Here's a look back at some of our past Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant recipients:
What's Awesome? Helping to supply students with healthy snacks and lunches while at school.
Food is critical for learning but not everyone has access to what they need. The Food for Learning program at Dr. Denison Secondary School aims to help with that. “We work to raise money to be able to provide students with proper nutrition in order to focus and be successful in their classes,” says Jackie Zicaro, who runs the program. All students have access to the food, helping to reduce stigma, and Jackie says there are some youths who make use of the program frequently. “For some of our students, the food they receive at school could be their only meal of the day.”
Seen here: Trustees Chris Emanuel, Jackie Playter and Diane Farmer with grant recipient Jackie Zicaro and trustees Juliane Goyette, and Wasim Jarrah of Wasim Jarrah Real Estate Team.
The desire to help others doesn’t have an age limit and our latest grant recipients are proof of that. We’re thrilled to award an Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant to Lil Big Kid Squad. Led by sisters, Stella, Portia and Violet, this volunteer organization uses “kid power” to make some pretty special stuff happen. With a core of about 20 local kids on the organization’s planning committee (and hundreds of others participating from as far away as England), each month they tackle a new volunteer project. Previous challenges include Food 4 Families where they filled 278 bags with non-perishable food items for the Newmarket Food Pantry, Jars of Joy which saw volunteers deliver more than 400 messages of kindness to hope to friends and family, and Mail-a-Hug which brought 340 handmade “hug” crafts to seniors and health-care workers. Follow them on their socials to see what they’re up to next.
As always, a huge thank you to our trustees for making these grants available.
Pictured here: Trustee Tracy Walter, grant recipients Stella, Violet and Portia with Trustees (in back) Jackie Playter, Darryl Gray (welcome Darryl!) and Diane Farmer and Juliane Goyette in front. Missing: Giancarlo Trimarchi, Wasim Jarrah, Hollie Hoadley and Kevin Murdoch.
A huge congratulations to Doane House Hospice (DHH), recipient of our latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant.
DHH provides “full circle” palliative care supports to more than 1,000 individuals each year, with programs designed to meet emotional, spiritual and physical needs. This includes the Doane House Hospice Children’s Grief Workshop Series. This specialized art therapy workshop will be offered for three days with six children per day during August 2021. The workshop will give kid, aged 6 to 12 the opportunity to learn about, express, and understand their current grief. Each workshop in the series will be free of charge and will feature a three-hour session of art therapy-based activities that are age appropriate and interesting to the age ranges in attendance.
Pictured here: Awesome trustees Diane Farmer and Juliane McTavish-Goyette with Jennifer Adams from Doane House Hospice and trustee Tracy Walter.
Awesome Foundation Newmarket is all about making a positive difference in our community. Our latest Awesome grant recipient is definitely doing that. Congratulations, Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association!
The pandemic has had a devastating financial effect on so many families. The Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association (NACCA) works to alleviate some of that stress through its Food Security Initiative. Every two weeks, the organization delivers $100 grocery gift cards (as well as fresh produce thanks to support from the York Region Food Network) to 35 African, Black and Caribbean families in Newmarket, Aurora and East Gwillimbury.
“We want to prioritize access, equity and community wellness through food. This is one critical way that NACCA shows up for the population we serve,” says Jerisha Grant-Hall, Chair of NACCA (pictured here).
As always, a sincere thank you to our Awesome trustees: Jackie Playter, Wasim Jarrah, Hollie Hoadley, Juliane McTavish-Goyette, Giancarlo Trimarchi, Kevin Murdoch, David Faingold, Tracy Walter and Diane Farmer.
School may currently be taking place at kitchen tables and home spaces across Ontario, but when face to face resumes the Breakfast program at Sir William Mulock Secondary School will be there to help provide a healthy meal to students in need. The program is one of the latest recipients of an Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant.
The program provides three basic food groups to over 100 students every day, says Cynthia Crone, Subject Head of Personalized Alternative Education (pictured here). “We have created an environment where any student receives grab-n-go healthy snacks from our snack cart to fuel their brains and bodies.” Going this route, she says, helps avoid stigmatizing disadvantaged students and encourages healthy eating options for all Mulock students. Congratulations!
THANK YOU to our trustees for making these grants possible: Jackie Playter, Wasim Jarrah, Hollie Hoadley, Juliane McTavish-Goyette, Giancarlo Trimarchi, Kevin Murdoch, David Faingold, Tracy Macgregor and Diane Farmer.
Vixon, Cedar Centre's Service Dog (seen here at Pride) has a whole lot to smile about—the Centre has been awarded an Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant.
Cedar Centre is currently working with a number of its community partners to develop the first Child/Youth Advocacy Centre for York Region. This exciting project will see all of the organizations that traditionally respond to a child in need of protection integrated into a single service model and co-located in a shared space in York Region, says Alison Peck, Executive Director of Cedar Centre. The grant funds she says, will be used to engage an artist to produce a graphic that the Centre will own for its exclusive use both during and beyond the activities of an upcoming capital campaign. "This campaign will provide a new home for the Centre’s expanding programs and services.”
THANK YOU to our trustees for making these grants possible: Jackie Playter, Wasim Jarrah, Hollie Hoadley, Juliane McTavish-Goyette, Giancarlo Trimarchi, Kevin Murdoch, David Faingold, Tracy Macgregor and Diane Farmer.
Big shout out to Blue Door—our latest Awesome grant recipient. Blue Door provides safe and supportive emergency housing, and housing services and supports for people (including families) who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The not-for-profit is a recipient of the Hockey Helps the Homeless (HHTH) tournament in York Region which could potentially generate thousands of dollars to help them achieve their goal of providing affordable housing for hundreds of people in need.
All partners in the HHTH initiative are expected to raise anywhere from $4,000 and up so the grant goes a long way, says Michael Braithwaite, CEO of Blue Door (pictured here). And the more money they raise, the more comes back to Blue Door from Hockey Helps the Homeless.
THANK YOU to our trustees for making these grants possible: Jackie Playter, Wasim Jarrah, Hollie Hoadley, Juliane McTavish-Goyette, Giancarlo Trimarchi, Kevin Murdoch, David Faingold, Tracy Macgregor and Diane Farmer.
