June 1, 2015

How Lisa Tuplin’s community group is managing changing needs

Left to right: Monica Smith, Lana Blackburn and Lisa Tuplin

One of BB4CK’s original community group founders, Lisa Tuplin has been making lunches for students in Calgary’s northwest for eight years.

Recently, her group has seen increased need for lunches at one of the four schools it serves, and so far the group has been able to manage that need. The main thing, says Tuplin, is knowing what her group can and can’t handle.
“Usually it’s just a matter of buying a bit more food and sending the new numbers to the volunteers, and then it takes a little more volunteer time,” Tuplin says. The group stores supplies and makes lunches in the commercial kitchen of the Westview Baptist Church in Ranchlands. Tuplin says the kitchen is excellent, but because it’s used by several other community groups, she has to be realistic about her group’s capacity. “It’s a busy kitchen,” Tuplin says.
A few years earlier, one of the schools Tuplin’s group served experienced a sudden spike in need — more than the group could manage. “When Terrace Road School was needing a lot more, we had to assess whether we could handle those numbers. We had limited space,” Tuplin says. Realizing her group couldn’t meet that school’s needs on its own, Tuplin worked with BB4CK to find an alternative solution. Today, Terrace Road School lunches are made by youth volunteers at Varsity Bible Church , students at William Taylor Learning Centre and the BB4CK kitchen.

The group’s origins
Tuplin’s started the group in 2007, when she became aware of the organization’s needs. “As a parent myself it tugged at my heartstrings to see a child hungry who I could help so easily,” Tuplin says.
At the time, BB4CK was exploring ways to serve schools in the city’s northwest communities better. Using a small kitchen at the Friends Church facility in Bowness, Tuplin gathered a group of volunteers and began making lunches for three schools, three days a week. The group has continued, with volunteers old and new, and Tuplin has been its manager and champion from the start. “For the impact that it’s making, it’s not a lot of work,” Tuplin says. “I’ve been doing it for so long it’s second nature, and I’ll continue doing it for as long as there’s a need and a space to do it in and volunteers to help me.”
Tuplin’s idea took hold in Calgary — today, there are approximately 20 community groups similar to Tuplin’s and another 80 school community groups making lunches for students through BB4CK.

Tuplin’s group today
The group serves four schools four days a week: Belvedere Parkway School, Bowcroft School, Our Lady of the Assumption School and H.D. Cartwright Junior High School. Three years ago the group relocated from its original Bowness kitchen to a larger, more commercial facility at Westview Baptist Church in Ranchlands.
While the group purchases groceries using BB4CK gift cards, the administration, lunch-making and distribution is organized by Tuplin and her rotating team of about 18 volunteers, which sometimes includes her own three grown children. “They’ve been really great in that way,” Tuplin says. “My daughter has just graduated as a teacher, and she’s started subbing so she’ll be in the school system and she’ll see those same needs.”
Despite the challenges, Tuplin says whenever a school contacts her to let her know their students’ needs have changed, she sees it as a positive development. “It shows me that they’re really responding and I have a good handle on what’s happening in their schools,” Tuplin says. “It tells me it’s really working.”

Find out more about BB4CK community groups.

April 15, 2015

Happy National Volunteer Week!

At BB4CK, we love volunteers. They make our work possible, and in our opinion, every week of the year should be devoted to celebrating their efforts. Volunteer and administration coordinator Wendy Treschel says BB4CK is able to have a huge impact in Calgary because of volunteers.

“Many come to the program because they wouldn’t want their own children to go hungry, or because they remember what it felt like to be a hungry child. Our volunteers are so committed that even if they are unable to help during the day, they help with office work, social media, casinos and various other jobs. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Happy National Volunteer Week! Here’s a tribute to the work of BB4CK volunteers.

Video produced by Urban Revolver

Want to find out why BB4CK volunteers are so passionate about the work they do? Find out how you can get involved.

April 15, 2015

2015 Matching Gift Challenge

Video produced by Shannon Hewlko

Tanya Koshowski, executive director of BB4CK, says the Prosser Charitable Foundation catalyzed the Matching Gift Challenge years ago, and has been helping BB4CK meet its goal of ensuring there are no hungry kids in Calgary. “The Matching Gift Challenge doubles your donation, which is amazing — but it’s about far more than numbers. It’s about giving children in Calgary the opportunity to learn, grow and play with confidence and energy. That’s the impact a lunch can have.”

The Matching Gift Challenge runs from May 1 to June 15, 2015. Make your donation at the BB4CK Canada Helps page.

February 2, 2015

Agents of Change is redefining the real estate equation

Tracey Wood, co-founder of Agents of Change

Tracey Wood has two goals, both lofty. One is to ensure people buying or selling houses have positive experiences in the real estate market. The other is to create a sustainable, resilient revenue stream for charities. Fortunately, she’s found a way to make the two goals work together.

Wood is the co-founder of Agents of Change, a company that provides custom real estate agent referrals. What makes Agents of Change unique is not that it collects a percentage of the referred agent’s commission—this is standard in the real estate industry—but that it donates a substantial portion of that percentage to charity.

The idea arose when Wood relocated to Calgary with her family and, after years as a CEO in the technology sector, decided to pursue a real estate career. “It was born out of necessity, like all good ideas. I thought it would be a way of networking in a new city, and I’ve always done charitable work.”

How Agents of Change works

In a nutshell, a client approaches Agents of Change for a realtor recommendation (they may require a second language or a particular specialty). Agents of Change combs through a roster of qualified agents until it finds a match. Once the real estate transaction closes, Agents of Change collects 30% of the referred agent’s commission, taking 10% to sustain its operations. The remaining 20%—normally amounting to about $2,000—goes directly to a charity of the client’s choice.

If clients aren’t sure which nonprofit or charity to support, Agents of Change can provide custom suggestions here, too, based on the client’s values and priorities. Ultimately, the choice is with the client. Wood says clients think very carefully about where they want these dollars to go. “We’re creating what I call accidental philanthropists. Some people come to us just for the agent referral, but it sparks introspection. It introduces people to the world of philanthropy in a really substantial way. They have to think about how to direct their funds, and they want it to be meaningful.”

Building a network

For charities, it costs nothing to join Agents of Change as a charitable partner. The charities receive marketing tools (including a unique microsite where clients can learn about what they do) and guidance. For Agents of Change, working with charities allows them to leverage existing networks and spread the word farther. And clients often introduce Agents of Change to charities. “The best part of my job is to call a charity who may never have heard of us and tell them I have a cheque for them.”

What’s next

Wood spent 2014 proving the Agents of Change concept, and raised almost $80,000. She sees a bright future for the organization, estimating that in five years it can realistically put $20 million into the charitable sector, which would make it the third largest funder of nonprofits in the City of Calgary. While the organization currently focuses on Calgary, in 10 years, she’d like to see Agents of Change represented in 50 cities.

What’s the secret to Wood’s success? “Surround yourself with amazing people. That’s always been my philosophy.”

BB4CK is an Agents of Change charitable partner.

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