Tree of Hope raises money and awareness for Family & Children’s Services Foundation

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Family & Children’s Services Foundation’s 27th annual CHYM Tree of Hope Radiothon, held Thursday, December 5 at The Family Centre in Kitchener, was a resounding success. The campaign, including Radiothon, has, to date, raised $232,634 this year.

Jill Stoddart, the Foundation’s Director of Research, Development and Outcomes, said the Tree of Hope Campaign is their largest campaign of the year. “In addition to the opportunity to raise most of the funds for the campaign that we need throughout the year, the CHYM Tree of Hope Radiothon provides us the opportunity to raise awareness about the work we do and the needs in our community. CHYM 96.7 provides an invaluable opportunity for us to talk about the needs in our community and the work of Family & Children’s Services.”

“Given increasing cuts in government funding for many social service focussed organizations, the funds raised and throughout our month-long campaign are more needed than ever.”

The CHYM Tree of Hope Radiothon isn’t just about raising money, though. “The most moving part of the day for me was hearing the stories of the children, youth and families we work with. As a researcher focused on resilience, I am always amazed about what people’s experiences can teach us.”

There were booths and activities featuring Family Centre partners and Resilience Project partners throughout the 12-hour event. Stoddart was particularly moved by some of the events that prominently featured children. What stood out for her?

“Watching the children of AFRO showing off their drumming skills and the children of Levant performing their traditional Dabkeh dance, I looked around at parents and others in the crowd, all clapping and sharing pride in the abilities of our children. It struck me that this is what belonging is all about. The strength of the Waterloo Region is all of the people who live here, coming together as a community.”

Local muralist and visual artist Pamela Rojas was in charge of the art and crafts table, and also displayed some of her work at her booth.

“One staff member (at The Family Centre) told me that the way children are supported and how my program motivates them to express themselves helps them understand they are building community. This makes her feel optimistic and hopeful for the future.”

Rojas talked with many children and parents about the Creative Space/Resilience Project, creative programming that helps build resilience in children and families in Waterloo Region.

She feels art is an equalizer. “It gives us the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds. Art creates connections and allows us to dream together about a healthy community.”

Her arts and crafts activities were for kids of all ages. Montreal Alouettes defensive tackle Chris Ackie joined Rojas for over half an hour, making Christmas tree decorations for his mother. “We had a great conversation about how he discovered his passion at the age of 10 years old and the challenges to follow his dream.”

“It really does take a village,” said Stoddart. “Whether it was people calling in, coming in, or showing their support on-line, our community came together. I wish to extend my deepest gratitude to all our donors, sponsors, partners, and advocates, along with the many children, youth, families and staff who made our event possible. You made something good happen!”