Kinder Kits Distributed

Now Hiring: Digital Design Coordinator

Posted by Kaelan Karjalainen | News

Employment Opportunity: Digital Design Coordinator (Part-time) Reports to the Director of Communications

Ve’ahavta is a Jewish charitable social service organization dedicated to promoting positive change in the lives of people of all faiths who are marginalized by poverty.

Ve’ahavta (Hebrew for “and you shall love”) is committed to engaging community members in a meaningful and hands-on way to support our collective mission of tikun olam (repairing the world).

Ve’ahavta delivers poverty alleviation programs that break down barriers, restore human dignity, foster capacity-building, and empower marginalized individuals to break the cycle of poverty.

Role description The Digital Design Coordinator (DDC) is responsible for the creative work behind the Ve’ahavta brand and ensures our message is delivered with impact and consistency. This role supports both the marketing needs of the specific program departments, as well as the overall communications goals and objectives for the organization. In collaboration with the Director of Communications, the DDC is the driving force behind all marketing materials produced, from the strategic planning stages, and creative concept development, through to the implementation phase.


Print Materials: creative concept development and refinement of all marketing materials, including but not limited to;

  •  general and campaign support materials such as annual reports, brochures, signage, promotional “swag”
  •  program support materials such as posters and brochures
  •  fundraising support materials such as cases for support, presentation & proposal templates
  • event support materials such as invitations, sponsorship packages, programme book etc.

On-line Communications:

  • website population, updates, and maintenance
  • compilation and design of monthly e-newsletters
  • on-line advertising

Social Media

  • development of social media plan (in collaboration with Director of Communications)
  • build on-line community and network of supporters
  • daily posts on Facebook and Twitter
  • social media advertising (Facebook ads)


  • completion of a marketing and/or digital design post-secondary course
  • 1-3 years of related work experience
  • strong knowledge of Adobe Suite design software (InDesign, Photoshop & Illustrator)
  • established experience managing websites using WordPress
  • established experience creating e-newsletters using Mail Chimp, or similar software
  • strong knowledge and experience in social media marketing
  • up to date on current non-profit marketing trends
  • highly creative and innovative
  • tech savvy and able to learn new applications quickly
  • collaborative and works well with others
  • able to work effectively both independently and within a team
  • able to work effectively in a lively and fast-paced environment
  • strong work ethic and positive attitude
  • knowledge of the Jewish community is an asset, but not required

Please send cover letter and resume to robyn.segall@veahavta.org

You may also send a digital portfolio or samples of your creative design work.

Application deadline: February 23rd 2015

Ve’ahavta prides itself on being a supportive, vibrant, and positive place of work. We encourage all members of our team to actualize their unique gifts in a way that brings us closer to our collective goal of tikun olam – repairing the world.

Ve’ahavta is an equal opportunity employer, and all qualified applicants are encouraged to apply. Please note only eligible candidates will be contacted for an interview.

Posted by Kaelan Karjalainen |

Click here to read story on Toronto Sun website

A body found inside a graffiti-laden delivery truck parked at a shipping yard Monday is that of a homeless alcoholic who had been repeatedly barred from shelters, according to family.

Emergency personnel were called to a cluttered shipping yard on Davenport Rd., near Lansdowne Ave., just before 9 a.m. by a passerby who saw the man in the truck, said Toronto Police spokesman Const. David Hopkinson, who added paramedics pronounced the “stiff and very cold” man dead.

Family members who arrived at the scene said the 59-year-old homeless man had struggled with alcohol addiction and had at times been turned away from Toronto-area shelters due to intoxication.

He had also been estranged from his family, which included his wife, two adult daughters, and a two-year-old grandson he never met, according to the dead man’s wife and nephew.

“This is what shelters do to the poor homeless people, man,” said the nephew. “I’ve worked in shelters myself. I’ve seen the policies, We’re supposed to throw them out when they come in drunk. I find it ridiculous.”

The deceased’s estranged wife agreed.

“What kind of help is that? When somebody is sick, you kick them out? Even in the winter that happens.”

