Sweet Success on Centre Court

Cantón Bella Vista girls’ basketball team come up winners

What child can resist playing with a ball? We discover that joy early in life as we learn to bounce, catch, kick, throw, and chase after them in pursuit of fun.

For a group of 10 to 12-year-old girls in Cantón Bella Vista, Guatemala, the pursuit of fun and basketball has led to champion status in their community, and they have the Compassionate Eye Foundation to thank for getting the ball rolling.

 

In 2010, a group of teachers in municipalities surrounding the small, remote community (25 schools in 25 communities) sought to find interesting, skill-building activities for their students. They pooled their energies into hosting regular sporting and cultural events and for the past eight years, these events get underway every Friday from June through August.

One of these events is a regional basketball tournament, an activity supported by teachers to foster the development of psychomotor skills, teamwork, and friendly competition. It’s through this tournament that the young girls of the Cantón Bella Vista school achieved their prized second place standing and became darlings of the community.

Thanks to the generosity of a private donor, CEF funded the construction of a playground and concrete basketball court in Cantón Bella Vista. And it’s become a real game changer for the community.

Before the tournaments, the concept of sports wasn’t well-defined in Cantón Bella Vista. Children were active enough, but playing ball consisted mostly of small groups of girls or boys tossing or kicking around a soccer ball. They played in a dirt playground by the school, kicking up dust in the summer and mud in winter. There was no concrete surface on which to properly bounce a ball, no hoops to sink a basketball, and little understanding of the game.

Fredy Matias Lopez, an instructor and project coordinator for the Cantón Bella Vista school, remembers how the playground transformed the community. “When the basketball court was built, it was a great joy and curiosity for parents, teachers, boys, and girls,” he said (via translated email correspondence.) “The environment was improved…children started playing during recess hours, and the parents of family and young people also played in the afternoon on the court. It was a new environment for the school and the community.”

As the popularity of the tournaments took off, it opened an exciting new world for the children. “The students, parents, and teachers are so proud of having a sports field and taking second place in girls’ basketball,” said Fredy.  “It demonstrates to the other 24 schools that the girls can play well. The students are proud to receive congratulations, medals, trophies, and mentions in the media through radio and television. In 2017, the girls even received congratulations from relatives in the United States who saw the news on Facebook.”

Pride in the success of the girls’ team is shared by the entire community, and enthusiasm for the game has spurred greater participation on basketball teams for both genders. The children gain skills through competitions with peers in neighbouring schools and as they succeed in the game, they share their skills with other children. To commemorate the team’s success, the community is working together to establish a space to display team trophies that mark proud moments in the history of the school.

“Other school teams know that the Cantón Bella Vista school can win and are afraid to face our team,” Fredy boasted. “Parents collaborate to cover some expenses during sporting events because they know there will be favourable results for the school.”

By far the team’s greatest success is instilling healthy ideas into young minds. “The successes obtained [through practicing basketball] are strengths that each of our students has, and they will carry the idea of ​​being successful in life,” says Fredy. “Our school must be a model of what can be achieved.”

 

Recipe for a Global Citizen

A couple of weeks back, I was reminded of two things. First, why I do some of the “work” I do for CEF. (I use quotations because it’s hard to consider it work when you really like all the people you deal with all the time with CEF and our various partners). Second, I’m convinced that generations following mine will do more good and make more progress towards social justice than mine did. A tough admission for a Boomer as we often like to believe we are the last generation of change. The Summer of Love, draft resistance, Silent Spring and the beginning of the environmental movement, and all that. And yet here we are on the brink of climate disaster, we have political chaos in the US and elsewhere, to say nothing of the rampant violence and refugee crises’ that are washing over the world.

I attended two events that focused my mind in the way I mentioned. The first was WE Day in Vancouver. CEF has funded a number of projects through WE (formerly Free the Children) with great results. We get invited to WE Day in Vancouver as a result, and get to exult with the thousands of young people excited to be part of a movement to change people’s lives in Canada and around the world. I admit I can only last 2 hours as the energy in the arena is overwhelming. But in that time, in a way I don’t recognize, I see that change can happen. That kids can be engaged to care about what happens to others. Here, and in other places. To understand that your neighbour is as much the person next door and down the street as it is the girl in Ethiopia who wants to go to school. It’s a highly successful model that looks like it has lots of legs, and good for them!

