Head & Hands Blog

Social Counsellor Rhonda Discusses ÇA MARCHE 2015

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rhonda, ca marche

Over 330 youth accessed free and ongoing mental health support through Head & Hands (H&H) during the past year. The success of this amazing social counselling program can in large part be attributed to social counselor Rhonda, H&H’s very own “mother hen.” Rhonda has dedicated fourteen years of her life to the organization and loves every minute of it. We recently sat down with Rhonda to discuss Ça Marche and her work.

H&H: What do you enjoy the most about working for H&H?

Rhonda: This is a very special place; our services are very important and they make a difference. I’m really privileged to work here. My favorite part is working with the clients. I love to be invited on their journeys of self-discovery, and to be able to help them through these journeys. My work allows me to explore the many ways in which we impact one another.

H&H: Why is participating in Ça Marche important to you?

Rhonda: I guess, it’s always been what I have considered my personal project…like in terms of fundraising at Head and Hands, it’s a campaign I really get on. We’re so lucky that the Farha Foundation organizes this great fundraiser that allows us to raise money for our programs and services. I also have some personal history with the Farha family: “Ronnie” Farha and I shared backyards, he was just a bit younger than me, and adorable, just adorable. His mother (Evelyn) was just so lovely, and they moved away but my mother kept in contact. Sadly, Ronnie passed away from AIDS.

H&H: So for you participating is like paying tribute to Ron?

Rhonda: Yeah, as a tribute to “Ronnie” and his mom, because to lose a child is so devastating,and also because Ron contracted HIV in the early years, and we’ve come so far now. So yeah, I walk and I tell people about how important Ça Marche is to raise money for Head and Hands’ services, including our medical services which provide HIV/AIDS education and screening to Montreal youth. Not everybody can join us the day of the march, so I say I will walk for you (donors). I strongly belive in the work we do. I carry a heart with me on the day of  Ça Marche. This year I will invite donors for a tea party at my apartment, and make cakes. So this year the tea party will be at my house!

H&H: Any word of advice for people fundraising this year?

Rhonda: Look at it as an opportunity to contribute. The attitude is important, this is my big time of the year. I really push for this one.

There you have it — some great words of wisdom from Rhonda, who passionately invests herself in Ça Marche every year to raise money for the organization that is the closest to her heart.

To join our team or support our efforts, click here!

 

Ça Marche 2015: A Day to Remember

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Hey everyone!

Let’s welcome fall, and say “goodbye” to summer with an epic dance-party!

ca marche pictures

 

My name is Marie and  as the new Special Events and Fundraising Assistant , I’m happy to invite you to join us for our 2nd biggest fundraiser of the year: Ça Marche.  Join-in on the fun, dress up, and dance the day away. This mega dance-party will be held on Sunday, September 27, at Le Parterre du Quartier des Spectacles, situated at metro Place-des-arts, Montréal’s cultural epicenter. Help us raise $30,000 to finance our core programs and services for 2015-2016, including our medical clinics that offer youth HIV prevention, education, and testing, our social and legal services, and the Sense Project, our peer based sex-ed project, and J2K – our teen drop-in center!

Can you believe that our programs and services were accessed over 28, 000 times by almost 7,000 youth last year? We want that to continue. With your generosity and valuable time you will also help raise awareness to the HIV/AIDS pandemic still affecting an estimated 20,000 Quebecers.

Besides the fact that Ça Marche is the second biggest fundraiser of the year, and will give you a chance to show off your dance moves, and meet new people, it is also being held on what happens to be a pretty cool day.

Here are some fun facts about other social justice events and innovations that have taken place on September 27th:

  • on September 27, 1954, public school integration began in Washington D.C.and in Baltimore M.D.
  • the launch of Google on September 27, 1998, completely altered the way people interact with one another creating a “global village” that makes it a whole lot easier to unite for causes we care about….like.. Ça Marche!
  • on September 27, 2012, the Mars Curiosity Rover discovered evidence of an ancient fast-moving streambed on the surface of Mars, proving that there not only once was a body of water on the planet, but that life could exist beyond planet Earth. In my opinion, this could be used as a reminder that as the only known advanced civilization, ‘we’ should show other potential lifeforms that when we cooperate together we can accomplish great things, like raising 30K for Head & Hands!

  •  Finally, the lead singer of one of my favorite bands Sleater-Kinney, and founding member of the revolutionary Riot Grrrl    movement , Carrie Brownstein was born on September 27, 1974.