At the family’s request, the Toronto Sun agreed to withhold names until relatives can be notified about the man’s death.

The nephew said it’s not yet known exactly how long his uncle had been dead in the truck, or if he died of natural causes or from the cold that set in Sunday night when temperatures plunged to around -10C.

The derelict delivery truck with two flat tires was littered with empty beer and pop cans, chip bags, and an empty corned beef container.

Sonia Zyvatkauskas, of Toronto’s shelter support and housing administration, said intoxicated people can be turned away from shelters, but “it would be dependent on their behaviour.” She wouldn’t say if that behaviour includes acting drunk, but insisted that impaired clients could be directed to a more appropriate facility.

John Clarke, of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, said the city’s shelters are so overcrowded — and staff so overwhelmed — those who are intoxicated could simply be turned away due to a lack of resources to deal with them.

“You have a situation where a shelter is bursting at the seams, there is unbearable tension in there, and so, yes, somebody gets turned away because they’re intoxicated,” said Clarke. “That’s entirely believable, and in this case quite probable.”

Posted by Kaelan Karjalainen |

Click here to read on Global News website

TORONTO – A man died early Tuesday morning after being found outdoors without vital signs in downtown Toronto.

Police say the man was located near Yonge-Dundas Square and was taken to St. Michael’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Toronto EMS say the man, believed to be in his 40s, was found just after 5 a.m. inside a bus shelter wearing only jeans and a t-shirt.

Police at the scene say the freezing temperatures may have played a role in his death.

Authorities also say the man is known to police and at times has been homeless.

As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, the city had yet to declare an Extreme Cold Weather Alert which opens up additional warming centres and services for those who are most vulnerable.

The city’s medical officer of health issues the alerts when Environment Canada forecasts that overnight temperatures will reach -15 degrees Celsius or colder.

“My understanding was the temperature was to go to -15 or thereabout tonight and that would be a night in which you would see those criteria likely being met but again you’ll have to ask the chief medical officer about that,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory when questioned on the death Tuesday morning at city hall.

“There are very clear guidelines in place with respect to temperature, also with discretion that he’s given including wind chill to make that declaration he sees fit.”

According to Environment Canada, the overnight low is expected to reach -17 degrees Celsius Tuesday evening and into early Wednesday, making it the coldest day of the week.

Toronto Public Health says there are an estimated 100 cold related deaths in the city every year.

A number of measures are put in place when an Extreme Cold Weather Alert is declared such as the opening of additional 24-hour drop-in centres, relaxing service restrictions for shelters, increased street outreach support, as well as free transit tokens for people to reach shelters.

Posted by Kaelan Karjalainen |

Click here to read the article on CJN website.

Stars aplenty attend Ve’ahavta’s chai anniversary fundraiser

By Ron Csillag

TORONTO — The stars shone Sunday night at Toronto’s Koerner Hall, where Ve’ahavta’s volunteers and clients paid tribute to the organization at its Tikun Olam Awards Ceremony and fundraising gala.

Starry Nights, was indeed a star-studded affair attended by more than 500 supporters to mark Ve’ahavta’s 18th year of providing relief to hunger, homelessness and poverty in Toronto and abroad, in keeping with its talmudically based mandate to spread justice and heal the world.

MCed by CBC Radio host Michael Enright, the gala heard common themes of redemption and repair associated with Ve’ahavta, the Canadian Jewish Humanitarian and Relief Committee, which runs a variety of outreach and educational programs intended to help all in need and to build bridges between Jews and others.

Toronto Mayor John Tory dropped in briefly.

Ve’ahavta chair Bernie Farber tallied the group’s many projects, including one called Briut (Hebrew for “health”), which promotes health initiatives in conjunction with seven First Nation communities in Kenora, Ont.

Beginning this year as part of its Mobile Jewish Response to the Homeless program, which delivers food and clothing on the streets of Toronto, Ve’ahavta started a “harm reduction” initiative. Encouraged by the City of Toronto, it distributes clean instruments to drug users to combat the spread of AIDS and HIV.

