Category Archives: Volunteering

Five Reasons To Plant a Fruit Tree With Your Family

There are probably a hundred or more good reasons to plant a fruit tree with your family, here are five.  Familial aspects aside, all of this falls into a greater green world order and general coming-of-age by an environmentally apologetic humanity.  The greenest people of earth are the children; they’re part of a hyper carbon conscious future that embraces Garden City Transformations.  Kids know that fruit trees are one of six Elements Needed to Make a Garden City in Toronto and elsewhere, in every metropolitan center, in every country, in every continent all over the world.

kid_fruit_tree1Planting fruit trees in a big city is sometimes restricted by municipal bylaws. The city doesn’t plant apples, pears or cherries by choice, and property developers are restricted from planting them by city ordinances for a whole lot of reasons; maintenance and liability are the predominant arguments against city planners planting fruit bearing species along streets and sidewalks.  Homeowners can plant anything they want in their backyards however, and can obtain fruit trees in nurseries here in Canada, and in Ontario and those include Henry Fields Nurseries and Sheridan Nurseries, neither of which specialize in any particular fruit tree varietals (like most nurseries in Europe do) nor will they deliver to your residential property.

One of the secrets of planting trees in the city is to also buy a big bag of soil and make a burm around the seedling. This helps the small tree survive the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Professional tree planters dig a deep hole and then fill it with black garden earth from vegetable composting programs and then put the original soil back on top. In Toronto you can buy a big bag of soil from Weedaway for about $120, and have it delivered right to your home.

Five Reasons to Plant a Fruit Tree with a Young Family

1.  The fruit tree will grow as your family grows and the memory of planting the tree becomes a powerful growth myth that will be part of each child’s psyche – the memory of planting the tree becomes synonymous with making an investment and nurturing growth and performing small physical improvements over time. The tree can be sourced locally or bought from an online vendor that will deliver in Europe and the USA, but no such businesses exist in Canada.

2. The fruit tree is handy biological reference to study and explain, and it can take on the characteristics of a pet with almost no maintenance or additional expense of keeping an animal – so its the perfect family member.  The tree’s first blossoms make it easier to talk about nature’s many and various reproductive systems. Registering the tree, means the kids can volunteer later on at charities that visit private homes and tour city parks picking fruit for charity driven gourmet baking initiatives and wildscaping programs. Los Angeles has a fruit picking outreach program for kids called Fallen Fruit, and Portland Oregon has an apple tree harvesting program for their inner city youth that is famous because it at has been featured in motion pictures.

apple press is fun exercise for kids3. The fruit tree is part of the fabric of nature and has lovely blossoms in the spring that attract buzzing pollinators and floral photographers. A fruit tree  in the springtime is a lovely photo backdrop and the fertility metaphor is a subtle and strong reminder of the promise of prosperity.

4. A  fruit tree attracts cool wildlife and colourful birds. A robust apple tree will bring deer out of the woods, and cherry trees attract squirrels and other storyfull rouges. This is good for kids as animals sell adventure- good for adults as sophisticated songbirds serenade our souls.

5. You can make fruit juice with family members many years later, maybe your grandchildren.    Juicing is great way to get vitamin C into a child’s body, and most kids LOVE IT.  Fresh juice is amazingly more healthy than canned juice and way more fun- it can be frozen into ice cubes and kept as treats for rainy days and they won’t even know it’s good for them. But more importantly its the activity as a unique and productive exercise that they remember all their lives.

Picking the fruit and making juice completes the investment metaphor. Kids doing work under the tree completes the life metaphor. Watching kids work with specialized equipment is a concept for a new TV series.  Kids making fresh juice in the backyard is pure fun and drinking that juice is one of life’s greatest rewards.

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Help for those confronting terminal illness…


Hike for Hospice…

is a national awareness and fundraising event which supports local and community Hospice and Palliative Care organizations from coast to coast. The exceptional thing about this fundraiser is that because this specialized care is delivered to those in need by teams of highly trained volunteers, 100% of all funds that are raised in this event go directly towards this fabulous cause and stay in your local community.

What is Hospice?

When you can not add more days to the end of someone’s life, why not try to add some life to the days that they have left?

