As written for Kitchener Today

After almost suffering the loss of his foot, and being told he’d likely never walk properly again, Paul Jankura is embarking on the ride of his life. Departing August 31, he plans to cycle from Kitchener to Newfoundland in just 12 days.

Jankura is riding to raise funds for his friend, and self-described brother, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) around the same time as his accident.

“On August 6th, 2017, I was involved in a workplace accident that temporarily severed my foot and left me fighting to keep my leg,” he recalls. It was during this time that his friend, diagnosed with MS at 27, began to experience worsening symptoms.

“I want to use what I have learned through my challenges to lift my brother up during his.”

According to the MS Society of Canada, Canadians have the highest rate of MS diagnoses in the world. While it is most often diagnosed in young adults, aged 20 to 49, younger children and older adults are also diagnosed with the disease.

Every day three Canadians are diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable illness that affects vision, balance, memory, and mobility.

Jankura says he was lucky, “if my blood vessels had not remained intact, the trauma surgeons might not have been able to reattach everything.” He says his journey began after waking up from surgery and realizing his foot was still attached. “I looked to someone like Josh, who couldn’t just do physio and cure his condition – yet remained positive, looking toward the future. This encouraged me to stay positive and focus on rehabilitation.”

His rehabilitation would take 16-months.

As he grew stronger, with each physiotherapy session, he watched his childhood friend become weaker. It was during this transition that he realized he needed to focus on something much bigger than himself.

“During this time, I realized that I could do more to help others. To be their inspiration, to lift their spirit or to just use my new-found passion for good.”

A major part of his rehabilitation was cycling, “hopping on a bike, concentrating and riding helps to deal with not only the physical, but also mental symptoms left behind from my accident.” The decision to cycle to raise funds and awareness for Josh became a clear path, for both of them, to begin to heal.

For Jankura, by choosing to change his mindset and take less for granted, Ride for Vibes was born. “I will bike out to the East Coast, making my way through Sydney, Nova Scotia, where Josh was born and will finish my journey in Cape Spear, Newfoundland – the furthest East I can travel by bike.”

Josh will have to make large purchases to accommodate his condition throughout his life. This fundraiser will help alleviate some of the worry about where the money to make these purchases will come from.

“It’s who we are as Canadians,” says Jankura.

The ride has meant a year of planning, mapping out routes that will keep him off major highways.  A quote he once heard provides inspiration to keep moving, ‘be naive enough to start, but stubborn enough to finish.’ 

He plans to bike 300 km a day for 12 days straight.

Funds donated will be put into a trust for Josh, a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the M.S Society of Canada. His personal goal is to raise $100,000 for MS Canada and Josh – so far, he’s raised over $20,000.

You can follow Jankura’s training and his Ride to Conquer MS on Instagram and make a donation at https://ca.gofundme.com/paul039s-bike-ride-to-conquer-ms

The search for meaningful employment: jobs with impact

Written for Kitchener Today

There’s an old saying that goes, “do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life.”

Careers in social responsibility are becoming top priority for job seekers.

To be able to support yourself financially while doing something you feel passionate about is no longer a pipe dream. Employment opportunities in roles that include sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are allowing job seekers to align their career goals with their personal values.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 68% say that CEOs should take the lead on change, rather than waiting for government to impose it. There’s been a shift in whom the public deems as trustworthy, with media and government suffering most. Canadians expect businesses to advocate, and as a result this has created employment opportunities in CSR and Sustainability.

From grassroots administrations to organizations who use their brand power to foster change – there’s an emerging work trend that hinges on the importance of a work-life balance, encouraging employees to examine their own core values, while creating opportunities to find meaning in the 9-5.

According to a survey done by IPSOS Reid and Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) 68% of the Canadian public is paying attention to issues related to corporate social responsibility.

Heather Mak has been working in sustainability for over a decade. Her self-named consulting business, Heather Mak Consulting, was founded on the intentions of acting as an agent of change for sustainability, in food and consumer goods.  She says, “businesses can use their scale and voice to make changes that can affect the everyday lives of people.”

