Thursday, October 4, 2012

Invoke your right to complain and VOTE

From my friend Jamie Hayes. Suck it UP PEOPLE! VOTE!

Anyone who knows me personally knows how passionately I feel about voting. It was the way I was raised; as long as I can remember my mom took me along to the polling station where she cast her ballot. Sometimes her party won, sometimes they lost but she always instilled in me the fact that change cannot come without action. Complaints rarely made things happen.
This county is filled with armchair political warriors who sit in the privacy of their own homes, shouting at politicians on TV, rarely getting out of that chair to make a difference, contribute one hour here or there to volunteer, not even getting out to say their piece and utilize that very important democratic right to VOTE.
Now here’s the kicker: many of my good friends and many of my family members don’t vote. People whom I love, adore and respect. Working, educated members of society who pay taxes, utilize public services, receive cheques and rebates from the government, do not exercise their very simple right to cast a ballot and have their say. This baffles me! Their excuses? Their parents didn’t vote, so they don’t. They don’t have the time. They don’t know who to vote for. The lines at the polling station are too long. One vote won’t make a difference. I don’t like any of the candidates. I won’t be in town on voting day. I have no way of getting to the polling station.
These excuses, my friends are complete and utter bullshit and I don’t accept any of them. Here is the honest truth: 61.4 percent of registered electors voted in the last federal election. In my town, Mission, last municipal election 7363 people cast a ballot for mayor-out of a population of approximately 35000. I was so angry and disgusted by this fact. How can people be so lazy? Why aren’t they voting? I asked around and was given the excuses above.
With the next provincial election coming up in May of 2013, and the American election looming, I’d like to tackle these excuses and perhaps try to convince non-voters to make the effort and exercise their right.
My parents didn’t vote This is unfortunate, however, you aren’t your parents and that is even more reason to get out and vote. Bring your kids to the polling station and instill the necessity to vote at a young age.
I don’t have the time I don’t know a single person who has an excess of time on their hands; I certainly don’t. I am a mother of pre-school age twin boys who take up 90% of my time. I have a husband whom I spend as much time with as I can. I’m small business owner of which I am CEO, CFO, manager, secretary, marketing manager and social media coordination. I sit on the board of 2 organizations. I volunteer in my community. I still find the time to read up on candidates and exercise my duty to vote during the 12 hours the polling stations are open on election day.
I don’t know who to vote for Lucky for you, leading up to election time, the candidates are featured in every newspaper, on every tv and radio station, have their own websites, and participates in public debates. Set aside ONE HOUR of your time and research the candidates so you can make an informed decision.
The lines at the polling station are too long I cannot argue with this. However, everyday people stand in long lines at Starbucks, so I’m sure people can do the same thing at the polling station.
One vote won’t make a difference Oh really? Think back to the US election in 2000 in which less than 600 votes in Florida sent George W. Bush to the White House. That’s 600 votes in a country with a population of over 300 million people, or .000002% of the American population.
I don’t like any of the candidates There have been past elections where I haven’t liked any of the candidates, but I don’t hate them equally. I simply vote for the one I dislike the least.
I won’t be in town voting day The solution in 2 words? Advance voting. There are always several advance voting dates to choose from to ensure you are able to cast your ballot.
I have no way to get to the polling station Walk. Take the bus. Ask for a ride. Or have a volunteer come from the polling station to pick you up. Many people who feel as passionate about voting as I do will actually pick you up and take you there and back.
Voting isn’t just your right, it’s your duty. There are people dying worldwide every single day, simply for the right to a democratic society, something millions of Canadians throw away like a used Tim’s cup every single election.
And if none of this is enough to get you moving, consider this: in 2009 the Taliban cut off the fingers of 2 Afghani woman for voting in the national election, due to the telltale ink stains left from using their fingerprint to vote. These woman knew good and well what would happen if they voted, but still went ahead and voted anyway, such is their belief that their choices must be heard.
Sacrifice one hour of your time to learn about the candidates and another half hour to place your vote.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

We are CHANGING lives ONE donation at a time!

My dearest Mattias...about age 1. Not a chubby boy at like Ben or Sam. He is more like Joe and his Dad. Slim Jims! And when I look at that funny, thoughtful face I fall in LOVE all over again. We all love our kids and fight tooth and nail for them. Go without so they have more. We want them to have a better life than we had...and let me tell ya...they DO! My kids have no reason to not have a good nights sleep. They are well fed, well educated, well travelled and can play any sport or instrument they want. I was not so lucky...and know what it is like to have dry puffed wheat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Those were different times. There were few food banks and with my parents being home owners did not have access to any services. The same is true today. You can get an emergency this or an emergency that but you have to jump through hoops to do it. If you are working many jobs or have crazy hours that makes it harder.

