Pro bono legal program bridges the justice gap for families with sick kids

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This work depicts words overlaid with distinct shapes — the right represents the hospital staff, lawyers and funding, while the left is the family. Of interest is the independence of both shapes — never quite taking over or overlapping, but instead respecting the space and the support needed. Stephanie Seagram, Artist

When your child is in the hospital, the last thing you want to hear is you’ve lost your job because you’ve spent too much time away from work.

Thanks to the medical-legal partnership started by Pro Bono Ontario (PBO) at McMaster Children’s Hospital, low-income families can get much-needed legal support when faced with such difficult circumstances. “These are families who are already doing so much,” says lawyer, Hilary Mack. “This service can take a little stress off their plate.”

Hilary’s title is “triage lawyer”—a nod to the hospital setting and a direct reference to her role as a resource for quick assessment and referral. “Like a doctor would look at a patient, I look at their legal issue and recommend how best to address it.”

Consultations often happen at the child’s bedside but an important part of the program is training clinicians to recognize the signs of legal concerns so they can refer families. The most common concerns Hilary sees relate to family law, immigration, government benefits, employment, education and housing. She refers more complex cases to the program’s partners Ross & McBride and Gowlings, who take the cases pro bono, and the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic.

PBO has established medical-legal partnerships in five children’s hospitals since 2009. The Hamilton program is a pilot supported by the Ruth Hindmarsh Atkinson Award. A grant from HCF’s Edith H. Turner Foundation Fund is expanding Hilary’s time onsite, which is critical to keeping the program top of mind for the clinicians who refer families to the services.

PBO executive director Lynn Burns says the program not only helps overwhelmed families focus on caring for their children, but the experience at Toronto SickKids shows other long-lasting benefits.

“Families may have multiple legal problems that have been unresolved for years,” she says. “In our SickKids evaluation, none of the families had sought legal assistance prior to the social worker suggesting they contact our program—and 89 percent said we improved their financial situation. It’s a good poverty reduction strategy.”

 

Excerpt from 2016 Annual Report


Women influence the philanthropic cityscape

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The main points of inspiration derived from this painting are the nurturing quality of women in philanthropy, the cultural diversity of Hamilton and the red symbol of the Cinquefoil flower which binds them all together. Lester Coloma, Artist

“When women give today, one thing they want to know about is the impact they are having,” says Renate Davidson.

Renate is a long-term, respected volunteer with HCF and many other organizations across Hamilton. As a founding donor to HCF’s Women 4 Change (W4C) initiative, she is struck by how women’s philanthropy “has evolved to something very different from just writing a cheque,” she says.

“A collaborative giving circle like W4C, for example, is an exciting new way to care for our community. It provides a unique opportunity to learn, to give, to work with other women and to see measurable results.”

New research confirms women’s growing influence through individual and family philanthropy, and provides detail on how they prefer to give. Women now want to contribute money as well as time, to connect with others as they give, and to have an ongoing relationship with the causes they support. They value learning about community needs and responses, and they want to see measurable results.

Meeting these expectations drives both Women4Change and HCF’s engagement with individual donors. Since its 2012 launch, W4C has grown to more than 60 women collaborating to improve the lives of Hamilton’s women and girls. At the same time, they are enhancing their own capacity as philanthropists through expert presentations, site visits, and conversations with grant recipients.

W4C builds on HCF’s long history of generous and visionary female donors, notes Sheree Meredith, VP Philanthropic Services.  “Both our first gift and our first bequest came from women,” she says. “The Chaney-Ensign sisters who made post-secondary education possible for hundreds of Hamiltonians are another of dozens of powerful examples of women whose philanthropy continues to have a transformative impact on our city.“

“I would encourage anyone to have a conversation with the foundation about how they can participate in giving to our community in ways that are most meaningful to them,” says Renate.  “This has been a lifelong learning for me, and has sensitized me to our city’s challenges and opportunities. Working through HCF has been incredibly satisfying.”


With every Hamilton Youth Poets performance, comes opportunity

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‘We conquered yesterday’ — from a Hamilton Youth Poets piece — is such an optimistic sentiment, strengthened by the suggestion of struggle. Looking forward and back at once. I aimed to complement this approach with a dynamic painted lettering style. Jamie Lawson, Artist Read the poem that inspired the artwork

The art of spoken word is an ancient tradition that continues today through Hamilton Youth Poets. Created in 2012, “HYP” provides a platform for new young voices to muse on their city through poetry, journalism and hip-hop.

