Making a Difference at The Age of 9 ~ Mitchell O'Brien

Kids Up Front Calgary
As a parent you only hope that your children will grow up knowing how to give back to your community.  Meet one little boy who, at such a young age, is well on his way to making a difference on his own.
Mitchell O’Brien is only nine years old, and he recently celebrated his birthday in an unconventional way. Mitchell decided to turn his celebration into a charity fundraiser benefitting four Calgary charities that focus on the well-being of others.
Kids Up Front Foundation was thrilled to learn that Mitchell's generosity would benefit the charity, which collects donated tickets to local events and distributes them to children, youth and families in need.
Ronald McDonald House S Alberta
On March 9, 2012, Mitchell was joined at Lloyd’s Roller Rink by 36 of his nearest and dearest and requested all attendees bring donations for the charities of his choice in lieu of gifts. At the end of the festivities, nearly $1300 had been collected to be distributed between Kids Up Front, Ronald McDonald House, the Calgary Humane Society and Habitat for Humanity.
The inspiration for Mitchell's fundraiser came from his teacher who recently shaved her head to raise money for cancer, and from his parents who support several charities. Kids Up Front Calgary Executive Director Kari Scarlett hopes this serves as an example to other young people and their parents.
Habitat for Humanity
"Mitchell proves that there are no age restrictions when it comes to helping others, and demonstrates how wonderfully young people can be influenced to think beyond their own needs and desires by the people they look up to," says Kari. "We’re honoured that he recognized the work we do for children and wanted to reach out to his peers."
Besides the Calgary chapter, Kids Up Front also works in Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto, and has received nearly 800,000 ticket donations valued at $22 million.
Thank you Mitchell for helping other's see The Brighter Side of Life!  Here are the links to all the charities mentions for Calgary and Area.

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The Power Within with Chris Gardner

by Christina Rowsell
The Brighter Side

The Power Within is an awesome experience.  What a way to spend the day.  Listening to inspirational speakers and absorbing their knowledge and wisdom about life purpose and how to find your own Power Within.

I had the amazing opportunity to also introduce the guest speaker Chris Gardner.  In the early 1980’s, a series of adverse circumstances left Chris Gardner homeless and the sole guardian of his toddler son. Unwilling to give up Chris Jr. or his dreams of success,
Gardner climbed the financial industry ladder from the very bottom, before founding his own firm. Today he is the owner and CEO of brokerage firm Gardner Rich LLC., a
bestselling author and inspirational speaker. In 2006 he wrote his autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, which became a New York Times and Washington Post #1 bestseller. His book was also the inspiration for the acclaimed movie starring Will Smith. His second bestselling book, “Start Where You Are: Life Lessons in Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be”, was published in May 2009. Chris Gardner’s aim is to help others achieve their full potential.

Backstage, before introducing this remarkable man, I had the opportunity to speak to him.  WOW!  What a genuine, gentle, sweet, and huggable man.  He held my hand through our conversation, knowing I was a bit nervous going on stage to introduce him. He noticed my wedding ring and asked me how long I’ve been married, and asked about my children.  I got the sense that his heart is huge.  He certainly made me feel more relaxed before heading to the stage.  He has what I call “an infectious personality”, if ever given the opportunity I would love to spend more time with him in conversation one on one.  What a wonderful chance of a lifetime I was given. 

Once Chris took to the stage, he instantly won the hearts of the audience.  First and foremost, he is a father.  He made that very clear from the beginning.  After growing up with out a father, Chris made a promise that when he became a man and had his own children that he would make sure his children would KNOW their father!  After having his first child, Chris Jr., little did he know that LIFE had other expectations of him. In the movie The Pursuit of Happyness, we see Chris with his 5 year old son.  But in real life he explained that his son wasn’t 5.  They did that in the movie for the dialogue.  While Chris was trying to “survive” being homeless and a single father, his son was actually only 14 months old.  And everyday for a year he brought his son in tow, diapers and all.  Chris is truly a remarkable and compassionate human being.  I really don’t know if I can explain it in words how incredible this man is.  Chris Gardner is the true definition of extraordinary.  The message I walked away with from Chris was, first be a good parent and love your children, and second work your butt off to achieve success.  Success doesn’t come from waiting for it to happen.  You have to go after it yourself!  I’ve always said, “It’s your life, and YOU are the only one who is going to live it.  So if you want something, go after it yourself!” ~ Christina Rowsell ~