With almost 70% of Canadians as an active and engaged audience, internal CSR opportunities encourages employee satisfaction, increases public reputation, and stimulates support from stakeholders.

Earning a sustainable living, while genuinely loving the process, was once reserved for the elite few. Leaping out of bed in the morning, anticipating the day ahead, wasn’t something the average human could afford. Dream jobs were for those who were either born into them or had the good fortune of becoming wealthy – but meaningful work is no longer wishful thinking, it’s a human right.

Unique job opportunities include cause marketing, communications, ethical hacking, impact investing, engagement, and philanthropy roles. Experience levels embrace entry-level, to senior leadership roles – with commitment levels encompassing everything from part-time, to full-time and even work from home.

CSR roles rarely necessitate nonprofit experience, but requirements do include some variation of communications or marketing experience, as well as a form of secondary education – a fraction require a Master’s degree.

Do what you love and you will never dread another Monday. Here’s how to get started with your own meaningful job search:

Welcome to the career site that helps you connect purpose & paycheque. (Yes, it’s a thing). Resources, job listings, and profiles of companies where you can bring your values to work. Canada-wide job listings.

Find your next position on Canada’s favourite site for nonprofit professionals. The CharityVillage Knowledge Centre is where you can find free resources to help guide your career in the nonprofit sector along with industry news and information about CharityVillage.

Canada’s premier environmental job board. Environmental Careers Organization of Canada (ECO Canada) is a not-for-profit organization that was founded in 1992 to help nurture Canada’s growing environmental sector.

A sampling of such job postings, from across Canada, found recently on Monster.ca. They’re listed in ascending order of experience required, from none to five years or more.

Top 20 Corporate Social Responsibility jobs in Ontario. 

Grand River Hospital’s POGO Satellite Clinic: a place of healing for local children battling cancer.

Written for and published by Kitchener Today

Beyond the revolving doors, past the wheelchairs, resides the entrance to the POGO Satellite Clinic. Like a parent’s bedside after a bad dream, it’s a place where children go to feel safe. These children are battling cancer. The clinic is one of eight in Ontario.

Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) offers financial assistance to families to help ease some of the burdens associated with a childhood cancer diagnosis. POGO Satellite Clinics bring care closer to home for these families, also easing the burden of travel.

POGO Satellite Clinic Coordinator, and Resource Nurse for Children’s Outpatient Clinic, Cristina Peter has been with Grand River Hospital for eight years, “this was always where I wanted to be, in pediatric oncology.” She describes the best part of the job as “seeing the kids coming in looking well – able to receive their treatment, leave, and return to school.”

“Kids go through this and it’s the hardest journey of their lives, but many times they’re happy, singing, dancing and playing. It’s just amazing.”

The GRH POGO Satellite Clinic is the only hospital that sees children from all three tertiary centers; The Hospital for Sick Children, London Health Sciences and McMaster Children’s Hospital. Kids come to the clinic for anything from bloodwork, to chemotherapy. Clinic staff remain in communication with pediatric oncologists from the referral hospital.

Peter says all of the children are special to her, although; the ones that are diagnosed in the clinic hold an extra emotional connection. “Jonathan (J.T.) is one of the many families in our area that came in with symptoms and was diagnosed in our clinic. So, we were there when he had his first bloodwork done and results come in. Watching the family go through a cancer diagnosis is heartbreaking, but at the same time when you see them coming back feeling well and happy then it just helps us deal with the grief as well.”

Leanne Kukla, J.T.’s mom, recalls their cancer journey, “J.T. hadn’t been well for months but we didn’t know what it was.” Eventually they were referred to Sick Kids. On January 31, 2018 Jonathan’s family received a cancer diagnosis; non-Hodgkins’s T cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, stage 3. He was 10.