Doctors, nurses, teams of specialists look after diagnosing the disease, managing the symptoms and trying to find the cure, but what if there is no cure? If the diagnosis is terminal, and the pain and suffering goes on until the end, how do you cope until then? Caring for an ill person is both a rewarding and a difficult and draining experience – emotionally and physically. In addition to providing a “friendly ear” to caregivers, having a hospice volunteer in the home also means that caregivers can take some time off and take care of themselves.

Most people think that helping a “terminal” patient is about death and dying, this is only one way to look at it. While death is in the cards, Hospice and Palliative Care work is about helping people live the fullest, most comfortable and stable life until the end, and at the end, dying with dignity. It is also about making the most of the time you have left.

Providing emotional support to both clients and their family members is central to everything that hospice does. This support includes supporting every family member in a way that responds to their particular needs. It also includes encouraging clients to take active roles in their own care, acting as an advocate by ensuring the clients’ wishes are respected and discussing illness openly with the entire family and with the client.

Hospice and Palliative Care is delivered by Volunteers

Hospice organizations across Canada train special volunteers to provide relief and facilitate access to compassionate care for people with life threatening illnesses. It is all about improving the quality of life for individuals and families confronting terminal  illness by providing and facilitating access to quality care and support that is not provided by the medical profession.

Hospice organizations like Hospice Toronto support individuals and families through Volunteer Visiting Services, Caregiver & Bereavement Support, Expressive Arts, Kit for Kids programs, and through Advocacy and Consultation Services.

Hike for Hospice

This weekend, me and my 3 very young kids will be hiking 5km through the urban jungle to raise money for Hospice and Palliative Care.

These are much needed funds as hospice and palliative care is not fully funded by the government—it relies on its teams of dedicated Volunteers and the generosity of people like you who support its work financially through private donation.

$25, $50 or $100 goes a long way to support the families of people suffering with a terminal illness. The more you give, the more volunteers we can train, the more families we can support in communities all across Canada.

Can you help us by donating a few dollars to support Hospice and Palliative Care in your community?

Anything you can do to help us raise awareness or donate today to help us raise money and deliver more care would be greatly appreciated.


How Evergreen is Rehabilitating our Cities—Brick by Brick


Evergreen Brickworks Toronto, originally uploaded by HeadsUp_Dad.

Happy Earth day Everyone!

In the spirit of tipping our hat to the place that gives us everything we need to sustain life, today’s post is going to relate to Environmental Stewardship of our planet. Specifically, the essential role we play as parents, cultivators and influencers of future generations.

We at Headsup Dad do not want to spend a lot of time protesting or complaining about things. We know what is looming. Lots of very bright and knowledgeable people are covering the story. We are more interested in learning from these people, learning from past mistakes (our own, and those that are made by others), seeking out the opportunities for positive outcomes and finding or creating the path towards the light at the end of the tunnel—and moving forward with purpose and conviction.

There is not much we can do to influence what has come before us, but we can influence what happens next.

With that in mind, its time we took a serious look what we have to deal with in terms of global warming and climate change, what we as parents can do to make the changes that are necessary to set the stage for improvement, and help empower our kids with the knowledge and tools to dig themselves out of the situation that has been created for them over the past 150 or 200 years. It begins at home, with our kids and in our own back yards. In our parks, and our forests and our fields. In our rivers, lakes and oceans. In the country, in our towns and in our cities. Everywhere we look there is opportunity for change.

HeadsUp Dad: Environmental Stewardship at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto

Kidseye View from the Top at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto

What we do today affects the cities we live in tomorrow.

Since 1991 Evergreen has been engaging Canadians in creating and sustaining dynamic outdoor spaces—in schools, communities and homes. By deepening the connection between people and nature, and empowering Canadians to take a hands-on approach to their urban environments, Evergreen is improving the health of our cities—now and for the future.

The Evergreen Brick Works is a unique environmental community centre and green cities centre for urban sustainability. Currently under construction in the heart of Toronto’s Don River Valley, this spectacular natural and industrial heritage site and its ongoing engaging programming from Farmers’ Markets to seminars and plantings, is already inspiring and educating the community to embrace a sustainable future.

When we celebrate its grand opening in September, 2010, the Brick Works will be a showcase for green building design, environmental stewardship and a model for sustainability.

The revitalized turn of the century Brickworks compound will feature an ecologically diverse area with lots of history, a fine example of urban renewal and naturalization, a bunch of really old buildings and one brand spanking new new structure—the Centre for Urban Sustainability—a five-storey LEED platinum (Leadership in Energy and Environmental design) office building.

