Archive for the ‘Give’ Category

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


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.



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 or 514-481-0277.  Together, let’s take a stand against austerity!

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!

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.

Spread the Love with Head & Hands: Printable Cards!


Valentine’s Day is coming up, and if your idea of a good time doesn’t include celebrating the free market in the name of love, we have a solution for you! Why buy chocolates filled with sugar and laced with capitalism when you can support Head & Hands instead?

FullSizeRender (10)

Allow us to re-introduce you to our most adorable fundraising campaign yet: Give the Gift! When you donate online through Give the Gift, you’ll receive a set of cards, custom-designed by youth artist J’VLYN. They’ll be ready to print to give to your lovers, friends, exes, crushes, siblings, and distant relatives! Really, there’s no need to limit your love or your donation. Give to everyone to help us meet the growing need for our medical, social, and legal services!

Gifts of all sizes make a difference to Montreal youth:

$15 provides 2 days of healthy food for a young family
$25 funds one counselling session
$50 covers the cost of 5 after-school tutoring sessions
$75 allows us to give one sexual health workshop to a group of youth
$250 puts our Street Worker in the community for 15 hours of outreach, distributing clean needles, crack pipes, and condoms
$500 foots the bill for one week of evening medical clinics

Give the Gift! There’s no better way to declare your love for Head & Hands!

Want some cookies (not laced with capitalism!) to go with your card? Support the Young Parents’ Program and order some yummy cookies!


*French translation coming soon*

Donor News: Street Worker Sara Talks Suicide Intervention


Since the re-launch of our Street Work program, Sara has been supporting youth through a variety of complex and sensitive challenges, including 14 suicide interventions. We sat down with Sara to learn more about how she is supporting these youth through their most difficult times.

"These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel."

“These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel.”


H & H: How do you know if someone is considering suicide?

I listen for certain key words or phrases like “hopelessness” or “things don’t matter anymore.” Often the client is someone I have an ongoing relationship with and I’ll notice that they’ve lost interest in the things they normally do. These are red flags. I’ll then ask them, “Are you thinking suicide?” or “Are you thinking of hurting yourself?”

H&H: How do clients react?

Usually, they’ll just say “yes” or “no.” Or they’ll say, “No, but I think about it sometimes.” I think if people are suicidal, they feel a lot of relief that someone is not afraid to talk about it.

H&H: If a client says that they are suicidal, what do you do?

I say, “I’m really worried about you right now. These feelings can be some of the hardest we as humans can feel. It’s understandable you are having feelings of hopelessness.”

If you’re worried someone’s going to kill themselves, and if they’re in a state of shock, sometimes it can be good to be directive, while still checking in to make sure they’re on the same page as you. I provide and explore options with them, such as going to a crisis centre. I talk through the process with them so they know what to expect. I also let them know that we can make the call together, and that I can be with them – they don’t have to go through this alone.

H&H: What kind of follow-up do you do?

I get their permission to build a network of support with them by connecting them with various crisis and relevant support services. I follow up with the person to see how meetings are going with the other organizations and ask if there are other areas in their life they are looking for support with.

In addition to our street worker, our social counselor Rhonda provides support for people thinking about suicide. Our holistic approach means that we draw on a variety of networks at Head & Hands and in the larger community to support those going through difficult times. 

If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, you can contact Sara 514-377-9858 or call us at 514-481-0277 to make an appointment with our Social Counsellor, Rhonda.

You can also call Suicide Action Montreal at 514-723-4000 or Tracom at 514-483-3033.


H&H chats CA MARCHE with Parents at the YPP!



This week, Head & Hands headed over to the Young Parents Program (YPP) to see what has motivated some of the program’s participants to walk in Ca Marche.

Today at the YPP, parents and kids are in full Ca Marche prep-mode, getting their swag ready for the walk.

For a variety of reasons, the youth we spoke to preferred to keep their identities confidential, but their touching remarks attest to the importance of supporting Head & Hands’ unique youth health services through events like Ca Marche, which raises funds and awareness to support many Montreal groups working on research, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS.


The parents were asked why they were walking in Ca Marche?, and why they attended Head & Hands’ Young Parents Program?

One parent said that her mother had been living with AIDS for 19 years now, so it was an issue that she has been affected by her whole life. Meanwhile, the YPP has been a sanctuary of sorts for her and many others: “It lets me get out of the house, helps to not be alone. And my kids can hang out with the other English kids, which is more rare at daycare”.

Another participant chimed in: “YPP broke my isolation from Elizabeth House [a private rehabilitation centre for young mothers]. You know, when I was there, I couldn’t talk to anyone. I felt alone. The YPP helped change that, and I’ve been coming since mid-december of last year!”