The “jewel in the crown,” Farber said, is the Ve’ahavta Street Academy, an eight-week program in partnership with George Brown College for people living on or near the streets of Toronto to help them access education.

The organization handed out six awards at the event. The Remembrance award went to CBC Radio producer Karen Levine, author of the acclaimed book Hana’s Suitcase; Holocaust survivor George Brady, brother of the book’s subject; and women’s rights activist Margie Wolfe.

Human rights advocate and former justice minister Irwin Cotler, Liberal MP for Mount Royal, received the award for education, while Rabbi Arthur Bielfeld, rabbi emeritus at Temple Emanu-El and a longtime social justice and anti-poverty activist, accepted the prize for humanitarianism in the name of the late social activist June Callwood.

Lianne and Bruce Leboff were given the award for outstanding achievement in community volunteerism; Dr. Gary Glassman was recognized with an award in medicine for his work in promoting oral health care in Jamaica; and the award for outstanding achievement in youth leadership went to Shane Feldman, founder of Count Me In, a student-led charity that encourages community involvement among young people.

Keynote speaker Emmanuel Jal, an award-winning hip-hop artist and humanitarian, told his harrowing tale of having been a child soldier in the new country of South Sudan during its war of secession from Sudan. Today, he leads a global campaign for peace.

Compelling stories of what Ve’ahavta does came from two of its clients. Brian Ricciardi, now 48, recalled that he had been raped as a young man and that his attacker was acquitted. Unable to rid himself of the trauma, he crawled into bed one night and “didn’t get up for the next eight years. During this time I forgot how to live.”

After receiving information on Ve’ahavta’s writing contest, he enrolled in the Street Academy, and today studies psychology and English, with his life back on track.

Jillann Mignon, 28, a former Toronto sex worker, also said she owes her life to the Ve’ahavta Street Academy.

The organization has “not only influenced me, but generations to come because the skills I learned at VSA will be passed down to my son and his future sons,” Mignon told a transfixed audience. “Ve’ahavta has given me a gift that transcends: the gift of love. This is the embodiment of Ve’ahavta: the idea that all of God’s children have value and are precious in his eyes.”

Posted by Kaelan Karjalainen |

If I was a prostitute at the feet of God.

Written by Jillann Mignon 

Is it possible to be a harlot, tramp, whore or prostitute and love God? I’ve asked myself this question many times…..

You see if I was a prostitute at the feet of God this is what I would do. I would grace the street corner sat night and go home alive by HIS himself wondrous grace. I would put on my high heels and feel the burn in my feet, walking aimlessly with nowhere to go. Remembering what they did to HIM, and exactly also what they did to me, the things they want nobody to know or see.

If I was a prostitute at the feet of God, I would cry out against these so called new legislations, telling young girls that the government doesn’t care, go ahead, sell your body to get rich. Forget about your simple life or whether or not your soul will make it into heaven.

I would look into my customers eyes, remembering he can buy my body, but he will never own my soul. In the face of the man who came to purchase a little piece of pleasure, I would remember that my customer too, needs HIS love and carries a damaged heart looking for a prostitute sent from God to make the pain and hurt feel better.

If I was a prostitute at the feet of God, I would test myself every day. Slowly feeling the needle go in, anxiously praying that the results yet again are okay. Hoping no disease will destroy my body, what he said was HIS rightful temple.

I would call on HIM, cry for HIM, try for HIM, almost die for HIM to rescue me from this martyred life. Begging please, Come down God!!!, rescue me please, save me from being a woman of the night. I would cling to an abundant light, that I was once HIS child, not the toy I’ve become, doing any little filthy thing to get paid, just to make it through this sorry life.

If I was a prostitute at the feet of God, I would remember all the holy women, who didn’t know wrong from right, ones named Rahab, who also heard and yielded to the voice of God. Who were preserved by his mercy because they waited upon the Lord. For it’s easy to forget a dog named Rahab held up a portion of Jericho’s wall. Having saved herself, never running from HIS law.

But why would I ever call myself a prostitute, when I know because of his sacrifice my past sins are absolved. I thank HIM every day because now I can be called, not a prostitute, but sincerely a woman truly touched by the divine hands of God.


