Meet Culture Rebels

ladies who know how to bring the party!

I love it when I meet women who are fun, vibrant, and bringing life to those around them!  These particular gals I’m featuring on the blog today really know how to bring the party!


I had the honor of meeting Dawn and Marg of Birthday Buddies through the show, “Something To Say”.   Together, Dawn and Marg  provide Birthday giftpacks to children of all ages living in Second Stage Housing for abused women.


Ok, seriously.  How cool is that, right?  Someone thought about kids coming out of abusive situations and realized that they wouldn’t get to celebrate birthdays like they used to.  An average, every day mom like me took notice and action.  Love it.


Dawn got involved with Birthday Buddies after hearing about her friend Marg’s involvement with the giftpacks.  She has always been passionate about issues relating to women and children.  Having been blessed with a loving family and a comfortable lifestyle, it just seemed right to her to give back in some way.  “It feels great to be able to brighten someone else’s day just a little”, says Dawn.  Who says moms connected in friendship can’t do a world of good if they look around!


Ok, so the question every mom wants to know is; “How do you balance family, life, extra curricular activities and volunteering for the community?”   Here’s what Dawn has to say about that:

“Balancing my Birthday Buddies responsibilities with the rest of my life is fairly easy as long as I plan my time well.  I work 3/5 time in a specialist’s office and have 3 sons who are 19, 17 & 16.  Our boys are quite independent and are no longer involved in any minor sports or school sports.  There would have been several years when I couldn’t have made such a volunteer commitment, as we were always going in 2 or 3 different directions to one activity or another!  But those days are over for us and I find it’s really nice to have another focus besides family, house and work.  I would recommend volunteering to anyone who has some time to spare.  You get back what you give; it’s just so rewarding!  The important thing is to find something that’s meaningful for you so that you’ll stick with your commitment.  There is no shortage of opportunities where a person can make an impact; whether it’s in your own community or at a large non-profit, like the Food Bank.  Do the research and then dive in!”


Birthday Buddies is run wholly by volunteers.  Dawn continues, “We plan on providing this service to these deserving children as long as we can continue to raise enough funds to do so.  The volunteers in Winnipeg, Brandon and Calgary are responsible for raising the funds necessary for the costs of deliveries in their city.   Goals for the future relating to Birthday Buddies would include getting more creative with our fund raising and pursuing more corporate donations”.


Ladies (and the gentlemen who also read the blog), if there has ever been a time when the world needs someone like you, it’s now.  The need is great and you’re pretty cool.  I mean, you’ve got something snazzy inside of you that is an ANSWER to someone’s problem.


My question is: Do you see it, like our new friend Dawn did?


And even further: Do you dare dive in to see what could happen?


For heaven’s sake, do it 😉


  Dawn receiving the Sonshine Centre award

Introducing one brave woman!

In the next few weeks, I want to feature moms and women who are really stepping out of their safe worlds and choosing to do some crazy things despite their fear. Nicole Unice is one such as this!   She has just written a book called; “She’s Got Issues”.  Sounds like a must-read for me!  

She will be be on the Drew Marshall show this Saturday:…they if you would like to listen in!

Here she is as a guest today on the blog talking about:  being real about how scared I am


I am scared more often than I like to admit, and I am scared to change.


I used to say I loved change and lived for it, but that was only half true.  I love when change is in motion, but I hate living between the dream and the reality. I hate that change is tinged with sadness because it means leaving something behind. And anytime change comes and I turn from one thing to another, fear enters. Fear says “you might be terrible at this.” Fear says “don’t even try.”


Fear says ignore your dreams and yearnings for the bigger life, and stay safe and comfortable right where you are. Fear tries to make the unknown much worse than the present. Fear says “you think this is hard now, but doing X will be so much worse.” Fear loves the what if.


Fear has our body on its side. Fear can make our hearts race and our palms sweat and lays a blanket of dread over our shoulders. Fear twists our stomachs and tells us to hurry up and hide. Fear loves escape and fear loves paralysis.


When we lose ourselves in fear, we don’t allow the winds of change to blow in and through us. We close ourselves off and those winds begin to swirl around and around in our own souls, creating a funnel cloud of worry. We begin to believe that life moves from one pain to the next, that dreams do not come true.