Ca Marche

At this point, I am sure that all of you really wanna get involved, and this is how you can do so:

Simply sign up here to join our fundraising team:

 Click this link. Do it now. Greatness awaits you! 

Then create a profile and collect pledges. You can also donate in person at Head & Hands (5833 Sherbrooke O). All gifts above $20 will receive a charitable tax receipt. Your presence at the event will of course also be greatly appreciated.

Please join in on the fun, dress-up, show off your dance moves, help us maintain all of our amazing programs and services, and spread the word!

If you have questions please contact Marie at: specialprojects@headandhands.ca

Thank you for all of the support.

We will see you all on the 27th !

Want to be a Sense Project Volunteer for the 2015-16 school year?

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We are currently seeking new volunteers for the 2015-16 school year!

Interested in facilitating sex ed workshops with youth in high schools? Getting involved with the Sense Project at Head & Hands is a fantastic opportunity to learn, grow and support the well-being of youths in Montreal. Be a part of the magic of the Sense Project as we embark on new changes and visioning in this 10th year of sex ed!

About Head & Hands

Head & Hands is a community organization in NDG that services youth aged 12-25 across the city of Montreal. Since 1970, Head & Hands has been committed to the overall health and well-being of youth, providing holistic services and programs. Our approach is harm/risk reductive, holistic and non-judgemental which is especially important for one of our most important programs: The Sense Project.

About The Sense Project

The Sense Project is Head & Hands’ by youth for youth sexual education program. In 2005, sex ed was phased out of the public high school curriculum resulting in a huge gap in youth’s health education. Over the past decade, the Sense Project has been filling that gap with comprehensive, holistic and inclusive sex ed that centers youth and their needs. Our workshops create space for youth to learn about and discuss topics such as anatomies, genders, STIs, consent culture and more. Head & Hands firmly believes that youth have the right to accurate and accessible information in order to make empowered decisions about their health and lives.

Sense Volunteers a.k.a. “Sensies” are the face of the Sense Project. As a Sensie, your role is to contribute to the program by facilitating sex ed workshops and/or supporting the development of the Sense Project. It is especially important to embody the principles of Head & Hands and our approach which means meeting youth where they’re at. Sensies will have the opportunity to participate in an extensive training in which you’ll learn more about sex, Head & Hands’ approach, allyship and how to facilitate workshops for youth. The goal is to help equip you with the tools and resources to be able to do your own reflective learning and then share with your peers.

Interested? Here are the requirements:

  • New applicants must be aged 25 and under.
  • Volunteers should be committed to Head & Hands’ principles of anti-oppression, risk reduction, and non-judgment.
  • Volunteers should have some availability on weekdays during the day. Throughout the school year, your amount of volunteering is highly dependent on your availabilities and the workshop requests made by schools and organizations.
  • Bilingualism is not mandatory, but it’s an asset! The training will be bilingual (ENG-FR).
  • It’s also an asset if you have previous animation experience or experience working with youth.
  • It is mandatory to attend the full volunteer training (dates listed below).
  • Animators must commit for an entire school year and in taking part in any additional trainings for the Sense Project.

Training dates

If you meet these criteria, please complete a volunteer form and send it to Gabrielle at healthed@headandhands.ca. The deadline to apply is Monday, August 24th at 10 AMWe’ll then book a short screening interview with prospective volunteers.

If you have any questions, feel free to call Shanice at (514) 481-0277!

Volunteer Form Sense Project 2015-16

Saying Goodbye to Jon and Welcoming Andrea as our new Director!

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jon and andrea

You may have heard that this summer, there has been a bit of a change here at Head & Hands. We’re sad to be saying goodbye to Jon, who is leaving after three and a half years as Director to join a community of Jean Sauve Foundation fellows. We’re all filled with so much happiness and pride, thinking of all the wonderful things that Jon has brought to our organization over the years, such as helping us climb out of debt, enabling us to increase the number of youth we’re able to work with each year! When we asked Jon for his top Head & Hands’ memory, he had these very sweet words to share with us:

“I can’t pick a ‘top memory’ because so much of my learning here has been about the consistent experience of an organization that’s more committed than anywhere else I know to living its values fully and completely each and every day. I think that’s what makes Head & Hands so incredibly special, and what’s made my time here far and away the most important learning experience of my life so far, and what I’m gonna try the hardest to carry with me!”