Posted by Kaelan Karjalainen |

Ve’ahavta: The Canadian Jewish Humanitarian Relief Committee

Briut: Public Health Promotion Fellowship (KENORA, ON)

Click here to apply

Program Description: Briut (meaning ‘health’ in Hebrew) is a community-driven health promotion program that aims to improve the health and well-being of Northern Ontario Aboriginal populations by strengthening local capacity for community-led health promotion programs. These programs are developed within the context of local knowledge and expertise.

Ve’ahavta is seeking one dedicated individual to support health promotion initiatives in Shoal Lake 40 First Nation from November 2014 for a 4-6 month period. Through this partnership with Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the Briut Fellow will support the development and enhancement of community-led health promotion programs which utilize Indigenous knowledge and expertise, including traditional Anishinabe teachings and traditional approaches to health. The focus of this placement includes:
  • Supporting local providers/communities through assessing and responding to identified community needs and development of strategies for how these needs will be addressed;
  • Supporting the development of health promotion programs which respect and acknowledge the local culture and socio-political environment, and which utilize a cultural approach to holistic wellness, as well as traditional Anishinabe teachings and practices;
  • Facilitating the co-development of community designed and community implemented programs which will lead to long-term, sustainable outcomes.

About Ve’ahavta: Ve’ahavta is a Canadian humanitarian and relief organization motivated by the Jewish values of Tikun Olam (repairing the world) and Tzedakah (justice), that assists vulnerable populations through volunteerism and education, while building bridges between Jews and other peoples.

About the Kenora Chiefs Advisory: Kenora Chiefs Advisory is committed and dedicated to providing culturally appropriate health and social services which address the needs and enhance the well being and capacity of community members in the affiliated First Nations.
Terms and Conditions: This is a paid short-term contract, offering a monthly living stipend, as well as subsidized local accommodation and transportation costs. Fellows’ flights to and from Kenora from their home community is included in the fellowship. The program will also provide a comprehensive orientation and training prior to the placement. This program is made possible through the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.


  • Masters in Public Health or Social Work, second year student or graduate;
  • Excellent communication skills;
  • Experience with development, implementation and evaluation of health promotion initiatives using participatory methods;
  • Experience in projects involving participatory community development processes and needs assessments;
  • Experience with outreach work with Aboriginal populations in Canada in an urban or rural setting;
  • Ability to work independently, self-motivated;
  • Understanding of the social determinants of health, particularly in Aboriginal/rural settings;
  • Proven ability to collaborate with multiple stakeholders and partners, including NGOs and community/regional bodies;
  • Ability to adapt to challenging living conditions (e.g., boil water advisories; restricted access to travel, restricted internet access; limited access to a the variety of foods found in urban settings)


  • Lived experience residing in an Aboriginal community;
  • Experience in writing grants, reflexive writing, blogging experience;
  • Ability to work in high pressure and ambiguous environments with flexibility and adaptability;
  • Ability to build informal relationships and trust with new stakeholders;
  • Creativity, and experience in designing innovative programs;
  • Experience living in a rural setting with limited infrastructure.


Click here to apply

All applicants must complete an online application including a CV, two letters of reference and a personal statement. Suitable candidates will be contacted for an in-person interview. For further inquiry, or to receive application materials, please contact:
Leah Silverman: Project Coordinator, National & International Programs

(416) 964-7698 Ext. 225 — Fax: (416) 964-6582 — leah.silverman@veahavta.org
Applications due October 17, 2014 at 9am


Posted by Robyn |

Read article on Toronto Star website

By: Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew Business Reporter, Published on Sun Sep 21 2014