Fear wants us to believe change is an option, but change always is.


As my faith has grown, God has invited me to dream bigger and to obey quicker. But, surprise! Even as I take steps of obedience, even as I see God answer prayer, I still get scared. My fear is growing right alongside my faith. But I’m also learning that God doesn’t leave me alone in my fear–it’s me who blocks Him out. It’s me who chooses the lonely, swirling funnelcloud of fear.


Jesus never leaves me alone in my fear. Jesus teaches me what it looks like to walk in faith and obedience. Even when I face pain, I face it with him. And when I walk forward in faith, I do not go alone.



If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins and leave all iniquity behind you…You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery. It will all be gone like water under the bridge…You will have courage because you will have hope. Job 11:13-18


Something Else….

“pray against the fear/pray against the reasons not to try”

David Wilcox, Show the Way


Nicole Unice is a woman who loves a great story, honest conversation and a really good pair of heels.  She has so many issues that she’s written a book about them called “She’s Got Issues.” Come join the conversation at and find her on twitter @nicoleunice.

I met someone who’s even crazier than me!

In my research of poverty in our nation, I have been called “crazy”.  Crazy?  Really?  For caring?   For wanting to find out the truth? Interesting…  Well if you think I’m crazy, wait till you hear about the lengths this man is going to to bring awareness to poverty.I heard about a man who started “that poverty project” where he would live like one in poverty for a total of 9 months.  You’ve got to read what  this man has done!


Sean Krausert has always had a passion for social justice.   “I wanted to take it to the next level”, he mentioned to me over the phone.  His passion isn’t necessarily fundraising for charity, but more to have a  part in changing the way people think. “Behaviors don’t change until we change the way we think”, says Krausert.  He wanted to do something attention-grabbing enough to get people asking: “What do I think about this?”  His desire through his project is to create better awareness about poverty, breaking down stereotypes.  Sean explains further, “We don’t live in a society of scarcity.  We need to be thinking differently.  Everyone’s basic needs CAN be met, internationally and locally.  The cost of poverty in Alberta costs more to service poverty than it would cost to eliminate it.  If we spend better, it won’t cost us anything.”


Ready to hear what he did to raise this kind of awareness?  Here it is:


Each experience he went through was for a total of three months:

Month 1:  live three months in a sparse tent in the backyard: no shaving, no hair cuts, no shower, only using two sets of clothing, no money, no transport, eating like those would eat in a shelter.


Month 2: go through the struggles the working poor endure for three months: have some money but not enough to meet all needs.  Live like rent and utilities were paid for but average only $7.50 a day to cover transportation, food, clothing..


Month 3 (the month he is presently on): living on world program rations like someone would in a refugee camp for three months.  His diet for these three months consist only of; rice, beans, chickpeas, sugar, cornmeal, salt, spices.  He told me how much he is missing meat!  (he’s lost 20 pounds in only 4 weeks)


While he’s been doing this project, he is communicating all of the insights he is gleaning via twitter, facebook, and blogging.  The exposure he has received has gone worldwide and has stayed generally positive.  His desire to give those living in poverty dignity and a voice is starting to be heard.


Sean states that he is not trying to replicate these experiences, as there is no way one can when its finite.  But what he IS doing, is walking part of the way and sharing the journey in hopes to bring awareness the problems many living in poverty around us face.  This project has not gone without many sacrifices from him, but also from his wife and two teenage children age twelve and seventeen.  For the past seven months, he has been juggling being a dad who is present and continuing the project.  As challenging as it has been, his family has been more than supportive and has been learning along with him.


Why is he doing this?  Sean answers, “It’s about being human, about compassion, about ‘do unto others’.  It’s not about wanting handouts.  It’s time we know what poverty looks and feels like”.


I would like to challenge you to lay aside your stereotypes of poverty and research what poverty looks like in your community and city.  You’d be surprised who is effected and some deal with it in ways you would never guess.


Be educated about poverty.  Follow “that poverty guy” on his blog and read about his journey that reflects 1 out of every 11 people in Alberta who live in povertyIt’s time to make poverty personal, but that takes some educating on our parts.  Are you willing?