Awwhhhh, thanks Jon! While we will miss Jon, we’re so excited to be welcoming our new Director,  Andrea! Andrea comes to us with a diverse and impressive skill-set that includes experience in the health sector at the Jewish General hospital, studies in business administration, and extensive work in the non-profit sector as a chairperson for the Mercy Project. Wow! We can’t wait to see what she will bring to this position, and we’re excited for all of you to meet her. But most of all, we’re excited and grateful to continue working with YOU: our wonderful, supportive, and inspiring community!

*French translation coming soon

Donor News: Legal Coordinator Ralph Helps Youth Navigate the Effects of Racial Profiling

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Legal coordinator Ralph shows the Know Your Rights pamphlets

Legal coordinator Ralph shows the Know Your Rights pamphlets

 

A police report commissioned after the death of Fredy Villanueva, a youth killed by police in 2008, found that Black youth in Montreal are eight times more likely than white youth of the same age to be stopped by the police. This comes as no surprise to Legal Coordinator Ralph, who helps youth navigate the effects of racial profiling in his Know Your Rights workshops. We spoke with Ralph about the reality of racism in Montreal and the importance of empowering youth in knowing their rights.

H&H: What examples of police racism have you come across in your work with youth?

Ralph: I’ve spoken to a lot of Black youth who’ve complained about getting tickets for loitering in the metro while the white youth around aren’t getting ticketed.  My role is to take their experience seriously, share resources, and help them explore different ways they can respond. And if they want legal advice, I can connect them with our volunteer lawyers.

What makes you uniquely positioned to run the Know Your Rights workshops?

I have a paralegal degree, and I’m also a person of colour with lived experiences of racism. This helps me to understand what the youth are going through while being able to provide the theory, history, and context behind it.

What does a typical workshop look like?

I try to keep it fun and interesting. We role play in costume: youth dress up in uniforms with hats and badges. Going through scenarios and teaching youth their rights each step of the way means that if they’re presented with a similar situation in real life, they’ll feel less afraid and be able to stay calm and be assertive. I also teach youth how to take pictures and record conversations, identify police and ask them for their badge. By the end of the workshop, the energy in the room feels lighter. Many youth share personal stories, and say it’s a therapeutic experience.

Workshops happen every 1 to 2 months, when the need is there. There’s also a Know Your Rights video series on our YouTube channel, plus pamphlets and cards at our office and on our website.

Ralph is available to support youth with a variety of issues – from profiling, to housing, divorce, and more. Our legal services receive no dedicated funding, meaning they’re supported entirely by donors like you!

 

Donor News: “Your Body is Okay!” Our Sense Project Coordinator Talks Body Diversity, Beauty Standards, and Sexual Performance Anxiety

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Gab, Sense Project Coordinator

Gab, Sense Project Coordinator

 

Ontario’s new comprehensive sexual education curriculum, revised last year, shows just how much Quebec is lagging when it comes to equipping youth with the information they need to make empowered sexual decisions.  Since sex education was effectively removed from the Quebec curriculum in 2005, rates of STIs as well as dating and sexual violence have risen steadily among teens. For the past ten years, youth volunteers trained through Head & Hands’ Sense Project have been working tirelessly to fill the gaps by leading workshops on gender and sexuality, safer sex, and consent to youth in schools, group homes, and CEGEPs.

This year’s most popular workshop explores questions of body and genital diversity, society’s beauty standards, and sexual performance anxiety. According to Sense Project Coordinator Gab, one of the ways through which today’s youth are exposed to unrealistic beauty standards and sexual expectations – and one of the topics they’re most eager to talk about –  is porn.

“The reality is, youth are watching porn, so we need to be having frank discussions with them on how a lot of mainstream porn is made,” Gab explains. “It’s a performance and what’s not shown is communication and consent.”

Gab also discusses how porn can impact body image and expectations: “Makeup is used to change the colour of genitals, but our workshops set the record straight: genitalia come in all shapes and sizes, and can range from pale pink to dark brown. Casting, editing, and filming make it so bodies look and perform in a very specific way; so we talk to youth about having realistic expectations of their bodies and their partners’ bodies.

The response to the workshops has been incredibly positive.  For many youth, it’s their only opportunity to ask burning questions to peer-educators, knowing they won’t be judged! There’s a strong need for more workshops, but resources are limited. “These days, everyone’s budget is limited, so we don’t always get paid and we’re often underpaid for the workshops we give; but we don’t turn down an opportunity to give much needed sex education for youth, even if we have to do it for free.”

