Some kids have a stormy start to life, faced with obstacles that could be used as excuses to give up on things like goals, education and bright careers. Other kids have a stormy start to life and decide to see the silver lining. Meet Annie Silver one of the bright lights who demonstrates that challenges can be things on our path put there not to trip us up, but to serve as evidence for how resilient the human spirit can be. Faced with poverty and hunger as a child, she made sacrifices and worked very hard so that she could return to school and complete a degree in Business; currently she is working on her Masters in Business Administration in Executive Management. When asked what inspired her to return to school Annie said, “I didn’t want my boys to ever feel hunger or to be teased because they could only afford second hand clothes.” She knew getting an education for herself was the ticket to a brighter future for herself and her family.
Annie spent time in foster care, has faced discrimination and has had to deal with the difficulties of growing up in a community which was coping with drug an alcohol addictions. She says “I lived a very dark life during my teenage years”. She is a single mother of three small boys, many would have written her off as a hopeless statistic; fortunately Annie did not give up. Instead she rallied her inner strength and found help from some encouraging members of her family and community including her grandparents. She says, “There were days where I felt so alone, but my Grandpa and Grandma really encouraged me to stay with it, continue and finish. Nothing made them happier on graduation day, when I was the Valedictorian and they didn’t know until I walked across the stage to do my speech.”
She currently works for an Aboriginal Child and Family Service agency which is actually the same agency she had been entrusted to as a child. In addition to providing economic and social stability for her own family, her position allows her to build relationships with the community and makes her a great role model for kids and families facing challenges similar to the ones she herself had to overcome. Annie says other things have improved in her life as a result of her education. “My self esteem has grown so much since returning to school. There is a stereotype about Aboriginal people and for single mothers. Society believes that these demographics do not have the ambition and determination to succeed”; clearly Annie debunks this myth.
When asked what advice she would offer to women facing challenges similar to the ones she had to overcome, Annie said, “Don’t be afraid that you can’t do it. Don’t be afraid that you don’t have the strength or determination. We are women, we have amazing determination, especially when it comes to the wellbeing of our children. I always tell my Aboriginal people, show the world what you have! Show them that no matter how hard life gets, there is always a way to overcome it and become empowered!” Clearly for Annie the way she found to become empowered was to earn a formal education. Getting that education meant she had to make some difficult decisions. She said, “One of the hardest challenges that I had to overcome was leaving my one month old while I began school. I had days where I cried on the way to school and sped all the way home to get back to him. It was a challenge to do it, but I had to in order to support my family.” Annie hopes her experience will serve as an example to other single moms about the importance of education, perseverance and community support. When asked about plans for her future she says one of the important things she wants is to be able “to encourage and empower Aboriginal people, marginalized families and single moms.” I think it’s safe to say that Annie Silver is already doing that in spades!
Need help returning to school?
Some parents talk to their kids about environmental stewardship; others live a life that allows their children to see these values being applied. I’d say Siobhan Barker falls into the latter category except that it wouldn’t quite be an accurate statement. You see she didn’t so much fall there as much as she chose to be there very deliberately; lots of us start out the day with high ideals, this mom entrepreneur stays the course adhering to her principles even in the face of difficult challenges. She is an inspiration to all of us for living life the way she does, out loud, on purpose and in tune with what she believes. So hats off to Siobhan for showing the rest of us that operating an environmentally sustainable, local business can be done. The quality of her hand-crafted crocheted hats and her creative use of repurposed materials makes them a great choice for consumers wanting to spend their dollars wisely on products that are beautiful and made with environmental savvy. When asked what values she thought her son was picking up from witnessing her work as a mom entrepreneur Siobhan said, “He has grown waaaay more conscientious about ethical choices as a consumer.”
Her hats, cards, and pouches are sold under the name Mama Says: Put A Hat On! They can be purchased on line, at local craft fairs and in some specialty shops including the North Vancouver Community Arts Council Gift Shop. Amongst the many styles available she has designed a hat called the “Super-Slouch” that is “7 styles in ONE”. It can be made to order with monochrome, stripes, textured and smooth yarns. Her work often incorporates Adinkra designs which are African symbols indicating a variety concepts, words and meanings. Of these symbols Siobhan says, “I have created an original combination Adinkra symbol that bridges a message of Justice, Creativity, Ingenuity & Patience on the newly developed men’s hat line. This new Adinkra combo symbol can be custom tailored to the colours of a business or personal preference.”
To date Siobhan is the only person I know who has had a crochet related injury; for the details on how it happened you can check out the story on her website. While there you can see her most recent collection of hats and bookmark the page so that you can return to it later to see updates as they are added. The site also includes a story about how she was inspired to return to crocheting while visiting her father in the hospital as he suffered through dementia, injury and illness. Putting family first is another thing Siobhan does very well. While sitting at her father’s bedside she took the setback in stride; cherished the remaining moments she had with him; taught herself to crochet again and developed a hobby that she would later turn into a business to support herself and her son. Siobhan is a not only a single working mother, but is a singular model of what the human spirit can accomplish when it sings out in a voice that simply must be heard. If Mama Says Put A Hat On!, people do. When asked what advice she might be able to give would-be mom entrepreneurs Siobhan said, “Basically- you can do it, you’re a MOM which is super (with or without a cape and tights)!”