Story of a women who fled domestic violence and found hope

I had the honour of visiting one of our women’s shelter here in Calgary.   With their permission I have posted a remarkable story of a young woman who found hope at the Sonshine Centre.


Cindy’s Story – written by a Sonshine resident who hopes to pursue a career in writing

I am at ease leaving my daughter in the good care of trained child care workers when I go to counselling, my support group, career workshops and legal appointments in the  community.  My little girl can meet other children and is cared for by kind, gentle women.


I’m learning that a shelter isn’t a place where a person can just keep warm and soak in depression.  The women who stay in these places are people who don’t want to give up on themselves and their children. They come to build emotional stability so they can create the new life they deserve.  I now see a shelter as a word to describe a starting point.


When I was a little girl, my mom left home and didn’t come back.  My younger sister and I had to live with our father who physically and emotionally abused me for 12 years. Even when I was pregnant, it didn’t stop.


Soon after arriving in Calgary, I gave birth to an angelic baby girl, and began to experience post-partum depression. The doctors told me that I felt depressed because my hormones were trying to return to normal, but my boyfriend didn’t  understand and became verbally abusive and controlling.  He arranged for me to visit my sister in another city and told me he would take care of our baby.  I didn’t want to go, but I thought he was trying to help me get better and that  he knew what was bests for me.  I considered him the only person in my life who really knew me, so I took his advance and wen to visit my sister for a weekend.


I returned on the Greyhound bus expecting to be greeted by my boyfriend and our daughter, but they weren’t there.  I used the bus station pay phone to repeatedly call him, but he never answered the phone.  I was frantic! After several lonely hours in the bus station, he answered my call.  He was cold and  uncaring as he told me I couldn’t come home and that he would take custody of our daughter.


I had only a suitcase, a few dresses, two pairs of high heels and some make-up.  I had no money, no home, no family, no friends and most of all; I didn’t have my baby girl.  The man who I thought loved me – my best friend – left me on the streets with nothing and I found myself sleeping in an emergency shelter that night.  To add insult to injury, my boyfriend ridiculed me for having nothing and having to stay in a shelter.


The emergency shelter referred me to Sonshine Centre.  I was told that Sonshine was a safe place where I would meet other mothers with similar stories to mind. They told me Sonshine would give me the support I needed  to grow strong.  Most importantly, with the security of a one-year residential program I would be able to have custody of my daughter.


My daughter and I now live at Sonshine Centre. Here I receive emotional support from the staff and feel respected and comfortable with all the other mothers.  I love having my counsellor right in the building.  In the Life Skills Group I learned about boundaries.  I didn’t even know what they were and Sonshine introduced them to me.

At Sonshine, I see proof that people care about each other.  It is a truth that affects our little family the most.  It amazes me that Calgarians are donating to single mothers and children to survive.  I wish I could say thank you  to everyone who keeps us from freezing in the winter, starving and getting sick.  We are staying healthy and keeping our strength because they are people who are giving a helping hand in any way they can.  I am going to be ready to start a career and provide a home for my daughter at the end of this year because I am surrounded by the hope I need to work towards our happily ever after…


Something To Say is proud to have the Sonshine Centre involved in our show debuting April 4-7 at the Vertigo in Calgary.

Generation Generous: find out what’s amazing about this group of young adults

We often picture young adults to be consumed with shopping, movies, and meals out.  While this can be true, I happen to have some of the best young adults dancing with me for our up and coming show, “Something To Say” April 4-7 at the Vertigo Theatre in Calgary.  Let me tell you why they go against the grain of most young adults;


  • three separate dancers gave me $1000 each to rent the theatre.  Their generosity amazed me and touched my heart, as I know it came from a place of sincerity and sacrifice.   While most dancers beg for government grants, these dancers put their money where their passion is and decided to invest in something for a greater good.


  • one young adult gave up his whole day to come and film for a video trailer he is putting together for us just out of the kindness of his heart.  He does amazing videography and photography!   What a blessing for someone to donate time and talent to the show, but more, to the cause the show is presenting.  (you can see more of Chris Matteo’s work at )


– a local young adult artist is not only donating her work to be displayed for the show, but creating new works of art for the stage/foyer experience. (You should check out her work at


– young hip hop professionals in our city such as Oliver Reyes, Corinne Vessey, Sabrina Naz, Tony Tran, Nicole Pemberton, Jason Galeos, and Gomo Cabarroguis have gone over and above the call of duty to lead rehearsals, making sure the dances are looking top notch.


