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.”