Jillann Mignon always knew she had a voice. She just didn’t know if anybody wanted to hear what she had to say.
After spending 11 years as a sex-trade worker, she found the courage to tell her story in a writing contest.
On Sunday, Mignon, 28, read her winning submission “If I was a prostitute at the feet of God” and drew a standing ovation from the crowd in the packed auditorium in Daniels Spectrum, a community hub on Dundas Street E. in Regent Park.
“I feel amazing, blessed and humbled that I got chosen for this wonderful award,” Mignon said in an interview.
The writing contest, called Words from the Street, drew over 100 submissions from free creative-writing workshops held in over 20 shelters and drop-in centres throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
The contest, now in its 13th year, is geared to those in marginalized groups — the homeless, at-risk youth, victims of domestic violence, and the LGBTQ and aboriginal communities.
The workshops and contest are made possible by Ve’ahavta, a non-profit Jewish humanitarian group, and the Toronto Writers Collective.
“It’s not just writing. The whole program has enabled them to express themselves, acknowledge themselves, and honour their voice,” said Susan Turk, executive director Toronto Writers Collective. “Finding your voice creates huge positive changes. It creates a huge amount of strength.”

The top entries were judged by an acclaimed panel of writers and publishers that included Giller Prize winner Joseph Boyden.
Ken Rosser took fifth place with a piece called “Interpretation.”
“Finally people are listening to me,” said Rosser, who is homeless. “It gives me time to think and write and hopefully get off disability and contribute to society.”
Mignon was living in a homeless shelter, trying to turn her life around when signed up for the creative-writing class.
“They wanted to hear from us and they didn’t want us to sugar coat it. I think I already had my voice, but this organization gave us the place to scream it from the rooftops,” she said.
“When you live in these marginalized communities, you carry such a huge burden on your shoulders. Writing is the healthiest way to express yourself. I’m so proud that I made it out alive.”
Mignon attended the Ve’ahavta Street Academy, an eight-week program, that’s designed to help people who are homeless return to school.
She’s now studying to be a community development worker through a program at Centennial College.
Mignon, who has a young son, plans to use the $2,000 prize money from the writing contest to help with a down payment on a place to live. “It means a lot to me,” she said. “It feels like $2 million.”
If I was a prostitute at the feet of God
Is it possible to be a harlot, tramp, whore or prostitute and love God?

I’ve asked myself this question many times . . .
You see if I was a prostitute at the feet of God this is what I would do.
I would grace the street corners at night and go home alive by HIS himself wondrous grace.
I would put on my high heels and feel the burn in my feet, walking aimlessly with nowhere to go.
Remembering what they did to HIM, and exactly also what they did to me, the things they want nobody to know or see …

(an excerpt from the poem written by Jillann Mignon, grand prize winner in the 13th annual Words from the Street writing contest)

Posted by Robyn |

Posted by Robyn |

Read on Toronto Star website here.

Sitting on the patio of café in downtown Toronto, Emmanuel Jal subconsciously drums on the table when he wants to emphasize a point, punctuating his words with a beat. Perhaps it’s restless energy as the rapper/singer, author and now actor prepare for a very busy few months ahead.

Now a Toronto resident, the Sudanese artist releases his sixth album next week, The Key, and stars alongside Reese Witherspoon in The Good Lie, which debuts at TIFF Sunday Sept. 7, before its wider release in October.

Despite the culmination of the past year’s work about to be available for the world to see, Jal has learned from life not to expect anything until is has actually occurred. So he is cautious about celebrating the two pieces of art that are likely only going to continue raise his profile.

“Coming from a war-torn country, where you look like tomorrow is going to be bright, and then something comes out of nowhere and hell appears in front of your face, then you have to swim out of fire,” he says. “So whenever there’s something good happening, I don’t tend to put all my heart into it, because if anything happens, I don’t want to deal with the pain. So I celebrate when the thing is done.”

Jal is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, a former child soldier who was smuggled to Kenya and has lived a peripatetic life as he found art to depict his struggle. In 2009, he wrote his autobiography, War Child: A Child’s Soldier’s Story, and through his music and humanitarian work has tried to shed light on the conflict in his home country. The Good Lie is a fictionalized take on the story of the many other children who were displaced due to the war in his homeland.

Jal stars in the film as Paul, one of four Sudanese refugees who make it to the U.S. and start to build new lives there. He says the film shoot brought up painful memories.

“It wasn’t really flashbacks, really more nightmares, because you have to try to relive it. When you’re acting, that’s how they tell you to do it,” he says.