  • each dancer paid to dance in the show to cover expenses as a community, when many would want to dance for free.


And their generosity goes beyond monetary funds.  Each of them have sacrificed time, energy, work, school to make this show happen by arranging on their own extra rehearsals, practicing hard and giving up a day to film our trailer.  When I think of these young adults, I can’t help but swell with pride.


It really shows me what can happen when a small community of people unite for a cause and choose to give their heart, soul, and yes, even hard earned money.


A little generosity goes a long way when everyone contributes.   How can we encourage  this among the community of people who surround us and what would be the result?!


Maybe we need to start giving young people something worth believing in?  Perhaps their hearts yearn for something more meaningful and they’re just waiting for us to provide them with an opportunity?


Ditch the Desperate Housewife… its time to be a Role Mother

To all the moms who want to rebel against the Desperate Housewife role….

To all the moms who are tired of seeing entitlement issues arise in their kids…

To all the moms who want to do something to make a difference but feel they can’t measure up to a superwoman standard….


I had the honor of meeting Renee Quinn (Retail Property Manager, Market Mall, Calgary) just the other day about an exciting initiative she leads called, “Role Mothers” which is a program designed to encourage women just like you – busy, active moms, who wish to give back to the communities.  They want to teach their children the importance of giving back.


There are moms out there who yearn for more than the next item on the busy schedule; who want so desperately to feel they have something significant to offer and want their family to experience that very same significance.  They want their children to see past the consumer-mania and experience something richer.


Well mothers who echo this passion, it’s time to be a Role Mother 🙂   Role Mothers restores back to us what we are meant to be: role models; women who are beautiful and strong, leading the way for their children to become members of a community that gives, loves and shares.


On their facebook page and website, they list a variety of organizations who give family-friendly volunteering opportunities.   For me, this was an answer I had been looking for.  I talk to so many moms who want to do something for the community, but don’t know where to start!  Well mommies, here’s your answer!  And what a better way to volunteer than with your kids!


Right now if you sign up on their facebook page before March 31, you have the opportunity to win a $250 gift card for Market Mall and another $250 for the charity of your choice! (


I like what they write on their facebook page:  “Being a Role Mother is as simple as identifying an opportunity, giving back to our community and sharing your story. Whether it’s a small gesture or a massive undertaking, your ideas may inspire other mothers to become Role Mothers.”


Too many moms live under a massive blanket of guilt (besides the normal mommy-guilt at home).  Somewhere we’ve thought if we’re not saving the world, we’re not doing enough.  I like what Role Mothers says about “identifying an opportunity”.  That opportunity, large or small, is significant.   Ditch the “superwoman theory” that’s hindering you from stepping out to do anything and engage in the simple.  Role Mothers can hook you up with that opportunity.


If you’re an organization in Calgary who have family friendly opportunities, then you need to meet the Role Mothers team! They’re looking for YOU!


For those living outside the Calgary area, I hope a story like this can inspire an idea of what can be done in your community!


We all have a contribution! What’s yours?….


(Role Mothers website:


How can my non-profit group help promote Role Mothers?


We greatly appreciate any support you can provide for this initiative so we can grow our community! Here’s how your group or organization can get involved:


  1. “Like” our Role Mothers Facebook page.
  2. “Share” our Facebook page on your Facebook wall.
  3. Link to our Role Mothers page from Twitter.
  4. Include a story about Role Mothers in your next printed or online newsletter.
  5. Include a post and link for Role Mothers on your website or news feed.
  6. Contact us for a collateral package (11 x 17 posters and 4 x 6 postcards) to put up at your organization or distribute to your current volunteers. We are currently working on a downloadable poster version available on our Facebook page soon.
  7. Event participation – if your group is participating in a trade show or community event and it would be a good place for Role Mothers to generate some awareness let us know.



Who can I contact for more information or materials?


Role Mothers in an initiative empowered by Market Mall.


