Precious Home

Most of us get to do the things we do in life, then come up to a front door, insert a key, and walk into our home.  Whether it's an apartment, condo, trailer, bungalow or mcmansion, most of us reading this have different rooms where we sleep, watch television, cook, eat, do laundry and enjoy a nice hot shower.  We take these things completely for granted because, with the odd exception, we've always had them.

Mark Kelly Photography

Heather and I were invited by Bracelets For Buildings (B4B) to contribute to and participate in an effort in rural Cambodia to build homes for a number of families in late 2017.  It was a wonderful experience that gave us a firsthand view of how the other half lives.  Well, it's actually more than half.  Apparently 80-percent of the world's population lives on less than $10 per day.  Over three billion people get by on less than $2.50 per day.  The families we helped in a small village near Siem Reap are among the poorest of the poor.

It was a marvellous and soul filling experience.  I was honoured to be asked by Kent, Lee and Tim to join the very small board of directors upon our return to Canada.

We raise money through special projects, ambassadorships, sponsorships, donors and grants to replace ramshackle shelters with modest Cambodian style homes that can withstand the weather of southeast Asia and provide safety and security for the families we are able to help.  In doing so, we support local businesses (suppliers and contractors) and create local employment.  In some cases, we have helped create conditions for sustainable income.  In all cases, we have given new hope to some pretty resilient and amazing people.

One of the ways that I'm raising money to fund a house build is through the sales of my limited edition prints of "My Talkative Raven Friend".  Paul Jones was one of the people who bought one.  After telling him our B4B story, he said to his work colleague who had tagged along for the studio visit:  "We should do something."

Paul is the General Manager of the Best Western Plus.  He and his team are hosting a fundraising luncheon for Bracelets For Buildings on Wednesday from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.  You can enjoy a scrumptious buffet for $14.95.  Here's the catch.  Every single penny from the purchase of your meal is going to go toward putting a roof over the head of a family in Cambodia.

"Thanks to our great staff, we are doing very well," said Paul Jones.  "We are proud to be able to give back to those less fortunate."

The whole reason that I am involved in B4B is because a gentleman named Kent Lissack bought the original Robin Williams painting with a generous contribution to Some Other Solutions shortly after the iconic comedian died.  That connection led to a number of conversations with Kent and fellow co-founder Lee Chandler about the possibility of connecting my art to their charitable work in southeast Asia.  We were intrigued on many levels, though it took some time to figure out what shape our involvement would take.

Kent is flying to Fort McMurray this week to assist with the fundraiser and share the B4B story.  He will be my guest on the IMPACT radio show on Tuesday and be at the Best Western Plus to meet people and talk about the work of B4B.

Alistair Maitland Photography

As my connection to B4B has been through painting, that is what I'll be doing during the fundraising buffet.  I will be doing a new work connected to our time in Cambodia.  This painting, along with several others, will be in an online auction the following week.  All the proceeds from those sales will get added to the amount of money that Best Western Plus raises during their buffet.  Together, it is very conceivable that we will be able to raise enough money to build another home for a deserving family.

Kent is bringing the original Robin Williams painting with him, lovingly framed by the good folks at Points North Gallery.  He is going to add it to the online auction with a reserve bid equal to the cost of a new home.  In other words, if you feel inspired to change the lives of a family and can contribute the full amount required to fund a build, Kent will gift you with this original painting that has meant so much to so many.

How can you help us build a precious home for a family on the other side of the world?  Here are some super easy ways:

1. You can attend the buffet at Best Western Plus on Wednesday.  I would love to see you and introduce you to Kent.

2.  You can make an additional donation while you are there. We will proudly give you an authentic Cambodian bracelet handmade by Sett and Toem, two previous recipients of homes from B4B.  You can also make an online donation right now by visiting the B4B website and clicking the DONATE button at the top of the page.

3.  You can purchase a gallery canvas print of "My Talkative Raven Friend" - I will have several at the Best Western Plus. A portion of each sale goes to B4B.

4.  You can fund an entire house as an individual donor or business sponsor.

5.  You can become an ambassador like we did, and travel to southeast Asia and meet the wonderful people we are trying to help.

The work of B4B is about the preciousness of home, and the sense of comfort and security it provides.  We are asking for your help next week as we continue to gather support to make a difference to even more families in the coming months.


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