The Do-Jo Exchange Society is officially official! We got approved by the government and opened a bank account and will soon have a web page! Can you believe it? In just over a month we have given 23 families food donation only....been approved as a Society..have a Board of Directors..have a place to keep the inventory..keep track of inventory...including a fridge and a deep freeze. The families we have helped are so GRATEFUL!. When you see the faces of those children how can you not try to help?

Our mandate is helping the working poor but we never say no to anyone with a child. I could care less if you are a crack addict with 6 kids...I'm going to beg and borrow and steal to get your family some food. The kids didn't ask for starvation...they are the innocents in this world and the 79 volunteers in the Do-Jo agree. We are NOT judge and jury. Most of the families we have helped are working, have had an unexpected cost in their budget and needed the top up of food until the next pay cheque. That is our MANDATE. Help those that are working get ahead. BUT...we have had a few that are on welfare and had their own unexpected situations. The kids got to go to sleep with FULL bellies! THAT is what the Do-Jo is about. The children!

Not to say if a single person needed help we would turn them away...on the contrary...we would help that person too...they just would not require the volume of food we do provide for families. The next board meeting is tomorrow night at my home but the general feeling to try and provide TWO WEEKS of food for the families so that they are one pay cheque ahead. And that is what we have done for the most part. 20 of the 23 families we have helped in the last 6 weeks have gone away with all basic staples, meat, cheese, milk, eggs, bread, fresh fruit/veg etc. The complete package required to get ahead. One Mom said she has NEVER had this much food in her house with two kids. Another cried her eyes out at the sheer KINDNESS of people and promised to give when she could. Another had her two year old squeal with delight that he got fruit cups.

It's the little things that count. A simple kindness to donate a few cans by many to create a food hamper to last beyond tomorrow. Our network is AMAZING! The most giving and thoughtful people in this little town in Canada. We are changing lives! One donation at a time. And those that receive can`t wait to give back when they can. They get that to pay it forward is what it is about. And a little kindness today makes it easier to do that. We are a community. A VILLAGE amongst ourselves. In this global world that makes me so happy!

Creating change one step at a time Big Momma LOVE to you all! XO 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Do-Jo Exchange Society is UP and RUNNING!

Here is the current Logo for the Society....many hands in a circle. That is what a community is. To me anyways. I opened a group on Facebook to help working families in the community and within two weeks we had 75 members and helped 12 families. Created large food hampers for each with enough to keep them going for at least a week if not more. Many had fallen on hard times. Life happens and if you are making just above the threshold for assistance you are out of luck getting anything from government programs. Some are in between losing their jobs and receiving benefits. Some had a large car maintenance bill and could not buy food for their kids until next payday. Some are in between receiving unemployment benefits and disability and need to feed their family. Some missed work due to illness and with rent due had no where to turn to for help feeding their kids.

The working poor in this country and many other Western nations has risen at staggering rates in the last decade alone. 

"At 15.1 per cent, Canada’s child poverty rate is higher than the 17-country average. More than one in seven Canadian children lives in poverty. Canada ranks 13th on this indicator and scores a “C” grade.

The Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden—have the lowest rates of child poverty, with less than 5 per cent of children living in poor households. The relationship between social spending and poverty rates has become more obvious over time, so it is no surprise that the leading countries boast strong traditions of wealth distribution.

The U.S. continues to have the highest poverty rate among industrialized countries. Along with Germany and Ireland, the U.S. earns a "D" grade." (The Conference Board of Canada)

Just a little of the statistical information I have been researching for months. How sad is that? In my province of British Columbia we have the highest rate of child poverty in the country yet our biggest city is one of the most desired to live in around the entire world.

After the FB page was opened the donations started pouring in! I put a bin out front of my house and every day there have been multiple drops of food and toiletries. Have enough in stock now for a few families and when we need more I just post the needs and those that can give do. Registered the name with the government and have sent the required paper work to get non-profit status. Have a Board of Directors just as excited as I. The response has been astounding and can honestly say I am humbled and uplifted by the people in this Society and the recipients so grateful. We only ask that you pay it forward when you can and many that have become recipients have offered their expertise to others in exchange. We now have tutors, mechanics, computer techs, photographers and Grandmas making homemade soup.

