Archive for March, 2015

Volunteering at Head & Hands

hey hey
We love our volunteers! They are amazing, solid, inspired, exciting, and  creative  members of our team and a huge reason we are able to do all that we do to support youth in our communities. We invited our volunteers to write testimonials about their experiences of volunteering for Head & Hands, and we are in awe of the words, stories, and beautiful insights they have shared with us. So today on our blog, we have chosen to highlight the voice of one of our amazing volunteers!  We have so enjoyed getting to know our volunteers and we know you will too!
When I first arrived in Montreal in 2012, I felt like a little boat adrift in unfamiliar waters. In Ottawa, where I had lived for the vast majority of my 23 years, I felt at home. Each downtown street in Ottawa is, for me, paved by memories and each bus stop is as familiar as my mom’s living room. I took for granted that I belonged to my community and my community belonged to me. In Montreal, suddenly I knew what it was to be a stranger, disconnected from my comfortable network. After a few months feeling anonymous and out-of-place, I realized that community is like anything else: the more you put into it, the more you get out. By volunteering at Head + Hands, I became connected once again. I learned that the heart (and the head, and the hands) of community is people taking care of one another. During my training, I became a part of my community by learning from wise peers. Sitting at the front desk, I became a part of my community by connecting people to resources, by being a welcoming face for a young person nervous to access a service they need. Deep in conversation with volunteers, staff, and clients at Head and Hands, I became a part of my community by listening to its collective needs and feelings, its diversity of opinions and goals. Today I feel like my little boat adrift at sea has docked in port and retired its sails for a while, because this lovely island is a place I can call home”. – Front desk volunteer
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Meet Richenda: Fundraising Administrator and Monthly Donor!


Happy Friday! Today I’d like you to read all about the wonderful Richenda, our Fundraising Administrator and new monthly donor! When she is not processing donations here at Head & Hands, Richenda is part of the Black Students Network and studies Women’s Studies at McGill! She is super happy to be featured on this blog, because according to Richenda, the Head & Hands blog helps you be perpared for anything! So sit back, relax, and let Richenda prepare you to become a monthly donor.


I commit to Head & Hands every month because and/or Why did you sign up as a monthly donor?: Because I felt like it was the right thing to do for youth in the community (including myself who has accessed our services!), and because I love being profiled on the H&H website.

 How did you first find out about Head & Hands?

Quite a while ago when I volunteered with SACOMSS, and now I work here as Fundraising Administrator! I process my own donations and I send myself thank you cards!

 I fill my days with:

I fill my days with school and work, and my nights with red wine and Netflix.

 Is there a particular Head & Hands program that you are passionate about? Why?

I love all the programs!! But I especially love the Fundraising team.

As a teenager I was:

2 years younger than I am now

 Song I have stuck in my head right now:

Sex and The City theme song

 Celebrity crush (dead or alive):

Sidney Poitier in In The Heat of The Night (1967), Rihanna

 I can’t live without:


 If I won a trip anywhere in the world I would:Take Rihanna with me

My fave book, zine, magazine, blog: I love reading the Head & Hands blog because of what it tells me about my community and the world

My advice for youth today:

Listen to Rihanna’s music and read the Head & Hands blog and you will be prepared for anything.

Want to become a monthly donor? It’s super easy! Just visit our monthly giving page RIGHT HERE or contact Malaika at 514-481-0277. Monthly giving is also super accessible. All donations, from $3 to a million-billion per month are very important to us!

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Why Ontario’s new sex-ed curriculum is leaving Quebec in the dust (and how we can catch up)


Have you heard? Ontario has a new sex-ed curriculum! This curriculum update—the first since 1998, i.e., around the time Google was invented—will be implemented in schools this fall, and covers a bunch of ‘new’ topics including same-sex relationships, sexting, and masturbation.

While it’s hard to predict how this new curriculum will be implemented, we are super excited that Ontario is taking steps toward a sex-ed curriculum for the 21st century! We are also pumped that the conversation is expanding to become more comprehensive, inclusive, and holistic. High fives! At the same time, we at Head & Hands are making the same sad faces we had back in 2005 when the Quebec government basically removed sex ed from the curriculum. Because they still haven’t put it back!