Girls Inc. of York Region has made a move! Previously located at Main and Davis, the organization has relocated to a great space at 482 Queen St.
The two-level space offers ample room to grow with multiple offices on the main floor along with a board room, and a large room for in-house programming. In the basement, there is a craft room with three walls of storage for craft supplies, additional storage for event supplies and a kitchen suited to grow the organization’s healthy body and food programs. “Although the new space is better suited to Girls Inc.’s needs, the building, and more specifically, the basement will need some renovations,” says Barb Wallace, Executive Director. The grant, she says, will be put toward those changes.
Girls Inc.’s programming focuses on the development of the whole girl, supporting, mentoring, and guiding girls in an affirming, pro-girl environment. Program areas and activities include Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), building social media awareness, economic literacy, developing leadership skills through mentoring, anti-bullying, healthy eating and more.
One of our latest Awesome grants goes to MOBYSS (Mobile York South Simcoe from CMHA York and South Simcoe), Ontario’s first and only mobile walk-in health and mental health clinic, serving youth aged 12-25 in York Region and South Simcoe.
Designed by and for youth, MOBYSS travels to where youth of all cultural, ethnic, linguistic and socio-economic backgrounds gather -- community centres, schools and shelters.
Services are offered 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year and include mental health assessment, suicide intervention, improving coping skills, mental health literacy, addiction counselling, referral, sexual health education and support, basic primary care and health screening.
MOBYSS is staffed by Nurse Practitioners, Youth Mental Health Workers and Peer Support Specialists skilled in assisting youth with issues around depression and anxiety, substance use, suicide risk, bullying, harm and risk reduction, issues unique to LGBTQ youth, as well as many other aspects around mental health and illness.
Last year 5,000+ young people boarded the bus for information and/or counselling and health care services, which are provided at no cost and can be accessed anonymously.
Appointments can be made via the MOBYSS app or by drop in. https://cmha-yr.on.ca/programs/youth/mobyss/
Awesome grant catch-up! There are a lot of things that are awesome but food vulnerability isn't one of them. One of our latest Awesome grants goes to the Newmarket Food Pantry to help them provide fresh food options for clients, specifically geared towards providing healthy lunches for their children.
Pictured here: Mary, Judy and Liz of the Newmarket Food Pantry.
Dealing with the effects of a life-threatening illness can be devastating. That’s especially true for kids, whether they are the patient, a sibling, or child of a diagnosed parent, says Laurie Docimo with Shine Through the Rain Foundation which helps patients and their families with the social, emotional and financial devastation that can occur. For many families, a diagnosis means that kids miss out on opportunities because parents can no longer afford to pay for activities due to income loss and unexpected medical costs. Shine Through the Rain is working to change that thanks to a partnership with NewMakeIt, a non-profit industrial/digital workshop, training, and co-working facility. “19 local youth, 12 to 18 years of age, impacted by diagnosis of life-threatening illness, will attend a free ½ day workshop at NewMakeIt in Newmarket,” says Laurie, adding it’s an opportunity to have fun and learn basic engineering/electronic concepts, and participate in simple experiments. The youth, she says, are identified by social workers, physicians, caseworkers or parents as benefiting from this program socially, emotionally and academically. Congratulations!
L to R: Trustee Jackie Playter with Laurie Docimo and Ryan Dibisch from NewMakeIt and trustees Diane Farmer and Tracy Walter.
There are not one but TWO Awesome grants this month!
A love for reading is like a gift that keeps giving. That love is something the North Newmarket Lions Club, the Newmarket Lions Club – Ontario and the Newmarket Lioness Club hope to inspire with their Book Initiative. Volunteers from their clubs visit classes from JK to Grade 3 to read books provided by Scholastic books. Even better? Many of the kids get to take a book home. Eleven local schools in total benefit from the program. Currently six schools receive books for kids and teachers from JK to Grade 3 while five others are supplied books for the JK-SK classes (and anthologies for their teachers). Another 1,300–1,400 books are given away to students with exceptionalities and their teachers.
“Each of the clubs contribute to the cost of the books and appreciate any help with this project, says David Engel, President of the North Newmarket Lions. “It is surprising to find that many children we read to are receiving their first book of their own. They are excited and delighted to have their own book to take home and we are happy to give them this gift towards their lifelong learning process.” Congratulations!
L to R: Awesome Trustee Hollie Hoadley with David Engel and Trustees Juliane Goyette and Tracy Walter.
The Charitable Trust of the Canadian Federation of Women (CFUW) Aurora/Newmarket Inc. is one of those recipients. The charitable arm of the CFUW Aurora Newmarket, it’s a registered charity which offers educational awards to disadvantaged young women and men entering college or university. This year it’s aiming to offer 13 awards worth approximately $27,000. (In addition, the Club is facilitating another four awards of $5,000 from community partners.)
The only organization in northern York Region to offer these awards, it works with high school guidance counsellors and staff of the York Region Children's Aid Society (YRCAS) to select the winners. Criteria includes having a high academic standing and contributing to their families, schools or communities in a significant way.
Our latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant goes to Knight Image Photography for its Future Photographers Club initiative. The club is launching as a pilot project at a Newmarket elementary school with plans to expand it to create a travelling youth photography mentorship/club throughout town.
“The goal is to give students from grades 6–8 hands-on exposure to the art of photography,” says Ahmad El-Farram, Professional Photographer and owner of Knight Image Photography. The club, he says, will begin at Glen Cedar P.S. where students will meet once a month to learn about some of the fundamentals of photography, including composition and the rule of thirds. They will also have the opportunity to undertake photography challenges and explore their creativity. At the end of the year, the club will host a gallery showcasing the printed photographs from its members. “Paul DeSousa, Principal at Glen Cedar has shown his full support for this initiative and proposed that the photo showcase coincide with the school’s annual Fun Fair at the end of the school year,” says Ahmad, adding the Awesome grant will be used to buy frames and matting and go toward the expense of printing photos.
