Our Community: Firm pitches in for Woodwynn Farms

An event-rental business has partnered with a therapeutic community to introduce altruism into its business model, producing a new kind of accountable commerce.

The Wise Co. has announced it will offer a collection of rental furniture designed and produced by the therapeutic community at Woodwynn Farms.

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“I had often worked with people who were incredibly generous, and wanted to do good for their communities,” said Niecia Dunn, CEO and founder. “But due to the hastiness of [the] Western lifestyle, [they] lacked the network or ability to source the right target for the resources they had to offer.”

People can now support the farm through renting reasonably priced furniture produced by the farm’s residents.

Half of all rental costs — for the lifetime of the products — will return to the 193-acre farm to fund the Believe in People program established by social pioneer Richard Leblanc.

The goal of the program is to raise $30,000 — what it costs to sponsor a participant to live at the farm for a year.

The unveiling of the first piece of furniture from the new rental partnership line will take place at a four-course Fall Harvest Dinner, hosted by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Sept. 7 at Woodwynn Farms, 7789 West Saanich Rd.

For more information, go to woodwynnfarms.org.

 

Cancer victim meets lifesaving blood donor

Donating blood saves lives. Last week, a Vancouver Island woman got to celebrate her 55th birthday — and to meet the person whose blood donation made it possible.

Ann Radelet was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2003 and underwent three years of chemotherapy. By 2006, the cancer had returned and had transformed into a secondary cancer. The only hope left for her was a bone-marrow transplant.

Her doctor suggested they try a stem-cell transplant instead of a marrow transplant.

But they needed a donor.

The doctors look at antigens in the blood, which they rate out of 10. They tested Radelet’s two siblings, but found only a five-out-of-10 match, which was not good enough. So they went further afield, looking for donors in a worldwide registry.

Just as she was undergoing her seventh round of chemotherapy, Radelet got the news that they found a nine-out-of-10 match, which translates into a 70 per cent success rate.

She received the donated stem cells in February 2007.

She has been cancer-free since then.

Donors are protected by privacy regulations. Radelet was told she would have to wait two years before she could inquire about the donor — and only if the donor would allow it.

She eventually found out the donor was a woman named Nicole from Duisburg, Germany. The two corresponded and have talked frequently since then.

When Nicole and Radelet spoke for the first time, they said: “We are blood sisters,” and that name has stuck for the pair.

In August, Nicole and her sister (an eight-out-of-10 match) visited Vancouver Island for their first meeting in person.

“We are all so very excited. I can’t ever thank her enough, but I will honour her any way I can,” said Radelet. “I am so grateful for the team at Vancouver General Hospital and the Canadian Blood Services. They save so many lives in more ways than one.

“I am forever eternally grateful to Nicki; she donated blood and stem cells and saved my life. Thank you to all the blood donors out there. I needed lots of it during all my chemotherapy.

“My family is still whole. My mother still has her daughter, my brothers still have their sister, my children still have their mom, my husband still has his wife, and now I am a grandma to three adorable babies. I am the most fortunate woman in the world.”

Canadian Blood Services maintains the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. It is responsible for finding and matching volunteer donors to patients who require stem-cell transplants.

For more information on the network, what it entails and how it saves lives, go to blood.ca.

 

Need2 runs suicide-prevention programs

Need2 Suicide Prevention and Education Support is hosting a public gathering to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, Sunday, Sept. 10 in Centennial Square.

This marks the 15th year of the event. The gathering aims to bring awareness to the efforts to prevent deaths by suicide and the devastating effects of suicide.

The gathering is an open forum where everyone can share. Educational information will be available, along with Need2 support staff.

Suicide is difficult to talk about. It is emotionally charged and carries a great deal of associated shame and stigma.

When persons who are feeling suicidal try to talk about their feelings of desperation, hopelessness and alienation, there is often no one who can really hear their pain.

Need2 provides assistance (urgent or general), runs suicide-prevention programs, puts on workshops and provides information.

The event runs 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 10 in Centennial Square. For more information, go to need2.ca.

 

Cycle tour raises funds for hospice

Kane Mercer has just completed a cycle tour across Canada in memory of his father and to raise awareness and funds for Victoria Hospice and palliative care.

“Like life, long journeys can be challenging and full of unexpected difficulties,” said Mercer. “But through a positive attitude, support from friendly people and a consistent effort, these hurdles can be overcome.”

In honour of the fifth year since his passing, Mercer is keeping the memory of his father alive with this epic cycling tour across Canada called Ride for Rand.

“I decided to make this ride in support of Victoria Hospice in acknowledgment of the support they gave my father and my family,” he said. “Hospice is a chronically underfunded and neglected area, which I feel deserves attention.”

Donations fund almost half of Victoria Hospice’s annual operating costs. Funds enable it to provide the best possible end-of-life care. For more information, or to donate, go to victoriahospice.org.