“HYP gives Hamilton’s youth have an opportunity to develop their creative skills and have their voices heard,” says artistic director Nea Reid. “It’s a ‘brave’ and positive space to express ideas, stories, experiences or simply a new concept.”

HYP supports youth who want to engage in the literary arts, develop their voice, and bring it all together at poetry slams ­– competitions at which poets read or recite original work, and which feature a broad range of voices, styles, cultural traditions, and approaches to writing and performance. “Teams come together and talk about their lives, where they’re from, their social situations and the world around them.” says Nea. “They connect with people that they never would have met. And that creates bridges, community and social activism.”

Nea lauds the support HYP has received from the community, especially from Hamilton Community Foundation. “Their support has allowed us to pursue high-calibre year-round programming, to grow and to embrace more young Hamilton poets.” It has also helped HYP’s small but passionate team of volunteers conduct school workshops across Hamilton. They reach out to students to share what happens when you become part of a collective of writers, including developing your literary skills, public speaking abilities, and the leadership qualities needed to take you further in life.

Kenneth Salazar-Cordova says coming out to slams was his best decision ever. “I made it through my first performance nervously,” says Ken, who made it to the HYP team and competed nationally. “I’ve developed certain skills that probably would have taken me a lot longer without HYP. And it has built my self-esteem and self-confidence.”

“It’s such an amazing cultural scene in Hamilton,” says HYP member Lex Leosis, “It’s so family- and community-oriented, and so proud of its collective roots. It’s very inclusive. At HYP, we mentor each other, learn from each other, and age just doesn’t matter.  Whether poets, songwriters or MCs, mastering their craft is what we’re all trying to do, and HYP provides us with the opportunity to do it.”


United Nations Culture of Peace Hamilton Fund

 

Culture of Peace Hamilton is a working group of the United Nations in Canada (Hamilton Branch). It is one of a worldwide cluster of groups and individuals that consider peace-building and non-violence to be important local and international steps to social transformation. Dedicating the Peace Pole at City Hall

For the past sixteen years Culture of Peace Hamilton has focused its efforts on six pathways of action, originally drafted by Nobel Peace Laureates, researched by UNESCO, and proclaimed by the United Nations under Manifesto 2000. They are an invitation to citizens – actions everyone can take to instill a culture of peace in their daily lives.

  • Respect all life
  • Reject violence
  • Share with others
  • Listen to understand
  • Preserve the planet
  • Rediscover solidarity

Globally, seventy-five million people have pledged to follow these pathways to help diverse communities function better through greater cooperation and conflict resolution.

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Culture of Peace Hamilton continues to follow the pathways by reinforcing environmental issues, spiritual values and by working with like-minded organizations. The group meets regularly and hosts peace luncheons twice a year.  Peace poles and a thousand narcissi bulbs have been donated to the Peace Garden at Hamilton City Hall.   These installations and the garden help reinforce ideas of peace in tangible ways.

Peace Garden in Bloom

Your support of the United Nations Culture of Peace Hamilton Fund will provide ongoing support for these important peace initiatives.

Donations can be made by mailing a cheque payable to Hamilton Community Foundation at 120 King Street West, Suite 700 Hamilton ON L8P 4V2

Note: Please indicate ‘Culture of Peace Fund’ on the memo line of your cheque.

To donate online, click the link then follow the instructions:

http://hamiltoncf.akaraisin.com/donate

  1. Select ‘General Donation’ then scroll to click ‘Continue’
  2. Select ‘One time’ or ‘Monthly’ and gift  ‘Amount’
  3. Scroll to ‘Fund allocation’
  4. Click  ‘Community Fund’
  5. Scroll down to click on ‘More funds(click to see additional funds)
  6. Scroll down to ‘United Nations Culture of Peace Hamilton Fund’

All eligible donations receive charitable tax receipts.

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Rotary Forever Fund

Rotary Forever

The Rotary Club of Hamilton carries out a literacy program at north-end schools, where club members provide reading assistance to students throughout the school year.

The Rotary Club of Hamilton carries out a literacy program at north-end schools, where club members provide reading assistance to students throughout the school year.

Hamilton’s first and largest Rotary Club, with almost a century of putting the Rotary motto of “Service above Self” in practice, has created a way for the club’s good work to be supported in perpetuity.

Of the 12 local clubs, the Downtown Rotary Club has become the first to launch an endowment fund with Hamilton Community Foundation. There are two options for making a gift to the Rotary Forever Fund: as an immediate donation from a living donor, or as a bequest identified in a person’s will. All gifts are pooled and invested. The capital is left untouched and only the investment income is disbursed to support Rotary projects and initiatives, as decided by the club’s Board of Directors.