Quebec is lagging behind when it comes to sex ed, and youth are the ones who are losing out. Sure, some sex ed is happening—by community organizations like Head & Hands and some teachers—but it certainly isn’t happening at the level or frequency required to meet the needs of our province’s youth. From the Sense Project’s past 10 years on the ground doing sex ed to fill in these gaps, it has become clear to us that the government needs to step up!
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Ten years have passed since the curriculum reform, and we have seen stats go in the wrong direction in Quebec. STI rates are rising (and yes, F@#% STIgma), and so too are rates of relationship violence. At Head & Hands, we believe that in order to address these challenges, we need sex ed in every classroom that is non-judgemental, holistic, and speaks directly to youth.

We think that youth deserve consistent, reliable access to information and tools regarding sexuality, consent, boundaries, gender identities, and healthy relationships. Having access to emotional, behavioural, and communication tools can support youth in making informed decisions about their sexual health.
Access to comprehensive sexual health information is more important than ever in an era when youth can find all kinds of sex and sexual health information at the click of a mouse (or touch of a screen). The debate over access to sexual health information has changed—youth are accessing and exchanging information at increasingly frequent rates. We believe that accurate information being at the core of that exchange is a priority—to address myths and STIgma; to foster dialogue around diversity and empowered decision making; and to facilitate the development in youth of self-knowledge about bodies, desires, values, and needs when it comes to sex and sexuality. We applaud the steps Ontario has taken, but we need more.

We spoke with  Global TV to help folks understand the context of sex ed in Quebec, and to share what we think Quebec should be doing about sex ed in our province!

We at Head & Hands are calling for the development and implementation of a mandatory non-judgemental, holistic, youth-empowered sex-ed curriculum as well as ongoing trainings for educators, social service providers, and front-line workers. Youth are learning about sex in a million ways—let’s support them in making informed decisions about their health and sexuality.



Big changes for our food pantry


The thing I love about working the food pantry is getting to meet and chat with people while sharing food and resources!

Big changes are being made to our food pantry!!


By providing a couple days’ food to folks who need it, the emergency food pantry is an essential piece of Head & Hands’ game plan towards fostering a healthy and food-secure community.

Like all our H&H services, we approach our food pantry from a non-judgmental and holistic philosophy- no questions asked! As an emergency food provider we understand that a major challenge for many people to access services like food resources is not having an ID – and we know there are many reasons why someone may not have ID. We don’t think that should be a barrier to accessing food. We do our best to make it as easy as possible for you to come in and grab what you need. The general process for the food pantry is pretty straight-forward: if you are between 12-25 you can pick a bag twice a month; if you’re over 25- you can come by once a month. You don’t need ID, proof of address, or proof of income! Let us know if you have kids – we offer extra for families! The pantry is divided in two sections – food that needs to be cooked, and food that doesn’t, because we know not everyone has access to a stove or kitchen.

Good news… We have expanded the food options available and have added soy milk to our pantry! And….

We are now accredited by Moisson Montreal, the largest food bank in Canada, whose mission is to redistribute food donations to community organizations. Their donations will not only increase our food pantry stocks but will also mean bigger and better things for our YPP collective kitchen and more food options at J2K!

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Meet Olivier: New Board Member and Monthly Donor!


This week on the blog, we’re featuring Olivier, who, in addition to recently joining our Board of Directors, just signed up to become a monthly donor! Needless to say, we’re so excited to have Olivier literally on (the) board and as a brand new monthly donor! When he’s not being a volunteer extraordinaire at Head & Hands, Olivier works for an important organization that provides services to people with cancer, watches Netflix, and wears “sassy sweaters.”

Olivier, belting out an ode to Head & Hands

Olivier, belting out an ode to Head & Hands

Why did you sign up as a monthly donor? I want to sustainably contribute to services that youth need and don’t necessarily have access to! Best organization EVER: in my opinion, everyone involved with H&H is a local celebrity.

As a teenager I was: Very polite (how boring).

Top three things you’d want to have with you on a desert island: My friend Cameron (HI CAMERON), my friend Mariel (HI MARIEL), and like lots of food, to eat.

I can’t live without: Sassy sweaters

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

On a lazy afternoon I: watch Netflix in underpants

Celebrity crush (dead or alive): I know nothing whatsoever about celebrities WAIT I LOVE OPRAH but like half for real and half ironically? I’m not really sure. One year in art school I exclusively made art projects about, or featuring, Oprah.