 

Fall activities kick off at activity centre

The Cook Street Village Activity Centre has just published its Fall Program Guide, listing the many fun and interesting events for the entire family.

Cribbage Tournament — Everyone is welcome to this social tournament. It costs $5 to join. It runs 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 13.

Welcome Back to Fall — New and seasoned friends are invited to learn about new programs, events and activities. Enjoy a Syrian meal, and watch a play about Emily Carr at this family-friendly event.

Tickets are $12 (or $10 for members) and $6 for children. The event runs 12:20 to 2:30 p.m., Sept. 14 Please purchase tickets by Sept. 8.

International Day of Older Persons — Celebrate the United Nations International Day of Older Persons with free activities. This event is free to attend. It runs 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 30.

Other activities taking place at the centre include yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, learning different languages, workshops, music, art, listening to guest speakers, learning about computers and seasonal events.

Membership includes discounted rates for courses and daily drop-in programs.

Volunteers are always welcome.

All events take place at the Cook Street Village Activity Centre, 380 Cook St.

For more information, go to cookstreetvillageactivitycentre.com.

 

Seniors program seeks volunteers

Seniors Serving Seniors is recruiting volunteers for its Return to Health Program, as well as candidates for its October training session.

Training for volunteers, funded by the United Way of Greater Victoria, consists of a comprehensive course on seniors’ concerns and services.

Graduates also attend monthly, two-hour support meetings throughout the year.

Return to Health volunteers provide companionship and social support for frail seniors returning home after a hospital stay.

Volunteers visit clients and offer assistance to help them connect to services and regain self-confidence. The goal of the program is to assist clients in finding practical services they might need following hospitalization, re-socializing and making new friends at seniors’ social programs in the area.

Training includes: Effective communication skills, nutrition, the effects of disease on normal aging, navigating the health-care system, and how to get access to community programs.

Training for new volunteers takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. every Thursday over five weeks beginning on Oct. 19.

Please call the Return to Health education co-ordinator, Donna Ross, at 250-655-1327 to register for the information session on Oct. 12.

For more information, go to seniorsservingseniors.bc.ca.

 

Exhibition shows contemporary artists

Deconstructing Comfort, an interdisciplinary arts exhibition presenting the work of seven contemporary Indigenous artists and artists of colour, opens Friday at Open Space.

Artists include Léuli Eshraghi, Jamelie Hassan, Syrus Marcus Ware, Lisa Myers, Nadia Myre, Haruko Okano and Philip Kevin Paul.

The exhibition co-curators, Michelle Jacques, Doug Jarvis and France Trépanier, examine: Decolonization and Indigenization; issues raised by Black Lives Matter; calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Islamophobia; unsettling settlers; and Canada 150 celebrations.

Deconstructing Comfort runs to Oct. 14. A public reception will take place on Sept. 25 as part of the public program for the Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires gathering.

This three-year initiative seeks to place Indigenous art practices at the centre of the Canadian art system. It also asserts that art practices by people of colour, which have roots around the world, play a critical role in any discussion that imagines Canada’s future.

The initiative includes a major multidisciplinary, trilingual — Lekwungen, French and English — gathering at the Songhees Wellness Centre, on Lekwungen territories.

For more information, go to primary-colours.ca.

 

Japanese-Canadians remember internment

More than a dozen survivors of Japanese-Canadian internment during the Second World War will speak of their experiences at a luncheon commemorating the 75th anniversary of the saga, Sept. 10.

The Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society is hosting the event, which tells the tragedy of the relocation and internment of Japanese-Canadians during the conflict.

“Because it’s so hard to imagine this happening today, it’s critical that all Canadians — whether they have Japanese heritage or not — remember what happened with the internments during the Second World War,” said Tsugio Kurushima, president of the society. “We are fortunate to still have first-hand witnesses who can share their stories with the generations who followed them.”

From 1942 until 1949 (four years after the end of the war), Japanese-Canadians living in coastal British Columbia were detained by the government. They were relocated to camps and farms in the Interior and in the rest of Canada, restricted in their movement and stripped of their businesses and homes.

To add insult to injury, the sale of their personal property was used to fund the internments.

“People who never committed a crime were treated like criminals simply because of their heritage,” said Kurushima. “It’s a wrong the Canadian government apologized for in 1988, along with the launch of a redress program.”

There will also be a presentation by Jordan Stanger-Ross, director of the Landscapes of Injustice project, housed at the University of Victoria.

He will give an update on the project, which explores the forced dispossession of Japanese-Canadians.

The event includes a buffet lunch with two hot entrées, including a vegetarian lasagna option.

Tickets are $15 adults, $7.50 for children 5 to 12. The event runs 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Ambrosia Event Centre, 638 Fisgard St.

Tickets available from Patti Ayukawa, Real English Victoria, #301 — 1111 Blanshard St. or 250-858-8445. For more information, go to vncs.ca.

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