We Day 2017 | Picture courtesy of Melody Jacobson

The second event was interestingly even more reassuring. If you read our blog at all you will know about our great partner, KIDS, (Kids international Development Society) that does so much fantastic work in Cambodia. I love KIDS and like to attend their fundraising dinner in Nanaimo in the fall every year. KIDS has attracted lots of wonderful people to their cause, particularly in Nanaimo, but it is an eight year old girl who has stolen my heart and the show the last two years.

Sumalee running a lemonade stand to raise money for KIDS | Picture courtesy of Ashleigh Martinflatt

Sumalee is 8. She is of Thai/Canadian/British/Polynesian heritage and was born in Nanaimo and adopted by a wonderful couple there. She is marvelously dedicated to KIDS and to helping others, and can raise money like a slot machine. Sumalee spends her summers creating handmade Christmas cards (all the time playing Christmas carols in July!! And driving her folks nuts), which she then sells (hundreds of them) to help support programs for kids in Cambodia. She has a pen pal who she corresponds with. She has parties that raise money. And she has given the keynote talk at the KIDS function for the last two years. And brought the house down both years.

Imagine the 8-year-old, standing on a chair behind a lectern, giving a talk about her recipe for being a Global Citizen. I am assured by her mother that she has written this herself. She has the audience wrapt in a way I have only seen a few speakers do at a fundraiser. Paraphrasing her “recipe” is this:

A) understand what you are interested in seeing happen in the world: girls going to school, clean water, families able to support themselves. OK, got that?

B) what are you passionate about doing in the world? Singing? Art? Dancing? Hosting parties?

Whatever it is, take B and use it to support A. And voila. You are a Global Citizen. And imagine the 8-year-old making us laugh and sigh and then we give her a standing ovation.

Sumalee’s school picture | Picture courtesy of Ashleigh Martinflatt

A Gift with Meaning

 

Emma and Faith (middle and far right, bottom row) take a moment for a group photo with their friends.

Emma Fenty’s 16th birthday was approaching and Faith Bradshaw wondered what gift she might get for her good friend. She knew Emma wasn’t keen on receiving gifts but still, she wanted to do something meaningful to mark the day.

“I couldn’t think of anything that Emma might like to have,” said Faith. “She is very interested in world issues. She’s somebody who is compassionate and interested in helping others.”

Faith and a number of friends decided to find a charity that Emma would be interested in and make a donation in her honour. “I think our world is full of consumerism,” explained Faith. “Emma agrees, so this was a perfect gift for her.”

Six of Emma’s friends pitched in and came up with ideas. They considered a number of organizations, discussed preferences and causes that Emma would appreciate, and settled on giving donations to the Compassionate Eye Foundation and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Each friend gave $30 to $40 each, and together they donated $125 to CEF and $100 to the BBRF.

Emma recalls the day she received letters from both organizations notifying her of donations made in her honour. “I didn’t expect it at all,” said exclaimed. “I cried when I read them.”

The desire to give is well rooted in Faith and Emma. Faith is the daughter of Nancy Bradshaw, Executive Director and Founder of the Social and Emotional Leadership Foundation, and Robert Brown, past Board Chair and current Advisory Board Chair of the Compassionate Eye Foundation. Over the years, both have made generous contributions of time and effort to CEF, and Faith has listened to many great stories about projects funded abroad. “My Dad’s told me about his trip to Guatemala with CEF which was incredible,” she told us. “All of their projects look incredible, but what caught my eye the most was the floating medical clinic [in Cambodia] … that was amazing.”

Faith also pays close attention to her father’s work locally as President of Catalyst Community Developments Society, a BC-based not-for-profit society that creates vibrant, affordable, and inspiring spaces for living and working. “I’m interested in architecture and I enjoy hearing him talk about the impact of his work. It’s really interesting to learn about what he’s doing to help develop affordable housing in Vancouver, which is so important now.”

Both girls are in Grade 11 in Vancouver schools. When asked about activities they are involved in they are quick to list a number of options with groups they have reached out to. “This summer I volunteered at Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art for children,” said Faith. “Emma and I are also interested in working at the animal shelters.”

Emma’s school program involves a half-day of volunteering every Wednesday. “I’m helping out [the school] with social media,” she said. “I’ve also applied to other places like the Aquarium, touring kids around and educating them … a kitten rescue, and a school program that teaches children about food and good nutrition.”

The girls are also gaining a keen sense of global issues. They told us about of documentaries they watched such as The True Cost, directed by Andrew Morgan, that explores the impact of fashion industry on people and the planet. They also watched 180° South, directed by Chris Malloy, that details the journey of Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic journey of Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia in 1968.