My fave book, zine, magazine, blog: Notre-Dame-de-Paris by Hugo. It’s very good.

My advice for youth today: Fight the man! He deserves it.

Want to become a monthly donor like Olivier ? It’s super easy! Just visit our monthly giving page RIGHT HERE or contact Malaika at 514-481-0277. Monthly giving is also super accessible. All donations, from $3 to a million-billion per month are very important to us!

Meet Liz: Monthly Donor, Bartender, and Movie Producer!

- At J2K we cooked a lot, played basketball, and there's also a  music room and computers. The programming at Head & Hands is in  direct response to the needs of the community.

– At J2K we cooked a lot, played basketball, and there’s also a music room and computers. The programming at Head & Hands is in direct response to the needs of the community.

Meet Liz: monthly donor, bartender, and movie producer extraordinaire! In addition to working as a bartender at Bifteck, Liz is an independent producer for Farah Goes Bang, a feminist, sex-positive comedy that was an official selection at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and won the Nora Ephron Prize. Liz has also produced the award-winning short, A Better Place than This. Understandably, she always wants to have 3Gs to stay connected to her filmmaking work, keep up to date with Head & Hands’ latest media appearances, and also to look at pics of her crush, Barack Obama. A former animator at our J2K youth center, Liz loves how being a monthly donor means she can contribute directly to the community she lives in!

Tell us about the work you did at J2K.

Youth at Musikaddict, J2K's music program

Youth at Musikaddict, J2K’s music program

When I worked at J2K it was as a youth animator which meant organizing and facilitating activities in the center. We cooked a lot, played basketball, there’s a music room and computers. Neil who organizes it and the rest of the staff are really like extensions of the youths’ families or like friend circles. So a lot of the time you’re just hanging out, doing what they (the youth) want to do. Which I think is the point of the center.

J2K is amazing. For more about their hours and exciting programs and events, readers can check out their page. And now, to completely switch gears, how about this amazing, award-winning comedy you produced? What’s that all about and how can we watch it?

Farah Goes Bang is a feminist, chick-flick, buddy, comedy, sex-positive, political, road movie! It’s the story of three friends who take a trip across the country to campaign for John Kerry slash celebrate their sisterhood and one of them, the titular Farah, is trying to lose her virginity along the way. You can watch the trailer here and soon you’ll be able to see it on iTunes (April 10th!)

via Farah Goes Bang

via Farah Goes Bang

What are your favourite books, zines, blogs?

For a book, I’m tempted to say To Kill a Mockingbird, but it’s probably Bridget Jones’ Diary. I don’t read zines – I’m not that cool, but I like Time and The Atlantic. For blogs, I like Post Secret (does that count as a blog?) and Rich Kids of Instagram.

Top 3 things you’d want to have on a desert island?

1.Pink lemonade
2. an iPad with 3Gs (or however many Gs are now available)
3. A pillow!

Is there a particular Head & Hands program that you feel passionate about and why?

I think they’re all incredible. Honestly. Head and Hands combines a strong vision and core principles with practicality. Consequently, all of their programs are effective and useful because they are a direct response to the needs of the community filtered through H&H’s unique, non-judgmental, hands on approach.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Want to become a monthly donor like Liz? It’s super easy! Just visit our monthly giving page RIGHT HERE or contact Malaika at 514-481-0277. Monthly giving is also super accessible. All donations, from $3 to a million-billion per month are very important to us!

Let everyone you know see how cool Liz is and how important monthly giving is: use your 3Gs and share this post!

Winter Mailout Correction!


In our Winter Mailout this year, we wrote to our supporters and shared a client story that particularly moved us this winter. Alex, a transgender youth, came to Head & Hands after attempting suicide three times.

As someone with a non-conforming gender identity and a member of a racial minority group, Alex had been stigmatized and shamed at the hospital after each suicide attempt and was denied access to additional mental health support. They eventually dropped out of school. Their concerned family could not afford private counselling and was unable to access the CLSC, so they turned to Head & Hands. Rhonda provided counselling for not only Alex but for their entire family. Today, Alex* is no longer suicidal, and their family has regained a sense of stability.