Aspiring to the very highest standard within the LEED certification scale, this building will be an international destination for those interested in sustainable built environments. Evergreen, along with community partners, will be housed together in this hub of social and environmental innovation.

HeadsUp Dad visits the Brickworks in Toronto

Kids Adventure in the City at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto

Evergreen’s mission is to bring communities and nature together for the benefit of both.

Evergreen envisions a sustainable society where individuals live in harmony with and contribute meaningfully to their local environment. Evergreen will be at the forefront of the movement to create this society, by empowering communities, by creating innovative resources and by transforming educational values.

No mind is too small to sow the seeds of change.

At HeadsUp Dad, we believe that the continued existence of the human race on this planet is going to depend on how well we educate and inspire our kids to become aware and in awe of the world that we live in. To know nature is to love it, love leads to respect, and to respect is to take ownership of and stewardship over the gifts that we have been given. Knowledge leads to action and that the more that people know about the effects of their actions, the more likely they are to think about what they do.


Wyatt's pal Milo having a blast at the Brickworks in Toronto

Evergreen is a not-for-profit organization that makes cities more livable. Corporate sponsorship, private donations and public support make its programs possible—Volunteers help drive its programs forward.

Volunteering at Evergreen offers you and your family a great opportunity to help the environment right in your own community. Come out and get your hands dirty, meet a few new friends and… make a difference. Evergreen has events planned in communities across Canada all summer long and they could use your help. Get outside, have fun, teach your kids about the wonderful world we live in and help a worthy cause.

Evergreen volunteers help out with a wide range of hands-on activities:

  • local plantings
  • community gardens
  • food gardens
  • invasive species pulls
  • greenspace stewardship
  • special projects and fundraising events
  • research
  • community or school presentations
  • outreach at local events
  • office and administrative work
HeadsUp Dad, Environmental Stewardship

What was once an industrial wasteland is now a vibrant ecosystem and nature park in the heart of the city

To learn more about stewardship and planting events and other volunteer opportunities in your area, visit the Evergreen Website.

Click here to see a list of some of their current volunteer opportunities. Take a look at their calendar. Please take your time and look for something you might enjoy doing with your kids on a sunny Sunday afternoon. See what fits into your life. Reach out, connect, let them know what you are interested in volunteering, or even better, apply to a role that suits you! You can complete and submit a Volunteer Application Form right on their website.

Together, we as parents can work together to create a culture of appreciation and respect of our natural environment. By getting engaged and supporting organizations like Evergreen, we all can look forward to a healthier, more sustainable future in which people and nature thrive together.

Do you have any photos of your kids outdoors, enjoying play and learning about the wonders of their natural environment?

Send them in to us here at HeadsUpDad, we’ll post them for all of us to share and enjoy—who knows, maybe it will lead to something fun for you and your family.

Go on, get out there!

Timeraiser: Social Call for Social Purpose


Your Future can be anything you want it to be - by Daryl Vocat

When times get tough, they get tough for us all. When money is tight and people just can’t scrape together cash to donate to their favourite charity, Non profits, NGO’s and local community support organizations who depend on donations from good people like you, fall short on their obligations or have to cut back on the services they provide. The people who need it most just have to do without.

Volunteers are one of the most important resources that local community service agencies, non profit organizations and NGO’s can tap into to help deliver their vital programs services. By donating time instead of your money, trained volunteers can help these small, struggling charities do what they do every day, on less money. By stepping up to the plate and getting involved, people just like you can make a huge difference in the lives of people here in your local community. Anyone who has ever volunteered can tell you, that volunteering has to be one of the most profoundly rewarding experiences anyone can share.

If volunteering is so important, and so helpful to so many people, and so rewarding for the people that sign on, then why don’t more people do it?