“With the creation of this fund at HCF, we’re giving people a unique opportunity to leave a legacy that supports the work of Rotary,” says Robert Beres, Club President for 2006­-2007.  “In our club alone we have members with decades of service to Rotary; we can now offer them a way to benefit the club’s projects forever.” In addition, the fund is “open”, meaning that Rotarians and non-Rotarians alike can contribute.

The Downtown Rotary Club still undertakes annual fundraising campaigns and events such as its Hallowe’en Haunted House, or Spring Uncorked, a food and wine tasting event. Monies raised from those and other initiatives help to fund literacy programs and other supports aimed at underprivileged youth.

“Our club has given out an average of $72,000 annually in charitable donations over the past five years, and our members provide hands-on service too, such as helping children at north-end schools learn to read and do math,” explains past president Keith McIntyre. “The endowment fund at HCF is a different vehicle for giving – it allows us to take the long view and build something permanent.”

Excerpt from 2006-2007 Annual Report

 

Donate Now


The Lawyers’ Legacy for Children

Lawyer's Legacy

Hamilton’s lawyers have come together as a community to launch a permanent endowment fund to benefit local children. Long known for their individual support of a myriad of causes with their resources and time, Hamilton’s lawyers have chosen to work collectively to build a fund that will have an impact in perpetuity.

“We want this fund to be here to help Hamilton’s children forever,” says Justice Ray Harris, who was the driving force behind efforts to create the fund. “An endowed fund at Hamilton Community Foundation is the perfect way to ensure that.”

The Lawyers’ Legacy for Children is intended to help Hamilton children develop in the spirit of community and generosity that has characterized the contributions of Hamilton’s lawyers. The first grant made was to support autistic children in Hamilton.

The Hamilton Lawyers’ Club agreed to collaborate with HCF to establish the fund and developed the process by which regular grants will be recommended in the future.

The fund’s founding contribution came from the proceeds of the 2006 stage production, ‘Inherit the Wind’, which Justice Harris co-directed with former Theatre Aquarius artistic director Max Reimer. Local lawyers and judges played all the roles, to the delight of Hamilton audiences.

This unique theatre genre – the Lawyers’ Show – originated in Hamilton in 1983 when the Lawyers’ Club produced ‘12 Angry Men’ (also directed by Justice Harris). It has since been widely emulated in support of many worthy causes in communities across Canada and the U.S.

Hamilton’s lawyers and judges have made substantial contributions to augment the fund and are planning another Lawyers’ Show and other fundraising initiatives to build the endowment.

“Thanks to the generosity of Hamilton’s lawyers, this fund will endure for centuries,” says Justice Harris. “It will have a lasting impact that reflects our legal community’s commitment to the community at large and will always be there to help the children.”

Excerpt from 2008-2009 Annual Report

 

A legacy that continues

Since 2008, 12 grants have been awarded from the Lawyers Legacy Fund supporting important initiatives throughout the community.  The fund continues to grow with the fund capital now surpassing $250,000 – truly a legacy that will have impact forever.

 

Donate Now


Women 4 Change

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For all of our latest updates click here to see our winter newsletter.

Check out the most recent research paper that W4C commissioned on challenges and opportunities faced by local girls and women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) area, and watch Shahad Al-Saqqar present her findings in this short video.

If you are interested in learning more about these events or how to become a W4C contributor, please contact Sheree Meredith

What is Women 4 Change?

Women 4 Change was established in 2012 by a group of local women who came together with HCF in a mission to inspire and enable the women of Hamilton to become leaders in philanthropy, while improving the lives of women and girls in our community through collective giving.

The founders of Women 4 Change envisioned an initiative where contributors would work collaboratively to achieve transformational change. They established a field of interest fund at Hamilton Community Foundation, to which each person contributes annually, as the vehicle through which annual grants to local organizations will be made. Throughout the year a number of educational and social opportunities are provided to enable contributors to learn about philanthropy and the issues they care about. They have established guiding principles to ensure the Women 4 Change initiative grows and develops in a meaningful and informed way.

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How will we make a difference?

Women 4 Change’s dual focus on philanthropic leadership among Hamilton’s women, and improving the lives of women and girls in this community, is central to how grants are made and how the contributors are engaged throughout the year. By joining together in these efforts we can create greater impact and work toward our goal of making a difference.