For more on Chris Gardner visit his website http://www.chrisgardnermedia.com and The Chris Gardner foundation at http://www.cpgfoundation.org/

by: Christina Rowsell ~ The Brighter Side


Alexander's Quest

For most of us, celebrating Family is about spending time with family.  Getting outside to skate, or sitting in the living room catching up.  But for one family, their family has a broken heart.  Alexander Edwin Brown IS a hero, and now that hero has a quest of his own.  This family may have a broken heart, but they certainly know how to see The Brighter Side of life.  

This truly is a remarkable, TRUE story, and it all starts like this...

Once upon a time, not that long ago lived a little warrior, named Alexander.  Alexander was a beautiful, brave and precious two year old little boy, who lost his life to an aggressive, rare and cancerous brain tumour.  Sounds like such a sad story.  Well, sad as it may be, little Alexander will live on forever, through Alexander's Quest.  

Alexander's Quest is just that.  It is Alexander's "bucket list" that started this outstanding organization.  A list that will help other children who are terminally ill with cancer gain life experiences that fill their final days with joy.  As tough as this story is to cope with, it truly has a happy ending, through the ongoing love of Warrior Alexanders parents who have dedicated their time to full filling his quest.  Mom and Dad (Jonathan & Tara), were NOT about to let his cancer win!  

With that being said, not only are they helping children with cancer enjoy the brighter side, they are also on a mission to find a cure for cancer!  As Alexander's tumour is still alive in a lab, they are confident they will find a cure!  (Bless them for all they've been through)!  Remarkably, Alexander's tumour is growing in the lab and is the first ETANTR tumour in HISTORY to do that!  (I seriously just took a deep breath, held it, and released in my awe of the strength of this family and of the Warrior known as Alexander!)
This is an ongoing story, that will only get bigger and better.  To find out more about Alexander's Quest, visit their website.  Thank you Alexander for coming into this world to teach us so much.  A Warrior for sure, a Teacher no doubt, but most of all a Hero.

Alexander's Quest online http://www.alexandersquest.ca
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Get It Together

Wouldn't it be nice to just be organized?!  I start my day off thinking, "Okay, I'mgoing to get this, this, and this done today!  No more excuses, I'm determined to be organized."  And by noon, I haven't done a thing!  Sound familiar.  Getting organized is no easy task.  Because once you organize one thing, you have to organize another thing!

My pantry looks GREAT!  It's pretty well organized between, soups, pasta, cereal, snack food and junk food!  And at the end of the day after my boys get in there, it's a mess again.

So how does one control the stress of organizing?  Solution!  Hand it over to an expert.  I will get organized to call upon the company Get It Together.  Sheri Bruneau is the founder and President of Get It Together Inc.  On her website it lists the services of Moving Planner, Organizing Services and Concierge Services.  She WANTS you to fall in love with your home again, and time for all those other things you love to do!!  You can start off slow with the Jump Start Package in helping you to just get going.  Or you can pick up the Full-Meal Deal with 12 hours of organizing and de-cluttering.  I love that word "de-clutter".  It sounds so refreshing.  Like I've just put a flower to my nose and took a deep breath.  Ahhhh, the wonders of de-cluttering.  Okay Sheri I'll call you... soon. (I have a craft room with your name all over it!!)