Faith’s and Emma’s post-secondary future holds many possibilities, and both have expressed interest in non-profit work. “I have definitely thought about it,” said Faith. “It’s rewarding to give something that is helping so many other people.” Emma concurs. “I’ve been interested in non-profit for the last couple of years.

For now, they enjoy supporting what is important to them. For Emma, the gift to charity on her birthday made a meaningful impact. “This is definitely one of the better gifts I’ve ever got.”

From Bright Lights to Clean Drinking Water

 

 

How does a high-fashion photo of a sassy senior quench the thirst of a child in a remote Cambodian village? Through the extraordinary talents of Compassionate Eye Foundation’s volunteer creative community that rallies for a good cause.

In February 2015, a group of stylish women, ages 60 through 85, was the muse for CEF’s Advanced Style shoot in Toronto. “We set out to produce a fashion series, not a fashion series for ‘older’ women,” explained fashion photographer and CEF volunteer John van der Schilden. “We wanted our shoot to be about their spirit and personal style. In our minds, we created distinct characters who didn’t allow conventional thinking about aging to dictate their outlook on fashion.”  

Model Penelope Goranson reveled in her moment under the bright lights. “It was like I’d died and gone to heaven,” said the self-professed “sassy” one of the group. “All those clothes, jewelry, scarves – my cup of tea!” Her images from the shoot have now appeared in Zoomer, People, InStyle, Money, and Travel and Leisure magazines.

 

 

Vicki Schelstraete, another CEF photographer working on the shoot, agreed. “They were all so excited to be a part of a shoot where they were celebrated for their age,” she said. “For our 85-year ‘young’ model in particular, it was her first-time modeling, exemplifying that you’re never too old to try something new. Her spirit, energy and sense of fun were incredibly contagious, and John captured it all.”

 

On the other side of John’s camera is an equally energetic verve in Adrianne Dartnall and Rick Lennert, the founders of KIDS International, an organization that benefits from stock photo royalties generated from shoots like the Advanced Style series. A partner for five years, KIDS International is among a number of CEF charitable partners who devote their resources to helping developing nations thrive.

Every year, Adrianne and Rick travel to Cambodia for a four-month stay. “We’ve always gone to Cambodia,” said Adrianne. “It captured our hearts – so many people had lost children and families due to civil war.”

The KIDS partnership with CEF has enabled Adrianne and Rick to accomplish a growing list of projects that includes building and repairing floating schools and health clinics, sponsoring children to go to school, and establishing clean drinking water systems.  

On the first drinking water system they built, Adrianne noted how lethargic they had originally found the children to be. “We designed a clean drinking water system and worked with local builders to make it happen,” she explained.” Today, 5,500 children and families have access to clean drinking water, and the difference in their well-being is noticeable. “It’s amazing. The children are more energetic, and happy. It’s wonderful seeing them come up to the tap and drink as much water as they can and not be sick.”

Adrianne and Rick are always eager to talk about their travels, projects and successes. ““We tell stories, and people want to be a part of it,” said Rick. “What we really like about CEF is that we’re partners. They allocate funds and we apply them to a particular project.” In describing their work, he added, “We write what we see. We incorporate hope, heart, and making a difference with a line of humour – that’s our formula.”

The formula works. Penelope Goranson was excited to learn more about photos royalties supporting KIDS International. “If my picture is helping in any way, I am absolutely thrilled. If you get a chance, send them all a hug and all my love.”

 

Celebrating the life of John Baigent, one of CEF’s amazing partners!

 

 

John Baigent, Founder of Partners in the Horn of Africa died at the beginning of December 2016 in Enderby, B.C. JB

For many years before I was involved in Compassionate Eye Foundation, I was a labour lawyer in both Alberta and British Columbia. Starting in 1980, I worked in this profession and got to know many other lawyers doing similar work. One name I learned early in my work life was John Baigent. John was a renowned figure in the labour law field and in the labour movement, creating an impressive reputation as the leading practitioner in Western Canada.

I never ran across John on a case, however, as shortly after I moved to Vancouver in 1990, John moved to Enderby B.C. to carry on his practice and to fly fish. He moved there because he could—his clients would seek him out.

Eventually, John stopped practicing and returned to his true love—Africa and community development in Ethiopia. John had a vision of building schools, footbridges, and wells and generally helping people in rural Ethiopia improve their lives. John started Partners in the Horn of Africa and, through his sheer force of nature and persistence, turned it into a $1 million per year organization that changed the lives of Ethiopians, particularly young girls and young women.