For general questions and materials, please contact:

Renee Quinn



For media-related inquiries, please contact:

Sarah Geddes


how do you create something beautiful in our world? It’s simple, really. Read and find out

I have a friend who makes a living bringing the beauty out in people, and creating memories of legacy that will last a lifetime for their family.


Wow! You could say that’s quite the job!


“What IS this fascinating work she does?”, you ask?  Before I tell you what she does, let  me tell you why what she does is important.


We are all called to create and cultivate beauty.  We all have gifts that have been deposited deep in our souls for a greater good and purpose…. beyond what we can imagine.


The problem, however, is that we often don’t see our gifting as “good enough” or sufficient to contribute to creating beauty in our world.  It’s such a shame, really, that some don’t see simple things such as home baking delivered to someone shut in, or a someone gifted in math tutoring a struggling up and coming artist (like myself) get through grade 12 math….


Significant are the small acts of love that grace our earth.  One of those significant acts are what my friend, Kristy-Anne brings with her photography.  Memories are beautiful treasures that families will seek to grab if running out of the house from a fire – that’s how valuable they are!


How do you create beauty?  By realizing you have beauty to give.  Stop downplaying your contribution.


Kristy-Anne is a creator of art, memory and beauty through something as simple as taking pictures.   Check out her blog and see this beauty flash before your eyes.


Like Kristy-Anne, you’ve been given a gift. What is it?   Have you downplayed its importance to those around you?   Maybe its time to see it for what it is…. a gift to those around you.


It’s your time to create beauty.


A young adult girl lives on the street for a week just to experience it. Here’s what she found

I had the honour of meeting Janelle just a few weeks ago at the Mustard Seed where she works.  I am always amazed with passionate  young adults like her.  I asked if I could share her story with you.  She speaks to the church, those who say to follow Christ and our response to those living on the streets.  We need a new heart towards broken people.  I heard a sermon on Sunday that said; “If you want to know where Jesus IS, look at where He was.   You’ll find Him among the poor”.   Here is Janelle’s story:



Life on the Streets….

About a month ago, myself along with 3 of my co-workers spent a week on the streets. We stayed in 6 different shelters in Vancouver , Seattle and Spokane. Why? A couple reasons I guess. I wanted to get ideas of how other shelters operate and to see how other cities deal with their issues of homelessness. I could have simply done a couple tours, but I specifically wanted to experience the shelter system as a homeless person. You have no idea how many times I have heard a guest tell me, “you just don’t know what it’s like”. And They’re absolutely right. I can spend 40 hours a week at a shelter, but I get to leave after every shift and head back to comfort. Even though I’ll never be able to fully understand many aspects of the homeless life, I wanted to get a small glimpse into what it feels like to walk in the shoes of someone experiencing homelessness.


I took a lot from this experience. When someone asks me about it, I have a hard time giving any kind of concise response. Probably the most profound thing I gained from this experience had to do with gaining a fuller understanding of the love of God. Here’s some of what stood out:


When we were in Seattle we wandered into a men’s shelter looking for information on different resources available in the city. Although we couldn’t stay there, they told us that their meals were open to the public. The idea of getting a free meal was highly appealing to us, especially because soup kitchens were seemingly scarce in Seattle. The catch to the free meal was that we had to sit through a chapel service before eating dinner. At the time, I was excited at the thought of attending a chapel service-I thought it would be refreshing. Needless to say, I was wrong.


We waited for about an hour in a room packed full of people for the chapel service to begin. When the people running the service finally arrived, they quickly made their way up to the stage and without any kind of opening song or prayer or welcome the preaching began. The woman that preached was of the yelling type. She proceeded to yell at the crowd for 40 minutes about how we needed to change our lives around, otherwise we’d all be heading for hell. As the sermon dragged on, more and more snores arose from the crowd, and I myself grew more irritated with this lady as I was hungry and tired after a long day. As the lady began to conclude her talk, reiterating yet again that we all needed to turn our lives around to avoid the fire of hell, I was excited to finally get to eat-but yet again I was wrong. She concluded and then announced that her friend was going to come and share something with us. Oh dear. This resulted in another 20 minute rant about how nobody knew the time when Jesus would return, so we better smarten up and live every day as if he was coming…otherwise we’d go to hell.


