Chai Lifeline Canada #Conspire2Inspire2015 at Airship37 An Inside Perspective of a Dynamic Non-profit Making a Difference
Chai Lifeline Canada hosted their annual event at Airship37 event space Toronto.
How did Chai lifeline Canada start and how has it evolved?
Chai Lifeline Canada started with the notion that Canadian children suffering with a life-threatening or life-long illness needed comprehensive and critical support to help them, and their family, cope with dire repercussions of a pediatric illness.
Chai Lifeline Canada is a multi-faceted organization with many different programs. How do the programs interrelate and how are priorities set?
We look at providing our programs and services from a holistic perspective. When a child is diagnosed, the entire family is affected. People often focus so much on the sick child, and rightfully so, however, there are broader implications for the family unit that are often unseen or overlooked. Frequently, one parent stops working to care for the child, while the siblings can be shuffled back and forth, as their life is disrupted and turned upside down. There is a lot of uncertainty in everyone’s lives and this can be very stressful and overwhelming. Chai Lifeline steps in offering whatever is needed in order to help the family.
What are some effective ways the organization attracts and keeps volunteers engaged in the volunteer opportunities?
We have a Heart to Heart program that strives to recruit volunteers from local high-schools and Universities. Our volunteers need to be at least 17 years old and can get very involved in our organization by spending time with one of our kids on a consistent basis, visiting a child in the hospital, helping out at one of monthly family events and many other opportunities.
One of the amazing things about having a large volunteer base is the divergent experiences and perspectives that are brought into a not for profit environment. How have the volunteers shaped this organization?
Volunteers truly are the heart of our organization. They are dedicated and committed to making a difference for our kids and families, and without them, we would not exist. Remember, volunteers take the form of giving of their time and their resources. Every donor that gives of themselves or of their resources is directly impacting our kids and families. When you volunteer with one of our Chai warriors, or make a donation, you are enabling us to provide the programs and services our kids and families truly need.
What was the main objective in putting on The Chai Lifeline Conspire to Inspire event at Airship37? What were some of the positive outcomes from the event?
Airship 37 provided a unique and chic venue and atmosphere for our young-professionals. Our event coordinator Orly Davis, and the Chair of the event, Tracie Kuchinsky envisioned a venue that would appeal to our demographic, and Airship37 truly delivered in that capacity.
What are some of the benefits of having on an annual event?
Having an annual event offers our supporters an opportunity to get involved and give back on a consistent basis and provides us all with something to look forward to. It also further allows the organization to reach a really terrific group of individuals who are starting to make an impact in a very meaningful way. Our organization relies almost exclusively on our donors in order to continue our important work, so knowing that an event will occur annually helps the organization budget accordingly.
What are some the benefits volunteers receive through giving their time and energy to Chai Lifeline Canada’s programs?
When our volunteers get engaged and involved with our organization, we find that they feel inspired and want to continue to give back. It is an interesting outcome, but one that has proven itself time and time again.
How does social media play a part in the success of your organization?
The Conspire2Inspire event was run as a social media campaign and we didn’t require any other marketing or advertising to ensure its success. It is quite remarkable how utilizing Facebook and other social media outlets can provide the opportunity to engage thousands of people in a very targeted and inexpensive manner.
Does Chai Lifeline Canada have an affiliation with the other Chai Lifeline organizations?
Yes, we are affiliated with an international partner, Chai Lifeline, that has been in existence for almost thirty years. We have gained tremendous insight and expertise and we have been able to utilize this expertise in order to build our organization and become an expert in our field. We are, however, completely separate entities and in order to help our kids and families, we need to raise the necessary funds in Canada.
Does running programs for families have the adjunct benefit of building strong relationships between families facing some of the same challenges?
We strive to impact the families and make a difference for them in various capacities. We have a Camp experience, After-School program, support groups, family events, therapy groups, respite and retreats that are all designed to bring the kids and families together in order to build a sense of family. We really want the kids to know they are not alone and the parents to know there are others going through the same, or very similar, situations and so they have others they can speak to and find comfort and support with. We really consider ourselves a family and so our Chai Lifeline Canada family consists of all the kids and families that we support. No one gets left behind and we hold their hand through it all.
What are some of the visions you have for future projects and initiatives?
We are always looking to provide additional support to our kids and families and so we have to keep innovating in order to continue to raise revenue and awareness.