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December 1st, 2017

The Magic of Building a Community Where Everyone Belongs Starts With You


Dear friend of Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region,

Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region (EAFWR) began as a way to build community, and that desire still fuels our work everyday. For over 30 years, under the leadership of Maria de Boer, EAFWR grew from a group of friends supporting each other, to an organization that now serves 2000 families in Waterloo Region.

Since October, Maria has been enjoying her much deserved retirement and we wish her all the best in this new chapter. Her mentorship and guidance has left us eager to continue on our path.

I first met Maria and EAFWR in 1991 and was inspired by her passion for Community Development. Her vision of inclusion motivated me to join the team in 2017, where I am excited to continue our investment in building a community of belonging.

The magic of building a community where everyone belongs is in the positive little things accessible to each of us. An act of kindness, a change in attitude, an invitation to join in, and as simple as a welcoming smile.

This magic is something EAFWR loves to create. This past year, we had the pleasure of hosting a skating party. Skates were donated by a local business for those who did not have them. We then called on families in the community to join us.  Many shared with us how happy they were to be invited, and that someone wanted them to be there.  Imagine their surprise when those with borrowed skates were told they could keep them. To then watch a parent, turn to their child in delight and say, “for you!” creates a feeling of warmth and excitement that still hasn’t left us.

Our Community Development projects only become real because of fundraised dollars. Your support enables us to host programs like our six-week Community Skillshare Kitchen. Newcomer families who experience life with disabilities were invited to learn to prepare popular healthy dishes with ease. They were then given the opportunity to share their own recipes and showcase their skills. At the heart of EAFWR, is the desire to create opportunities that provide a space for friendships to blossom and each person’s unique strengths to shine.

As part of our I Choose Dignity movement, the 5th Annual COUNT ME IN! March was a huge success. This disability pride event welcomed over 350 people, who gathered together at Kitchener City Hall to celebrate our community’s diversity. With motivating speakers and entertainers, the highlight of the day was our march through downtown Kitchener where everyone was able to celebrate their rightful place in the community.

Our latest project will provide skill-development and job opportunities for people who have faced barriers to employment. The KW Library of Things, a lending library of infrequently used tools and other items is just about to open. It is the first of its kind in the region, and is designed to be sustainable, money saving and community building.

Without EAFWR in our community, we would lose a lot of the magic that makes it such a fantastic place to live.  As we reflect on the past year, the moments and opportunities that we have been a part of, we are excited about what lies ahead. With the New Year approaching, I invite you to join me in making a donation in support of belonging through Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region.

We remain grateful for your partnership and humbled by your generosity.

Together, we are better.

Allan Mills
Executive Director


Donate to the magic that builds a community where everyone belongs.