A group of World ORT alumni gathered at the Toronto home of Pablo Reich for the first time.
From Argentina to Israel, Uruguay to Canada, they came together to reunite as graduates of ORT schools.
Established in 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia, ORT is the largest Jewish vocational and training organization. Currently ORT operates in 37 countries with approximately 300,000 students.
Pablo Reich, himself a graduate of an ORT school in Argentina, hosted the event at his home in north Toronto.
He says, “Going to university wasn’t an option for many Jewish children so the ORT environment provided a technical education. Now ORT Argentina is a popular school offering STEM training to both Jewish and non-Jewish students.”
Elly Gotz is a prominent Toronto businessman, ORT alumnus from Kovno, Lithuania and a Holocaust survivor.
As Elly explains, there were no schools to attend in the ghetto. The Jewish management asked permission from the Nazis to start a trade school.
He learned metalwork while others were trained in locksmithing, welding, cutting and drilling.
“I loved it,” he says. “I didn’t have to think about how I was going to die, I was busy and at 15 years old I was made a teacher and training other students.”
After the war, Elly attended an ORT school to learn electronics, which eventually led him to become an electrical engineer.
He says that some of his fellow ORT students and classmates have gone on to illustrious careers including a professor, dental technician and acclaimed businessman. All credit ORT for their success.
According to Lindy Meshwork, Executive Director of ORT Toronto, next steps for ORT in Canada are fundraising as well as raising awareness for their programs.
On October 19 a Battle of the Air Bands will be held at the MOD Club in downtown Toronto, while in the spring of 2019 a large gala will be held to raise funds for ORT as well as Jewish day schools.
For more information on ORT, please visit www.ort-toronto.org
My name is Nigel Adams. I am a 26 years young Inuk from Kangirsujuaq, Nunavik.
I speak on the epidemic suicides around Nunavik. More men have ended their lives than women in our communities. I believe the reason is because we do not have a place to speak on our raw emotions without being criticized nor judged.
So many challenges affect our people. Men in our communities are facing false allegations, being bullied throughout their lives, no jobs and unable to support themselves, children are taken away from their parents, alcohol and smoking weed are used to numb their raw emotions.
We would have more men in our communities attending Healing programs if a man with a powerful voice spoke about their own situation.
I myself was someone who used drugs and alcohol to numb their pain. I was trying to get away from reality, living with people in a different community who abused alcohol too. All I heard and saw was violence, anger and pain. There was constant shouting, walls were broken and the television was too. I was truly traumatized.
They would tell me that ‘I was a waste of air, waste of sperm and I was useless.’ I battled with depression and suffered anxiety attacks. This is the reason why I started drinking and smoking drugs in the first place. Once the drugs and alcohol wore off, my pain only grew so I decided to go full sober, cold turkey.
I am glad to be fully sober and I want to encourage others to let go of their bad habits and gain good ones. Mine became weightlifting.
I am determined to make a difference. I've been bullied throughout my entire life for how I looked and how I spoke. Every single day I suffered from bullying, having my ass kicked and going home with a bloody face.
My journey started when I was 3 years old and the other kids told me to ‘go back to where I came from’ and ridiculed me for not being born in the community. Students took the awards I received like Most Improved and Best Attendance from my hands inside the school bus, tore the papers right in my face and spat at me.
In my teenage years, I wanted to end my life and nearly did but was saved by my best friend. He mentored me into believing in myself and I became one of the top athletes around Nunavik. Sadly my best friend ended his own life a few years later.
I am devoting my life to the people who are constantly bullied. My life has been full of difficult obstacles that I had to overcome and I never gave up. I am just getting started.
My grandparents were tortured and abused in residential schools.
The pain that my grandmother endured was passed on to her children, which was then passed down to me, and all of my siblings.
My grandfather’s dogs were slaughtered right in front of him by the government. To us, a dog is a man’s best friend and this left him wounded. The pain that he endured was passed down to my parents.