John cajoled and persuaded dozens of his former compatriots and adversaries to donate thousands and thousands of dollars to his cause and John was the volunteer Executive Director for the first 12 years at Partners in the Horn of Africa. He travelled to Ethiopia at least once a year to meet communities and oversee operations, then would come home and personally raise the funds for the projects he had promised to the locals.

I got to know John when I became a monthly donor to Partners in the Horn, and was inspired by his energy and passion. He was clearly my inspiration to get involved in the Compassionate Eye Foundation. I could see through his example that my skill set could be useful in helping others in faraway places.

After I joined the Board of CEF, I introduced Partners in the Horn to CEF and, after the Board vetted the organization, we commenced to fund projects with them starting with a school in 2011. It has been a truly wonderful partnership as we have funded for a number of years a program that allows AIDS orphans to go to school. One of the great weeks of my life was spent with other Directors of CEF travelling in Ethiopia with John and Yehalem (the country director for Partners at the time). We saw the change work close up. It was amazing.

John announced a couple of years ago he was going to step aside as Executive Director. That was a difficult transition for the organization. Partners announced last year it was going to stop operating. I remember when John phoned me to tell me. I was very sad but he was clear eyed that it was time—Partners had run its course. I saw John at the 2016 AGM and he was comfortable with the decision. I didn’t know then that he would die 6 months later after a lengthy illness.

I was meeting the week before he died with a former member of the Partners’ Board. We were talking about John and this fellow said “no one I know has done more for poor people than John Baigent.” I totally agree.

A Celebration of John’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the Riverside Community Hall on Trinity Valley Road, 10 km east of Enderby.

Partners in the Horn of Africa celebrated John’s achievements in its December 17 blog, and included John’s obituary.

–Dan Rogers, Chair, Compassionate Eye Foundation Board of Directors

Foster positive change by doing what you do every day

 

cef-school-behind-the-scenes-41Ten years ago Compassionate Eye Foundation was founded on the belief that by doing what you love and using your creative talent, you can have a positive impact on the world.

What started with one photo shoot in June 2006 by CEF’s founder Robert Kent, 11 of his colleagues, and a partnership with Getty Images, has grown to multiple photo shoots around the world each year. Many of these shoots involve a diverse array of photographers, as well as an entire team of talented individuals for each event. The resulting revenues from these shoots has resulted in changing the lives of people and communities for the better.
What struck Kent as an opportunity to connect what he loved to do with helping make a positive difference, has resonated with scores of people and continues to inspire. The first shoot helped to begin building a classroom in Tuixoquel, Guatemala, and began an investment in a community that continues to improve their lives and possibilities.

Since 2006, through CEF, individuals have contributed their creative talent, time, and energy to help fund health, education, and sustainable economic projects across the globe. CEF has funded projects in ten different countries over the past ten years – all made possible through the volunteers and photographers who use their creative skills to give back through CEF.cef-school-behind-the-scenes-19

“Compassionate Eye is about connecting creative professionals who do what they love with making a difference in the world,” says Kent. “It really draws people in.”

Robert Kent has also inspired professionals in other fields to volunteer their time and talents on CEF’s Board and committees. More people have come together to bring their expertise whether it is managing resources, researching and funding projects, working with the many charitable organizations involved around the world to ensure projects are funded appropriately, or getting the word out about CEF’s work and opening the door for others to be involved.

Contributing to the brain trust running the CEF are the people who arrange the creative direction, produce the shoots, and handle the post-production of the images. Creative Director Kate Stevens and Submissions Coordinator Philippa Cooper provide the professional expertise to producers and photographers so they can do their best creative work.

cef-school-behind-the-scenes-16For the tenth anniversary of CEF in June 2016, Kent returned to Vancouver to do a shoot with long-time CEF photographer, Steven Errico and producer Amy Jones.

“When I showed up for the shoot, I was blown away by all the expertise there,” says Kent. “I was able to drop in and just start doing my work. It was an incredible experience.”

The education-themed shoot generated a whopping 265 images between the two photographers! These images will be posted on Getty Images and with each purchase, will raise funds for CEF.

cef-school-behind-the-scenes-52
For Kent, CEF was the turning point where he began focusing on putting his talent to use to make a positive difference – and connecting with others with the same passion. Since then, he has gone on to start several other projects, including collaborating on a documentary film, Aloha From Lavaland, from which a percentage of its proceeds will go to CEF, and his latest endeavor: a six-day festival in Cambodia, featuring an array of creative talent, all focused on enacting creativity to create real world positive change.

