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The Camp Trillium Childhood Cancer Support Centre’s mission is to reach children with cancer by providing them and their families with fun and enriching recreational opportunities. Camp Trillium achieves this by providing outstanding year-round camp and recreational experiences to promote the healing process in a safe family-inclusive environment.

Camp Trillium has year round programs which also include ‘Day Camp’ and this is what The Bras Family Foundation has directed their grant to for the year, along with the Paloma Foundation and General Motors of Canada. These grants meant that Camp Trillium was able to run their Day Camp program for 4 to 7 year olds in Ontario.

Day Camp is the gateway to camp. It is where children are introduced to Camp Trillium, their staff and volunteers. They learn camp songs and games, join theme days and have an opportunity to participate in an overnight. Day Camp is geared towards paving the way to participation in residential camps. This year the campers swam everyday which is the highlight for any child, played games, had theme days and did arts and crafts; things that children would do if they were able to go to any day camp. There is one exception for Camp Trillium....the watchful gaze of a camp nurse to make sure that every child has a great week.

There were many highlights in this summer’s Day Camp. Pirate Day saw Tyler who is 7 and has retinoblastoma, decorate his eye patch. Samantha who is 4 befriended Imad who is 7 and has cancer, down syndrome and doesn’t speak. She held his hand all of the time and said to her counsellor, “I understand Imad – he’s speaking French to me!”

Special moments make camp memorable for the children and the counsellors. The Bras Family Foundation helped to make this possible.

Maggie Bras

Cottage Dreams is all about celebrating survival! It’s about celebrating surviving cancer. It’s about recovery. It’s about recovery in a wonderful setting with your family. It is about you and me and all those who are affected by cancer. It’s about taking a break from the cancer setting. It’s about taking a break from the routine of illness with your family and heading to the cottage. Not just any cottage. No, it is to a cottage that has been donated for one week through Cottage Dreams to a family of a cancer survivor or survivors! Get a load of this. You are a recovering from the horrors of cancer, and someone out there in cottage land wishes to give you their cottage for one whole week to celebrate a renewal of life with your family! How cool is that. And Cottage Dreams can make this dream come true!

Seana O’Neill made this dream happen. She had a thought and then a dream and then took that dream and made it reality. With her hard work and passion she has now given over 240 families a week to remember at a donor’s cottage.

The Bras Family Foundation has been able to sponsor 10 families this summer with our grant to Cottage Dreams. Because of our donation, 60 people will get away to a cottage and in doing so we are making a difference in their lives. We believe in Cottage Dreams and that is why The Bras Family Foundation has supported Cottage Dreams for two years running.

Please go to this live link to learn more about Seana O’Neill and Cottage Dreamshttp://www.tvcogeco.com/huntsville-gravenhurst/gallerie/tvcogeco-news/255-local-news/14915-cottage-dreams.

Cottage Dreams Cancer Recovery Initiative’s website is: www.cottagedreams.ca, and their phone number is: 705-457.9100 or 416.763.2009.

You too can help support Cottage Dreams and with your help those recovering from cancer will experience a week out of their year that they would otherwise not experience.

Maggie Bras

www.theredwood.com

Since 2007, The Bras Family Foundation has lent their support to The Redwood, a shelter for abused women and children in Toronto’s west end. Our grant in 2007 played a crucial role in expanding and enhancing the Redwood’s Community Reestablishment Program. It provided crucial support in helping women and children build the skills, confidence and self-reliance they need to start new lives, free from violence. In March of 2008, the Project exceeded expectations and projections on several fronts. Since January 2007, the Project provided 130 families with direct service, including risk and needs assessments, safety plans, counselling, referrals and advocacy, settlement, life skills and employment readiness workshops and school and employment placements – an increase of 73% over our initial project goal of serving 50 women.

The Project was also able to reach over 262 women through our community outreach workshops, which are designed to empower women living with abuse, and raise awareness of resources available to help families leaving an abusive relationship – and in the last year, the Project served women from over 20 different national backgrounds and 25 language groups.

One of the initiatives that the Redwood is most excited about is the introduction of an Advisory Committee comprised of women who have used the Redwood’s services! With The Bras Family Foundation’s support, one of the greatest highlights to date in 2008 has been the growth of The Redwood’s outreach efforts – between January 1 and June 30, The Bras Family Foundation has enabled The Redwood to:

  • Provide workshops to raise awareness about domestic abuse and violence against women with close to 500 participants.
  • Train and support four participants in our Leadership Development Program and Advisory Committee to begin co-facilitating our community and “Train the Trainer” workshops.
  • Partner with 15 agencies, including COSTI Immigrant Services, Urban Alliance on Race Relations and Parkdale Project Read, to help connect families with the services The Redwood provides.
  • Work with the Toronto Police Service Divisions 11 & 13 to design training workshops on Domestic Violence/Abuse to be presented to new recruits.

In 2009, our support of The Redwood saw the Community Reestablishment Expansion Project achieving so much including:

  • Establishing an Advisory Committee comprised of former residents of The Redwood who assist The Redwood in designing and delivering our services so they most effectively meet the needs of women and children living with violence.
  • Introducing a Leadership Development program for women who are regaining control of their lives from domestic abuse.
  • Expanding outreach efforts to raise awareness.
  • Training women participating in the program to deliver outreach and awareness raising workshops.
  • Developing and implementing a - ”Train the Trainer” workshop to raise abuse awareness among community workers and law students.

In moving forward towards a new life free from violence, participants in The Redwood’s Advisory Committee received leadership development training to deliver workshops that help women and girls recognize the warning signs of abuse, and provide them with encouragement and support they need to move forward to a new life.

Advisory Committee members used the public speaking and group facilitation skills they developed through their Leadership Development program to present workshops at schools, community centres and women’s groups across the city. They courageously use their own personal stories to help give hope to other women living with abuse, and inspire them to take a leap of faith.

In struggling for legal justice for women and children, the Advisory Committee has also played an important role in conducting “Train the Trainer” workshops and presentations with police, community workers and law students.

Program participants have spoken to groups of police officers and lawyers, including a recent law conference, where an audience of over 200 heard personal stories from women about the many heartbreaking roadblocks they faced when struggling for legal justice for themselves and their children. Several of the lawyers who heard the participants speak were so moved they volunteered their services for free to women at The Redwood who were facing complex legal issues.

With the help of The Bras Foundation and support of York University, women participated in the Bridging Program, and achieved a goal they once thought impossible; pursuing a post-secondary education! Nine women who have taken part in the program have secured bursaries and scholarships to go to university and are working towards their degrees in everything from Business Administration to Women’s Studies!

In 2010, The Bras Family Foundation’s on-going commitment to women and children living with domestic violence is giving women and children a lifeline out of an abusive home. The Redwood, in part because of our generosity can be more pro-active and travel around the city to meet with women right in their own neighbourhoods, at social groups, churches and community centres. With our grant, The Redwood met with 525 women from across Toronto last year and provided them with practical information about the steps they could take to keep their family safe. And when a woman is ready to make that call for help, our donation ensures that The Redwood are there to answer her – in over 170 different languages!

We are saddened that shelters for abused and women need to exist, but we are heartened that The Bras Family Foundation is giving a hand to the women and children and making a difference in their lives.

Maggie Bras

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