Another parent was adamant about her show of solidarity: “I know girls who have worked the streets, and have been infected by HIV. I’ve been there myself, and I’m lucky to have come out clean”.

The last parent we talked spoke courageously and with hope, despite fighting to hold back the tears. Someone close to her heart – a sibling – contracted HIV a few years back.

“It’s very taboo. I mean, she lives a normal life. It’s easier in 2014 than it was back then, but it’s hard to know someone you love has it.”

This parent has been affiliated with Head & Hands on and off for a long time. When she became pregnant and was afraid to tell her parents, she came to H&H. We proposed attending YPP, and though at first she was skeptical because she thought it was your average child protection agency, she quickly turned around when she started attending.

“I feel depression, you know. It’s hard getting off the couch sometimes. But it’s energizing for me to come here to the center to get things off my mind, and hang out with the other parents”

By now, she’s so confident that YPP is a great program for youth in her position that she even brought her roommate, who was attending YPP for the first time that day.

Our last parent left us with some uplifting words about why she is dancing in Ca Marche: “I’m going to dance because dancing makes me feel good! You dance to celebrate everything about who you are”.


And with those words, we at Head & Hands invite you once more to COME DANCE with us tomorrow at Ca Marche, or DONATE right HERE!



If you’d like to donate directly to the YPP, please contact Allyson (

Why Are you Walking (*dancing), Richenda?



This month, we are interviewing some of our walkers to see why they are participating in Ca Marche, a crucial fundraising event for us at Head & Hands. We’re so grateful to all of them, and are curious to know what motivates them!

This week’s Ca Marche walker:


H&H: Who are you and what do you do at Head & Hands?

R: Well, I’m new! I started here at the end of July, and I couldn’t be more excited to be here! My job as Fundraising Administrator is to process all the donations that come into the organization, and write text for thank you cards to our donors.

H&H: That’s awesome. Tell us more about yourself! What’s your favourite food?

R: Well I’m currently a student at McGill University, majoring in Women’s studies, where I’m also a member of the Black Students Network. And as for a favourite food, I’m going to have to go with a cliché: chocolate!

H&H: So you’re participating in Ça Marche this year. What are your thoughts! What are your feelings!

R: Indeed I am! All of our super amazing services that we offer at Head & Hands need funding from fundraising campaigns, but I admit that I love the idea of getting to dance down the street in Montreal! And dressing up! All of our core programming benefits from this fundraiser, including awesome work we do towards HIV education, prevention, and testing!! Head & Hands has had to turn away 200 people from its clinic this year, and often these are people without health insurance or queer and trans people who may face judgement elsewhere. We don’t want to have to turn people away! So give us money! We have a week left! Please and thank you with chocolate on top.

H&H: I know we’re all excited for the dancing too. So now the second-most important question: what will your costume for Ça Marche be?

R: You’ll just have to come out on September 27th to see! But I am currently taking suggestions.

H&H: So let’s say after reading this, someone feels moved to donate right away? How would they go about doing that?

R: What a great question. You can sponsor me personally right here OR sponsor the whole Head & Hands’ team of sexy fundraising dancers right here.

“Why Are You Walking CA MARCHE?”, Part II: Lex Gill


There are SO many good reasons to dance the dance with us, so over the coming weeks, we will be interviewing some of our dancers to see why they do it!


Want to JOIN the Head & Hands team? Sign up HERE!!

Want to SEE last year’s epic dance moves? Check them our HERE!!

Want to DONATE? Donate HERE!!


This week’s walker:

LEX GILL! (To the right of the storm trooper)
Who are you, and how are you associated to Head & Hands?My name is Lex, and I’m a member of the board of directors at Head & Hands. I study law at McGill University and work for a civil liberties org. I can also do a handstand!

Why are you participating in Ca Marche?

One of the important things about Ca Marche is that events like it work to combat stigma around HIV/AIDS, and give us an opportunity to celebrate life, get inspired, and support amazing organizations doing rad work (like Head & Hands!). I’m participating in Ca Marche because I know it has an impact!

Why should others participate in Ca Marche?

Because we need your support! And also because it’s going to be tons of fun.

I also promised all my donors that if I met my first fundraising goal, I’d dress up like a fairy princess for the walk. Well, we blew right past that target and I had to increase my fundraising goal almost immediately, so you’ll definitely get to see me in wings and a tiara!

Say something about the importance of H&H and its health services within the Montreal community.

Head & Hands is one of the most amazing places in Montreal: it approaches health care and community work from a place non-judgemental, holistic support. Its work has had such a huge impact on the lives of so many young people—including my own.

Anything else you’d like to add about H&H or Ca Marche!

Do it! See you there September 27!