For Ahmad, it’s about giving back. “Being able to express myself through photography at a young age was very empowering and helped shape me into the person I am today. If I can help one person find their voice and empower them through the art of photography, that would be a wonderful thing.”
From L to R: Wasim Jarrah Real Estate Team, Jackie Playter, Ahmad El-Farram, Diane Farmer,
Juliane McTavish-Goyette and Hollie Hoadley at Creative Solutions.
Some people love the winter. For others, the added costs that come with the season are a big source of stress. The Coats for Kids initiative aims to help with that, providing new and near-new coats for free to children as well as adults. The Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant is a huge help, says David Engel, President of the North Newmarket Lions Club
which co-runs the project with the help of the Lioness Club of Newmarket and the
Newmarket Lions Club - Ontario. "We will be using this money entirely for buying new coats, boots, scarves and hats as needed for those in need in our community,” he says, adding that last year approximately 1,500 winter coats were distributed to local children. The project is completely staffed by a team of dedicated volunteers and operates out of a donated space (1271 Gorham Street, unit 8) on Wednesdays between 10 and 11:30 am and Saturday mornings from 10 am–1 pm. “Newmarket benefits greatly from two Lions clubs and one Lioness club in our town,” says David.
L to R: Awesome trustee Jackie Playter with Leah Springford and David Engel from North Newmarket Lions Club and trustees Juliane Goyette and Tracy Walter.
A huge congrats to York Artistic Swimming—our latest Awesome grant recipient. The Club will use the grant to help cover costs for a new portable sound system. The Club has been using three pools exclusively, with each requiring a sound system that allows the athletes the ability to hear their music as well as instructions above and under the water, explains Selina Lee, a Coach with the Club. A new system means they can use other pools for additional training time, effectively increasing their reach into the York Region community, she says. “We will have the opportunity, with a portable system, to expand community recreational programs by making our program available in smaller pools/facilities within York and the surrounding communities.” It will also benefit the athletes, she says, through increased direct and specific coaching, leading to increased confidence and overall results whether the athlete is swimming at a provincial, novice or recreational level. Congrats York Synchro!
L to R, back row: Wasim Jarrah, Michael Croxon, Diane Farmer, Juliane Goyette. David Faingold. Front row L to R: Trustees Hollie Hoadley and Jackie Playter with grant recipients, Selina Lee and Pavel Shkolnikov and Tracy Walter.
Trinity Glen Housing Corporation is a well-established not for profit rental housing provider which offers people and families an affordable place to live in Newmarket. The community is home to a diverse group of residents ranging in age, including a large number of children. At a recent consultation meeting set up to help identify how best to use the neighbourhood’s Community Centre multipurpose room, the children had a special request. “They asked for a community-based library where they can come after school, in the evening and on weekends to read and play games together,” says John Ostime, President of the Trinity Glen Housing Corporation, adding that many of the neighbourhood’s families don’t have the necessary space to facilitate those get togethers in their homes. The community is now in the process of putting together the library, and their Awesome Newmarket Foundation grant will help fill the space with books and items the children can enjoy for years to come. CONGRATULATIONS!
Back row (L to R): Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah from Wasim Jarrah Real Estate Team, Juliane McTavish-Goyette, David Faingold, Lee Sperry from Floors Direct North, Michael Croxon of NewRoads Automotive Group, Diane Farmer. (front row L to R) Trustee Jackie Playter, Awesome grant recipients John Ostime and Linda Prior with trustee Hollie Hoadley from Creative Solutions.
Congratulations to the Mindfulness and Outdoor Learning program—our latest Awesome grant recipient. The summer-long camp program provides kids from 4–12 years of age with the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature, engage in unstructured and supervised risky play, and further develop life skills.
During week-long sessions, kids experience forest school and learn hands-on about their environment. Daily mindfulness practice is incorporated through sit spots, sensory walks, sound mapping and various other activities. The aim is to help children develop an understanding of themselves and their emotions while improving self-regulation skills, reducing anxiety and building confidence and self-esteem, says program co-founder Nicole Richmond, a Registered E.C.E with a Bachelors of Child Development who is nearing accreditation as a Forest School Practitioner with Child and Nature Alliance Canada. “Providing young children with opportunities to learn in nature, take risks and lead their learning is essential in developing resiliency, problem-solving skills, self-awareness,” she says. “Mindfulness activities outdoors will strengthen children’s observation skills using their senses and investigating the natural world.” The camps run out of The Academy on Main Street.
Photo: Nicole Richmond (middle) with Awesome Trustees Tracy Macgregor and Diane Farmer.
Congrats to our latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant recipient, Hockey for Autism.
When husband and wife duo David and Suella McDrew first realized the lack of hockey programs available for children with autism, they knew they had to do something about it, and just like that Hockey for Autism was born.
The program, which runs from September to March, is in its 6th season and teaches participants ages 7 to 14, basic skating and hockey in a safe and non-competitive setting.
“It’s wonderful to see the impact the program has on the players,” says Suella. “It instills self-confidence and most of all the kids learn to work together and support each other.”
Led by Suella and David, the program is also made up of parent volunteers, mentors and a maximum of 18 participants. The program takes place at National Training Rinks in Newmarket and includes a hockey jersey and a lifetime of memories for the athletes.
Got an awesome idea that benefits youth in Newmarket? Why not apply for an Awesome grant? You just might receive $1,000 to help implement it! Visit www.newmarketchamber.ca/awesome for more info.
Left to right: Trustees Tracy Walter and Jackie Playter, grant recipient Suella McDrew and trustees Diane Farmer and Hollie Hoadley.
Congratulations to our latest grant recipient! Arezoo Najibzadeh who created the Redefining Leadership, Reshaping Communities project.
Having a positive environment that inspires and encourages girls so they grow up with confidence and self-esteem is the driving force that led Arezoo Najibzadeh to create the Redefining Leadership, Reshaping Communities project.
Part of the ‘Women, Let’s Take Our Place’ program by the Girls’ Action Foundation, the Newmarket-based event is a day-long gathering that focuses on providing young women with leadership development and civic engagement opportunities. Participants will learn about Canada’s political structure from women in leadership and improve their personal leadership style through skills training workshops.