But Get It Together does more than help you put your home back in order.  Maybe you NEED your very own personal assistant.  Come on, let's be realistic, sometimes you just can't do it all!  As much as we'd like to do it all and take all the credit.  If you had a personal assistant, perhaps then you could do it all, and more!  A personal assistant doesn't just take notes and send out your mail.  Get It Together wants you to live a balanced life with less work and more living.  A personal assistant can grocery shop, do a weekend get-a-way plan for you and your honey (now when's the last time you did that?) or how about help you plan that family reunion everyone keeps talking about, but wont do!  This is what Get It Together does... and more!  So much more!  If you are just overwhelmed with your "To Do List", then check out Get It Together.  You and your family will be glad you did!  Visit Get It Together for more!

Get It Together Online
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Cinderella Project - by Marlana Prowal

Cinderella Project ~ http://cinderellaproject.ca/

Graduation is coming soon…or is it?  Many teenagers who have legitimately completed Grade 12 this year may be asking this very question.  While their friends will be enjoying their graduation banquet, some grads who have endured hardship will be questioning whether or not they will be able to join them.

This is where Cinderella Project comes in.  By donation, this organization can help teenage girls affected by poverty feel like Cinderellas for a night, enabling them to attend their graduation banquet in style.

Accepting gently used gowns or monetary donation, the word has certainly spread since 2005 to make this a big success for everyone involved.  The website explains that many teenagers today are living hectic lives to rival that of their parents to help keep a steady income for their families.  Some of these children are working part time jobs, and abstaining from extra-curricular activities so they can work, help raise younger siblings, all the while assisting their parents to make ends meet.

I began to think of what kind of good this charity can do for all of us – not just the girls who will be able to attend their graduation.  We need our children to leave school and enter adulthood with faith in the human spirit.  With a growing population and not enough charity, children are learning to look after themselves instead of helping others.  What better way to teach the importance of this lesson than at graduation? 

When youth today transitions from high school to the workforce, their experience firsthand of the kind of good it does to give back to others, can truly create a pay-it-forward existence for many years to come.

As for our young Cinderellas, this could be the one experience they have to rekindle their belief that fairytales really can come true.

Thanks to guest blogger for The Brighter Side Marlana Prowal


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Dinners Done ~ Personal Chef Services

Having a home cooked meal is like heaven.  Especially when that meal is made with love.  If the person preparing the meal actually cares about you and what you eat, the food just tastes that much better!  And who knows best, and puts in all her love?  A mother.  I'll be honest, I had absolutely NO interest in cooking, EVER!  That was until I had my own family.  And I didn't ever think I'd be good at it either.  Not to toot my own horn, but I've gotten pretty good at it and have made some tasty meals.  So my husband says.  

But I didn't anticipate having to cook dinner EVERY SINGLE night of my life.  It's exhausting.  Not that I mind the cooking part, it's coming up with the idea of what to cook.  Every Sunday I sit down with my husband and we figure out what we'll have for the week, so I'm not caught off guard on what to make!  But it's still a struggle.  I can only make so many chicken nuggets and taco's.  Plus I work full time, and come home only to work harder cooking dinner.  No one said it was easy.  But there is someone who can make it EASIER!!

Meet Brenda!  Your dinner saviour.  Brenda is the owner of Dinners Done, Personal Chef Services.  Brenda started her company over 6 years ago now, catering to the needs of individuals and families to make delicious home cooked meals!  And cooked in your own home, catered to your own family needs!
Dinners Done will prepare multiple meals that are customized to your desired tastes and dietary requirements.  All meals are packaged, labeled and left in your freezer or refrigerator with detailed reheating instructions.  Finally someone has an answer to the question "MOM, what's for dinner?!"

There are several services to choose from that suit your individual needs.  From Senior Service, to Standard Service, Mini Service to Single Service.  Something for everyone.  Whether you're on the run, and need just a few meals, to helping your parents who don't live in a home care facility.  Brenda will cater to the needs you require.

And after sitting down to talk to Brenda, I get a real sense of the love that goes into every meal she prepares.  Brenda is a mother of 4 boys, and knows the meaning of a hungry family?  She's gentle and kind, and willing to listen to your needs.  If it's your aging parents who need a few meals to make sure they eat well, to your best friend who just had their first baby, Brenda is there to genuinely lend a helping hand with her services.  Brenda is a graduate of the Culinary Business Academy and a member of the Canadian Personal Chef Association.  She is also certified in Food Sanitation & Hygiene.