We have all had times when money was tight....things went sideways...and by coming together as a community we can help each other! Give a hand up knowing things will turn around. And they will! A hamper and a hug says "We believe in YOU!" We do because we have all been judgement. Hang in there and know that if you need a little to get by we can help. No shame in the act of asking you are helping to create this community. We will know more what to keep in stock, what medications are not paid for and how much is needed to get them, what services are unattainable due to cost, what struggles are every day and what happens out of the blue. I know when I needed help with two small boys I had family...but many do not or have family that are unable to help due to their own circumstances.
The Do-Jo Exchange is not about karate. It's about fighting my grief and fighting the system that has forgotten about the working poor...that let those numbers rise daily without any thought to their well being or the children....those that fight every day to get ahead....those that have had a hard time asking for help..those that work their fingers to the bone...and who's kids hopefully have a kind soul watching them for subsidy...or just above. Those that have dreams of a better life and just need a little help to get not worry about groceries for see a LIGHT...and can give back when they can..because they WILL! A community of those that have been there...and those that are in it...and together we will change lives. For All of us!
If you want to donate or start a Do-Jo in your own community please email me at I can help you set one up in your own community. I hope you do..."It takes a village to raise a child." Let's not let any more people pass through the cracks...let's just fill in the cracks together.
Here is our pamphlet:

We are a group of local citizens that want to give back to the community with a special group as our focus. Working families in need.
Those that are in between paycheques, on maternity, on disability leave or laid off. Those families that find themselves unable to access services due to their assets or their incomes are just a little too high to qualify but are still struggling to make ends meet.
Need a few groceries to get by until payday? Need some Tylenol for your child? Short on gas money? Need clothes, a mattress, a table? Going back to work and need some business attire to get started? Need child care for a few hours to go to a job interview?
These are all areas we can help.
If you know a family in need, that just needs a little help now and then - We can HELP!
Contact Susan at or on Face book at The Do-Jo Exchange (donations greatly appreciated)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012...So far it SUCKS!

My Sam..and his first haircut 6 years ago....he was 2! A bald Blondie forever! LOL! I remember thinking will this boy ever grow hair? Will he be my very own Charlie Brown? LOL! He now has a very thick head of hair...still blonde....with the cutest ONE curl in the back. My one boy that got even a hint of curl. Lucky him that mullets are a fashion of the past! LOL!

I look at this picture and think of how my life was back many many small children...but I was HAPPY! Fell into a funk at Xmas...really really bad funk. The kind that makes you wonder if you need meds to come back. I cried for no reason...had pain in every part of my body...did not want to see ANYONE! Turned down get togethers...parties...lunch dates....hikes! Basically cocooned for a month. Got worried...but then gave into it. Let myself just turn inward....just give in to the sadness. And happy to say I am coming back to myself!

A much needed break of every day life! I needed time to grieve some more...and think HARD about what I wanted to do with my life. Have been at a crossroads for many years and am finally ready to jump in and shake it up!

I volunteered for a group that helps single Moms...but then I realized that some of the women being helped were looking for hand OUTS! Not hand UPS! There is a HUGE difference between the two. People looking for handouts will keep looking..rarely help themselves...feel the world OWES them..and continue a cycle of manipulation, usury and never give back to the community. Those that need a hand UP...are grateful for the help...go on to be self sufficient and give back to the community when they can. Asking for diapers when you have 3 jolly jumpers in separate rooms is a woman not ready to sacrifice to make a life for her kids. Really? How lazy can you be?

I know..WHAT? Where did the compassion go? Have plenty! But at this point...with my limited resources I am choosing to be choosy! Thought I would start my own non-profit for working parents. MUST be working or on maternity leave...single or together...the working poor have very few options for help in between pay cheques or for big ticket items such as furniture. Need meds for a sick kid? Need milk and bread to get by for a few days? Need clothes for the family? Was given some seed money and have a large network of like minded women....and it stalled.

I need help! I need partners to do this! I need people as committed as myself to helping the working poor and a place to do it. And...I am moving to another Province in the summer so do I start this now or wait? If I wait I must build up contacts there which will take years. Took me 8 years to build a network in this small town...enough to make a difference but am now leaving that network to start anew.

Want to call this non-profit the Do-Jo exchange...fighting poverty ONE donation at a time. Do for Dorothy my Mom and Jo for Joan my grandma. What do you think? Would you support this kind of NP? Would you go to a fund raiser for this kind of purpose? Do you think the working poor could use an organization that fills the gaps in between pay cheques and sources big expenditures? Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.

Big Momma LOVE to you all XO

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012! The Year is Over!