But he loved the communal part of acting, particularly in this film, which also stars other former Sudanese refugees in the starring roles.

“I loved the experience and getting to know the actors, Reese, and the other South Sudanese involved. It was like a little village of its own,” he says. “That’s how the movie industry is. You wake up, you do the film, you eat together, you become like one family, one big box moving together.”

Even though it is fictionalized, there are truly aspects of life imitating art. For instance, the lack of documentation for many affected by the war in the Sudan is something Jal has had to deal with, and in fact, that has led to him settle in Toronto.

“Yeah, it’s been difficult for me to settle in any place because I never had proper documents to stay since I was smuggled to Kenya,” he says.

Through his performances and humanitarian work, he made some contacts with Canadians, and applied for residency here, and says he was shocked when he was accepted. He has been here for two years, but much of that time has been spent travelling for his music and to shoot the film. He loves Toronto’s multiculturalism and the accepting environment.

“If you have something to offer here, people will give it back 10 times,” he says.

His new album, The Key walks a fine line between poppy dance tracks and darker-tinged material recounting aspects of his story, and features guests turns on two tracks from Nelly Furtado and legendary funk producer, Nile Rodgers, who along with Chic is featured on the single, “My Power.”

Jal says that he came up with an album because he kept offering up songs for The Good Lie soundtrack that didn’t make the cut. Eventually, two songs were chosen for the soundtrack, and also appear on The Key.

As for the split nature of the songs, he says that’s all just part of him.

“From story telling to jumping around and dancing, that’s what I do,” he says.

“I feel like I’ve been holding myself down, because I like to dance and the music that I have been making in the past, I have to work with it to perform and dance,” he says. “But I like something that I can move around, something where the beat goes and I just go crazy. So that’s why those kinds of songs you can dance too are on here.”

Posted by Robyn |

Toronto doctor gives $10-million for First Nations health care

By: Gloria Galloway

Read this article on The Globe and Mail website here

A Toronto doctor who received money from the sale of his father’s generic drug company has given $10-million toward improving the health of Canada’s indigenous people.

The University of Toronto announced on Friday, National Aboriginal Day, that Michael Dan and his wife, Amira, made the donation to its Dalla Lana School of Public Health to create an institute that will study the health issues among the country’s aboriginal population.

“This is the single most important issue facing my generation, and if people like me don’t do something about it, then I wouldn’t be able to sleep well at night,” Dr. Dan said in a telephone call from Bosnia, where he was visiting his in-laws.

“The opportunity to do something about it is here,” he said. “The university is ready to tackle something like this.”

Dr. Dan, a former neurosurgeon, shared in the proceeds of the sale of Novopharm Ltd., a generic drug company founded by his father, Leslie. He used $17-million to create the Paloma Foundation in 2002, and has given millions to charities around Toronto.

The institute created by the Dans will operate with the input of indigenous people and will bring together scholars in public health, medicine, nursing, social work, education, law, anthropology and many other disciplines. It will tackle a complex and difficult issue.

The life expectancy of First Nations people is five to seven years shorter than that of the general population. Among the Inuit, it is 15 years shorter. Indigenous newborns have a mortality rate that is 1.5 times that of babies in the rest of Canada, and they have more birth defects.

People living on reserves are 31 times more likely than other Canadians to contract tuberculosis. They are three to five times as likely to develop diabetes. They bear a disproportionate risk of traumatic injury. And their rates of infectious disease and suicide are significantly higher.

“If you look at it in totality, it’s completely overwhelming,” Dr. Dan said. “But I think it’s possible, working on a community-by-community basis, to just make a little dent in some of these big issues. You’ll never achieve anything unless you sit down with a community and ask, ‘What are your health problems, how can we help you?’”

The University of Toronto will host Canada’s first indigenous health conference later this year.

Among Dr. Dan’s other philanthropic ventures was the creation in 2006 of Gemini Power, a hydroelectric corporation that finances the construction of power stations that are turned over to First Nations to operate.

Posted by Robyn |
Home DonateVolunteerNews & MediaBlogContact Us