I call this intergenerational trauma.
My sister, brother and I were taken away from my parents due to false allegations. It took my father eighteen months to get us back, but when he was 19 years old we lost my younger brother.
He was a rebel kid but I focused on teaching him to lead a healthy life. We ran a marathon together from Quebec City to Montreal and did weight training.
I taught him have self-confidence, to motivate the people around him and to be competitive in sports. I am proud to say that my baby brother also kicked my ass at basketball.
When he put his mind to it, Robert Adams was a man who got stuff done. We gave each other positive energy, and not having him here has left a huge hole in my heart.
From all of my experiences I am healing from the suffering. I am now sharing my story to encourage people to have confidence in themselves, even through the toughest times and I want to make a difference in northern communities.
Nigel Adams is a strong voice for his community and has shared a CBC Radio interview he did in August 2018 on the epidemic facing Indigenous people. To reach Nigel email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy of Nigel Adams
Dawn Custode is dying of cancer. Since her diagnosis over two and a half years ago, she has faced the disease with the same conviction as she has lived her entire life.
She continued to go sailing with her husband, took vacations like travelling to Africa, and visited with as many family and friends that her energy and time would allow.
I spoke with Dawn over the phone in late April. At this point, she has weeks and maybe days to live, but it’s important for her to share her lessons on resilience, stressing that everyone get a colonoscopy, and not waste a minute of time.
Here is a bit of our recorded interview.
RESILIENT PEOPLE: Dawn, you’ve been given this platform. What are you hoping to achieve from doing interviews?
DAWN CUSTODE: My major goal, my mantra is to be mindful of your time because tomorrow is not guaranteed.
If I can save one person from dying from colon cancer because they didn’t look after their body or they let the doctors push them off. If I can save one person from realizing they’re in a bad relationship because they don’t realize they’d be better off without them. If I can make someone realize they’re putting off a trip that may never come, I’ve achieved what I wanted to do.
Have you always had that mantra?
Growing up I was very extroverted. Our family moved a lot so I would show up in the middle of the school year and leave in the middle of the next school year to join another school.
It was part of my personality, making the most of things. Even if it was pizza and wings on a Friday night while playing a game of Trivial Pursuit, I always had something on the go.
I’ve heard that moving a lot builds resilience. Oprah has also said, “The path in your life prepares you for where you are now.” Can you identify with this, based on where you are now?
I feel there’s a lot of irony there. Even though I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do I still haven’t done a lot of the things I want to do. Having this diagnosis and feeling so good has made me do things I never thought I’d want to do. Like going to Africa.
What’s left that you’d like to achieve?
I’ve been going week-by-week, day-by-day. I’m hoping to get to certain goals. I spend time a lot of time at the Region of Waterloo Hospice Centre. Through their auxiliary programs they offer free services to patients and caregivers like massages, Reiki, and haircuts.
Everyone in the program is living with something terminal, and they’ve been a big part of helping me through the process. We all get together and it’s nice to go somewhere where we’re all going through the same thing. We laugh about something and they understand where I’m coming from.
One of my goals is to be at the ‘Hospice for Handbags fundraiser’ on May 16. They’ve asked my husband and I to tell our story for a video that will be posted on their website and shown at the auction.
I really want to see that. My family and friends are coming up and that’s my goal - to make it to May 16.
I’d also like to watch my friend’s son’s graduation on June 1 and anything else that is coming up.
Right now it’s day by day and it seems to be going ok.
One of the doctors had given you till the end of the month. It’s now the end of the month – how are you feeling?
I’m not ready to go. My blood pressure is good, my count’s good, I’m still turning yellow, I’m still having more pain each day than I was before but managing it with pain medication. I can still feel the downside coming but its not coming as quickly as they said.
What’s important for people to know?
Your life is your life and you should live it the way you want to live it. You have to do it in the time that you’re given.