CEF’s unique model enables creative professionals to use their skills to give back, while generating continuous revenue. Kent is excited to see what the next ten years holds for CEF, and believes the model has the ability to reach beyond stock photography and attract creative professionals from other industries.

“Anyone can do it – just jump in and do what you love!”

The People of CEF: Summer Jackson

Jaishree Narsih

Meet Summer Jackson, one of CEF’s fabulous volunteers.

BZ3A0137_medTell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been living and working at agencies as a professional designer in San Diego, California for over 10 years. I’ve produced and directed creative for clients such as The San Diego Zoo, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and The Arizona Biltmore. The last couple of years I’ve worked as an Art Director at Experiences for Mankind, overseeing a variety of clients such as The Mirage Casino in Las Vegas, Siemens Healthcare, and LeanIn.org.

How long have you been volunteering with CEF and what is your role? How did you first get involved with CEF and what makes you want to continue volunteering with the organization?

Well, I was going to say two years but I believe it’s been a little over three! Goodness how time flies. I was introduced to CEF through my previous Creative Director Doug Moore (Hi Doug if you’re reading this! Let’s grab a beer!). At the time he had just finished updating some of the branding for the foundation and was looking for some extra hands. I was looking for a creative outlet that allowed some freedom and fell in love with the work CEF was doing. I’ve been in love ever since and although my availability has ebbed and flowed, my desire to help has never waned. I’m especially excited about this next chapter for CEF and getting to be part of their evolution and growth.

What is your favourite thing about volunteering with CEF?

Similar to the Photographers of CEF, my position as Brand Director has given me the opportunity to give back by using my skills and expertise. Although I haven’t met, in person, the majority of folks at the foundation, a good spirit flows through the veins of CEF from the people who volunteer and I’m happy to be a part of it.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I’m an avid birdwatcher. Yep, I own some killer binoculars, birding books, a Nat Geo bird app, and a walking stick. The past year I’ve attempted to take on photographing birds, which has turned me on to an interest in photography. I spotted my first eagle last year along the Oregon Coast and just about fainted from excitement. My favorite local spot to bird watch and spend time is a lake about 20 minutes from my house…and if I’m not there you can find me in Mexico eating tacos and sipping beer because I’m only about 20 minutes from the border.

Giving Tuesday: Q&A with Monashee Alonso

In Hye Lee, Social Media Coordinator

Monashee Alonso -2014On the morning of December 2, this year’s Giving Tuesday, CEF Project Pillar Chair Sue Dick and photographer Monashee Alonso will be promoting the Peer Literacy Program and CEF on Global Morning News. Monashee sat down with us to answer some questions about her upcoming shoot with CEF, Giving Tuesday, and what inspires her to volunteer.

CEF: Tell us about the concept of the shoot.

Monashee: It’s a women in business concept, so the idea would be in a business location with women being the focus. Whether that means women in leadership roles, women who are mothers, women who choose not to be mothers. It’ll touch on the specifics of being a woman in the business place. There might be something like a woman bringing her child to work for the day, or dropping her kid off at day care, or power women within different roles in a company.

CEF: What would be the typical audience for this theme?

Monashee: It’s stock photography, so the end user could be anywhere from a financial institution to a blog about working mothers balancing home life and work life. But probably some of the images could be used in more than that specific sense, and used in more areas, such as a banking ad.

CEF: Have you been a part of Giving Tuesday before? What does Giving Tuesday mean to you?

Monashee: This was the first time I had heard about Giving Tuesday. Susan McDonald told me what the concept was, the idea being that after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when people are spending money on themselves and their families, they give to people out of the goodness of their heart. I think that it’s a nice idea to bring to people’s attention, to be able to give and have a day that recognizes that so that it’s brought into public consciousness. 

CEF: How and why did you become involved with CEF?

Monashee: I’ve been involved since not quite the very beginning, but close to the beginning. It was through work, so I got involved because I was working with a lot of the people who were involved. I sat on the board for a year. After that, I moved to LA and I was mostly involved as a photographer, doing some of the production. I did that in Vancouver as well, before leaving for LA.