The Sense Project depends on community giving, which means that we need you to help this project expand and reach more youth. As Gab explains, “There’s nothing like seeing the sigh of relief from a youth when you tell them their body is okay.”

 

SEEKING FRONT DESK VOLUNTEERS!

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Passionate about youth empowerment, harm reduction, and holistic legal, social, and health care services? Love NDG? Love Head & Hands? We need your help!

Head & Hands is looking for committed, open-minded, and enthusiastic volunteers. You are likely up to the task if you are invested in non-judgmental, anti-oppressive, and social justice approaches to community-based programming and community building.

Specifically, we are seeking front desk volunteers to work in conjunction with our office coordinators. Tasks will include working at our front desk (approximately 6 hour shifts, 1–4 times per month), directing clients to the appropriate Head & Hands service, providing referrals and information about other Montreal organizations, and acting as first responder for clients in need of support and crisis intervention. As a front desk volunteer, you will also have the occasional opportunity to help out with programming, projects, and events.

Think you might be interested?

We offer a 30-hour training program for our front desk volunteers aimed at introducing you to Head & Hands’ diverse clientele and approaches to meeting their needs. Past training has included workshops around harm and risk reduction, crisis intervention, active listening, de-escalation skills, and the history of Head & Hands.

Still interested?

Ideal applicants are:

  • Age 17 years or older
  • Able to commit to 6–20 hours per month of volunteering
  • Able to commit to 6–12 months of volunteering
  • Available for a regular shift, weekday daytimes and/or evenings
  • Fluent in English and spoken French
  • Available for training session workshops in the evenings and on weekends in July

Still considering applying? Here is a testimonial from one of our front desk volunteers about their experiences with the program:

“Volunteering at the front desk of Head & Hands makes me feel like a part of my community. I look forward to my shifts! Head & Hands is the best and volunteering at the front desk is great.”

 YAY! You’ve decided to apply!

dog at desk

Please complete the volunteer application form by June 14th at 5 pm. Selected candidates will be contacted for an interview shortly afterwards. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Devon and Linda at info@headandhands.ca, or call (514) 481-0277.

SAMEDI IN THE PARK!

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Summer is in the air, with buds on the trees and birds chirping. On June 13, we’re inviting our whole community to join us for Samedi in the Park – an afternoon of food, music, fun, and conversation about the role of youth in NDG!  It’s all happening right in the middle of Girouard Park, at the old wading pool.

From 12:00pm until 3:00pm, come enjoy a delicious BBQ, meet our new Director, and learn about the many different ways H&H works with young people make this community more healthy, vibrant, and caring. Plus, be a part of our community planning process, and help us build our vision for the future!

From 3:00pm until 5:00pm, fuel up on FREE snacks prepared by cooks from our Young Parents Program, and join our Annual General Meeting to get more details on the past year at H&H and elect the new Board members who will help make all our dreams come true.

All through the day, we’ll have games, art, and musical performances by some of this city’s most exciting youth talent. Right after the AGM, stick around for an extra-special headline performance that will blow you away, and dance with us to celebrate another amazing year!

5:30pm – SPECIAL HEADLINE PERFORMANCE BY MATT HOLUBOWSKI !!!

This event is open to EVERYONE, and we will have free child-care available throughout the day.

ARE YOU A MEMBER? If you’ve accessed services, volunteered your time, or made a donation in the past year, then YOU are a member of Head & Hands eligible to vote at our AGM. To get on our voting list, get in touch with the Coordinator of the program you accessed or volunteered for, and let them know you want to attend – or if you’re a donor, just show up (we’ve already got your info)!