As a young leader with more than seven years of experience in civic and youth leadership, Arezoo says she’s working hard to give back through empowering young women and girls. “Our town has seen significant growth in the past few years, and that can be reflected in the growing vibrant and diverse demographics in our community. Yet young people, especially young women such as myself, are struggling to connect with our community in the same sense that we do with urban centres such as Toronto, where we find numerous opportunities for leadership and self-improvement. This project hopes to change that.”
Left to right: Tracy Macgregor Walter, Trustee Hollie Hoadley (Creative Solutions), Arezoo Najibzadeh, Trustees Jackie Playter and Diane Farmer
Latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket Recipient: March 2019
Congratulations to our latest grant recipient! Project Autism – York Region has recently launched the Move program, a weekly Newmarket-based program for kids with autism designed to get them moving.
“Our Move program is all about getting active and having fun while doing it, says Anne Mason, President and Founder of Project Autism – York Region. “We play a variety of cooperative games as well as our own versions of various sports,” she says, noting that active games such as ball hockey and basketball are modified to enhance participation and a feeling of positivity. “Our participants get to enjoy being active and socialize in an accepting and non-competitive environment.”
The organization has also launched a once-a-month group for girls—an initiative, says Anne, that is much needed. “It’s so important for girls on the spectrum to find other girls like themselves and learn that they are not alone.” Each month, the group will feature a different activity that participants can take part in while socializing and enjoying a sense of community.
Project Autism’s groups are completely free and there are no barriers for anyone to participate. “Our programs are geared towards those on the autism spectrum but are open to any special needs children regardless of diagnosis.” Congratulations Project Autism!
Left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah, Tracy Macgregor Walter, Jackie Playter with Anne Mason, and trustees Diane Farmer and Hollie Hoadley.
Latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket Recipient: February 2019
Our latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant goes to “Feed the Need” at Sir William Mulock High School. The Breakfast Program is a far reaching initiative. In addition to feeding hungry teens, the program provides learning opportunities and job experience to at-risk students in specialized programming. For example, students in Mulock’s Autism program bake muffins, do laundry, deliver snacks, and bag cereal, and students in its Multiple Exceptionalities class deliver snacks on a daily basis to various locations in the school. The program provides three basic food groups to over 100 students every day, says Cynthia Crone, Subject Head of Personalized Alternative Education at Mulock. “Any student can drop by our Main Office, Learning Commons (Library) or Breakfast room and receive grab-n-go healthy snacks to fuel their brains and bodies. We feel that accessibility to healthy food is vital for all students.” The program, she says, provides equal access for all students who might not have access to healthy food but any student can access the food. “We want to encourage healthy eating options for all of our students.”
L to R: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah, Jackie Playter and Hollie Hoadley with recipient Cynthia Crone and trustees Diane Farmer and David Faingold.
There’s no doubt, kids benefit from outdoor time and a lot of great learning happens through play. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to congratulate Amanda Kennedy on receiving our latest Awesome Foundation
Newmarket grant. Amanda is a grade two teacher at Phoebe Gilman P.S. and the Chair of its Outdoor Classroom Committee. The committee, she says, is in the process of creating an all-seasons outdoor classroom and the Awesome grant will be used to help with the purchase of materials to facilitate learning activities. “Our staff, as well as the YRDSB, see how students benefit from outdoor learning experiences on a regular basis. We have a large school population and expanding our outdoor learning material collection will allow for more staff to take their classes outside.” Besides incorporating the curriculum in a fun and engaging way, the hands-on learning encourages student leadership and collaboration. Congratulations!
From left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah, Jackie Playter and Tracy Macgregor Walter with Amanda Kennedy and trustee Diane Farmer
When it comes to school, math is a subject some students don’t like or understand. Shanti Caswell, the new principal at Armitage Village P.S., is working hard to change that for her 469 students. “Unfortunately, our math scores over the past five years as measured by EQAO, the standardized Provincial assessment for reading, writing and mathematics, are low,” she says, adding that in Grade 6 only 26% of Armitage students met or exceeded the Provincial Standard this past spring. The school’s ‘Making Mathematics A Priority’ project is intended to address this achievement gap for all students at Armitage. “Math knowledge and understandings encompass so many life skills that students require now and throughout life,” Caswell says, adding this includes everything from working with money and telling time to making realistic estimates with numbers and materials, and so much more. The plan, she says, is to provide each classroom with a math cart containing a variety of manipulatives that are suggested for grade level according to the Ontario math curriculum. The school has already begun its fundraising efforts and, with the Awesome grant, is now more than halfway to its $5,000 target. “We know through academic and business research that mathematics skills and knowledge impacts future successes for individuals throughout their working careers and lives. Strong math skills are a key indicator for later success!”
L to R: Awesome trustees Tracy Macgregor Walter and Hollie Hoadley with winner Shanti Caswell and trustees Diane Farmer, Jackie Playter and Wasim Jarrah.
For many people, public speaking is challenging but it can be particularly difficult when English isn’t your first language. That understanding, coupled with firsthand experience, led our latest grant recipient, Eva Ostapeic, to want to help students who struggle with the issue. “I felt inspired to launch a public speaking workshop because I know youth—especially ESL youth—experience anxiety when they have to express themselves in front of a large audience.” A former primary school teacher, Eva is looking to team up with public speaking coaches to offer a workshop in the Newmarket area in early 2019. The workshop, she says, will cover a variety of areas around public speaking, including how to ease anxiety, sound natural, perfect pronunciations, deliver powerful messages and more. “I expect the workshop to help Newmarket youth overcome their fear of public speaking and give them the tools they to effectively express themselves in presence of large audience.” Congratulations!
L to R: John and Eva Ostapeic (far left and middle) with Awesome trustees Jackie Playter, Diane Farmer and Wasim Jarrah.