For me, it’s always been such a great concept, because it was a natural thing for me to do and be involved in, because it’s something that I love to do. I don’t have a lot of money, so what I can give monetarily is not going to go as far as my time and my skills. The fact that I can give my time and my skills to generate money for people in other parts of the world who maybe don’t have the resources or just need some basic health care. That is really cool to me, that we can do that without handing over dollars. It ends up being dollars, but the fact that it’s royalties and it accrues over time…that a photoshoot that everyone is contributing to can raise thousands of dollars is great.

The community factor has always been really amazing to me. When we originally started, the shoots happened once a year, all on the same day. It’s not realistic to do it that way anymore, but when that happened, that communal feeling that there was another crew in another city doing a photoshoot and that there were communities receiving our funds to build schools or put in irrigation systems is brilliant. And it makes you feel that sense of community, that we’re all working together.

CEF: Which of CEF’s development projects do you find most inspiring?

Monashee: The thing about the women in business concept is that CEF funds some projects working with women and giving women educational tools. That’s something that I’m passionate about. That tie-in is really nice, that there’s this concept of women in business and that there’s women in Guatemala or Sierra Leone or wherever the project is, working to build their communities up. If you teach a woman how to read, she takes that back to her community and teaches others. Women in a lot of the cultures that CEF is involved with play that role of disseminating knowledge. 

Thank you to Monashee for all her hard work. Stay tuned for updates on our upcoming photoshoot with Monashee and more on Giving Tuesday!

The People of CEF: Lauren Girdler

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

10405623_10152232946272551_5912378035132877815_nAs an international non-profit organization, Compassionate Eye Foundation depends on the hard work of talented individuals willing to donate their time and expertise. We appreciate this and would like to once again recognize one of our outstanding volunteers!

Lauren Girdler is the Vancouver-based marketing manager at Savox Communications, a manufacturer of radio accessories and search and rescue equipment. Early in 2014 Lauren joined the CEF community as our editor, a position in which she regularly uses her keen eye for detail and editing skills to review all content for the blog, website, and newsletter before it is made public. She is responsible for providing general grammar and punctuation edits, as well as clarification on content – it’s a tough job but someone has to do it!

Lauren was first introduced to the world of commercial imagery through a previous job as an instructional designer, in which she would spend hours searching stock photography banks. When she came across the CEF opportunity in an online volunteer posting, she felt a real connection to our funding model. In her own words, she “really liked the idea of supporting sustainability and educational projects around the world”, and we couldn’t agree more!

Currently Lauren is building a consistent writing style guide for all contributing writers within CEF, which will be promoted throughout our entire organization. And when she is not doing this, she enjoys spending her time travelling, cooking, doing yoga, or playing soccer.

From all of us at CEF, a huge thank you to Lauren for your continued hard work!

The People of CEF: John Grant

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

ice cream JohnJohn Grant is the Associate Director of Simon Fraser University’s Alumni Relations office. When he’s not busy providing services to the university’s 130,000 alumni across the world, he is working hard as the editor of Compassionate Eye Foundation’s internal newsletter, In Focus.

Before John joined CEF, the board was keen to figure out a way to share information and updates with our numerous core volunteers. CEF has always recognized that effective communication is vital and that it is important that volunteers know the direction the organization is moving in. And so, in collaboration with Executive Director Susan McDonald, John created In Focus, a monthly email update sent to volunteers and contributors. First and foremost came figuring out which types of content are of most interest to the group. Each month, following the board meeting, John is sent the high level items that the board wishes to share with volunteers. He then tweaks some of the content, adds links and images, and formats the overall piece before sending it out.

John first encountered CEF at the 2012 Timeraiser Vancouver event. He was instantly drawn to the concept of combining photography with international development projects. As John says, “it seemed like an incredible concept and sure enough it’s turned out to be a really great organization to work with”. Through Timeraiser John pledged to volunteer 100 hours with Vancouver non-profits, including CEF. He has since accomplished this goal but he isn’t stopping there! John plans to continuing working as the In Focus editor in the future. Being so dedicated to this project is not without its unique challenges – namely finding the time to accomplish so much as a full-time SFU employee, recent Master of Education graduate, and enthusiastic volunteer – however it is a challenge he happily accepts.

When asked about what advice he would share with other CEF volunteers, John recommends that others try to attend a photo shoot. John was our behind the scenes correspondent at the 2013 Family – Work, Rest, and Play shoot with Steven Errico, and he named this as his favourite CEF experience thus far: “It was super cool!”

Thank you for all your contributions, John. We are excited to have you as part of the CEF family now and in the future!