2017 was an incredible year of growth for Branding & Buzzing, from expanding our team and client base to launching so many fantastic programs and campaigns. This month, our team members have each named their hero who has inspired them throughout the year and we will be donating $100 to the charity of choice of each of these giving individuals.

After my chef apprenticeship, I landed a job teaching secondary students entering the hospitality industry. The school was not easy given the learning and economic challenges of their youth. However, we taught them the skills to move forward while fostering their confidence. I admire Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Foundation which exists to inspire disadvantaged young people, whether homeless, unemployed or overcoming addiction, teaching them to believe that they too can have a restaurant career. Since its inception in 2002, the restaurant group has trained more than 500 apprentices and, knowing that, I too have contributed. Congratulations Fifteen for turning 15 this year!

I am always inspired by all of the young Jays players who take time outside of their busy schedules to help children. Sometimes kids need a real life superhero to look up to and Marcus Stroman is a modern sportsman to whom they can relate as he inspires these baseball fans and future stars to do better. This Christmas, I’m following his lead with my donation to the Jays Care Foundation, an initiative dedicated to teaching children valuable life skills through the fun and magic of baseball. Batter up!

Whether I was a student, intern or working full-time, I’d always hustled to be my own #GIRLBOSS™ which has helped me get to where I am today. No one has been more inspiring through this crazy, eventful journey than the original #GIRLBOSS™, Sophia Amoruso. What Amoruso started as an online eBay store soon became one of the fastest growing companies in the world and now she’s working to help aspiring girlbosses with the #GIRLBOSS™ Foundation. Since launching in 2014, the Foundation has awarded over $120,000 in financial grants to women in the worlds of design, fashion, music, and the arts to help fund them on their way to becoming a #GIRLBOSS™ and owning their future. Girls, you got this!

2017 was an exciting year for me, from adopting my fur-baby Millie to going to tons of concerts and performances that I lost count of. In that mix, I got to see Ricky Gervais who is someone I’ve always respected, not only for his intelligent humour but because of his conviction for animal welfare. I’ve been following Ricky’s ambassadorships for animal protection organizations and I can only wish I was as involved as he is for making animals a priority. This year, I’m taking Ricky’s lead by contributing to the World Animal Organization. They provide protection to animals of all sizes, assist in rehabilitation for ones affected by disasters, and bring animal welfare education and importance to a global scale.

I grew up watching Oprah Winfrey, being as she is one of my mom’s greatest inspirations, and let’s get real, who doesn’t she inspire? Tuning into The Oprah Winfrey Show every afternoon was a ritual we cherished for years. Having seen Oprah live a few years ago and how she affects so many individuals has given me a whole new appreciation for her as an adult.

Her charity, Oprah’s Angel Network, has evolved from a campaign, encouraging viewers to donate spare change to various charities, into a series of multiple major projects. OAN is helping to educate under-privileged children while also providing clothing, school supplies and disaster relief, all while supporting other organizations giving assistance for women and girls. Oprah is still the ultimate visionary and philanthropist in my eyes.

On July 20th, 2017, the world became a little darker for a while as many of us mourned the loss of Chester Bennington, singer of Linkin Park and an inner voice of our generation. In putting human vulnerabilities so perfectly into words, Chester connected to so many minds across the world but, as they say, his demons were always part of the deal.

In memory of Bennginton’s passion for helping people in a time of need, Linkin Park has been working with the One More Light Fund, a Music for Relief program initiative dedicated to providing aide and assistance to those struggling after natural disasters and, for that, I give them my donation and loving support. We miss you, Chester.

“The power of giving is contagious. You can give it away and you’re not losing anything.” – Chester Bennington.

A believer that food can be an agent of change, José Andrés founded the World Central Kitchen, an international non-profit based in Haiti. Their prime focus is on countering three global challenges; health, education and jobs. Since its launch in 2010, the organization has expanded to countries like Brazil, Cambodia, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Zambia, developing solutions to poverty and hunger, all while using the power of food to empower communities and strengthen the economies. World Central Kitchen resonates with me because I feel we all have the power to positively change the world through food.

“If we are going to see real development in the world, then our best investment is women” – Desmond Tutu.

Michelle Obama’s charity, Let Girls Learn, is a United States-based initiative ensuring adolescent woman receive the education they rightfully deserve. As a woman who is part of the 14% that have the privilege of getting a post-secondary education, I understand the extreme prominence of obtaining such an education. Every girl deserves the choice to expand their potential in the workforce, to expand their personal knowledge, and I am honored to give back this holiday to Let Girls Learn with the help of B&B.

I am one of those lucky dogs who wasn’t in an adoption pool, abandoned or treated unwell. It’s all the more reason why The Cesar Pack Project is one of my favorite charities to support and I’m pretty sure my human mom Marian read his book [Dog Whisperer] before she brought me home. The foundation was established in 2007 and since then, they’ve been helping to create healthy relationships with dogs and people through grants to shelters, community education programs and rehabilitation. All of my furry friends deserve a home as loving as mine.

Last year, I was rescued from a high-kill shelter in Kentucky and brought to Toronto to live a happy life with my parents and all my toys.

There are other humans in the world like my parents who I look up to because they advocate for all the woofers and meowers who are left to fend for themselves. Ellen DeGeneres is one of them. Ellen works with organizations like the Humane Society International who are dedicated to protecting and helping animals of all types in all kinds of helpless situations. Now, it’s my time to give back and will be donating to the Humane Society International so that other puppers can enjoy stealing socks from their human’s laundry pile.

 

Say no to #FOMO

Say no to #FOMO

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