Each Wednesday afternoon you’ll find student volunteers in the Food for Thought program at Newmarket High School (NHS) busy making lunches. Last school year, the students made a whopping 1,360 sandwiches and 1,564 snacks for local elementary students in need. Delivered on Thursday morning by Access Newmarket, each lunch includes a sandwich and a snack which consists of a juice box, an apple, carrots, celery, and cookies. This year, the team is making 40 lunches and six snacks each week, and plans to expand its program to allow for more participating schools. Along with providing a healthy lunch, the program helps relieve financial stress for the participating families. It also helps volunteers gain invaluable leadership and teamwork skills. Congratulations Food for Thought!
This month’s Awesome grant will help one small Newmarket school (Kindergarten to Grade 4) to purchase a Tower Garden, an aeroponic indoor growing system for vegetables. “Our hope is to use the Tower Garden in each classroom for specific months during the year,” explains Amy Kitchen, a teacher at the school. “For example, one class would start with the Tower Garden and watch vegetables grow from seeds. They would then be able to harvest however they choose. Students would then be able to create recipes using the vegetables.” Kitchen says it will be a great teaching tool across the curriculum and will help create a sense of teamwork. “Our school is also a ‘Healthy School’ and runs the ‘You're the Chef’ program for Grade 4 students. We thought it would be great if we could pick recipes ahead of time and use the vegetables in some of the recipes.”
Awesome trustee Hollie Hoadley with winners Sharon McLean and Amy Kitchen beside trustees Tracy Walter and Lee Sperry.
What’s awesome? Cool new backpacks filled with awesome stuff, that’s what! The Women's Centre of York Region (WCYR) is our latest grant recipient for their Back to School Backpack drive, now in its 11th year. Last year, 83 kids benefitted from the program. “Many of our clients struggle to make ends meet and often can’t afford back to school items,” explains Payton Chapley, Fundraising and Community Events Coordinator with WCYR. “The program ensures that all children and adult learners have access to the tools they need to be successful in school, and ensure that they start their year with dignity.” Each age appropriate backpack is estimated to cost about $40 and will get distributed in late August.
Payton Chapley (middle) with Awesome trustees Tracy Walter, Jackie Playter, Wasim Jarrah and Hollie Hoadley.
Whatever your age, there’s something pretty incredible about planting a seed and watching it grow. That opportunity is available to children at two Newmarket schools thanks in large part to the efforts of Leanna Reeves, our latest Awesome grant winner. Leanna helped bring the Tower Garden to the school she works at and is using the $1,000 grant to gift a second one to another school. “The Tower Garden is an aeroponic indoor growing system which allows lesson plans to be brought to life,” she says, explaining students are involved from ‘seed to feed’. The children plant the seeds and once they sprout, seedlings are transferred to the Tower Garden where PH levels are monitored. At harvest time, kids can sample the fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs they’ve helped to grow. Tower Gardens bring a unique and rich culture of involvement to the school community and both staff and students love having them there, says Reeves. “The kids are engaged in hands-on learning and become proud of what they grow.” It’s a terrific learning opportunity, she says. “The Tower Garden not only teaches about plants and the power of good nutrition, but about sustainability, business models, initiation and responsibility!” Congratulations, Leanna!
Leanna Reeves (middle) with Awesome trustees (left to right) Tracy Walter, Diane Farmer, Jackie Playter and Wasim Jarrah.
When you’re hungry, learning and absorbing information can be a challenge. That knowledge has led Sarah Kyle, our latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant recipient, to launch a Healthy Snacks initiative at the school where she works. The goal, she says, is to provide nutritious snacks to more than 600 children each day. “We work hard as a team to feed the students but have found that the food is gobbled up quite quickly due to hunger,” says Kyle, a Child and Youth Worker. “When the children are faced with an option of a granola bar versus an apple, the children choose the apple but fresh produce is quite pricey for us to provide to kids. We would love to be able to feed the students so they are able to learn, grow and develop healthy lifestyles.” Congratulations!
From left to right: Awesome trustee Diane Farmer with Sarah Kyle and Tracy Walter from the Newmarket Chamber.
Our latest Awesome grant goes to Cedar Centre for their Teen STAIR Group (Skills Training in Affect and Interpersonal Regulation). The Teen STAIR Group is an adapted, evidence-based curriculum that is designed to help reduce symptoms related to post traumatic stress in youth who have experienced abuse-related trauma.
The program is operated by Newmarket-based Cedar Centre which offers therapeutic services for all forms of childhood interpersonal trauma, including historical. The goal is to help youth participants to become informed about the impact of trauma on emotion regulation and social (interpersonal) functioning.
“This group is an important part of service for youth who are participating in individual intensive trauma-specific therapy related to their experience of childhood interpersonal trauma because it provides them with the opportunity to learn and practice skills that are not only foundational to success in therapy, but to the navigation of daily life and interpersonal relationships,” says Alison Peck, Executive Director. “We are most grateful to the Awesome Foundation Newmarket for partnering with us in the delivery of this innovative program for our local youth.”
Left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah, Juliet Irish, Debra Scott and Diane Farmer with grant recipients Lisa Gleva (Cedar Centre Gala Committee) and Alison Peck seen here with NSD Vixon (Cedar Centre) with trustees Jackie Playter and David Faingold.
Our latest recipient is Youth Speak which holds its 8th annual AWAKE youth drug awareness conference March 1st at Valleyview Alliance Church in Newmarket. Developed for Grade 9 and 10 students in Newmarket and across York Region, the free event brings together community resources such as the York Region Police, 360 Kids and Public Health to give students an opportunity to learn about services in the area and places to turn if they are struggling. Students who can benefit most are selected by their teachers and given the opportunity to participate in the fun and educational day. Along with hearing from Youth Speakers and experts, students enjoy several workshops, including martial arts, dancing and drawing. “The purpose of these workshops is to engage students in activities which teach them positive coping tools and alternatives to unsafe activities,” explains Una Wright, founder of YouthSpeak. “The activities of the day give youth the opportunity to develop leadership skills and build rapport with adult role models such as police, teachers and youth counsellors.”
From left to right: Awesome trustee Jackie Playter, Una Wright (YouthSpeak) and trustee Debra Scott.