What struck me about this experience is how I felt in response to this chapel service. As a follower of Jesus myself, I should have felt a sense of unity with this lady; I should have felt encouraged by her ministry. Rather, sitting in the crowd of homeless people, being one of the ones she was preaching at, I felt a sense of rebellion towards the Church-like I didn’t belong and like I didn’t even want to belong.


Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time I felt like I didn’t belong to the church. A street evangelist we had run into a couple of days prior to this prayed that all God would break the power of addictions and witchcraft from our lives. I’m sure these people meant well, but the message that come across to me was “you will only be acceptable to God if you repent”. First off, the simple fact of being homeless doesn’t make anyone more or less in need to turn an repent from their sins than the average person. Secondly, last time I checked, God’s acceptance of us isn’t conditional upon repentance.


In stark contrast to the chapel service at the soup kitchen, the next day we went to a church in the suburbs of Seattle. The message was based on the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). The pastor made a comment about how even before the son had a chance to explain himself, “…while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (vs. 20). The pastor pointed out comment that there is no part of the story where the Father asks the son if or how he plans to change. The story is about how God is waiting to embrace us because he loves us just as we are.


As a staff, it is easy to gravitate towards those that desire to change. Seeing people move forward is a really exciting thing and it’s really rewarding to walk alongside these types of people. It is also easy to become frustrated with the people that are complacent and make no effort to change. I see a lot of guests who lack motivation, or who come up with excuses of why they can’t move forward, or who cycle through the system time and time again. Often I am guilty of writing off these types of people. But I think these are the types of people who need to know the transforming power of God’s love the most.


I don’t want any person that I work with to feel like they don’t belong, or couldn’t belong to Jesus. People need to know how deeply they are loved. And I need to love people with the same extravagance that God loves them. I need to let people know that whether they change, or don’t change, God loves them just the same. People need to know that in their brokenness, in their addiction, in their apathy, in their rebellion, in whatever situation they may find themselves in- they are loved. Love gives people value, love brings healing to pain, love moves people to reach out beyond themselves, and love has the power to transform lives.

The Radical Challenge: Being Radical is Hard Stuff!

We’ve been partnering with Natasha Robinson of “A Sista’s Journey” about starting the year off radical.  Here is this week’s post! I dare you to get radical!


After reading David Platt’s book, Radical, a few months ago, we have decided to start the year with a purpose. Individually, we are seeking the Lord about his desire for us to engage in the Radical Experiment which includes:

1. Pray for the entire world;

2. Read through the entire Word;

3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose; (Judy’s Reflections on Not So Radical Giving)

4. Spend your time in another context;

5. Commit your life to a multiplying community (pg 185).


Read the rest here:


What’s going on tomorrow and how you can be involved!

Tomorrow, Brown Baggin’ It for Kids is doing something exciting they are wanting all of us to participate in.


Tanya from Brown  Baggin’ It explains, “We are challenging Calgarians to go a day without food and have a conversation about it onTwitter, Facebook, or over coffee how this experience makes you feel.  How’s your concentration? Mood? Energy level?  Brown Baggin It staff will be participating as well and joining in on the conversation.”


There are 3000 kids in our city that would otherwise go without food, if Brown Baggin’ It did not find a way to feed them healthy lunches.   For ten years,  various Calgary citizens have been volunteering, building community, and have made a commitment to these kids.  Tanya says; “The kids we feed and the people who put their hearts and hands into making lunches is what inspired this idea.”


So what do those wanting to participate do?  Do what you can! Whether is it not eating for a day, skipping a meal, not having that second helping, or missing dessert. Take action and then have conversations about it. Share how you felt, your mood, energy, concentration, or whatever your experience is. Have conversation in your usual places; if it is social media, over coffee, over the phone or over a family dinner.


Brown Baggin’ It is leading this one day initiative to create awareness, to encourage people take action, and to understand what some kids go through every day.  It’s time to recognize again that it’s community and commitment of the people in our great city that make all the difference.


Will you join Brown Baggin’ It and other Culture Rebels out there tomorrow to go without food for tomorrow.  Comment about your experience on the Culture Rebel facebook page or on the blog tomorrow.  Talk to your family and see if you could skip a meal or dessert together and discuss as a family.  Join in the conversation on twitter.


It’s time to make poverty in our city personal.  You in?

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