Childhood cancer affects the entire family. During critical stages of his treatment, J.T. and his mom lived at the Ronald McDonald House, in Toronto – separated from his dad and sister; Amber. Once he was in the intermittence phase, he was referred to the GRH POGO Satellite Clinic.

Again, they found themselves facing fear of change, “we were comfortable with the team in Toronto. We didn’t know what to expect or who we’d be working with.”

During their first visit they met Cristina. Leanne knew it was going to be ok when J.T. turned to her and said, “you know I think it’s going to be nice here.”

With treatment now 15 minutes from home, J.T. can attend school and sleeps soundly in his own bed – under the same roof as his mom, dad and sister.

“I can do anything, pretty much. I play hockey, I have a tournament this weekend, I’m excited for that.”

The Kukla family has also accessed POGO’s financial support – including meals and accommodations. “It’s not something you expect to have to spend, you have to and you don’t think twice about it but having the extra support, it’s been helpful.”

J.T. is in treatment until June 2020.

Find out more about POGO here.

KW Run for POGO happens early fall, find out more here.

Leanne Kukla, J.T. and Cristina Peter (left to right)

Cancer is a thief that creates unwilling heroes out of children.

Like the true criminal it is, cancer doesn’t discriminate. It cares not about destiny or achievements, nor does is consider purpose. There is no hierarchy or class that is immune.

noah

This sweet boy taught my daughter to walk, picking her up every time she fell, both laughing hysterically. When he came to my house he requested water to drink “because the juice is unhealthy.”  His fear of being stung by a bee would send him running inside the house whenever something buzzed by his ear.

I know you know this boy, we all do.

The boy who lights up the room when he walks into it, who sees the good in everyone, whose laugh is contagious.

His name is Noah and this handsome, curious, polite boy lost his battle with cancer on his mother’s birthday.

We don’t like these types of stories, we want to ignore them. They are too sad, so we turn the page, scroll past them, change the channel.

Noah and his family have been to hell and back. They could have used this pain as ammunition to fuel resentment. Instead, they sit on a committee that plans opportunities to give back to POGO, the organization that supported them during Noah’s battle.

POGO stands for Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario. They support pediatric cancer care professionals, provide families with services and programs to meet the needs of kids with cancer, as well as offering support for survivors.

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We need to stop tuning out, scrolling past and turning the page. There are many Noahs who need us to listen.

On September 9, a community of young warriors, and the loved ones who will do anything for them are attending the KW Run for POGO.

On this day they will give their support to the organization that has been supporting them, in hopes of raising awareness and funds.

I will be there for Noah, the boy who was terrified of bees but bravely faced childhood cancer.

Will you?

 pogo link

Watch my interview with Dr. Jodi Rosner, the founder of this event:

In Studio Interview 2

For more information head to:

www.pogo.ca

www.kwrunforpogo.com

 

 

 

 

 

What is PR Anyway?

If PR was described using an emotion it would be empathy. Reputation, like trust, is earned and can easily be lost. A PR professional is there to help you define your demographic, understand their needs and build a relationship that mutually benefits both parties.

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Defining public relations.

The simplest way to define public relations is – the relationship between an organization and its publics. Publics can be defined as employees, clients, shareholders and the surrounding community.

PR is about building relationships. It’s a give and take between two parties while maintaining two-way communication.

If PR was described using an emotion it would be empathy. Reputation, like trust, is earned and can easily be lost. A PR professional is there to help you define your demographic, understand their needs and build a relationship that mutually benefits both parties.

No spin. No lies. No facades.

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Who needs PR?

  • Talent
  • Businesses
  • Charities/Nonprofit Organizations
  • Public figures
  • Hospitals
  • Cities
  • Everyone who has an audience, client, employee, community or following.

What does a PR professional do?

Quite simply we are expert communicators. Our avenues of communication include social media, media relations, internal and external speaking engagements, multimedia, events, blogs, and publications.

PR is strategic, persuasive and motivated. We are storytellers, self-producing content that encourages engagement and promotes a positive reputation.