There’s no doubt about it—lunch is an important meal. It’s particularly critical for children, who need it to fuel their busy days. For the past 10-plus years, Newmarket High School’s Food for Thought program has been providing lunches to disadvantaged elementary school students who might otherwise go hungry. Made up of a team of 55 student volunteers and two teacher supervisors, each Wednesday the students assemble lunches that are delivered on Thursday mornings. Each lunch contains a sandwich and a snack, including a juice box, an apple, carrots, celery and cookies. Last year, Food for Thought made 1692 sandwiches and 2183 snacks. This school year, the group makes 40 lunches plus an additional six snacks each week, and plans to expand its program to more schools. The program gives those in need access to healthy food, which is a big concern for some families, says Sherry, one of the program’s co-leaders. “It is important to the participants because it relieves financial stress for low-income families.” The benefits of the program also extend to volunteers, she says. “The students take on new responsibilities and gain invaluable leadership experience through assembling the lunches, buying the food and coordinating with sponsors.” Congratulations, Food for Thought!
From left to right: Awesome trustee Debra Scott with Aidan and Sherry (two of Food for Thought’s three co-leaders) and trustees David Faingold, Juliet Irish and Diane Farmer.
What’s awesome? How about STEM at school with STEM-based learning at lunch as well as in-class workshops? That’s what lucky students at one school in Newmarket will receive thanks to our most recent Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant. The partnered initiative put together by grant recipient STEM MINDS, will give students there the opportunity to experience STEM first hand. It eliminates financial constraints—one of the biggest barriers to accessing quality STEM opportunities, says Anu Bidani, founder and CEO of STEM MINDS. The initiative, she says, helps ensure that students, regardless of financial income, are able to participate in programs and opportunities that support and encourage their passions and growth. Some of the opportunities for students will include exploring STEM concepts such as electricity, motors and circuitry, as well as LEGO robotics and coding. Congrats STEM MINDS!
Left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah and Jackie Playter with Anu Bidani from STEM MINDS and trustees Diane Farmer and Debra Scott.
Congratulations to the latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant recipient! The Rainy Day Newmarket Children’s Project helps Newmarket-based children and youth living with the diagnosis of life-threatening illness. Whether it’s through services or funds, the project, run by the Shine Through the Rain Foundation, helps patients and their families with the social/emotional/financial devastation that can occur. “Most people don’t know that pediatric patients are at risk of life-long financial ruin, depression, anxiety and resulting mental health concerns,” says Laurie Docimo, who handles sponsorships and grants for the Foundation. The project, she says, provides on a number of fronts, such as helping with late bills and grocery costs to transportation to medical appointments so children can recover in their own homes. There are also gifts to hospitals and homes to bring smiles and joy to kids as they face what is often a scary hospital experience. Later, there are both camp backpacks and camp scholarships when children are well enough to attend to help them reconnect with peers and return to a normal life. Congratulations Rainy Day Newmarket Children’s Project!
From left to right: Awesome trustees, Jackie Playter and Juliet Irish with Laurie Docimo and trustees Debra Scott and Wasim Jarrah.
Our latest grant goes to the Healthy Youth Preventative Education (HYPE) Program from the John Howard Society of York Region. Available to youth between 13 and 24 both within school settings and at youth drop-in centres, the free program is designed to equip youth with the social and emotional competencies they need to positively engage with others. “Whether it be with dating partners, peers, friends, teachers or family members, youth will be better able to form meaningful, healthy connections in their lives,” says Christin Cullen, Executive Director, John Howard Society of York Region. The HYPE Program is offered in an interactive group setting to support peer engagement and connection. Congrats HYPE!
From left to right: Awesome trustees, Jackie Playter and Diane Farmer with Christin Cullen and trustees David Faingold, Debra Scott and Wasim Jarrah.
You know what's awesome? Arriving to school with a jazzy new backpack filled with all the supplies needed to start the school year off right. This September, 83 kids got to experience that terrific feeling thanks to the “Back to School Backpack Program” by the Women’s Centre of York Region, which received Awesome Foundation Newmarket’s latest grant for the initiative. Women’s Centre of York Region (WCYR) is a non-profit organization that offers low/no-cost programming and services to women who are looking for positive change in their lives.
Kaitlyn Olliff, WCYR Tangible Supports Coordinator, says the team was thrilled about the grant. “The Back to School Program ensures that our clients and their children have access to the tools they need to be successful in starting their school year—with dignity. That is AWESOME!"
From left to right: L to R: Awesome trustees Juliet Irish, Debra Scott and Wasim Jarrah with Kaitlyn Olliff from Women's Centre of York Region and trustee Jackie Playter.
Offered by Character Community, the Slap Shot Hockey Program for Children is a free seven week in-school hockey program developed to reduce social isolation in low income/newcomer children ages 8-12 (Grade 4-6) in York Region. The program, which will be offered at two Newmarket schools this September, provides a safe, inclusive, age-appropriate introduction to the game of hockey and Canadian culture to children whose ability to participate in recreational sport is limited due to financial and cultural barriers. Delivered by an experienced program coach, professional hockey trainers and supported by peer mentors, participants learn the basic skills of the game along with important skills in leadership, character, socialization, teamwork, nutrition, health and the benefit of living an active lifestyle using the game of Floorball. When the in-school sessions are completed, participants travel to a local arena, where they play a game of hockey on ice dressed in full hockey gear with their coaches and CCFYR community volunteers, Including York Regional Police hockey players. Participants receive a jersey, hockey stick and puck to keep so they may continue to play hockey with their peers. The program ends with a celebration pizza and recognition lunch where participants receive a team medallion, photo, watch a video of their on-ice day and discuss their experience in the program.
From left to right: Susanne Cappuccitti, Awesome trustee Juliet Irish, Karen Addison with Awesome trustee Jackie Playter, and Megan Thomas.
Rose of Sharon Services for Young Mothers provides counselling, education and parenting resources to prenatal and parenting young mothers. Lack of transportation is frequently a huge barrier for those looking to access programs at Rose of Sharon, explains Caitlin Gladney-Hatcher, Fund Development Coordinator with Rose of Sharon. The grant, she says, will help offset the costs associated with getting young mothers and their children to and from Rose of Sharon. “Ensuring transportation for young moms may be expensive but it’s an essential key to removing barriers to the help mom and her baby so greatly needs,” says Gladney-Hatcher. Congratulations!