I’ve watched so many people plan to retire at 65 and drop dead at 63. There is no time sometimes and you have to be prepared for that.
What are you hoping is on the other side?
I’m hoping it’s like the rainbow gates where all the pets you love come running for you. I hope there are people waiting for me on the other side – my mom and my grandparents. I’m not afraid of it.
What are you hoping your legacy will be?
Learn from my experience that positivity breeds positivity. The only reason I’m still here is because I didn’t curl up into a ball and let it happen to me. I was publicly out there with my diagnosis. I took positivity no matter where it came from – a prayer circle, someone taking the coffee in a cup that I made for them, making me a card. All that positivity has come to me and I’ve tried to send it out ten-fold. Learn from me and don’t waste your time.
I’m hoping that someone gets a colonoscopy, or says, “I haven’t taken that trip that I’ve wanted to take” and does it.
It doesn’t sound like you have many regrets
Not really. I have regrets of what I’m leaving behind and more regret for the people I’m leaving behind. No father should outlive his daughter. It’s hard to deal with that.
I have friends who have sick family and are dealing with me being sick. I regret that burden on them.
People say, “You’re such an inspiration”. I don’t want to be an inspiration I want to be the reason you do it. Don’t think about it, do it.
To listen to the full interview with Dawn Custode and Janet Fanaki, please click below:
Kristy Wieber and Lisa Owen are the co-owners of Rent frock Repeat. In 2010, they revolutionized the way women dressed for formal occasions with an online rental business and two bustling showrooms in Toronto and Ottawa.
Now the pair has put their successful business on pause to start a new venture, a monthly subscription service for casual and office wear. Promising to make our closets more exciting and lessen the fashion footprint.
I sat down with Kristy and Lisa to talk about running a business – the resilience it takes and the rewards that come with it.
RESILIENT PEOPLE: How did you come together as partners?
KRISTY WIEBER: About fifteen years ago we were working together and instantly became friends. Even though we liked our jobs we thought that we should do our own thing together but weren’t sure what that would be. We thought about a bookstore, a doggy daycare, or a café or a doggy bookstore café.
We had the years to get to know each other’s work ethics so there wasn’t that trepidation to figure each other out.
What are the challenges in starting a business or working together?
Lisa Owen: People want to hear us say something that’s really challenging. The brilliance of it is that we understood each other from the beginning. On hard days things may get to you about the other person but when I’m losing my mind she’s the person I can call and talk to and the same goes for Kristy.
Some people will say don’t go into business with friends. What we did well from the beginning, other than knowing each other’s work style, is we had the tough conversations and almost went through a type of marriage counselling course to figure things out before going into it.
On the back deck over a glass of wine we asked the tough questions like: Who’s the decision maker? If we’re at a cross roads how are we going to make the final decision? What’s your role and my role? What’s going to happen when you pass away or I pass away?
Those are hard conversations to have. Were those difficult?
KW: No. We’re known each other for so long. If you can’t have those conversations you shouldn’t go into business together.
There are so many challenges that come with the finances of running a business. There were times when you had a lot of money, and then didn’t and had to find more. How did you deal with that?
LO: You’re on a roller coaster ride but from a Zen-like perspective we realized that money has always come and we’ve always found a way.
You need to reframe the question, is money the problem or is it something else? We focus more on being creative with our business and innovating our way out of situations. Money gets you TO the end result; it’s not THE end result.
Were you this calm from the beginning of setting-up RfR?
KW: There was definitely some nail biting in the beginning because you don’t know and there are many eggs in all these baskets, putting our own money in the business, waking up in the middle of the night. But as you go and you make it through the hurdles we just kept doing what’s right for the customer and the company. We kept those things in mind and we always seemed to find a way.
LO: We’ve gone through such highs and lows that now we’re used to it. We read once, every time you fear something write it down, and after you do it write down the outcome. You realize that the outcome was never as bad as the fear. You say, ‘look at me, I’m ok.’
