Archive for December, 2011


Paying it Forward

In a season when excess and materialism can overwhelm the headlines it’s a wonderful moment when we can stop and share an inspiring story – one in which selfless generosity and unconditional gifting features. This story ran in December 17th’s Vancouver Sun. 

We wish you a holiday season filled with utmost delight and kindness. 

Paying it forward 30 years later brings instant joy to local family


SCENE & HEARD: This email arrived out of the blue in late October and the words have not been edited or altered in order to share the full impact of the message:

Dear Mr. Douglas:

When I was a boy, Maclean’s magazine did a story on the challenges of raising a family on welfare. I believe it was called Canada’s Forgotten Poor. This article was about my family. The early 1980s were not kind to most people and our family was no exception.

“The details are a little foggy after 30 years, but as I understand it, you contacted my mother after reading the article and informed her that we were being taken to see the Harlem Globetrotters at the Pacific Coliseum in a limousine! Truly, I couldn’t believe it until it happened.

“It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I rode in another limousine and then remembered what had been done for my family.

“Just last week, at Rogers Arena, I saw a Harlem Globetrotters poster in the elevator and it hit me like a brick. Although our financial situation didn’t change that day 30 years ago, I feel my well-being did.

“At 14 years old, you don’t realize what positive experiences do to help mould a young man’s mind. Later in life it became abundantly clear. Thirty years have come and gone and I feel compelled to return that gift.

“I would like to donate Canucks tickets and limousine service to and from Rogers Arena for a family that needs a positive experience. I want to reach out to a family like mine that would benefit from the experience, as I did. I am grateful to be in the position in my life now that I can do this.”

It was signed: Chad Joe, President, Westcoast Mining Contractors Ltd.

It turns out that Mr. Joe, a longtime Canucks season ticket holder, worked his way through the ranks of the trucking and heavy hauling company that he now owns on the Sunshine Coast.

And because of his generosity, Coquitlam single mom Alison Goulding, widowed in 2006, will be in an Elite Limousine next Friday afternoon with four wide-eyed youngsters heading to the Canucks-Calgary NHL game at Rogers Arena.

“The excitement is definitely building in our house,” Alison says.

“Brandon (7) gives me daily countdowns. He is bringing his best friend and classmate Aiden. My daughter Brooke (14) is bringing Arden, whom she’s known since they were in Hastings Daycare together.

“The hockey game is one thing … the ride in the limousine is quite another.

“The boys are excited about seeing the Canucks and I think the girls are just as thrilled with travelling by limousine. This has made it a wonderful Christmas for all of us.”

Chad Joe passed along a random act of kindness, proving the old adage: What goes around, comes around.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Time For A New Coat?

When was the last time you took a good, long look at your everyday coat? Does it fit you properly? Does it fit over bulky clothing? Does it fit your lifestyle? For many women, the answer is “no.”

What does your coat say about you? That you mean business regardless of the weather? Or that outerwear is an afterthought?  If a new coat is on your wish list this Christmas, think only of three things: purpose, lifestyle, and budget.


What will the coat be used for? Work? Taxiing kids in cold weather? Skiing? If you begin with the purpose in mind, you’ll have a lot better success in finding what you need.

Long wool coats work well over dresses and business attire, for example, but hip-length coats are better if you’re constantly in and out of the car. Ski coats need to be warm and waterproof while dirty work coats need to be easily washed. Think about what you’ll be doing to find the best coat for the job.



How many coats do you need? It depends on your lifestyle. For most people, one dress coat and one casual coat fits most of their needs. But if you live in a climate with four distinct seasons or if you attend a lot of different activities (work, sporting events, and charity balls) your outerwear wardrobe increases.  Also, if you travel a lot, different climates call for different coat weights. Bottom line: build your outerwear wardrobe based on your lifestyle needs and you will always be appropriately dressed.


Coats can be expensive, and you may not be able to afford all the different coats you’d like to have to fill out your outerwear wardrobe. That’s okay. Look at your primary needs first, then set a goal to fill in as your budget allows.  What is the most versatile coat that offers the biggest bang for your money? A classic trench with a zip out liner. It can handle cold, rain, casual, or business with equal finesse, and it folds up nicely for compact storage. But remember! Buy your coat in the best quality you can possibly afford – it will last longer and look better!


An Experiment in Perception


Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children.. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly..

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

The questions raised:

*In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*Do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.

How many other things are we missing?

Read the original story on which this summary and commentary are based, Pearls Before Breakfast by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, April 8, 2007. We hope it makes you consider perception and develop an appreciation for what lies beneath the surface.



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