From left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah Real Estate Group, Juliet Irish with Caitlin Gladney-Hatcher (Rose of Sharon) and trustees Diane Farmer and Jackie Playter.
Our latest grant recipient is Tim Greenwood for the 13 Reasons Why and How to Build Youth Resiliency event. Happening Tuesday, June 13th from 6:30 – 9:30 pm at the Lions Hall Community Centre, the event will bring together youth, parents, grandparents, concerned community members, teachers and professionals around the theme of building and strengthening youth resiliency, says Greenwood. Along with a paneled discussion with audience participation, there will be spoken word performances, a presentation, and more.
From left to right: Awesome trustees Jackie Playter and Sabine Schleese with Tim Greenwood and trustee Diane Farmer.
Our latest grant goes to Girls Inc. of York Region and STEM MINDS who have teamed up with the aim of getting more girls involved in STEM. STEM MINDS will provide quality STEM-based after school programming developed to meet the needs and interests of participants in Girls Inc. programs on an ongoing basis. Opportunities for participants include an introduction to 3D Design and Printing, digital media skills development coding, and robotics. How awesome is that?
From row (from l): Awesome trustees Juliet Irish, and David Faingold with Nicole Myers and Jessica Holmes (Girls Inc.). Middle: Awesome trustees Diane Farmer, Jackie Playter, George H. Smith, Debra Scott and Rebekah (Girls Inc.). Back row: Trustees Brian Sperry, Michael Croxon and Wasim Jarrah.
One of our latest Awesome grants goes to Glenn Marais for The Sacred Canoe, a theatrical production being created in partnership with drummers and elders from Webequie First Nations, Georgina Island and Students and teachers from Sacred Heart CHS. "The message of the play is we can travel together in a canoe of partnership and friendship into a promising future by learning about and from the past," says Glenn. "The partnership will reflect the great partnerships created by early explorers and First Nations people in charting much of the Canadian water system by canoe and establishing the fur trade throughout Canada. As we head towards our Canada 150 Celebrations, this project will recognize and commemorate one of the oldest relationships in our history." Congratulations!
From left to right: Awesome trustees Diane Farmer and Debra Scott with Glenn Marais, and trustees Jackie Playter, Brian Sperry and David Faingold
Congratulations to Megan Dyer, our most recent Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant recipient. Megan is a teacher at a small school in town. The grant, she says, will be used to develop the school’s Modern Learning Commons, a place where students come to explore their creativity using various materials and resources not typically available to them. “We would like to expand our S.T.E.M areas and expose students to new learning opportunities,” she says, adding the school currently has six stations set up for students to choose from. The majority of these stations are geared towards the older children. “We would like the opportunity to expand the number of stations we have and gear these new stations towards the younger students in our school so that we are providing everyone with an equal opportunity to embrace their creativity and take risks learning new technologies.”
From L to R: Awesome trustees Debra Scott and Jackie Playter with Megan Dyer and trustees Diane Farmer and David Faingold.
One of our latest Awesome grant winners is helping to bring more arts to Newmarket. A partnership between Shadowpath Theatre Productions and Gap-Gen, the three-phased project emphasizes engagement by working with youth to co-create meaningful experiences that stretch their minds, bodies, and imaginations. “This awesome project allows art professionals and youth in the Newmarket Community to collaborate in designing and delivering high quality arts education outside of the traditional classroom,” explains Mariette Lee, co-founder of Gap-Gen. The grant will help cover rental fees for Newmarket venues for workshops and performances, as well as marketing materials. Learn more at http://gap-gen.com/theatre-workshops-with-shadowpath/
From left to right: Awesome trustees, Juliet Irish, Debra Scott, Brian Sperry and Diane Farmer (back) with Heather Skoll (Gap-Gen co-founder), Mariette Lee and Peyton Le Barr from Shadowpath Theatre Productions.
We’ve got some Awesome grant winners to tell you about beginning with the Canadian Federation of University Women Aurora/Newmarket Club (CFUW). A not-for-profit women's organization devoted to furthering and empowering education for women and girls, the Club is working with the York Region Children's Aid Society to encourage young wards to stay in high school. “We have worked out a joint program whereby wards in grades 9 and 10 who attend classes regularly, put forth good effort and/or attain academic success are recognized, treated and rewarded with a gift card, diploma, flowers, a party, speeches, etc.” says Lynn Havard, Chair of the Advocacy committee. “We want these young ladies to feel good about themselves and learn to value and appreciate how education is the key to their success as independent adults.” The grant, she says, will go toward supporting and expanding the program. “We would love to be able to give a more substantial financial award to each recipient.” In addition, Havard says the Club wants to be able to help a larger group of high school age wards. “More funding would allow us to do this and hopefully expand the program to male wards, in conjunction with another local service club.”
From left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah and Diane Farmer with Carolynn Schiller and Lynn Havard (both CFUW), trustee David Faingold, Pat Leeson (CFUW) and trustees Juliet Irish and Debra Scott.
The students at Poplar Bank Public School enjoy a number of clubs and activities, including Crunchy Munchy, a healthy breakfast/snack program which serves 1000 items each week free of charge to students who wish to partake. In hopes of expanding on the program’s success, a group of school volunteers are in the midst of gaining approval from York Region District School Board to build a student garden. Students will help select, grow, maintain and harvest the garden, and produce will supplement the Crunchy Munchy program with surplus going to the Newmarket Food Pantry. “Our goal is to encourage lifelong healthy eating habits, teach a skill students can use for life and encourage them to be responsible citizens within their community,” says Veronica Jouaneh, volunteer garden coordinator for the Poplar Bank Student Garden. The grant money, she says, will be used to purchase construction materials such as wood, soil and drainage materials once the approvals process is completed this spring. “The $1000 will allow us to build two out of the proposed four beds, which has the students very excited; they've already been growing items from seeds in anticipation of our garden!”
From L to R: Awesome trustees, Debra Scott, Diane Farmer and Jackie Playter with Nadia, Veronica and Kate, and trustees David Faingold and Wasim Jarrah.