Happy New Year...Party on

Well...the year is over. We spent New Years Eve together as a family. The way I wanted to end 2011. My family makes me happier than anything else in this world. We went to a Pantomime with my extended family members. Great seats too...3rd row centre! The kids just loved it! At a Panto it is audience participation. You Boo the bad guys, Cheer the good guys, yell "Look behind you!" when the bad guy is sneaking up on the good guy. The lead female character is played by a man and vica versa. I had no voice the teens got into it. Then we all went out for dinner and then home. My brother popped by, my Dad (it was his 71st birthday) and our dear friend Greg. The kids stayed up and we hugged in the new year. Ty asked if this meant he was going into grade 2 now...LOL! Had to explain he will be but in September. Very low key...just talking with a roaring fire and some countdown shows on. Received many texts after midnight by my dear friends wishing me a Happy New Year...(some that made Nice to wake up feeling rested for

What have I learned this past year? Where do I start? Collaborative Consumption is on the rise! I belong to many swap/trade groups on Facebook. I found these better than the yahoo groups etc as there are more people and therefore more types of things to buy/trade/swap. When posting what you have they do want a pic of it so be prepared for that. They have strict rules about payment. If you are a no show 3 times you are out! Great stuff though.

Thrift stores are wonderful as well. Mind you I had to go to two other communities as mine is quite small and I found it hard to find the sizes I was looking for. Value Village is pricier than most but the one in Maple Ridge has the sizes I need for my two hefty boys. Got tables from MCC and plan on getting a "new" couch from there. A sofa cover is great for covering those flower there were some 1970's inspired prints that made my eyes water! LOL!

I have developed a large network of hand me downs from other Moms. We swap bags and add to them and pass them along. This has been my best source for clothes, jackets, winter boots, skates etc. Even stuff for me! LOL! One Mom was giving away a king sized bed and another Mom I knew was grateful to have it. Another Mom needed "work" clothes and I gave her some of my Mom's stuff. A lady at school needed girl clothes and sourced out some for her just in time for Xmas. It's all about networking and connecting. Some in my network are beyond generous....give away some very nice stuff. Grateful for their generosity and kindness. They have helped so many people they have never met. I wish I could send them all on a tropical vacation to thank

Craigslist, Kijiji, The Buy and Sell, Ebay, Amazon etc have been excellent too. Many gently used items. Never made it to Toy Traders but hear it is excellent and will check it out the next Bday.
The stuff you have that is kind of stained/torn etc can go to any thrift store marked rags. Old towels, blankets, sheets can go to any animal rescue place. Old boots make great flower planters. Paper plates can be composted. Holiday wrap is recyclable now too. They can process the dye and coating with the new process plants (depending on where you are of course). Tin foil, batteries paint, light bulbs, computers, appliances etc can all go to the recycling depot.

Fair trade items (see prior post) are beautifully made and one of a kind. Be careful of shipping costs and of sizing. Local artisan items are great too. Still have those soaps I got in Galiano. Love them!

My entire thought process has changed this year. I think twice before buying anything...even if it is second hand. Do I need it? Do I want it? If I bring it in the house am I getting rid of something else to make room? How much stuff does a person need? Decided to sell my punch bowl, some serving dishes etc. Downsizing! I'm digging the minimalist for my Xmas is so busy...full of every Mothers day present etc from the past 13 years. Every "ornament" has a story.

I know the pic is dark..taken from my phone. But you get the idea about my tree.

I've learned that grief becomes a part of you. It changes how you view the world and the people in it. Good and bad. It hits you when you least expect it AND makes you stronger. I am far more concerned about the welfare of others than ever before. My Grandma always said to do something for others to overcome the sadness in life and I sure get it now. I joined a group that collects and distributes clothes, diapers, food etc for low income families. The founder posts what is needed and the members source out what they can. Preparing a food hamper tonight to deliver tomorrow. That is better than wallowing in the grief. It gives it a direction and hence lets it GO! Found something that helps others while helping me at the same time. Funny how it works that way.

 "In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.”

I'm going to continue on with the no retail as much as I can. I have saved so much money, met so many caring, thoughtful people, learned so much, travelled more and enjoyed every minute of it (well for the most Will build my network as much as I can and pass along as much as I can. "Many small people, in many small places, do many small things, that can alter the face of the world."

Can't believe this is my last post! Thank you all for you support, encouragement, feedback and kind words. It's been wonderful to connect with so many people and share ideas. I wish everyone LOVE and JOY in 2012 and beyond.

Big Momma Collaborative Consumer LOVE to ALL! XXOO

 (Will pop in from time to time to share new ideas, sites, groups etc.)