Photograph ©Karen McKinnon 2016
“Madame Chantal, I want to make a difference.”
That, says Ecole Puntledge Park teacher Chantal Stefan, is one of the pay backs of her work with “Everybody Deserves A Smile” or EDAS.
On November 23 we’re inviting Comox Valley creatives and entrepreneurs (and friends and families too!) to join us for a shared Festive Cheer event. Besides sharing food, music, and a festive celebration, we’ll be raising funds for EDAS. Tickets are available online at http://festivecheeryqq.ca
EDAS struck a chord with me because it shows how entrepreneurs operate in different ways in our communities. Some do it through business startups. Others as champions of pivots – new products and services – in larger businesses. Some, like Chantal Stefan, do it through community initiatives.
EDAS engages young people to help put a smile on the faces of the homeless in our communities. It teaches these young people about the human face of poverty and addiction. It also trains them in how to make a difference, with skills that transfer to other entrepreneurial activities.
It all starts with the individual. Chantal, for example, was moved by the plight of a homeless man one Edmonton winter, 13 years ago.
Today, she leads 10 school-based teams and hundreds of Vancouver Island K-12 kids. These kids produce over 800 packages with cookies, woollen socks, toques for homeless people on their streets, and streets in Victoria and Vancouver. And she asks them, “Who do you need to be to be a difference maker? What does it look like?”
Painting a gift bag and filling it with necessaries like socks and a toothbrush may not be a big thing. A good thing, undoubtedly. But not a big thing. Chantal, however, believes that these small acts can make a difference in a person’s life.
They are certainly making a difference in the lives of the kids she works with. As well as learning about the realities of poverty and addiction, they are learning about leadership, team building, project management, marketing, and public speaking.
This is important stuff for us who take community economic development seriously. Recently, at a Startup Canada workshop on our “creative” economy, the topic of “we need to be teaching our kids how to be entrepreneurs” kept coming up. EDAS is doing that. As they successfully produce 800+ gift bags, these Vancouver Island kids are learning skills they will use as they become the men and women building the next generation of businesses and jobs in our Island communities. That’s why Chantal Stefan is both a Comox Valley Record “Local Hero” and a #WeAreYQQ star. She’s making shift happen – big time!
We’re featuring Chantal and EDAS at Festive Cheer because we see an opportunity to support something that’s growing future entrepreneurs – and doing good work today.
We’re also hosting Festive Cheer because we think our community of entrepreneurs and creatives can use a shared festive celebration. If you’re a creative, a solopreneur, a business with a small to medium sized crew, or even a larger business – join us on November 23 at Prime Chophouse.
We’ll have Prime appetizers, presentations by sponsors like Jace Pierson, Jabin Postal, and Chantal Stefan. We’ll have music by DJ em.ash. We’ll have some fun and games (and prizes!) thanks to Leanne Zdebiak-eni of Studio IPF. We’re also pulling together several “Comox Valley experiences” for local “celebrity auctioneer” Adam Duncan to auction off to the highest bidders.
Chantal says that what they do with EDAS can only happen when the community stands with them. Let’s make this shift happen on November 23.
See you at Festive Cheer!
@hanspetermeyer on Twitter