When setbacks happen in life sometimes hearing about people who have overcome their challenges can inspire us all to hope for a better day. Students who may be facing their own setbacks will find a supportive crew to help them in Laetare’s many qualified tutors. Please check out their profiles today and if you feel so inclined, share a link our website and to “Mama Says Put A Hat On”. Help spread the word; there are amazing people all around if you just know where to look! Stay tuned to The Lunch Kit News for more stories of inspiration, innovation and information.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
Irving House and the New Westminster Museum will be featuring a family oriented program about Victorian Valentines. With everything you’ll learn about the history of these treasured keepsakes, you will be inspired to make your own cards to send out to your friends and family. Who knows, you might even want to send one to Oana Capota […]
Being a mom is tough work; being an entrepreneur is too. This post is in celebration of those amazing mom entrepreneurs who somehow manage to do both of these difficult jobs and do them very well. Each of these women exemplifies what it takes to thrive in an often tumultuous world where raising kids is done while raising capital and buying groceries at the supermarket happens in between marketing the next super idea she has in store. They make it in a world where showing up at the parent teacher meeting is just as important as showing up at the next board meeting. To a large extent these women have constructed the worlds around them by bringing to fruition those ideas in their minds that just needed to be brought forth. On a busy day you (and perhaps they) may wonder why they ever constructed such worlds. I’ll tell you why: it’s because they are moms and they are entrepreneurs; they needed to answer both of these callings so they created a world where they could.
Rachel Boguski has been involved in many entrepreneurial pursuits; currently she is applying her diverse skill set in the field of social media marketing and brand management, helping female entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses. She has worked for private corporations as well as grass-roots organizations and non-profits, doing everything from publishing a magazine to manufacturing an infant/toddler clothing line to owning a retail store and producing major large-scale events. When asked what advice she would give to mothers considering becoming an entrepreneur Rachel Boguski said “I think the most important thing is to do it, and don’t do it alone. So many people have a great business idea but don’t act on it.” Rachel also included family support as a key component to how she makes it work adding, “What helps is having a partner to rely on, to motivate you and to bounce ideas off of as well as to hold you accountable.” While entrepreneurs sometimes start out as the mavericks and members of the avant-garde, successful ones quickly learn that you can’t do this job alone. You need a support network.
Having a supportive husband and family is also one of Jen Arbo’s key ingredients for success. Jen wears two hats on that smart noggin of hers, one is as the Operations Manager for the Royal City Farmers Market the other is as a partner at Hyack Interactive, a boutique marketing firm which offers writing services as well as social media strategy and management. Hyack Interactive was recently named as The Best Home Based Business in the Royal City by the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce. Doing both of these jobs has not stopped Jen from being a fulltime stay at home mom; in fact doing these jobs is what has allowed her to be at home with her son.
Many mothers are in awe of how quickly their children grow, Jen has been in awe of how quickly Hyack Interactive has grown too. Managing the demands of rapid growth could not be done without a supportive network in place. The importance of having someone to help share the workload, fill in the gaps or simply be there at a moment of crisis cannot be over stated. Not everyone finds this support network automatically in their lives. While some people might be born into a family where they can tap into an existing network which offers an endless stream of loving, capable support, not everyone is. Jen agreed that for mom entrepreneurs who do not have this support automatically, it can still be built through good old fashioned networking. One of the tips she suggests is to “find other people like you.” This seems like great advice and a good place to start for those who need a little support establishing their network. If you are a mom and / or an entrepreneur who doesn’t feel she currently has that network in place, stay tuned to The Lunch Kit News for future articles on how to build up a supportive network.
It takes time and patience to build up a strong network. Jen Arbo says understanding the importance of being patient is one of the biggest lessons she has learned from being an entrepreneur; things do happen; projects do come together; businesses do flourish, just not always according to our schedules. Scheduling is another issue that would-be mom entrepreneurs need to manage well. What Jen describes as “work creep” can happen often. Other jobs may allow you to punch a clock and step away from responsibilities, but the mom entrepreneur doesn’t have that luxury. Jen advises women to occasionally “put away the mobile devices” which most businesses and moms now depend on so heavily. Rachel Boguski agrees and considers learning to establish healthy boundaries as one of the crucial lesson she has learned from being an entrepreneur. Rachel said, “I think that the most valuable thing I’ve learned over the past few years as an entrepreneur is knowing when to unplug. It’s not always easy to do, but it’s important for you and for your family. Not only can it be extremely refreshing, but it reminds your family that they always come first.” Mobile devices can trap or free people; it all depends on how you choose to employ them. Maybe taking your child to the Royal City Farmers Market, without your cell phone would be a good first step in occasionally “unplugging”!
