Monthly Archives: February 2014

They Say It’s His Birthday

Colin sounds like a terrific, quirky little kid. He lives in Michigan. He has a sister named Ella, a magnificent smile, and a fondness for wearing shirts and ties to school – even when no one else does. Oh, and he’s about to turn 11 years old. On a scale of one to ten, Colin rates his mounting birthday excitement at “about 50.”

But because Colin’s disabilities affect his social skills, he’s convinced there’s no point in having a party. No one would come. He has no friends.

Or so he believes.

Once Colin’s mom got over nursing her shattered heart upon hearing this, she set out to prove him wrong. She started a Facebook campaign called “Happy Birthday Colin,” and began encouraging folks worldwide to send him “positive thoughts and encouraging words.” This, she felt, would create for her son an unforgettable birthday celebration, far better than any party magician, pinata or pin-the-tail game could ever provide.

I think not even Colin’s parents could have predicted just how amazing this upcoming event is proving to be. The Facebook page has over two million likes (put that into perspective: that’s almost the same number as Conan O’Brien’s page). Incredibly, hundreds of thousands of birthday cards have already been mailed to Colin’s post office box, along with myriad parcels.

The best part? It’s all being kept a secret from Colin, who will be surprised – thunderstruck may be a better word – on his actual birthday, March 9.

It’s not too late to add your greetings to this particular pile of wishes. Visit the Facebook page to post a message, or send a card to Colin at P.O. Box 756, Richland, MI, 49083-0757, U.S.A.

We’re gonna have a good time…

We’re gonna have a good time…

Going for Gold

By now you may be infected through and through with Olympic fever. And why not? If you’re Canadian, like me, it’s a high time to hail from the north. You have to admit we (or, rather, our countryfellow representatives) have put on a fine show of kindness on the international stage. Take, for example, the Canadian coach who rushed to lend a cross-country ski to a Russian athlete as he struggled to reach the finish line on broken equipment. Then there’s the Canadian speed skater who qualified for a medal event, but gave his spot to a teammate whom he felt had a better chance to win the race (reliable instincts, as it turned out; the teammate took a silver medal).

Then there’s this incredibly awesome commercial released by the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion in response to anti-gay sentiment in Russia. Over a slow-mo video of two luge players manoeuvering their respective pelvises on a sled (you sort of have to see it), the ad declares: “The games have always been a little gay… Let’s fight to keep them that way.”

We help the downtrodden, we support our team, we speak up for human rights. Like our curling team will tell you: Canada rocks.

It’s Not Rocket Science

Wouldn’t you love to donate your time to a good cause, while at the same time getting the opportunity to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations?

Well, if by “exploring strange new worlds” you mean writing down the shapes of faraway galaxies, and if by “seeking out new life” you mean scrutinizing deep-sea video footage for evidence of marine animals, and if by “new civilizations” you mean counting the cluster of birds hanging out at your backyard feeder… then there are non-profit agencies that could certainly use your help.

It’s called citizen science, and there are lots of ways you can be a part of it. It’s especially easy for amateurs to get involved these days, thanks to online videos, apps and websites that provide everything you need to make a difference from home. No need for laboratories, telescopes or hip-waders. Or science degrees, for that matter.

You won’t be paid, but you may be singlehandedly responsible for discovering the next black hole or spotted jellyfish. And if that isn’t a shining example of the final frontier, I don’t know what is.

Distant galaxy, or deep-sea species? Yes, folks, and THAT’S why they call it “amateur.”  (PHOTO COURTESY OF SARAH STROTHAM/MARINE PHOTOBANK)

Distant galaxy, or deep-sea species? Yes, folks, THAT’S why they call it “amateur.” (PHOTO COURTESY OF SARAH STROTHAM / MARINE PHOTOBANK)

Wanted: Bosses with Big Hearts

A recent survey by an American staffing agency found that 42% of job seekers would prefer to work for a charitable company.

Recently the agency conducted a survey of over 400 office workers, and asked them: “To what extent does a company’s participation in charitable activities influence your decision to work there?” Seventeen percent of respondents said it matters “a great deal,” and a quarter of them said “somewhat.”

The takeaway message? If you run a business and want people to want to work for you, consider adding an element of kindness to your corporate strategy. Organize clothing drives, host charity runs, or even plan your next office retreat at a soup kitchen instead of inside a hotel boardroom. Co-workers can bond with each other while dishing up hot meals for the homeless.

I work in a company of one, so I don’t do a lot of recruiting. But if I ever expand my business, you can be sure I’ll entice potential job candidates with promises of park cleanups, or perhaps tree planting or barn raising. It certainly sounds rewarding. And I imagine this kind of healthy corporate perk would be a lot more cost-effective than, say, installing an on-site rock climbing wall.