort of benefits she had no idea how to get access to.  It's just another example of the fact that there are all kinds of agencies and programs out there designed to help people, but they fail to let the very people who need them know how to apply for them.

One day, when I was at Tim Hortons with another friend, I saw the poster about the camps they send kids to.  I asked a lady who was working there how one applies for these camps.  She didn't know, but she said she would get the manager for me.  Apparently the manager wasn't sure how to go about that either, but said she would find out and happily give me a call when she did. Well, by that time the friend who had the children who would have benefited from such a thing had moved away, and the kids were nearly grown up, so I didn't bother to pursue it.   I did make a point of telling the manager and her worker about my friend who never knew how to apply for such programs, and suggested that they find a better way to publicize it for those who need it. They should at least have access to the application forms when someone asks about it.

A computer search gave me the information just now, but many people who struggle to make ends meet do not always have computers.  As it turns out parents cannot directly apply to have their children attend these camps. Children are specially selected and referred by schools and community organizations who work with the economically disadvantaged.  That's nice, but I do know some families do the best they can to cover up the situation they are in, so perhaps the schools aren't always aware of all the children who might be eligible.

The program I have become especially fond of lately is the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program. It is meant to remove the financial barriers that prevent kids from participating in organized recreational activities. Jumpstart will supply funds to help with equipment needed, or the fees to take part in sporting activities because participating in such programs increases a child's self esteem  and a chance at success in life. If your family needs this kind of help call 1-877-616-6600.

One hundred percent of customer donations to Jumpstart go directly to help kids in financial need participate in organized sport and recreation.. The amount of the benefit to the families needing it directly relates to how much money is in the fund, and how many people in any given area apply.   As someone who runs a karate club,  I've seen this program in action more than once.  The parents applied, and the fees were paid directly to the club. Kids who might not have been able to attend were able to continue their classes uninterrupted. Next time you see that little display by the Canadian Tire cash register, offering little balls or whatever, drop a bit of loot in the box. You could even make a donation online.  I guarantee you will be doing something good for some children in your neighbourhood.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mother Nature Paints Too

Thanksgiving weekend has traditionally been the time for our last walk in the woods. The weather is often good, and the tree colours are lovely.  This year I didn't think it was going to happen, but it did.

I don't often have family here for Thanksgiving, but this year seemed to be the time. We scheduled the meal for Sunday, and decided to take in one of the art studio tours on Saturday.  There were three available to choose from.  One was in the Westport area, one in the Almonte area, and the third in the Perth area.  We decided to do the Perth Autumn Studio Tour as it was the only one of these we had not done before.  It took us up highway 7 as far as Maberly, and then down some back roads.  That's when the colour started to get better, and the terrain more interesting too. Some of those roads had major hills and curves.  Hubby commented that he thought the snowplow driver would have fun back there!

While most of the studio tours we go on take us to the artist's homes, this one took us, more often than not, to their barns. There were often four or five artists displaying their work at each stop, which mean there was not as many stops. That also likely meant less running around in the back country.  There was quite an assortment of different kinds of art, as well as the usual painters.  Dunn Sohn works with wood, and creates not only interesting shaped cutting boards, but also turned and sculpted pieces as well. My hubby was quite taken with his rocking chairs. They certainly had some nice lines.  Scott Dobson created fascinating Garden Elements out of anything from old fence posts to shutters, or a combination of the two.  John  Schweighardt is a stone carver.  He not only creates stone statues for outdoors, but also the most beautiful bowls and sinks you are going to find anywhere.  There were a number of potters, print makers and woodworkers, a weaver, a jeweler and a canoe maker as well as the usual painters.  Of the painters, I was especially taken with Wayne Williams, who not only uses both watercolour and acrylics, but also incorporates a bit of collage here and there, just to make things interesting. I intend to incorporate some of his methods into some of my future artistic attempts.  I already have a subject in mind to try it on.

Of course, while out hunting down art on back roads, we had also loaded some geocaches onto our GPS to find along the way.  I was sure that one in particular was going to be right at one of studios on the list, but when we got there, it was still .2 miles down the road.  Apparently a place known as Fieldworks was discovered by some other geocacher during a previous studio tour, and he decided it would be a great place to hide a cache.  When we got to the studio where I thought it was going to be, we were talking to one of the artists, who asked us if we had been to Fieldworks yet. When I told her we were planning to go there, as we were geocaching, she said the guy who had placed that cache had just gone out the door. It was too bad we missed him by such a short period of time.  What we did spot while talking to Susie Osler though, was a strange old stove.  I stooped to take a picture of it, and she said she thinks I'm the first woman ever to do that.  I mentioned that I like to blog my adventures and show unusual things found along the way.  If you have ever seen another one like this stove, do tell me about it.

So, off we went to Fieldworks, not really knowing what it was, but really just looking for the cache.  Well, hey, this is when I actually got to do my annual walk in the woods after all.  At this site, which is both a large field and some woodland, artists come and erect "artistic installations", for lack of any other way of describing them.  There are weird and wonderful things scattered throughout the site.  Just go for a walk and see what you can find.  Not all of it will make sense, but there are some very inventive minds at work here.  The displays are changed or added to seasonally, so there will always be something new to discover, and I'm sure we will find the time to go back and explore the site again and again.

While we saw lots of art created by people, Mother Nature had definitely been out with her own paint brush as well. That's what always makes Thanksgiving weekend special to me.