Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Good things happening

What's the best sign of a committed nonprofit organization? Why, a resident cat that's been around for 11 years, of course!

Yesterday I visited Rise Life Management Services, an inspiring NGO that is working with youth in 8 neighbourhoods in downtown Kingston.  This organization started out with a focus on responding to addictions, providing treatment, education and crisis management.  They soon realized that they wanted to be in the business of preventing addictions in youth, so they branched out with programs to serve the many youth-at-risk in the neighboring communities, including education, life skills, employment training, technology access and leadership through the arts.

Around the time of this change (which was about when they acquired their cat) the organization identified several youth participants that showed potential and continued to give them intensive leadership and lifestyle training opportunities.  Eventually, 10 of these youth were hired to work for RISE directly, and today they are managing and leading programs for the next generations of youth. They are positive role models in action!

Two of the program staff who've been around as long as the cat has.

This mural is based on an award-winning poster designed by a member of the community depicting respecting human rights.
The fruits of one of RISE's environment awareness programs - a Doctor Bird planter made out of an old tire.
Cuso's partnership with RISE is working on expanding their fundraising strategy to ensure organizational sustainability in covering operating and staff costs between program funding.  Plans are already in the works for another volunteer to work on developing a social enterprise model  which will help train young entrepreneurs in developing their business, and have the profits support both the community and RISE.      
On the left, Sonita, the Executive Director of RISE, on the right, Britta, a Cuso volunteer.
 I also visited Y.O.U. today, which stands for Youth Opportunities Unlimited.  They are the biggest mentoring agency in the developing world, with 250-350 relationships active annually.  The relationships are primarily between youth-at-risk and adult volunteers with the goal of encouraging youth to finish school, get job training, and to teach them positive life skills through role models. 

Kate is our trusty Cuso volunteer at Y.O.U. and she brings a background in journalism and communications.  The goal is develop a public relations strategy for Y.O.U. to raise its profile in the community, garnering more support and awareness for the organization. 
Kate at Y.O.U.
It is very inspiring to see the work going on in other organizations and to see my fellow volunteers in action!

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