Leadership Stories

For the past seven years, Random Act of Kindness Day® (RAK Day) has inspired Waterloo Region and other Canadian communities to engage citizens in small acts of kindness and generosity. This day is so special because it focuses on people. We get so busy in our day-to-day lives that sometimes we forget to think about the people around us. It is the missed opportunities for caring interaction that affect how we feel about one another, and about our community.

Since the beginning, The KWCF and its dedicated volunteers have driven the local movement. Now RAK Day is about many individuals and organizations stepping up to find their own ways to impact the lives of others. This shift to community ownership of RAK Day means positive things for our community. It means we all see the value in being kind to one another and making sure that everyone feels like they belong.

In 2013, The KWCF launched the full report of Waterloo Region’s Vital Signs® which took a high-level view of the areas challenging our community.

Last October, The KWCF launched the 2014 edition of Waterloo Region’s Vital Signs®, a priority report with a more in-depth focus on the areas of Belonging & Leadership, Arts & Culture, Health & Wellness and Getting Started. Because we know that every challenge an individual faces in our community is only exacerbated by issues with access to personal transportation, a special focus on Getting Around was also included.

The Centre for Community Knowledge (CCK) was founded on partnerships: Capacity Waterloo Region, Conestoga College, Skylight Productions and Igloo Software. Each of these organizations has made a significant impact on the development and roll out of the Centre for Community Knowledge in our community.

Random Act of Kindness Day® (RAK Day) has grown over the last six years into a community-wide celebration of kindness. What makes the day so special is that it’s really about people. It’s about strangers and neighbours, co-workers and friends reaching out to one another to make someone feel cared for and appreciated.

With over 100 graduates to date, the Engage! KW program is a roaring success. Included in these graduates are 27 bright, emerging leaders participating in the 2013–2014 class. These graduates have been working side-by-side over the 7-month program to reflect on their values, their philanthropic goals and to learn how to make their community a better place to live, work and raise a family.

In October 2013 The KWCF launched Waterloo Region’s Vital Signs® (WRVS), marking the beginning of a new three-year cycle for the check-up on community vitality. It was in this past year that we paused to reflect on the past six years of Vital Signs® in Waterloo Region. What began as a simple printed report has since morphed into so much more. WRVS today represents the way we do business as a community foundation.

The Engage! KW Philanthropic Leadership program began its third year in the Fall of 2012. Young leaders spanning multiple sectors gather monthly between October and April to expand their knowledge of not only their own goals and values, but of the non-profit sector through hands on group work with local charities.

Back in 2011, The KWCF and the Cambridge & North Dumfries Community Foundation performed a full evaluation of the Waterloo Region’s Vital Signs® project.

The Foundations asked key questions about the report’s use, and what improvements could be made. The responses spoke loud and clear. The community needed more information, more time and a more in depth look at the key priority areas.

The message for Random Act of Kindness Day® (RAK Day) is simple; do something nice for someone and ask nothing in return except that they do something nice for someone else.

Five years ago, a group of dedicated community volunteers gathered together to celebrate the first ever RAK Day here in Kitchener, Waterloo and area. A half a decade later, our community is celebrating the importance of kindness once again.

The KWCF recognizes that knowing key areas of need in our community is only half the battle when trying to make a difference. The other half is knowing where and how local organizations addressing these needs require support. The question often asked following the release of a Vital Signs report is ‘This is great information but, what’s next? How can I make a difference?’

The Centre for Community Knowledge (CCK) was designed to directly address that question. It also tackles another need in the non-profit sector – the ability for charitable organizations to tell their stories.

They say that pictures say a thousand words. But when it comes to storytelling, a video trumps them all. The KWCF took this message to heart when looking to create an online tool for non-profits to share their stories in an innovative way.

“Vital Signs® is a tool for community understanding, discussion, reflection, and change,” shares Rosemary Smith, CEO of The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation.

Hold the door open for someone. Empty the dishwasher at home. Let the person behind you in line go in front. Make a new friend.

Engage! KW was first introduced in 2006 as a program to raise awareness on community issues and provide information about potential philanthropy. The KWCF never imagined then how much promise and impact the program could have. Now, in its second year of a new vision, Engage! KW has developed into an initiative with over 60 dynamic community leaders who have participated to date.

As a tool for understanding community, Waterloo Region’s Vital Signs continues to spark dialogue, create connections, and inspire action.

Last spring, The KWCF launched a new philanthropic tool to help connect donors to community needs.

For some, kind acts are part of their daily interactions. But there are enough of us out there who are too busy to notice when an opportunity to be kind arises.

Engage! KW was first introduced in 2006 by The KWCF as a program to raise awareness of community issues and provide information about potential philanthropy.

In its third year, Waterloo Region’s Vital Signs continues to spark dialogue, create connections, and inspire action.

The second annual Random Act of Kindness (RAK) Day was another tremendous success with 100,000 RAK cards circulating around our community, reminding people to take a moment to do something nice for someone else.

Ours is a community rich in philanthropic history.

Vital Signs is an annual community report card produced by community foundations across Canada that measures the vitality of our municipalities, identifies trends, and with the help of community supporters, assigns grades in the areas critical to quality of life.

On October 2, 2007, Waterloo Region’s Vital Signs was released amongst much anticipation and excitement.

The KWCF launched a new program in 2006 to inspire entrepreneurs to make a difference in their community.

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