Who needs Dinners Done? Active families, busy professionals, independent seniors, new parents, and people recovering from illness or injury.

I know the next time life gets overwhelming for our family, I'm calling Brenda from Dinners Done.  Find her online at http://www.dinnersdone.ca

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Brighten a Room

What a way to brighten up a room!  Wall murals!  And I'm not talking about you doing a "paint by numbers".  You have to see these amazing works of art by "Creative Artwork by Denise".

I found her site while surfing through twitter.  Someone posted a link to her site and I was in awe of her work!  From bedroom wall murals for the kids, to something elegant for your bathroom.  It's the perfect way to brighten up your kids playroom too!  From trains to dinosaurs, flowers to fairies.  Denise is an outstanding artist that puts her whole heart into her work.  

Denise is a mom to two young daughters who give her inspiration, support and encouragement to share her work.  And it all started when she was a child.  Spending hours sketching and drawing and painting.  She has turned her passion into her business.  Imagine a unique piece of artwork that your family can enjoy for many years to come.  

Her rates are reasonable for the quality of work and attention to detail.  She wants to make it the right piece of art for your home.  She'll put your own personal touch into your space, turning a blank canvas into a masterpiece that will have everyone talking.  You pick the wall, and Denise will transform it to brighten up your room.  For more pictures and testimonials, visit her website http://www.creativeartworkbydenise.com/.

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Pizza Teeth by Marlana Prowal

Let’s face it. Juggling the cost of life’s necessities is exhausting and overwhelming these days. When you add in the avoidable expense of having your dentist spend more time with you, like many, you probably wish you had done something different to prevent it.

“If only I flossed more,” or, “If I just brushed my teeth before bed,” are likely the first things you tell yourself when it comes to dental care. But do you ever think to use oregano?

When I began to learn about the healing benefits of essential oils, the mysterious oil of oregano was something that was discouraged from being used from aromatherapists, warning of its incredible concentration. There is no doubt that oil of oregano, or any oil for that matter, shouldn’t be used without learning more about its properties and to identify whether or not it would be right for the user. Though rare, allergies and other reactions need to be considered.

After researching natural ways to help ease the common cold and to fight off the flu, I stumbled upon essential oil information that included oil of oregano. You got it—the same herb that you enjoy in your favourite Italian dishes is what produces the oil that helps ward off common illnesses.

Oil of oregano has numerous benefits from colds and flu to digestive ailments and dental grief. You could bet that during my next cold, I wanted to take a drop of the oil myself to see if it would work. Because of its potency, dropping a clean, undiluted drop in the mouth is horrendously awful. (I know from experience, and that’s what I’m here for, right?) I graduated to the next experiment of one drop in a glass of orange juice. It smelled and tasted a bit like an orange pizza. Tolerable, but not exactly pleasant.

Being part of the mint family, oregano blends perfectly with just about any commercial brand toothpaste. One drop on a loaded toothbrush was all it took for me to realize that my daily intake of oregano was not only fighting seasonal colds, but to my surprise, it gave me an “all-clear” at the dentist. As someone who almost always has to return weeks after a cleaning to have a cavity filled or re-filled, I had to credit oil of oregano for being responsible for doing the same amount of good when it came to oral care. Also, as someone who habitually suffers from at least one cold per year, after a few years of use, I have yet to be sick.

Coincidence? If you research oil of oregano for yourself, you will find more people singing the praises of its use than any nay-sayers who likely to defend the pharmaceutical companies. Compare the pros and cons of its use, and if you are interested, take the challenge between dental visits to see the difference yourself.

Talk about good news and great ideas! A few extra bucks in the wallet from saving a trip to the dentist and time off from work due to a cold certainly was good news for me.

Marlana Prowal

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