Early research undertaken by Women 4 Change shows that there are women and girls in this community in desperate need of additional supports to thrive. From this research we have included some notable facts below:

  • 16% of people in families in Hamilton whose major income earner was a female lived in low income compared to only 5.1% of persons in households where the major income earner was a male
  • Older women are more than twice as likely to be living in poverty (22%) as older men (10%)
  • Women are underrepresented among Hamilton’s elected officials, at the highest levels of local public sector institutions as well as in the private sector.

Read the full research paper to learn more. The Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton produced the 2010 Women in Poverty report, that may also be of interest along with this report from the Girls Action Foundation. Subsequent studies commissioned by W4C have focused on Women’s Philanthropy and STEM:  Challenges and Opportunities.

Building on this knowledge, early W4C grants have focused on programs that focus on middle school-aged girls, are built on research, have measurable outcomes and aim to:

  • Foster independence and self-confidence
  • Remove barriers to success
  • Promote positive relationships

Read more about the first grant or watch the Girls ONLY video

To date, 7 grants totaling just under $67,000 have been awarded. These have provided the following support:

  • Hamilton East Kiwanis Boys’ and Girls’ Club to support a mix of girls-only programs
  • Queen Victoria School, Girls Only Program andGirls Only Camp and McMaster Trip
  • Liberty for Youth, Bright Choices for Girls Program
  • Joseph Immigrant Women’s Centre, Back to School Moms
  • Fit Active Beautiful (FAB) Foundation, Expansion of Riverdale Site
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Foundation, Girls Only Program

In addition, Women 4 Change hosts a breakfast each fall to celebrate the power and potential of women’s philanthropy.  View this short video

How can I get involved?

Supporters of Women 4 Change are asked to make an annual donation of $1,500 ($500 for contributors 35 and under). Donations are split to provide:

  • $1,000 for granting in the current year
  • $350 to build an endowment fund
  • $150 to cover administration of the giving circle

Grants will be made to organizations whose goals match those of the Women 4 Change fund at Hamilton Community Foundation. There will be an annual program of education and other events that all contributors will be invited to attend. The first will be an educational event addressing topics related to improving the lives of women and girls in Hamilton. The second event will share the stories of the organizations and people who are benefiting from the grants. Additional opportunities for involvement may be presented to contributors from time to time as appropriate.

Here’s what some of our current contributors are saying about Women 4 Change:

“The opportunity to create multiple pathways for giving/engaging that inspire women across educational backgrounds, experiences, ages and cultures to share their gifts in ways that are creative, thoughtful and supported by research”

“I am excited to see young women thrive and improve their lives with the support and interest of other women (of any age)”

“To realize I have the ability to help others … to learn that there are many other women who are devoted to philanthropy.  Together we will make a difference”

 

To learn more please contact Sheree Meredith at Hamilton Community Foundation or call 905-523-5600.


Riverdale Salad Bowl

The Riverdale Salad Bowl is a community solution to provide access to fresh produce and improve food security. We were proud to support the community garden in this great east Hamilton neighbourhood.


Sport hijab – a win for girls

A grant from HCF is helping to put more girls on the playing field by providing sport hijabs to 20 local schools.  For Muslim girls, taking part in athletics can be challenging when wearing a traditional hijab due to the fear that it could fall off, or that the fastening pin could injure a player.  It’s a particular risk in sports like basketball and soccer.  Sport hijabs eliminate these risks with a design that accommodates physical activity. The program, also supported by the Hamilton Muslim Association, will make the hijabs available on loan, just like other sports equipment, helping the girls to enjoy and reap the benefits of more athletic participation both in gym class and on school teams.

 

Excerpt from Legacy newsletter, Fall 2015


The Dundas InfoSpot

New “one-stop” kiosks are bridging the digital divide and making information more accessible to older adults. Responding to a community need, The Dundas InfoSpot for 55+ is a web-based computer application, curating information about programs and services in an age-friendly format. DundasInfoSpot

Led by the Hamilton Council on Aging, and supported by HCF, InfoSpot draws listings from Information Hamilton’s directory of community services. The kiosks use large touch-screen computers to ensure content readability, and wheelchair/scooter accessibility.  Users can also print their search results in an age-friendly font size.  The kiosks are installed at the Dundas Public Library and the Dundas Lions Memorial Community Centre where volunteers of the Dundas Active 55+ Steering Committee can assist InfoSpot users. In addition, InfoSpot is also accessible online from any computer.

 

Excerpt from Legacy newsletter, Fall 2015