When you’re in a fearful mode, go back to your fear book and it will bring you calm and remind you that you can be there again and you’ll be ok.
Who were your mentors?
KW: I look to friends, family, our customers and employees. I’m most interested in what they’re saying about what we’re doing and that keeps me motivated to do the best for them.
LO: Seth Godin has had the biggest impact on my mind and how I see problems. He gives it a different lens. Also Ron Duke who we met from our time on Dragon’s Den.
What advice would you give a new entrepreneur to build that resilience in business?
LO: Don’t ask what you’re passionate about but why you want to go into business for yourself. Make sure that its something you love so much that when you string together 7 horrible days you’d still work through them because you’re so passionate about it.
KW: Consider your worst-case scenario. If you lose everything, are you going to be ok with that? Will you be ok with moving back in with your mom or dad or starting all over again? If you can say yes to those things, then you’ll be ok to move forward.
Is there a mantra that you follow?
LO: I’m ok with failure and I’m ok with great success but I’m not ok with anything in between. We didn’t want mediocre – if we’re going to do something we’re doing it right or not at all.
Money’s not what you’re after. Good work environment, mentors, and people that are there to support you.
Please talk about the new venture.
KW: For the last 8 years we’ve been renting spectacular dresses for one- time occasions. Rent is so much more widely known and accepted now. There are lots of subscriptions on the market but clothes are still accumulating in people’s closets.
Customers will fill-out a style profile with their size, favourite colours and designers, if you want a stylist or pick outfits yourself. We take that all and build it into a service that’s totally curated for the customer.
A box comes each month with 4-6 pieces. Send them back or buy at a discounted rate. It’s a way to get an amazing variety without an overstuffed closet.
Thank you Kristy and Lisa for spending the time.
For more information on Rent frock Repeat and their new subscription service go to www.rentfrockrepeat.com
Rent frock Repeat's Co-Founders Lisa Owen & Kristy Wieber
by Ashley Koff RD, CEO, TheBetterNutritionProgram
When asked about resilience, how my patients handle life’s challenges, my response is always: they learn resilience begins within. Doing a “gut check,” having “the guts,” feeling “gutted” but moving forward, our expressions remind us that your digestion – your guts – needs to be working better in order for you to have the guts to get up and keep going.
How do I know if my guts are in good shape?
Your body sends you signals all the time, the question is if you are listening. Resilience begins within our bodies where our digestion needs to review, process, absorb, eliminate or send alarms about what it gets. When your digestion shuts down (not going), blows up (bloats), sends things the wrong way (reflux), smells awful (putrification) these signals are like the check engine light going on in your car. The body wants you to prioritize its digestive efforts ASAP.
You should see if your digestion is better using the Better Nutrition Digestive Evaluation – a quick quiz to take quarterly or at least once a year and to share your results with your practitioner(s). It’s the only tool that looks at all areas of digestion and what could be impacting yours, and its an easy quiz!
You can’t be resilient or achieve any better health goal without better digestion! The nutrients your digestion requires to run better help turn off stress, help relax muscles, help support healthy immune function, help optimize neurotransmitters for emotional health, and help remove toxins.
What do I do if my digestion isn’t better?
If it’s ongoing or if it’s severe (blood, coughing, irritation) and interfering with your day to day then you should talk to your practitioner immediately. You can also learn to use certain nutrients to tune-up your digestion. Here’s a good overview of how to fix your digestion.
Is it hard to get better digestion?
It depends on where your system is and what you are handling right now. But it can be deliciously easy to get in key nutrients that help your digestion run better. For example, this better breakfast bowl helps tune up and maintain healthy digestion.
Resilience like digestion isn’t something you get to work towards, achieve, and then not focus on again. It requires daily check-ins with decisions you make, and it requires taking in nutrients that support the body to respond to stress and other outside stimuli better.