Being a mom entrepreneur allows these women to teach their children about how to develop their talents, and establish priorities in their lives. Rachel said, “I am so fortunate to be able to pursue my passion as well as stay home with my children. I don’t miss major milestones and “firsts” but I also don’t feel like I am sacrificing myself.” When asked what she hopes her 3½ year old son will take away from being raised by a mom entrepreneur Jen Arbo said she hopes as an adult he remembers that he was surrounded by parents who love him and that she is helping him learn that goals are worth pursuing and that dreams are worth having. Sometimes our dreams don’t turn out exactly as we thought they might; sometimes things are a little less glitzy but sometimes they might even turn out just a little bit better than we had imagined. The important thing is to follow the dream and recognize those moments when you are alive in it!
For parents wanting to build a supportive network for their children to help ensure their dreams are realized too, remember to check out the amazing tutors available to help you at Laetare Consulting. Please take a moment to share this link with other mom entrepreneurs you know and stay tuned for the second part of this article.
Cultivating creativity in young kids can have amazing rewards, but for the busy parent planning opportunities for artistic expression can be a challenge. You need the time, inspiration, materials…and the willingness to clean up afterwards! Such obstacles can seem daunting to parents trying to juggle many other commitments. 4Cats Arts Studios might be the very thing to keep your child’s creative side nourished and your kitchen clean. They have all the necessary materials on hand and they do the clean up afterward; with many locations throughout the Lower Mainland, there is likely one close to your neighbourhood. For the interest of Laetare students, we’ve decided to highlight the offerings of the 4Cats Studios in North Vancouver, Port Moody and the new 4Cats location in Clayton Heights Surrey opening January 21st, 2012. The enthusiasm of Carlen Huppert, owner of 4Cats Clayton Heights, can hardly be contained, as she listed the many activities kids can do at her studio, I couldn’t wait to roll up my sleeves and start painting…good thing 4Cats Clayton Heights also has classes for adults and corporate clients. The litany of activities offered by Carlen and her crew includes ones where kids get to explore the wonders of puppet making, paper mache, painting and clay. Planning a birthday party? A 4Cats theme birthday can’t be beat. Adult “splatter” parties can also be arranged and might just prove to be the fun stress buster / team building activity for your parents’ group. Unleash your inner Jackson Pollock and maybe a whole new creative side of you will emerge along with it.
If you are looking for some ongoing art classes for your children, you might want to consider The Artist of the Month program. They will learn age appropriate facts about artists such as Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh, and others; all the while they are learning to paint pictures in styles that mimic these great artists. Parents of 4Cats kids must have the most amazing refrigerator art around! There are also programs that appeal to kids who are interested in space ships, drawing and stop motion, pirates and knights…too many to list in this short article. Visit your local 4Cats studio for updates and check back to The Lunch Kit News for future articles on this outstanding organization. Remember to work hard and play hard; please share this link with anyone wanting a bit more creativity in their lives, and link to Laetare Consulting with anyone in need of a bit of extra help with their studies. Celebrate great grades with a 4Cats party and be sure your kids get those grades by signing up for tutoring today!
Although the concept of the tiffin lunch box has been popular in India for over 125 years, it seems many people around here still do not know they exist. Every time I pack my lunch in a tiffin people ask me what it is and where they can get one. Maybe packing your child’s lunch (or yours) in one would be a good way to add a new twist to the idea of brown bagging it. Doing so will certainly add to lunchtime conversation, but remember it isn’t polite to talk with your mouth full!
Tiffins usually come with 2 or 3 compartments making them ideal for lunches; larger ones are available for picnics, camping and potluck dinners. Once you discover tiffins you will find all sorts of uses for them. The compartments and the lid are held together with a metal strap making them a convenient way to transport lunches to wherever you plan to eat them. They are a fun, economical and environmentally friendly way to pack your lunch.
I got my tiffin at Granville Island, but have also seen them in East Indian grocery stores; Curry2U has the added benefit of offering great specials for customers bringing in their tiffins in for refills. If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend, a trip to Granville Island or Little India to purchase a tiffin might be just the thing to spice up your weekend and your child’s lunch. Fill one with your child’s favourites; remember it’s what’s inside that counts.
Trying to teach your children about cultural diversity? Why not have them read a bit about Indian culture before heading out to get your tiffin? If your child is having trouble reading, he might be inspired to learn that many people who work as tiffin carriers or dabbawalas are illiterate and still manage to take great pride in their work. They are renowned for their accuracy and efficiency. Prince Charles visited the dabbawalas and even invited them to his wedding; when he met them he had to do so according to their schedule so as not to delay the delivery of lunches. While surely you will want to address reading problems quickly, it can be good to provide inspiring roll models of people who are not stopped by their present challenges. Laetare Consulting has plenty of well qualified enthusiastic tutors to help your child develop his reading skills; all of them inspire hope in students and help then to achieve their goals. Check out our tutor profiles and before too long your child will be helping you read their favourite recipes to help you fill their tiffin!
Have a great lunch time recipe you’d like to share with others? Why not send it to us through the comment box.