September 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
A big congrats to We Are: A Safe Place - LGBTQ youth for their recent Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant. We Are is an initiative of St. James the Apostle Anglican Church in Sharon, Ont. Open to people of all faiths, the new program is geared toward LGBTQ youth and their family and friends. “The funding will be used to make our space appealing to young people, purchase equipment to facilitate conversation and community building and help us advocate for others,” says Reverend Erin Martin, who founded the program with Kit Woods with help from Beth Ferkranus and Janice Hodgson.
Left to right: Awesome trustees Wasim Jarrah and Michael Croxon with Kit Woods, Beth Ferkranus and Erin Martin (all from We Are) and trustees Jackie Playter, Juliet Irish and Debra Scott.
Congrats to the 94 Air Cadet Squadron —the latest Awesome grant recipient. The grant will be put toward its seniors’ weekend retreat taking place at the end of the month, explains Tara Lauzon, Secretary of the Squadron Sponsorship Committee (SSC) who says the senior cadets (ages 15 and up) play a vital role in the effective functioning of the Squadron. “To start off each training year, the Seniors of 94 Squadron meet for a full weekend to refresh their survival skills, set goals for the year, learn new instructional techniques, and have a bit of fun at the same time.”
Front row: (L to R): Awesome trustees Debra Scott, David Faingold, Sabine Schleese with Michele Tirone and Tara Lauzon (both SSC) and trustee Jackie Playter. Back row: Awesome trustees Juliet Irish, Diane Farmer and Wasim Jarrah.
July 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
Congratulations to Commons Coffee & Catering—Awesome Foundation Newmarket’s latest grant recipient. You may recognize the Commons crew from the Farmers Market where they serve up their delicious coffee and treats every Saturday. Part of the grant will help them continue to be there by covering the cost of the rental van they need each week, says Susan Popper, director/volunteer manager and founder of Commons Coffee and Catering. It will also, she says, help with purchasing some equipment for catering jobs, as well as a new tent and an espresso machine. “It will put us closer to our aim of raising $4000. We have had some donations and garage sale and plan to hopefully organize a fundraising concert or other fundraising activities.”
June 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
Our June grant recipient is BridgeNorth, a community program based in York Region, dedicated to helping commercially sexually exploited women and children exit the sex industry and build healthy lives. “This means that more young people can have access to practical supports through BridgeNorth; and that girls already in the program can continue to access long term counselling services that are vital to their recovery and healing,” says Casandra Diamond, Founder and Director of BridgeNorth.
The grant, she says, will be used in a number of ways. “It will help to provide crisis care and reintegration services to young persons in York Region by providing much needed counselling services, clothing, food and toiletries.”
Pictured here (L to R): Awesome trustee Diane Farmer, BridgeNorth's Casandra Diamond and Sarah Joy Herzog-Masci, with trustees Jackie Playter, Juliet Irish and David Faingold.
April 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
Congrats to 94 Newmarket Optimist Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron for receiving April’s Awesome grant. A fixture in the Newmarket area for more than 50 years, the Squadron gives youth the opportunity to learn valuable skills, such as personal development and leadership, aviation, drill, survival training, and music, says Tara Lauzon, Secretary of the Squadron Sponsorship Committee (SSC). “Cadets give back to their community by participating in Remembrance Day ceremonies and other community service activities, including working with local veterans groups such as the Newmarket and Bradford branches of the Royal Canadian Legion.” Lauzon says the grant will be used to purchase things like supplies for the Pipe and Drum Band at the squadron.
Pictured here (L to R): Awesome trustees Neil Stratton, and Juliet Irish, with Tara Lauzon, Awesome trustee Jackie Playter, James Scott (SSC), and Awesome trustees Diane Farmer, Debra Scott and Michael Croxon.
March 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
Congratulations Project Autism! The York Region branch is the latest grant recipient for their “I Can” Initiative, a program designed to increase social interaction, and learning and development for autistic children and youth. The program inspires creativity, curiosity and encourage hidden talents with a variety of fun, interactive classes, says Anne Mason, President and Founder of Project Autism - York Region. “It is an opportunity for social interaction and fun in a completely accepting environment.” The programs are free thanks to the generosity of volunteers. Though geared towards those on the autism spectrum, programs are open to any special needs children regardless of diagnosis.
February 2016: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
A big congrats to Malka Snobel, our latest Awesome grant winner. Malka is a teacher at a small school in Newmarket, and the grant will go toward starting up a new LEGO club there. The club, she says, will provide hands-on learning and give students the opportunity to enjoy an after-school activity.
Pictured here (L to R): Awesome trustees Diane Farmer and Debra Scott with winner Malka Snobel, Michael Croxon, Jackie Playter, Neil Stratton and David Faingold.
January 2016: Gardening in Kindergarten
Congratulations to Stacey Taylor, our latest Awesome grant recipient. A kindergarten teacher in Newmarket, Stacey is helping her students learn the importance of cultivating plants, specifically food plants. “They will be able to grow plants from seeds and seedlings, learning what plants need to grow and thrive. By growing food plants (carrots, potatoes, lettuce, etc.) they will develop an appreciation of the hard work that goes into producing the food they eat, as well as understand components and benefits of healthy eating.”
November 2015: Awesome Foundation Newmarket Grant Recipient
The latest Awesome Foundation Newmarket grant goes to Rachel Stewart for The Buddy Bench project! The idea, she says, was sparked when she noticed a colourful bench in her son's school yard. Rather than just a place to sit, the bench is a spot for kids to go when they have nobody to play with or feel lonely. Rachel says her own son has used the bench. “He said, ‘When I was new I sat there and someone came to me and asked me to play. I felt happy. And now when I see kids on it, I ask them to play with me… We all do.’” Rachel's goal is to see a buddy bench in every school yard across York Region.
Pictured here (L to R): Awesome trustees Michael Croxon, Lily Galati, Debra Scott, Diane Farmer with winner Rachel Stewart, and trustees Jackie Playter, Sabine Schleese, Juliet Irish, David Faingold, Neil Stratton and Wasim Jarrah.