  • Many of us will say that we aren’t asked
  • Many of us (especially those with kids) feel like we just don’t have the time
  • Even those of us who are keen and willing to give up time, often don’t know where to find meaningful opportunities that make sense to them

Introducing Timeraiser:
One of the most innovative social purpose ventures we have seen in a while


Attend a lively and entertaining event in your city. Schmooze, network with your peers, socialize with your friends, bid on original art by local artists who really need your support—and if you win, you pay with your time instead of your cash. The struggling artist gets paid real money and you, commit to spend a little quality time with a local community support organization. There are some great agencies in there that need your support. The Canadian Youth Business Foundation provides start-up mentoring, financing and education tools for Canadians 18-34 to start and grow businesses which contribute to sustainable economic development in communities across Canada. The Cottage Dreams Recovery Initiative is a registered Canadian charity offering recent cancer survivors and their families a week at a private, donated cottage to refresh and reconnect after completing treatment. Another is Elizabeth Fry Toronto—their mission is to support women who are, have been or are at risk of being in conflict with the law. One of our favourites places to take our kids is the Brickworks in Toronto, just one ambitious re-vitalization project taken on by the wonderful people at Evergreen. Evergreen is a not-for-profit organization that makes cities more livable. By deepening the connection between people and nature, and empowering Canadians to take a hands-on approach to their urban environments, Evergreen is improving the health of Canadians by tapping in to the power of education at an early age and is supported in a major way by volunteers.

Future Possibilities’ specialized programs challenge and empower children from underserved communities to build character, valuable life skills and social responsibility with the inspiring support of trained, adult volunteer “KidCoaches”. Habitat for Humanity Toronto: Mobilizes volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty.

These are just a few outstanding examples of organizations you can engage with at TImeraiser and support with your time, energy and enthusiasm. Its a win win situation for all and a fabulous idea whose time has come.

After the Timeraiser:
Create a plan and track your hours at Civic Footprint.
The Timeraiser supports emerging and mid-career artists like few other community events do: artists are paid fair market value for their work instead of being asked to donate their creativity. The art is then auctioned off at the Timeraiser to raise volunteer hours for the community. To date, the Timeraiser has invested over $310,000 in the careers of more than 450 artists across the country.
Timeraiser was conceptualized in 2002 in response to a group of friends wondering how it could be easier to find meaningful, relevant volunteer opportunities. Seven years and ten Timeraisers later, it is amazing that this grass-roots initiative has flourished into a well-known, annual event that operates in six major cities across Canada. The Timeraiser helps nonprofit and voluntary organizations, large and small, connect with potential volunteers.

Canadians in their 20s and 30s are one of the hardest demographics to reach. Timeraiser makes it easy to connect the organizations that need with the skilled and energetic volunteers that would make the difference they are trying to achieve.

Check out the timeraiser video:

The three main objectives of the Timeraiser are to:

  • Connect your organization to skilled and energetic volunteers
  • Raise awareness about your organization in the community
  • Bring together the arts and not-for-profit sectors to create community connections
To date the Timeraiser has worked with over 250 charitable organizations.
By the end of 2009 the Timeraiser will have:
  • Generated over 51,000 volunteer hours
  • Invested $300,000 in the careers of emerging artists
  • Engaged 5,000 Canadians to pick up a cause
  • Worked with 250+ charitable organizations
Taking the total financial and social community impact into account, the program’s return on investment is estimated to approach 220%, generating nearly $2.20 in ‘social good’ for each dollar invested in programming.
Check out this brief Timeraiser agency workshop video to understand what is involved in becoming a Timeraiser agency.
If you depend on volunteers to deliver your programs and services, maybe you should consider giving them a call.
On the other hand, if you have thought about or always wanted to volunteer some of your time to a worthy cause in your community, but were not sure how or where to begin, maybe you should check out the Timeraiser website:
Here, you can research the agencies that are supported and seek out relevant and meaningful volunteer opportunities that just might appeal to you and your gang of youngsters. Check it out, give it a few minutes of your time. We think is one of the single most innovative social purpose propagation ideas we have seen in a long, long while. We hope that you get inspired to roll up your sleeves and dive right in.
Better still, if you can squeeze in the time, maybe you and your kids can attend a Timeraiser event in your city. Who knows, it could be the start of something wonderful. Timeraiser is one of the most impressive social purpose ventures we have seen in a while.
For more information on innovative social purpose ventures, check out FRANK’s Social Innovation Blog published by the good idea people at FRANK Ideas and Execution Inc. If you are interested in the notion of harnessing the power of your skills and talents towards to the achievement of goals for the common good, maybe you are a New Radical. Check out Julia Moulden’s book “we are the new Radicals“: A Manifesto for Reinventing Yourself and Saving the World, published internationally by McGraw-Hill, New York (2008).
Feeling motivated to do some good ol’ community volunteer work for the common good? Get involved.