You may have noticed that in the original letter, we referred to Alex as “transgendered,” which we later realized is a problematic term. Today on the blog, we want to apologize for our mistake and remind ourselves and our community of the importance and power of words. We also want to share with you why we were wrong and create a learning opportunity for ourselves and others!

Different words have different connotations and histories. Words can be used to fight prejudice, but sadly they are also all too effective in reinforcing oppression. At Head & Hands, we recognize the power of using words as tools for social justice.

The word “transgendered” is problematic and the preferred term is “transgender.” Wondering why? The GLADD style guide puts it best:

“The adjective transgender should never have an extraneous “-ed” tacked onto the end. An “-ed” suffix adds unnecessary length to the word and can cause tense confusion and grammatical errors. It also brings transgender into alignment with lesbian, gay, and bisexual. You would not say that Elton John is “gayed” or Ellen DeGeneres is “lesbianed,” therefore you would not say Chaz Bono is “transgendered.”

If you’d like some more resources about the language to use when talking about LGBT*Q communities, we’ve got two for you: this style guide put out by the Association of LGB&T* journalists with suggestions about language to use when producing media about LGB&T* communities, and the GLAAD style guide.

30 New Donors in 31 Days: Our March Monthly Campaign!


It’s that time of year: the temperature is dropping, the snow is melting, and we’re gearing up for our Monthly Donor Campaign! As the days start to get longer, help Head & Hands continue our longterm relationship with our community by becoming a monthly donor! Our goal is to sign up 30 new monthlies in 31 days!!

We can’t stress how much we love our monthly donors! Each week on the blog, we’ll be introducing you to some of the amazing people who donate monthly to Head & Hands. Becoming a monthly donor is one of the best ways to contribute to our financial stability and ensure that we can be there for Montreal’s young people. Many of our most crucial services – including our legal services, medical clinics, info and referral program, and the Sense Project – receive no designated funding, and monthly donations go a long way towards keeping these services alive! In the last year, about $18K of our budget came from monthly donors, who gave in increments ranging from $5 to $200 a month!

Richenda, our Fundraising Administrator, with a thank you card for our monthlies!

Richenda, our Fundraising Administrator, with a thank you card for our monthlies!

Gifts of all sizes make a huge difference, and we hope you’ll help us reach our goal by signing up or helping us spread the word! Visit our “Give Monthly” page for more information, or to sign up! And if you have questions, contact our Fundraising and Development Coordinator Malaika at or 514-481-0277.

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We love our Volunteers!


Are you one of our volunteers?

As you know, Head & Hands offers all kinds of services and resources to youth in our communities—a medical clinic, a legal clinic, a youth drop-in space, a young parents program, street work and risk-reduction support, dozens of sexual health workshops, popular education, and advocacy. We also have a comprehensive information and referral system, offer a food pantry, and provide counselling, tutoring, and instrumental support to youth and young adults from our local NDG community as well as across Montreal. Hundreds and hundreds of people come through our doors, reach out through email, and call us for support and resources. Our main office is open 11.5 hours a day, 5 days a week, with services offered at J2K on Saturdays as well!

How do we manage to do so much? VOLUNTEERS!!! OUR FANTASTIC RELIABLE AMAZING INSPIRING WONDERFUL  BRILLIANT VOLUNTEERS!!!! Whether you’ve given 2 hours once this year or dozens of hours multiple times, we couldn’t have done it without you. You are literally the reason we can run all of our programs and provide so much support to youth in our communities! Let’s be extra clear: You are at the heart of Head & Hands.



When: Friday, March 27th, 6:30 pm–9:00 pm

Where: Centre Communautaire St Raymond’s Community Centre, 5600 Chemin Upper Lachine (Metro Vendome + 90 bus or 104 bus or a 5-7 minute walk)

Who: You, other volunteers, and the Head & Hands staff – feel free to bring a plus one

What to expect: Light food and drinks, music, games, prizes, mingling

Accessibility information: St Raymond’s Community Centre is wheelchair accessible with an automatic door and elevator. There is a wheelchair-accessible, single-stall bathroom on the same floor as the event. Childcare will be available. Please let us know if you have any other accessibility requests by emailing

Please RSVP by March 14, 2014.

We hope you can make it!

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