Ashley Koff RD is an internationally-renowned registered dietitian and knows the key to resolving our national health crisis is to empower individuals to achieve better health from better nutrition. Koff created The Better Nutrition, Simplified Program, a virtual tool kit of resources including the Better Nutrition Plan, Recipes, Nutrition lessons, Consults, Quick Start Guides, The Ashley Koff Approved (AKA) Personal Shopper and her award-winning blogs to get Better Nutrition for Better Health. www.ashleykoffrd.com
by Susan Lee Mintz
Since my husband’s death on August 17, 1994 from AIDS-related pneumonia, I have focused much of my attention and energy on the many issues involving my 25-year marriage to a bisexual man who suffered greatly with a life threatening illness.
With my hands-on experience, I found I was able to assist other people who would face many of the same issues that I had gone through. These issues involved emotions and heartfelt, sometimes gut-wrenching decisions and situations where I was, not only a wife, but a caregiver, friend and eventually would become a widow.
I learned about hospice when I was told that there was nothing further that could be done for my husband. There is nothing worse than hearing those words. My husband knew he was going to die and we had to make a choice. We chose hospice to assist us.
I didn’t realize, at that time, how important it was to have someone help me through the most difficult time in my life. Hospice was a stranger who came into our home and loved us.
Because of hospice’s invaluable help, I decided to give back by volunteering at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton, Florida. I was there for 6 incredible years working in their care center, in people’s homes, and as an 11th hour patient volunteer.
I was called upon when death was eminent. Hospice was all about choice. Hospice was a feeling that allowed Jeffrey and myself to still be in control of our lives even when we weren’t. Hospice was about living and not about dying. It was palliative care and pain management.
It gave me a few hours during the day to take care of the things that had to be done. An aid was able to stay with me through the nights that were the most frightening.
Hospice involved the choices that included dignity, respect, love, faith, and courage. It didn’t treat Jeffrey as though he was a “terminally ill” patient, but very much as a “living” person.
When it was determined that someone had a short-term life expectancy of 6 months or less, hospice could be that alternative choice in determining how you wanted to live out the remaining days of your life.
Most people want to pass away at home as my husband did. However, it is very difficult when the person needs 24-hour care. Therefore a facility may be what is needed.
Hospice was everything right in our lives when everything was wrong. When life and every aspect of it was out of control, hospice interceded and managed the chaos and turmoil.
It was a “team” effort and after my husband died, I wanted to join that team. Team hospice rallied around the family unit and could assist during this critical time.
Hospice will always be concerned about not just the patient but the entire family.
When you think that there are no choices left, there is still one. The Hospice Choice. Quality of life until the end of life.
Jane is the founder of Right Track Educational Services in Toronto. In this business, Jane provides support to students and their parents to make smart educational choices, setting them up both personally and academically for life.
She recently gave a talk on raising a resilient learner, a child who is prepared for the real world. In her research, Jane found that children today are not being taught the proper skills to launch in the real world. In parenting today, we are protecting children from life rather than preparing them for it.
She feels that we need to change our mindset.
Jane met with Janet Fanaki, founder of RESILIENT PEOPLE, to discuss the ways that we can improve our childrens' resilience, help to prepare them for the world, along with offering tips and resources for parents.
I was quite young when I started to volunteer.
My first memory is being around 10 years old and calling constituents on behalf of our local municipal candidate in a Toronto election. All I remember is saying to people, "I hope we can count on your support for Yuri Shymko."
As I got older, I continued to volunteer by writing for my high school newsletter, running publicity for a university club and, once I started working, I joined the Progressive Conservative Party's Blue Club which was a great way to meet people my age with politics being the catalyst.
My efforts are now targeted to causes where I have a personal connection like the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, my childrens' schools, and The Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre where I am one of many volunteers running the gift shop.