ARE YOU NOT A MEMBER?  We still love you, come celebrate with us!!!

samedi - EN

Please join us in celebrating Paul’s memory

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Last month, we were extremely saddened to share the news that our dear colleague Paul passed away suddenly on Friday April 3rd, 2015. Paul was one of our two Street Workers, and provided on-the-spot support to NDG youth where, when, and how they needed it. His dedication, empathy, and joy were both infectious and inspiring. The loss of this unique and wonderful person is deeply felt throughout the many communities Paul touched with his light.

bees 1

Please join us in celebrating Paul’s memory and time with us. On Tuesday May 26th, we invite community members to gather together to plant seeds around NDG – in honour of Paul’s impact on the neighbourhood. The seeds we will help support and nourish bees contributing to environmental and community wellbeing; philosophies that embodied Paul’s work and represents Head & Hands’ approach to holistic health.

paul-robert_rivet_avis

There are a number of ways to participate in this memorial:

  • On May 26th you can join us at 5833 Sherbrooke West (our main office) to pick up seedbombs as of 2pm. You are invited to join a small walking group that will leave around 2:15pm or you can grab the seeds and commemorate Paul in your own way.
  • We will give out seeds until they run out – so if you can’t make it on the 26th and would like to participate, give us a call and if we have any left we would be happy for you to come get some.

 

If you need support, we invite you to please call us at our main office at 514-481-0277.  

Behind the Numbers: The Human Impact of Austerity at Head & Hands

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This May 1st, International Workers’ Day, Head & Hands will be closing our offices and taking to the streets in two anti-austerity actions. While it’s important to us to remain accessible to our clients by keeping regular office hours whenever possible, we also know that in order to ensure our sustainability as an organization and affirm the rights of our clients to access holistic, non-judgmental social, medical, and legal services, we must join our voices with those taking a stand against austerity.

In a nutshell, austerity refers to the widespread government cuts to education; arts and culture; environmental protection; social assistance; public health; and public sector spending overall.  Various studies show that the cumulative effects of these cuts actually cost governments more in the long run, which begs the question, who does austerity really benefit? Cutting spending for public services moves costs to the individual or to the private sphere where profit is the bottom line. For example, cuts to public health burden the individual with costs for necessary items such as bandages, crutches, and medication follow-up while helping the companies who make these items to prosper. This pushes those who are already cash-poor further into poverty and increases the need for Head & Hands’ resources, like the food pantry.

picking up food for the food pantry!

picking up food for the food pantry!

 

Austerity benefits big corporate growth built on the backs of people with whom Head & Hands shares community and stands in solidarity. Cuts to the public sphere benefit the wealthiest and most privileged people in our society while contributing to the ongoing marginalization of the individuals we serve, affecting their rights, safety, and well-being.  This kind of scarcity model creates a culture of fear by promoting the erroneous idea that there aren’t enough resources to go around, which directly  feeds racism; already, recent polls show that a quarter of Canadians feel too many non-white immigrants are coming to Canada, which contributes to cycles of systemic and institutional violence against people of colour.

Austerity means cuts to the crucial services that marginalized communities need. However, framing this conversation simply in terms of “need” and “marginalization” alone is patronizing and misses the bigger picture: as people who share the identities of queer, trans*, woman, person of colour, cashpoor, and disabled, we not only need but deserve and are entitled to well-funded public services to help us navigate the multiple oppressions capitalism, colonization, and white supremacy have thrown at us.  Our marginalization isn’t accidental, and austerity seeks to further marginalize us for corporate profits.

via http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/dave-bush/2013/04/austerity-working-and-thats-problem

via http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/dave-bush/2013/04/austerity-working-and-thats-problem

As a not-for-profit community organization that works with  people experiencing the impacts of marginalization, we see the effects of dwindling funding every day. Austerity-minded funding cuts are directly impacting our funders and community partners, leading to rapid growth in the number of youth accessing our services that outpaces the growth of our own limited resources. Last year alone we had over 24,000 youth visits; distributed 2,490 clean needles; provided social counselling services to 392 youth, spent 180 hours giving by-donation legal advice, and had 78 medical clinics. The waiting time for our trans* clients to get an appointment to start hormone therapy is currently over a year. In our neighbourhood of NDG, one quarter  of residents live below the poverty line. At Head&Hands, we are uniquely situated in that we offer an incredibly wide range of services that are accessible to Montreal youth regardless of income and without discrimination. We need more organizations like Head & Hands, not fewer.  We’re worried about how these numbers will continue to grow amidst a climate of austerity, and how far will we have to stretch our budget and ourselves to be there for our community. In all of this, it is important to remember: behind these numbers are people’s lives.

This is why we’re going to be be joining with our community and taking to the streets this Friday, May 1st! Donations from our community to support Head & Hands as we adapt to austerity agendas are more crucial than ever, so please visit our donation page or contact Malaika, our Fundraising and Development Coordinator, at gifts@headandhands.ca or 514-481-0277.  Together, let’s take a stand against austerity!