The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada was a no-brainer for me. When my husband was diagnosed with glioblastoma, we were given the Foundation's handbook in the hospital and I read it cover to cover. The information and support that it offered me was invaluable and as soon as I was ready I wanted to start volunteering for them.
The nursing home and schools are a part of our community and knowing that they are always in need of help, I am willing to give them my time and expertise.
What do I get out of it? There are a variety of things that volunteering does for me.
First, it brings me together with a community where we all have the same passion.
Second, being a volunteer gives me access to information. By joining the Brain Tumour Foundation I was able to meet medical experts at strategy meetings and hear the latest research while getting to know them on a more personal level.
Third, volunteering has broadened my circle of friends. I have gotten to know so many people from my volunteering commitments and I have no doubt that we will continue to be friends for years to come.
Finally, its given me the opportunity to show my own children the value in giving their time to something they care about and reaping the rewards. Its a pleasure to watch them choose their passion projects.
Wherever you choose to volunteer, I hope it gives you the same satisfaction as mine have given me.
Fall is here.
The leaves have all turned different colours and the trees are halfway bare.
As much as I love this season, I still feel apprehensive about what's to come. Winter.
Other than it being the time of my birthday (December 6) and Christmas, I am not a fan.
But I don't want to worry about what's to come but focus on the now.
This fall has been really wet and cold in the city. So how to deal with it when your preference is open sandals over rubber chelsea boots?
Embrace and start enjoying the heavier knits, water-repellant jackets, layers and layers and waterproof heavy flats.
Next, get outside. It sounds counter-intuitive to want to be in the rain when you're not happy about it. But breathing in the fresh C02 and taking a walk in it sure does help.
When the rain lets up, I'll be outside raking the leaves to make a pile for the dog to jump into. It used to be for the kids, but they're grown up now and not as interested in the getting their hair messed up. The dog definitely doesn't care.
Scheduling get togethers with friends is paramount. And family too.
Don't wait for special occasions.
This time of year, people tend to start thinking about cocooning indoors. By taking a walk together, or meeting for a coffee in the neighbourhood, or a quick dinner out, the social interaction feels really good.
What's your method of surviving the dreary weather? Give me some tips. And if you see an amazing pair of waterproof boots, send me a picture!
This time of year we are hard-pressed to go anywhere and not hear jolly carols, receive happy greetings, and watch movies about the joy of the season.
Whatever your religious leanings, the reason for the season could be the birth of Christ or just an opportunity to enjoy the gathering of loved ones and exchange gifts.
But for many it is also a time of sadness, loneliness and heartache.
I attended a church service this morning where the sermon was on joy. The minister asked the congregation to talk about what makes them joyful or jolly.
One woman took the microphone and said, "Our family is currently going through a difficult time settling my father's estate." She sat in the pew with her shoulders curled inward, speaking quietly.
"My brother and I haven't spoken for a long time, he was estranged for many years, and this has given us an opportunity to reconnect."
Another parishioner rose who teaches at the university. One of his preacher students discovered that she has cancer.
With no money and having to move to a rental unit that is closer to downtown, he knew that she was in a difficult spot. He put a request to other church ministers to donate to her plight and in one day he raised $8,000.
The final person to speak was very moving. She told us that this would be the first year that she would not be spending with her family. "It was a deliberate decision as it would be easier to spend the holidays apart than be together."
The most striking thing was that she ended by saying that she and her brother live next door to each other. When she finished speaking, she started to weep. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room.
I couldn't imagine not being around my family at Christmas and being estranged from my only brother. But a bitter divorce that happened years ago has caused us to not be together with my dad.
Some families cope well with divorce but ours is not one of them. Separating the celebrations doesn't make it any happier or joyful when you're always thinking what that other person is doing.
The pressure to be jolly is not at play for everyone, but I see it as an opportunity for others to be a little kinder, slower and more thoughtful this season.
You may meet someone who needs it and that may bring them a little more joy.
Merry Christmas everyone.